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Hallowed Ground (Crown Journeys) Hardcover – 13 May 2003
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From the Inside Flap
"[I]n a larger sense, we can not dedicate--we can not consecrate--we can not hallow--this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our power to add or detract."
--President Abraham Lincoln
James M. McPherson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom, and arguably the finest Civil War historian in the world, walks us through the site of the bloodiest and perhaps most consequential battle ever fought by Americans.
The events that occurred at Gettysburg are etched into our collective memory, as they served to change the course of the Civil War and with it the course of history. More than any other place in the United States, Gettysburg is indeed hallowed ground. It's no surprise that it is one of the nation's most visited sites (nearly two million annual visitors), attracting tourists, military buffs, and students of American history.
McPherson, who has led countless tours of Gettysburg over the years, makes stops at Seminary Ridge, the Peach Orchard, Cemetery Hill, and Little Round Top, among other key locations. He reflects on the meaning of the battle, describes the events of those terrible three days in July 1863, and places the struggle in the greater context of American and world history. Along the way, he intersperses stories of his own encounters with the place over several decades, as well as debunking several popular myths about the battle itself.
What brought those 165,000 soldiers--75,000 Confederate, 90,000 Union--to Gettysburg? Why did they lock themselves in such a death grip across these once bucolic fields until 11,000 of them were killed or mortally wounded, another 29,000 were woundedand survived, and about 10,000 were "missing"--mostly captured? What was accomplished by all of this carnage? Join James M. McPherson on a walk across this hallowed ground as he be encompasses the depth of meaning and historical impact of a place that helped define the nation's character.
About the Author
James M. McPherson is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. He is the bestselling author of numerous books on the Civil War, including Battle Cry of Freedom, which won the Pulitzer Prize, Tried by War, and For Cause and Comrades, both of which won the Lincoln Prize.
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"Descendants of Confederates have had their own controversies about the placement of monuments at the high-water mark ... (North Carolinians) insist that a few men in the Twenty-sixth North Carolina penetrated (the Union line) twenty yards further than the Virginian Armistead ... The controversy reflects a long-standing dispute between Virginians and North Carolinians, who resented Virginia's domination of the writing of Confederate history." ‒ from HALLOWED GROUND
Historian James McPherson has an understandable love affair with the Civil War, which is demonstrated by this short (140-page) HALLOWED GROUND in which he leads the reader on a "walk" across the Gettysburg battlefield as it evolved over the three days of the collision between Union and Confederate armies on July 1-3, 1863.
Having recently read the estimable Gettysburg: The Last Invasion (Vintage Civil War Library) by Allen Guelzo, I picked up HALLOWED GROUND to see what McPherson might add to my knowledge of the battle in a short space. In actuality, it wasn't much, though his references to some of the battlefield's main monuments are enlightening and not something to be found in the Guelzo volume. That said, HALLOWED GROUND is a concise summary of the Gettysburg battle which would serve well as an introduction to a more comprehensive understanding or simply as a short-version narrative of the affair for someone wishing only to skim the topic.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
A quick one day read as McPherson takes the reader on a journey with one of his many student groups through the grounds of Gettysburg. Rather than an overall narrative, or travel journey, McPherson follows the battlefield through the battles of July 1-3, 1863 with stops at each memorial, monument or cannon that tells a story or myth of the three days of fighting. I have a decent knowledge of the Civil War, but learned a lot in this short book -especially the myths he debunked and the positions of the various regiments. In hindsight, I should have read this while at Gettysburg as I now want to go back-both to read this as I walk and to better understand some of the places I didn't catch in my two visits. I'm also curious to see what has changed in the intervening thirteen years especially with regard to restoration of the Battlefield back to its 1863 conditions with respect to tree and ground cover.
Although McPherson is a historian and prolific writer on the Civil War, this book isn't dry at all. You felt some of his students' tears as they followed the paths of the men who fought and died there as well as those who lived and whose stories shaped the history of the War as we know it. That includes the myths - both those around the Battlefield itself such as whether the hooves on the ground in the equestrian memorials indicated whether the men were wounded, died or neither - and those that formed during Reconstruction as a means to show healing.
Hallowed Ground indeed, and this book does it justice.