Brigade Books: 232 pgs.
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In Pickett’s Charge: The Untold Story, Bruce Mowday brings us an outlook onto a section of the battlefield which has been written about over and over again. He brings us the Union side of the engagement and does so through the eyes of Alexander Webb.
Mr. Mowday is an accomplished author and journalist who has authored more than thirteen books, many of which are pictoral histories of towns surrounding Southern Pennsylvania. He is also an award winning journalist and lives in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
Mowday’s work really is the first step in a larger world where he goes up against some of the most respected historians of this fateful event such as Earl J. Hess and Carol Reardon. What Mowday has done in this case, however, is brought us a work which should be read as one of the first books a person reads on the Battle of Gettysburg. There are some major flaws in both design and writing. The first is that since Mowday is a journalist, he writes like a journalist which leads to many short sections and bits of information which leaves the reader wanting more. Also, because he is giving us the Union side of the charge, we do not have any of the planning or mindset of the Confederate end of the battle. The planning of the Confederate assault is crucial even if you are only writing a Union perspective on the charge. This makes the book very one sided toward the Union and while there is merit in doing that, the reader has no idea behind the charge from the attacker’s point of view. We get a rather intense account of the defense of Cemetery Ridge instead of an account of the attackers and defenders. Also, due to his journalistic background, Mowday states in every other paragraph where he found the information. This should be easily footnoted, but it is brought to the attention to the reader in the paragraph. The major design flaw of the book is the large print and the margins. It seemed as though the margins in this book were an inch and a half on all sides and the print was fourteen sized font. This leads many readers to believe that the publisher is “beefing” the book up in order to make the price higher. What looks like a two hundred page study ends up being approximately twenty-thousand words stretched out over these amount of pages.
This is Mr. Mowday’s first escapade into the American Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg. As stated before, this should be one of the first books read about the battle to get people interested in the battle, but nothing new is presented here which would behoove the Gettysburg student or scholar to pick this up immediately. I do hope that Mowday attempts to write another Civil War book but on another section of the battlefield and with both sides of the conflict instead of just the Union side.