Top 10 Gettysburg Books: Combined Civil War Bloggers’ List

by Brett Schulte on July 7, 2009 · 10 comments

Eleven Civil War bloggers posted their Top 10 Gettysburg Books at their blogs from June 30 to July 5, 2009.  The complete list of bloggers is at the link provided in the prior sentence.  These eleven bloggers ended up choosing 60(!) different Gettysburg books.  I tallied up the results, awarding 10 points for a first place vote, 1 point for a tenth place vote, and 5.5 points for books in unordered lists.  The final combined results, with total points, first place votes, selected comments from the bloggers, and links to each book at Amazon.com, are as follows:

GettysburgCampaignAStudyInCommandCoddington Top 10 Gettysburg Books: Combined Civil War Bloggers List1. The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command
by Edwin Coddington
60 points (4 1st place votes)

Eric Wittenberg, Rantings of a Civil War Historian: “This book is the bible for any serious student of the campaign. The treatment of the retreat is a little weak, only because Prof. Coddington died before it could be completed, and someone else had to finish the work.”

Brett Schulte, TOCWOC – A Civil War Blog: “Despite Gettysburg Campaign studies in recent years from Stephen Sears and Noah Andre Trudeau, I still think the very best look at the Gettysburg Campaign is Edwin B. Coddington’s classic The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command.   Some have criticized Coddington for his tendency to favor the Federals and to denigrate Confederate First Corps commander James Longstreet, but his overall look at Gettysburg has not yet been eclipsed.”

Nick Kurtz, Battlefield Wanderings: “This is the classic book on the battle. Recently Stephen Sears and Noah Andre Trudeau have done very good books but its hard to knock Coddington off his perch. I didn’t put Sears or Trudeau on the top 10 because I didn’t want to have the list clogged with similar books. If I had made my criteria only the top 10, regardless of similarity then I think Sears and Trudeau would have made the list.”

John Hoptak, Civil War Musgins: “Next up is the standard, or mainstay work on Gettysburg by Edwin Coddington. No real explanation necessary.”

GettysburgTheSecondDayPfanz Top 10 Gettysburg Books: Combined Civil War Bloggers List2. Gettysburg:  The Second Day
by Harry W. Pfanz
40.33 points (0)

Brett Schulte, TOCWOC – A Civil War Blog: “Harry Pfanz has also written books on the first day’s fighting and that which occurred on Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill on July 1-3.  I have selected his book on the July 2 struggle from Round Top to Cemetery Ridge as the best of his detailed tactical studies of the battle of Gettysburg.  All of these books are loaded with detailed maps and tactical discussions.  Curiously, Pfanz never did day three, though there may be a good reason for this.  For Day 3, you might wish to check out Jeffry Wert’s book Gettysburg, Day Three.”

Eric Wittenberg, Rantings of a Civil War Historian: “A truly magnificent book that provides the sort of detailed study of Longstreet’s assault on the second day that I crave. This book is a must-have for the library of any serious student of the campaign.”

John Hoptak, Civil War Musings: “For the best account of a single day’s action at Gettysburg, I have to go with Harry Pfanz’s landmark Gettysburg: The Second Day, just an excellent all-around book.”

Chris Wehner, Blog 4 History: “This was, of course, a monumental work and as John Hoptak noted a “landmark” book that has to be on the shelf of every Civil War enthusiast. He also covers a little about my ancestor, Charles H. Weygant of the 124th NY.”

RetreatFromGettysburgLeeLogisticsAndTheGettysburgCampaignBrown Top 10 Gettysburg Books: Combined Civil War Bloggers List3. Retreat from Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics, and the Pennsylvania Campaign
by Kent Masterson Brown
28 points (0)

Craig Swain, To the Sound of the Guns: “Brown’s work cuts new ground in two ways.  First we finally learn Pickett’s Charge was not the end of the campaign.  Second, there were many more considerations for the Confederate retreat than just getting soldiers across the Potomac.  If you follow Brown’s logic, Lee actually “won” Gettysburg to a degree by securing enough supplies to support the Army of Northern Virginia through the end of 1863.  Certainly a unique way to look at things.  Regardless of how one receives that supposition, Brown’s study of logistics during the campaign is the best handling of such that any has produced.”

Rea Andrew Redd, Civil War Librarian: “Brown handles tactics and logistics quite well and offers sound insights into Lee’s and Meade’s leadership and the ability of their endure a rigorous and deadly campaign.”

