Robert Orrison and Dan Welch
Savas Beatie, 2016, 172 pp., $14.95
Image courtesy of amazon.com
The Emerging Civil War Series has been one of the more recent highlights of informative Civil War writing. The books not only feature important information on lesser known battles, but give driving instructions for people visiting the sites. One of the more intriguing projects the team has been handling recently is the Battle of Gettysburg. With the prospect of releasing one book a year per day in the battle, The Last Road North was released encompassing the whole campaign. This not only deals with the days of the battle, but the actions immediately before and after the infamous clash. Unlike the other works in this series, The Last Road North has no appendices and focuses just on the author’s words.
Robert Orrison has spent most of his life working within the realm of Gettysburg and its campaign sites as he holds a position on the board of the Civil War Trails. He has been working in the history field for over twenty years and holds a Bachelors of Arts in Historic Preservation from Longwood College and a Masters in Public History from George Mason University. Dan Welch received his Bachelors of Arts in Instrumental Music Education from Youngstown State University and his Masters of Arts in Military History from American Military University. He is a seasonal Park Ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park.
As I began to read The Last Road North, one thing stuck out to me regarding the title. The first chapter, which handles the Confederate advance into Pennsylvania, is one of the highlights of the work mainly for its tour stops and instructions. Many who have read books concerning the Battle of Gettysburg and the campaign surrounding it are familiar with many of the stops here, but very few enthusiasts have visited these sites. The instructions for these sites was one of the highlights of the book for me. Throughout the work, we have a narrative of the battle fueled by many well drawn maps and photographs all of which are written and presented excellently by the authors. The concluding chapter about the retreat and aftermath of battle was another fine example of what was accomplished in the first chapter. By giving the reader a well written documentation of how to travel these destinations, along with a narrative of what happened which elegantly presented as in the previous Emerging Civil War books. Overall, the greatest value this book can give to those interested in the Gettysburg Campaign is the opening and closing chapter about the advance and retreat from battle.
I highly recommend this book to those interested in the Gettysburg Campaign, especially for those who are just getting into the hobby and even those in middle and high school. The travel directions along with the invaluable information in this book will give you a better idea of what happened on those days. If you are a reader who wants to learn more about these sites and even visit them, I recommend this book as well. Most of these battlefields around the campaign are not visited or studied as much as they should and this work fixes that problem. Highly recommended.