From Gettysburg

by Fred Ray on September 2, 2006 · 1 comment

Gettysburg, PA

Your Special Correspondent

I am in Gettysburg attending a reunion of my old Vietnam unit, Second Squadron, First US Cavalry. It’s been great except for the nearly constant rain, which has made battlefield touring difficult. I’ve occupied the extra time by touring the book store at the visitor’s center.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of Civil War books, not to mention the ones just on Gettysburg. I talked with some of the book store staff about what was selling and what wasn’t.

Overall the best seller seemed to be McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom. “Can’t keep it in stock.” This has got to be an academic’s dream – to write a popular history and get a lot of cred as a historian, not to mention a Pulitzer.

Otherwise, Styple’s Generals in Bronze was doing well (no doubt helped by a special display by the door), as was Sears’ Gettysburg, and Coddington’s Faces of War. Other favorites included books about Robert E. Lee and civilians in the war. My own sharpshooter book seemed to be doing well also – I signed five copies Friday and by the next day only two were left. Overall Confederate titles seem to outsell Union titles by a factor of several to one.

On the remainder table: Blight’s Race and Reunion and Grimsley’s Hard Hand of War.

Make of that what you will.

I ate dinner tonite at the Farnsworth house. Named after Elon Farnsworth, although he never had any connection with the place. However, as I blogged previously, the house was in the front lines during the battle, and harbored sharpshooters in its upper windows. There are still bullet scars on the brick work. One may have (and I did) a “Confederate Sharpshooter” at the bar (rum, vodka, and pineapple juice). The book store staff were quite hospitable, especially since I had an unpublished Alfred Waud sketch of the house in my book.

Overall, an enjoyable evening.

UPDATE: Meant to mention that the town of Gettysburg comes alive after dark, with family groups prowling the streets looking for food, drink, and entertainment. Ghost tours seemed to be especially popular, judging from the number of people on them.


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