Brett Schulte, TOCWOC – A Civil War Blog: “Amazingly, Brown’s book, first published in 2005, was the first book-length account of the retreat from Gettysburg.  I say amazingly given the extreme saturation of the market with regards to Gettysburg books.  As the subtitle mentions, Brown looks at the retreat with a great deal of time and energy spent on logistics.  He believes Lee did not necessarily need a battle to happen to make the campaign a success.  Instead, says Brown, the Southern commander simply wanted to live off of Northern land for awhile to give Virginia a break.  Brown’s book has a decidedly Confederate focus.  For a detailed and balanced look at the fighting during the retreat, I recommend One Continuous Fight: The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, July 4-14, 1863.”

Nick Kurtz, Battlefield Wanderings: “We’ve also been treated to a couple of books on the retreat from Gettysburg after it being widely ignored. I haven’t read the book done by Wittenberg, Petruzzi and Nugent but have heard it is good too. One day I’ll read it but for now I’ll include Brown’s on my list.”

GettysburgAJourneyInTimeFrassanito Top 10 Gettysburg Books: Combined Civil War Bloggers List4 (tie). Gettysburg: A Journey in Time
by William A. Frassanito
24.5 points (0)

Nick Kurtz, Battlefield Wanderings: “At first I thought this seemed pretty high to have a picture book, but its become a classic. I cannot think of any other picture book I’d put in the top 10 at all. David J. Eicher’s “Gettysburg Battlefield” was good, but has its own issues/irregularities that I can’t rate it in the top 10.”

John Hoptak, Civil War Musings: “And, of course, so is Gettysburg: A Journey in Time [a good selection to include in a Top 10 Gettysbug list], by William Frassanito, which was also one of the very first books I read on the battle.”

Mark Grimsley, Civil Warriors: “Not sure when I came across this, but surely it was during my salad days.  An extraordinary study of the Gettysburg photographic evidence base.  I never again saw historical photos as mere illustrations, but rather as documents.  Plus it was wicked cool to learn how photographers dragged around corpses to compose the images they sought.”

TheKillerAngelsMichaelShaaraTop10GettysburgBooks Top 10 Gettysburg Books: Combined Civil War Bloggers List4 (tie). The Killer Angels

By Michael Shaara

24.5 points (0)

Ethan Rafuse, Civil Warriors: “In addition to being a great read, The Killer Angels is an essential work for understanding, if not the battle (although it is pretty good in that respect), why it is so much easier to find a t-shirt or print of a certain Maine colonel than it is to find one of the commander of the Army of the Potomac, or why there are so many more people visiting Little Round Top than Culp’s Hill.”

Mark Grimsley, Civil Warriors: “Encountered the novel at age 15.  Totally captivating.  Would have devoured it in a single sitting were it not for school, chores, etc.  Even then I could see some historical inaccuracies (the presence of a slave recently imported from Africa — WTF? — and the idea that “there is no good ground south of here” — there’s loads of good ground south of Gettysburg), but The Killer Angels formed my introduction to Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and challenged my pre-conceptions about James Longstreet.  And Shaara’s taut prose style taught me a lot about good writing.  Still a very good introduction to the battle — the Army War College’s Center for Strategic Leadership assigns it as preparatory reading for strategic leadership staff rides.  But one should also read the antidote, D. Scott Hartwig’s excellent A Killer Angel’s Companion (1996)”

Chris Wehner, Blog 4 History: “[It] has to be on any list. It was my first introduction to the Civil War in High School.”

GettysburgJuly1DavidGMartinTop10GettysburgBooks Top 10 Gettysburg Books: Combined Civil War Bloggers List6. Gettysburg, July 1

By David G. Martin

22 points (0)

Eric Wittenberg, Rantings of a Civil War Historian: “I’m a first day guy. It’s by far my favorite part of the battle. An incredible research resource, this was the first detailed study dedicated entirely to the first day of the battle. It can be tough to read, but it’s worth the effort.”

Craig Swain, To the Sound of the Guns: “I could mention at least three other works here for the first day’s fighting, but I think Martin covers the topic in more detail and with better maps.   Martin’s approach takes the reader through brigades and regiments, linking their activities into the larger flow of the battle.  And if the account of the day’s fighting is not enough, the appendices are equally outstanding.  Every student of the battle should at least read the topographical and meteorological notes found there.”

