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Book Review–Gettysburg Days 1 and 2 Timothy J. Orr Osprey Publishing

Battle of Gettysburg 1863 (1) The First Day written by Timothy J. Orr and published by Osprey Publishing

Orr, Timothy J. and Illustrated by Steve Noon. The Battle of Gettysburg 1863 (1) The
First Day. New York: Osprey Publishing, 2022. ISBN 9781472848499, $24.00. 96
pages, color and b/w images, maps, index, bibliographyy

 

 

 

 

Orr, Timothy J. and Illustrated by Steve Noon. The Battle of Gettysburg 1863 (2) The
Second Day. New York: Osprey Publishing, 2023. ISBN 9781472854643, $25.00.
96 pages, color and b/w images, maps, index, bibliography.

The Third Day volume will be following, most likely in early 2024.

 

 

 

The Osprey Campaign series should be familiar to readers of military history.
These books follow a template format that has proven successful. The books come
in at 96 pages and include a significant number of illustrations. While maps are
included it’s hard to say that a military history book can ever have enough maps.
For these titles, however, space is at a premium in order to include as much content
as possible.

The First Day covers events and actions on July 1, 1863, as would be expected.
Author Timothy J. Orr also includes helpful background material including a
chapter titled “The Invasion of Pennsylvania.” This chapter, coupled with brief
chapters on the opposing commanders, opposing armies, and opposing plans, help
orient readers into the complex actions set to occur throughout the first days of
July.

The meat of The First Day is of course the action on the field. In one long chapter,
broken up with chapter sub-headings, Orr concisely discusses actions at Oak Ridge,
McPherson’s Ridge, Seminary Ridge, the Union retreat, Cemetery Hill, and the
actions after nightfall.

In volume two, The Second Day, Orr follows a similar blueprint with a single, long
chapter covering actions at Hunterstown and Benner’s Hill, Little Round Top,
Devil’s Den, the Rose Wheat Field, the “Valley of Death,”, the Peach Orchard,
Cemetery Ridge, Culp’s Hill, and Cemetery Hill. A brief separate chapter covers
nightfall actions.

I have a few observations on this series. The first, as previously mentioned, is the
need for as many maps as possible. For a new student of the battle, being able to
accurately place troops, along with understanding the topography, is crucial. I
would recommend picking up a copy of The Maps of Gettysburg, from the
excellent historian Bradley Gottfried or a copy of Gettysburg Campaign Atlas, a
very convenient, spiral bound book by Phillip Laino. These sources will prove
invaluable in understanding the battle and supplement the maps included in the
books.

The 3D depiction maps created by Steve Noon are quite nice. The problem being,
due to their size, they spread over two pages and the binding breaks them up.
These maps include a nice breakdown of events being shown, including legends
allowing readers to locate where a specific regiment is located. The 3D effect helps
show woods and tree locations and helps viewers understand the terrain facing
soldiers.

Other maps included in these volumes are perhaps more familiar to those interested
in the Civil War. They have the appearance of the maps produced by the American
Battlefield Trust.

Nomatic

Both volumes contain an Order of Battle. These listings showing command
structure from Corps, to Division, to Brigade, and then listings of regiments in a
brigade, are extremely useful. These Orders can be a lifesaver in trying to
understand who was sent into battle along with where and who they are fighting
with and against. Bravo to Orr and Osprey for including this information.

A final observation is that these volumes are a perfect gateway for readers new to
the battle. There isn’t new ground being covered here and I didn’t finish feeling
there were new interpretations or material being presented. There is no problem
with that and that’s not what these books are for. With fighting as complex as the
three-day battle (not including the advance and retreat) was, for a new reader it can
be easy to be overwhelmed when picking up Coddington, Sears, or Trudeau. There
are publishers out there making a living off Gettysburg “micro-histories,” aimed at
covering every inch of battlefield, every brigade, if not regiment, and every officer where enough material can be
located.

Because the format of the Campaigns series is fixed, these books allow for enough
detail to be valuable to new readers while the bibliographies provide an excellent
listing of materials for those seeking additional detail and information.

Thank you to Osprey Publishing for providing complimentary review copies of
both books.

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Take the "Reluctant Witness" walking tour and learn more about the town of Gettysburg in addition to the battle itself.
Join Ken Rich and his The Reluctant Witness walking tour to learn more about the town of Gettysburg along with plenty of battle history. Click the image above or THIS LINK to learn more and book your own tour. 
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Library Additions April 2023 (1) Osprey Publishing

Nashville 1864 written by Mark Lardas, illustrated by Adam Hook, published by Osprey Publishing.

I want to thank my new sponsor OSPREY PUBLISHING for providing review copies of several of their books. Look for individual book reviews in the near future.

After over 50 years of publishing, the Osprey list now totals nearly 3,500 books and the central mission is unchanged. Osprey continues to bring together expert authors, illustrators and military-history enthusiasts by delivering the information readers need to increase their knowledge and to enrich their leisure or professional pursuits. Osprey’s enthusiasm for military history is balanced by an equal enthusiasm for excellent publishing.

Campaign Series

Lardas, Mark (text) and Adam Hook (illustrations). Nashville 1864: From the Tennessee to the Cumberland (Campaign 314). New York: Osprey Publishing, 2017. 96 pages, maps, color and b/w photos, index. ISBN 9781472819826, $25.

In September 1864, the Confederate army abandoned Atlanta and were on the verge of being driven out of the critical state of Tennessee. In an attempt to regain the initiative, John Bell Hood launched an attack on Union General Sherman’s supply lines, before pushing north in an attempt to retake Tennessee’s capital—Nashville.

