- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Book Club Ed. edition (23 July 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684859149
- ISBN-13: 978-0684859149
- Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 16.8 x 3.4 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 119,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Gettysburg, Day Three Hardcover – 23 Jul 2001
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Almost from the moment that Pickett's, Pettigrew's and Trimble's tired and bloodied soldiers made it back to their line of departure up on Seminary Ridge, blame for the failures of Day 3 of the Gettysburg battle seems to have been laid at the feet of the majority of the key players. Wert describes them all and provides perhaps a deeper insight into the mind-set of each of them.
Wert's book is not one for those who do not possess a reasonable understanding of the 3 day battle in it's entirity. The fighting on days 1 and 2 were equally ferocious and, as Wert describes, pivotal to the Lee's decision to continue the attack on Day 3. Wert deliberately doesn't go into detail - after all, this book is about Day 3 - but it's helpful to have a overall view before buying this book.
The book itself is full of first hand accounts, many of them touching and quaintly mis-spelled, plus a detailed breakdown of what each regiment and unit was up to during Day 3. All in all, an enjoyable read but not without some criticisms:
Firstly, I'm sure the devotee's would disagree, but more maps would have been useful, especially when Wert is describing the actions of several units all with similar numbers. I got sidetracked a few times and had to grab a map from another book to see who was where! Secondly, and a word to the wise consumer, this book has to be the worst quality book that I've ever purchased! The pages look as though they've been guillotined with a serrated bread knife and the binding is already starting to go after one read..
Wert transports the reader to the field of battle. To read this book makes the reader feel the temor of the earth during the cannonade prior to the Confederate charge. You also sense the desperation in the fighting on both sides. The reader comes to, somewhat, understand the hesitation yet the fortitude of the men in gray as they rose to march against the postion so prominent and so formidable yet so far away. I found the book even handed and fair to both sides of the battle. I agree with the previous writer that more maps would have been better but I always complain about a lack of maps.
I highly recommend to those that have become jaded,as I had, to pick this book up and once again experince this battle in the only way left to us. You won't be disappointed.
Jeffry Wirt is a superb historian and very skillful writer. This is a highly readable and informative story of the third and final day of that battle when so many events that could have changed the outcome of the fighting and therefore possibly the war took place.
We all think we know about Pickett's Charge. But Wirt presents the case better than I have ever seen that 'Old Peter' Longstreet had been right but unheeded by Marse Robert who made the worst tactical mistake of his career. Fifteen thousand men, no matter how gallant or brave, could have taken Cemetery Hill that afternoon, especially following the bloody repulse at Culp's Hill. The Yanks had superiority of numbers, topography and artillery and, most of all, confidence gained over the first two days and that morning's fighting that they could stand toe to toe with Lee's veterans and win. And win they did.
The story of Gettysburg was the very series of events that took place in an uncoordinated manner. Lee never got everything going at once, the secret to taking the offensive in any battle. The Union could do what Lee often did so well. Operating on interior lines and on the defensive they could shift both men and their terribly effective artillery to the point of attack, when there was only one such point at a time.
This book also presents Stuart at his worst . . . 48 hours late, wandering around Pennsylvania with captured wagons, negating his primary weapons of speed and mobility, and failing to get behind Cemetery Ridge at the cavalry fight at Rummel's barn. The Knight of the Golden Spurs was too little, too late. The Union cavalry was coming into it's own, better horses, tougher troopers, and outstanding young generals: Buford, Gregg, Custer, Merritt and soon the best of them all, Phil Sheridan. The edge in firepower alone given by the Spencer repeater carbine was to prove significant to the ascendancy of the Union cavalry. The days when the Reb cavalry could intimidate their rivals were over. I'm not sure Stuart understood that up until the end at Yellow Tavern.
But what if Ewell had coordinated his attack with Pickett? What if Pickett had arrived earlier on the field? What if Stuart had gotten to Gettysburg a day or two earlier and had all of his cavalry, rested and ready to fight, at the same time as two coordinated attacks by Ewell and Longstreet? We'll never know but this wonderful book makes you wonder. It's an outstanding read!
The attention received by Culp's Hill and Pickett's Charge is abbreviated and generally lacking when compared to other available texts on these subjects. A hard-core buff can find more depth and less confusion elsewhere, yet it's a bit much for casual readers.
The writing is painfully inconsistent. Some sections are written around first person accounts and are clean, clear and exciting. In contrast, the technical passages that attempt to detail the "what where how when" of units' movements and activities are muddy and confusing and sometimes inconsistent with the maps that are juxtaposed throughout the book.