Brett Schulte, TOCWOC – A Civil War Blog: “I went back and forth on whether to include this title in my Top 10 Gettysburg Books list, but in the end the positives outweighed the negatives.  Martin’s book to me is a better representation of the July 1 fighting at Gettysburg than Harry Pfanz’ similarly titled book.  I wanted to include a book on the first day’s fighting, so this by default was it.  Martin’s book, especially the first edition, suffered from numerous typos and errors of fact, so much so that the book has been panned in many circles.  Get the latest edition of the book that you can (the Amazon link above leads to the paperback version), and you will not be disappointed with this one.”

PickettsChargeInHistoryAndMemoryCarolReardonTop10GettysburgBooks Top 10 Gettysburg Books: Combined Civil War Bloggers List7. Pickett’s Charge in History and Memory

By Carol Reardon

20 points (0)

Ethan Rafuse, Civil Warriors: “Carol Reardon’s book on Pickett’s Charge is a no-brainer, as it is one of the best books on any Civil War topic to appear in the past few decades (as evidenced by the legion of folks–yours truly included–who have jumped on the history and memory bandwagon since it appeared).”

Chris Wehner, Blog 4 History: “[A] fascinating book on the battle’s most controversial and important event.”

Harry Smeltzer, Bull Runnings: “Influential memory study.”

PlentyOfBlameToGoAroundJebStuartsControversialRidetoGettysburgWittenbergPetruzziTop10GettysburgBooks Top 10 Gettysburg Books: Combined Civil War Bloggers List8. Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart’s Controversial Ride to Gettysburg

By Eric Wittenberg and J. David Petruzzi

18 points (0)

Craig Swain, To the Sound of the Guns: “The two previously mentioned works cover General J.E.B. Stuart’s movements in parts, but not to the depth that a student of cavalry would be satisfied with.  Wittenberg and Petruzzi resolve that gap, in my opinion.  The authors take on a subject that far too many historians, in my opinion, had oversimplified or ignored.  They directly confront many of the old beliefs regarding Stuart’s ride and in doing so breath life back into the debate!  I particularly like style of presenting the material, accounts, and details first, then offering conclusions.”

Brett Schulte, TOCWOC – A Civil War Blog: “Wittenberg and Petruzzi have written what I believe to be the best book yet on Stuart’s adventures in Pennsylvania.  The authors and fellow bloggers tapped a large number of previously unused primary sources for the book.  The result is a detailed look at Stuart’s Ride which does not get caught up in the blame game so prevalent in secondary sources.  It also covers in great tactical detail the cavalry engagements which resulted from the ride.  If you can only afford one book on the subject, this one is it.”

PickettsChargeTheLastAttackAtGettysburgHessTop10GettysburgBooks Top 10 Gettysburg Books: Combined Civil War Bloggers List9. Pickett’s Charge: The Last Attack at Gettysburg

By Earl J. Hess

16 points (0)

Mark Grimsley, Civil Warriors: “The best study of the engagement by one of the best Civil War military historians.  Carol Reardon’s Pickett’s Charge in History and Memory (1997) is excellent, as Ethan rightly notes, but deals only in part with the attack itself, and had less impact on me than it might have done otherwise because I had elsewhere received my introduction to public memory.”

Brett Schulte, TOCWOC – A Civil War Blog: “Hess’ book is a detailed tactical look at, and to me the best book on Pickett’s Charge, topping George Stewart’s classic look at the July 3 fight for the Union center.  Hess gives the point of view of both sides, moving back and forth and producing a wonderfully researched look at this climactic moment of the most famous battle of the war.”

GettysburgSearsTop10GettysburgBooks Top 10 Gettysburg Books: Combined Civil War Bloggers List10. Gettysburg

By Stephen Sears

14 points (0)

Ethan Rafuse, Civil Warriors: “I would naturally have someone begin their studies with one of the single-volume histories. Stephen Sears’s is at the top of the list for the general reader (although for someone who blanches at its heft or needs more pictures, I might substitute Steve Woodworth’s short history or Craig Symonds’s American Heritage history).”

John Hoptak, Civil War Musings: “There are many overview books on the campaign and battle and picking from among them was tough, but I settled upon Sears’s work as a good narrative, suitable for both the casual reader and the more serious student of the war.”