This fully illustrated book examines the three-month campaign that followed, one that confounded the expectations of both sides. Instead of fighting Sherman’s Union Army of the Tennessee, the Confederates found themselves fighting an older and more traditional enemy: the Army of the Cumberland. This was led by George R. Thomas, an unflappable general temperamentally different than either the mercurial Hood or Sherman. The resulting campaign was both critical and ignored, despite the fact that for eleven weeks the fate of the Civil War was held in the balance.

 

Nashville Civil War Tour: The Battle of Franklin Bus Tour – $99.99

From visiting the battlefield of Franklin to the Carter House and Carnton Plantation, the Civil War historical tour offers an in-depth look into both the American Civil War and the prevailing culture of the Tennessee area during the mid 19th century. 

 

Orr, Timothy (text) and Steve Noon (illustrations). The Battle of Gettysburg  1863 (1) The First Day (Campaign 374). New York: Osprey Publishing, 2022. 96 pages, maps, color and b/w photos, index. ISBN 9781472848499, $24.

This volume, the first of three to cover the battle in depth, also emphasizes the experience of combat as witnessed by the rank and file-the ‘face of battle’-to borrow John Keegan’s expression. Primary accounts from common soldiers remind readers that Gettysburg was-first and foremost-a soldier’s battle, full of raw emotion. This superbly detailed study explores the battle chronologically; but in cases where several actions occurred simultaneously, the chapters are partitioned according to key terrain features. Among the action covered is the morning cavalry skirmish, the morning clash at the Herbst’s wood lot and at the railroad cut, the afternoon clash at Oak Ridge, the afternoon fight at the Edward McPherson farm, the afternoon rout of the 11th Corps, the last stand of the 1st Corps at Seminary Ridge, the Union retreat through town, and the positions of the armies at nightfall.

 

Combat Series

Yee. Gary. Union Sharpshooter vs. Confederate Sharpshooter: American Civil War 1861-1865 (Combat 41). New York: Osprey Publishing, 2019. 80 pages, maps, color and b/w photos, index. ISBN 9781472831859, $22.

During the American Civil War, the Union and the Confederacy both fielded units of sharpshooters. Sometimes equipped with firearms no better than those of their infantry brethren, they fought in a manner reminiscent of Napoleonic-era light infantry. Siege warfare placed a premium on marksmanship and the sharpshooter became indispensable as they could drive artillerymen from their guns. They could also become expert scouts and, for the Confederacy, impressive raiders–one raid netted almost 250 prisoners. Initially, Union marksmen enjoyed the upper hand, but as the Confederates began raising and training their own sharpshooters, they proved themselves as worthy opponents. In this study, Gary Yee, an expert in firearms of the period, assesses the role played by sharpshooters in three bloody clashes at the height of the American Civil War–the battle of Fredericksburg, the siege of Vicksburg, and the siege of Battery Wagner.

Weapons Series

Pegler, Martin. Sharpshooting Rifles of the American Civil War: Colt, Sharps, Spencer, and Whitworth (Weapons 56.) New York: Osprey Publishing, 2017. 80 pages, color and b/w photos, index, bibliography. ISBN 9781472815910, $23.

At the outset of the American Civil War, the wealthy inventor and expert shot Hiram Berdan initiated the setting-up of sharpshooting units in the Union Army; these units would be tasked primarily with open-order skirmishing, but also with long-range, accurate shooting. Initially, it was envisaged that the M1855 Colt revolving rifle would be the weapon employed by these specialists. Available in .36, .44, and .56 caliber, the M1855 swiftly earned a poor reputation, however, as it was prone to a malfunction known as “chain fire,” in which powder in all the unfired chambers would be ignited, seriously injuring the shooter.

 

 

Walter, John. Weapons of the Civil War Cavalryman (Weapons 75.) New York: Osprey Publishing, 2020. 80 pages, color and b/w photos, index, bibliography. ISBN 9781472842237, $22.

During the American Civil War, the mounted soldiers fighting on both sides of the conflict carried a wide array of weapons, from sabers and lances to carbines, revolvers, and other firearms. Though some sections of the cavalry placed their trust in the sabre, the advent of viable breechloading carbines–especially repeaters such as the Spencer–was to transform warfare within little more than a decade of General Lee’s final surrender at Appomattox. However, output struggled to keep up with unprecedented demands on manufacturing technology and distribution in areas where communication was difficult and in states whose primary aim was to equip their own men rather than contribute to the arming of Federal or Confederate regiments. In addition, the almost unparalleled losses of men and equipment ensured that almost any firearm, effectual or not, was pressed into service. Consequently, the sheer variety of weaponry carried reflected the mounted soldiers’ various roles in different theaters of operation, but also the availability–or otherwise–of weapons, notably on the Confederate side.

Fully illustrated, this study assesses the effectiveness of the many different weapons arming the Civil War cavalryman and analyses the strengths and weaknesses of the decisions made after 1865 concerning the armament of the US cavalry.

 

Not Series Related

MacGregor, Iain. U.S. Civil War: Battle by Battle. New York: Osprey Publishing, 2022. 128 pages, color illustrations, index. ISBN 9781472850119, $12.

The American Civil War was the most cataclysmic military struggle of the late 19th century, and in four bloody years of fighting from 1861 to 1865 over 620,000 American soldiers and sailors lost their lives in more than 8,000 battles, engagements, and skirmishes.

U.S. Civil War Battle by Battle tells the story of 30 of the most significant of these battles. These include some of the most famous clashes, such as the battles of Gettysburg and the Fredericksburg, which resonate through American military history, but also the less well known, such as the battles of Brandy Station and Cedar Creek.

This highly illustrated introduction, packed full of color artwork, covers every theater of the war and details infantry, cavalry, artillery, and seaborne units from both the Union and Confederate forces to give a true sense of the scale of the War between the States.

 

 This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products.

 

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