15 February 2016
A very detailed book that is in essence a battlefield guide to the charge.
Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg: A Guide to the Most Famous Attack in American History
Hessler JA and Motts WE, Savas Beatie (Casemate in the UK), hardback 320pp, £22.50, ISBN 978-1-61121-200-6
This is a very detailed book that is in essence a battlefield guide to the charge. It is laid out for ease of use if you are driving the battlefield, as there is reference to the one-way system that operates in part of the area. It breaks the charge down into four tours. The first looks at the Confederate battle lines prior to the charge, and each point of interest is given together with its GPS coordinates. The second deals with the charge of Pettigrew’s and Trimble’s brigades, which was adjacent to Pickett’s charge, the subject of the third tour. The final tour covers the Union lines. So it would seem that rather than dealing solely with the charge, this book deals with the final day of the battle with a small segue on the events leading up to it.
The writing style is very easy to tread and the flow of the text is good, but there is some repetition that is probably due to the need to be comprehensive as a battlefield guidebook. It is obvious that the author knows his subject well, and so he should since he’s a licensed guide.
For the wargamer away from the battlefield, this book is a treasure trove since it details the position of every unit, even down to the placement of individual guns. The book has many colour photographs of the battlefield as well as contemporary drawings and lithographs. The maps allow a clear understanding of the route of each brigade, so could allow you to recreate one part of the battle if your resources are limited. The book closes with a limited order of battle detailing the Union units facing the charge and the artillery units directly involved in the action. All in all, it is a well written addition to the many books on the subject. I think it will really come into its own when used in its primary purpose, but it still is a useful book for wargamers.