Chris Wehner, Blog 4 History: “[H]is reading style is very accessible. I thought he handled Meade and Lee fairly, but really this book is a favorite as I enjoy his writing style. Gettysburg books can be very convoluted as it was indeed a massive battle.”

*****

Note: In addition to the Top 10, there were 50 more books which appeared on the various Civil War bloggers’ lists.  I am listing these books here with the rank, title, author, and a link to buy at Amazon.com without the various comments by the bloggers.  If you would like to see these expanded with blogger comments, use the Contact Us form or comment below.  I may be willing to flesh these out later depending on time available.

11 (tie). Regimental Strengths and Losses at Gettysburg

By John W. Busey and David G. Martin

13.5 points (0)

11 (tie). The Gettysburg Nobody Knows

B y Gabor S. Boritt

13.5 points (0)

13. The First Day at Gettysburg: Essays on Confederate and Leadership

Gary W. Gallagher (ed.)

13.17 points (0)

14. Gettysburg Day Two: A Study in Maps

By John Imhof

11.5 points (0)

15 (tie).  “A Strange and Blighted Land” Gettysburg, The Aftermath of Battle

cppbanner Top 10 Gettysburg Books: Combined Civil War Bloggers List

By Gregory Coco

11 points (0)

15 (tie).  Gettysburg: A Battlefield Guide

By Mark Grimsley and Brooks Simpson

11 points (0)

15 (tie).  The Bachelder Papers

By John Bachelder

11 points (0)

15 (tie).  The Generals of Gettysburg

By Larry Tagg

11 points (0)

19. Gettysburg—The First Day

By Harry W. Pfanz

10.83 points (0)

20. The Complete Gettysburg Guide

By J.D. Petruzzi and Steven Stanley

10.5 points (0)

21 (tie). Here Come the Rebels

By Wilbur S. Nye

10 points (1 first place vote)

21 (tie). The Battle of Gettysburg

By Bruce Catton

10 points (1 first place vote)

21 (tie). Those Damned Black Hats: The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign

By Lance J. Herdegen

10 points (1 first place vote)

21 (tie). The U.S. Army War College Guide to the Battle of Gettysburg

By Jay Luvaas and Harold W. Nelson

10 points (0)

25. Gettysburg, Day Three

By Jeffry D. Wert

9.5 points (NOTE: Since a first place vote garners by definition 10 points, all books from this point forward will not show the number of first place votes in parentheses.)

26. Roads to Gettysburg

By John W. Schildt

9 points

27 (tie). The Second Day at Gettysburg: Essays on Union and Confederate Leadership

Edited by Gary W. Gallagher

8.17 points

27 (tie). The Third Day at Gettysburg and Beyond

Edited by Gary W. Gallagher

8.17 points

29 (tie). The Maps of Gettysburg: The Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 – July 13, 1863

By Bradley M. Gottfried

8 points

29 (tie). The Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign: A Tactical Study of Mounted Operations during the Civil War’s Pivotal Campaign, 9 June-14 July 1863

By Edward G. Longacre

8 points

31. Pickett’s Charge: A Microhistory of the Final Attack at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863

By George Stewart

6.5 points

32 (tie). Devil’s Den: A History and Guide

Garry E. Adleman and Timothy H. Smith

6 points

32 (tie). Haskell of Gettysburg: His Life and Civil War Papers

Edited by Frank L. Byrne and Andrew T. Weaver

6 points

32 (tie). Morning at Willoughby Run, July 1, 1863

By Richard Shue

6 points

35. Gettysburg: Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill

By Harry W. Pfanz

5.83 points

36 (tie). “Fighting Them Over”: How the Veterans Remembered Gettysburg in the Pages of the National Tribune

By Richard Sauers

5.5 points

36 (tie). “Grappling with Death”: The Union Second Corps Hospital at Gettysburg

By Roland Maust

5.5 points

36 (tie). “Like Ripe Apples in a Storm”: The 151st Pennsylvania Volunteers at Gettysburg

By Michael Dreese

5.5 points

36 (tie). A Vast Sea of Misery: A History and Guide to the Union and Confederate Field Hospitals at Gettysburg, July 1-November 20, 1863

