Civil War Book Review: THE MAPS OF GETTYSBURG: An Atlas of the Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 – July 13, 1863 (FULL COLOR)

THE MAPS OF GETTYSBURG: An Atlas of the Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 – July 13, 1863 (FULL COLOR)
by Bradley Gottfried

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Savas Beatie (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932714820
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932714821

This book works on several levels; first as an atlas of the Gettysburg campaign, second as a history of the campaign and last as a reference work.  That it excels at each level is a testament to the author’s knowledge and skill.  Any book on Gettysburg by Bradley Gottfried is subject to high expectations.  His “Roads to Gettysburg” and “Brigades of Gettysburg” are essential works on the campaign and battle.  This book exceeds our expectations and raises the bar for his next work.  The author’s style of writing requires a minimal number of words to convey essential information, making for a very informative narration that does not require pages of text.  This produces an informative but easy to read text of the essential action for each map just as it did for each brigade in his last book.

144 full-page color enhanced maps that cover the advance, battle and retreat.  Facing pages have a map on the right page and text on the left one.  This simple idea puts everything together, ending flipping pages trying to understand the action.  The second requirement is short time intervals and detailed maps.  Again, the author manages this difficult idea.  The 29 map sets present in chronological order the campaign from Virginia to Gettysburg and back to Virginia.  Each map set presents a specific action and contains from three to 21 maps and text covering this phase of the campaign.  The scale is from 12 miles for campaign maps to 220 yards to the inch for the detailed regimental maps.  The lower scale maps have contour lines indicating woods, cornfields, orchards and grain fields with worm, post & rail or stone fences.  Roads, railroads and buildings are included.  This makes for a busy map and takes some study before easily reading the tactical maps.  Since this is Gettysburg, most readers know where these items are located and can find the symbols on one of the maps.

The largest map set is the advance of the armies to Gettysburg starting on June 3rd and ending on July 2nd.  The maps for the first six days of the campaign are in two-day increments.  From June 12th to July 2nd, the maps are daily.  Included as part of the approach are map sets for the battle of Second Winchester and Stephenson’s Depot.  Eleven map sets and one evening July 1- 2 map, cover the fighting on July First.  Ten-map sets cover July Second with one evening July 2 – 3 map completes the day.  July Third has four map sets.  The detail is impressive, using July Third for an example the map sets: are Culp’s Hill remains in Union Hands, five maps, The Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge, seven maps, The East Cavalry Field, four maps and The South Cavalry Field 3 maps.

Reading the text and viewing the maps can be a sequential process giving the reader a detailed account of the campaign and the battle.  A second approach is using the book as a reference for a specific action.  The text and maps provide a good detailed study that allows the reader to follow the action on the map.  Lastly, you can use this atlas with any Gettysburg book and to answer specific questions about the battle.

The obvious questions is “Should I replace my existing Maps book?”  Color makes a huge difference in readability enhancing the usefulness and value of the book.  Until I laid the two books side by side, I did not realize how much difference it would make.  My answer is “YES”, it is a worthwhile upgrade.  Gettysburg is like someone we went to grade school with and have known all our lives.  We fit comfortably and enjoy a companionship of shared experiences and memories.  We can always find out more about our friend and always enjoy hearing from them.  This book is a wonderful visit with our old friend.


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