So much has been written about Gettysburg, goes the well-worn cliché, that there is nothing new left to write. The Second Day at Gettysburg: The Attack and Defense of Cemetery Ridge, July 2, 1863, by David L. Shultz and Scott L. Mingus Sr. aptly demonstrates that there is indeed still much to learn about the war’s largest and bloodiest battle.
Based upon a faulty early-morning reconnaissance, General Robert E. Lee decided to attack up the Emmitsburg Road in an effort to collapse the left flank of General George Meade’s Army of the Potomac and decisively defeat it. The effort got underway when General James Longstreet’s First Corps troops crushed General Sickles’ Peach Orchard salient and turned north and east to drive deeply into the Union rear. A third Confederate division under Richard Anderson, part of A. P. Hill’s Third Corps, joined in the attack, slamming one brigade after another into the overstretched Union line stitched northward along the Emmitsburg Road. The bloody fighting stair-stepped its way up Cemetery Ridge, tearing open a large gap in the center of the Federal line that threatened to split the Union army in two. The fate of the Battle of Gettysburg hung in the balance.
Despite the importance of the position, surprisingly few Union troops were available to defend the yawning gap on the ridge. Major General Winfield S. Hancock’s Second Corps had been reduced to less than one division when his other two were sucked southward to reinforce the collapsing Third Corps front. Reprising Horatio at the Bridge, the gallant commander cobbled together a wide variety of infantry and artillery commands and threw them into the action, refusing to yield even one acre of ground. The long and intense fighting included hand-to-hand combat and the personal heroics of which legends are made.
Veteran Gettysburg authors Shultz and Mingus merge their subject matter expertise and keen understanding of the complex undulating terrain and physical features to produce the most detailed study of this action ever written. In addition to demonstrating how the fighting on the far Union left directly affected the combat to come in the center of General Meade’s line, the authors also address some of the most commonly overlooked aspects of the fighting: what routes did some of the key units take to reach the front? What could the commanders actually see, and when could they see it? How did the fences, roads, farms, trees, ravines, creeks, and others obstacles directly affect tactical decisions, and ultimately the battle itself?
Based upon extensive research and graced with dozens of photographs and detailed original maps, The Second Day at Gettysburg offers a balanced, compelling, and ultimately satisfying account of one of the most overlooked and yet important aspects of the defining battle of the American Civil War.
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Dave Shultz and I have each been interested in the battle of Gettysburg for decades. In my case, three of my ancestors, the Chambers boys from Marshall County, West Virginia, fought on the second day at Gettysburg in the 7th WV against the Louisiana Tigers on East Cemetery Hill. I have long been fascinated by their story. When Ted Savas asked if I would consider working with Dave on this new book (which is the culmination of 11 years of Dave's meticulous research), I accepted his offer and added my own twist to the narrative. This has resulted in a blend of Dave's excellent terrain studies with my love for human interest stories and personal accounts of the battle. We think you will be pleased with our collaboration on this new work.--Scott Mingus, York PAFrom the Back Cover:
"This new book in the fascinating events that occurred alongthe Union center on July 2, 1863, by authors David L. Shultz and Scott MingusSr. is the most detailed tactical account of decision-making, leadership, and rawcourage published to date. The intensity of the action and eye-levelperspective of The Second Day at Gettysburg will transport readers back to thatbattlefield, where muskets bark and cannons roar. After reading the multitudeof personal stories threaded into the narrative, one might ask, 'Would I havedone so well had I been there?' Long overlooked, this well-researched study isan important addition to any Civil War or Gettysburg bookshelf." - Eric J.Wittenberg, award-winning author of The Devil's to Pay: John Buford atGettysburg and Gettysburg's Forgotten Cavalry Actions
"Much has been written about the southern end of thebattlefield on Gettysburg's second day (the bloodiest of the three), but surprisinglylittle about the attack and defense of the Union center on Cemetery Ridge. Here,finally, is the deeply researched and scholarly presentation it has longdeserved. Devotes of battlefield minutia will delight at the level of coverage,from the arrival of the armies and Captain Johnston's early-morningreconnaissance that set General Lee's plans in motion, to the myriad decisions,movements, and operations on both sides that led to the massive assault itself(which is covered in breathtaking detail) and the heroic defense. What makesthis study especially unique is the authors' grasp of the terrain, and how itand the physical features of the field (roads, buildings, fences, etc.)dictated decision-making, tactics, and ultimately, the outcome. The dozens ofexcellent original maps and photos make this perfect for armchair readers or asa narrative to take right onto the battlefield itself." - J. David Petruzzi,award-winning author of The Complete Gettysburg Campaign Guide and TheGettysburg Campaign in Numbers and Losses (with Steven Stanley)
"The fighting on July 2 along the Federal center continuesto fascinate readers. What would have been the battle's outcome if Anderson'sConfederate attack had been able to break Hancock's defense? Of course, we willnever know (or agree upon) the answer, but Shultz and Mingus in their new TheSecond Day at Gettysburg have provided plenty of fresh information, insight,and fascinating terrain details, along with many personal human interest stories,to give Gettysburg's students ammunition to continue the debate." - James A.Hessler, award-winning author of Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg (with Wayne E.Motts) and Sickles at Gettysburg.
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