By Gregory Coco

5.5 points

36 (tie). Gettysburg Sketches

By Frederic Ray

5.5 points

36 (tie). Gettysburg: The Meade-Sickles Controversy

By Richard Sauers

5.5 points

36 (tie). Gettysburg’s Bloody Wheatfield

By Jay Jorgensen

5.5 points

36 (tie). The Attack and Defense of Little Round Top, Gettysburg, July 2, 1863

By Olver W. Norton

5.5 points

36 (tie). Brigades of Gettysburg: The Union and Confederate Brigades at the Battle of Gettysburg

By Bradley M. Gottfried

5.5 points

36 (tie). The Union Generals Speak: The Meade Hearings on the Battle of Gettysburg

Edited by Bill Hyde

5.5 points

36 (tie). These Honored Dead: How the Story of Gettysburg Shaped American Memory

By Thomas Desjardin

5.5 points

36 (tie). This Is Holy Ground: A History of the Gettysburg Battlefield

By Barbara Platt

5.5 points

48. Covered with Glory: The 26th North Carolina Infantry at the Battle of Gettysburg

By Rod Gragg

5 points

49 (tie). Crossroads of the Conflict: Defining Hours for the Blue and Gray: A Guide to the Monuments of Gettysburg

By Donald W. McLaughlin

4 points

49 (tie). Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage

By Noah Andre Trudeau

4 points

49 (tie). In the Bloody Railroad Cut at Gettysburg

By Lance J. Herdegen and William J.K. Beaudot

4 points

52 (tie). Flames Beyond Gettysburg: The Gordon Expedition

By Scott L. Mingus, Sr.

3 points

52 (tie). Lee’s Real Plan at Gettysburg

By Troy D. Harman

3 points

52 (tie). Silent Sentinels: A Reference Guide to the Artillery at Gettysburg

By George Newton

3 points

55 (tie). Gettysburg: Memory, Market, and an American Shrine

By Jim Weeks

2 points

55 (tie). Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America

By Garry Willis

2 points

55 (tie). Small Arms at Gettysburg: Infantry and Cavalry Weapons in America’s Greatest Battle

By Joseph Bilby

2 points

58 (tie). Gettysburg, Then & Now: Touring the Battlefield with Old Photos

By William A. Frassanito

1 point

58 (tie). The Colors of Courage: Immigrants, Women, and African Americans in the Civil War’s Defining Battle

By Margaret S. Creighton

1 point

58 (tie). When War Passed This Way

By W.P. Conrad and Ted Alexander

1 point

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Nick July 7, 2009 at 12:24 pm

The only thing I can think of adding is maybe how many times the book appeared on a list. Thanks for hosting this, it was a fun to read all the blogs.

Reply

Robert July 7, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Great work Brett. Thanks for making this overall list. I’ve found it really usefull and hope to pick up many of the books on it and hopefully post a few reviews on my own blog. Keep up the great work!

Reply

admin July 7, 2009 at 7:46 pm

Robert,

Thanks for the kudos! I am hoping this list will help a lot of people, not only those just getting into the study of Gettysburg but also people who have the top 10 books and are looking for more.

Brett

Reply

Troy July 8, 2009 at 9:51 am

Brett,

That was good, I really looked forward to each site’s unveiling. I had several of the books, but these listings are costing me quite a bit of money!
As some one else suggested on one of the blogs, it would be cool to do this for other battles/major events…..

Reply

Larry Tagg July 18, 2009 at 2:40 am

Everybody loves “Best” lists, and this is a great one, Brett! I see so many books here I love. I’m totally stoked to be #15!

Yours,
Larry Tagg

Reply

admin July 18, 2009 at 10:09 am

Larry,

I have The Generals of Gettysburg and I’ve gone through it multiple times. Great work, by the way!

I used your book extensively in my research for the new Gettysburg computer game by NSD, due out late in 2009. For anyone interested in War 3DII Gettysburg, feel free to check out NSD’s site for the game:

http://www.norbsoftware.com/Gettysburg/

Reply

Paul Knoke October 10, 2009 at 6:25 pm

I’m trying to find Gettysburg book by an author/historian named Jim Lamason. Can you help me?

Paul Knoke

Reply

Jim Lamason October 10, 2009 at 9:34 pm

To Paul Knoke,

Jim Lamason here.

If you are referring to the book still in progress,
Into the Vortex of Fire, the 11th New Jersey in the Gettysburg campaign, I am still in the writing stage. Well actually the rewriting stage due to technical issues I expect to have it to a publisher by 2011.

If you would like to talk to me further please get in touch with me at my email cw1951@gmail.com

Reply

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