Cover image for American heritage history of the Battle of Gettysburg
American heritage history of the Battle of Gettysburg
Symonds, Craig L.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, [2001]

Physical Description:
320 pages : illustrations (some color), color maps ; 28 cm
General Note:
"A Byron Preiss book".
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E475.53 .S96 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize
E475.53 .S96 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

On Order



So begins the stunning retelling of an epic battle -- the bloodiest and longest in the Civil War -- the Battle of Gettysburg. Beginning with Chancellorsville, which set the stage for Robert E. Lee's second invasion of the North, and concluding with Lee's escape across the Potomac, noted historian Craig L. Symonds's brilliant narrative in the "American Heritage® History of the Battle of Gettysburg details the three days in July when two armies struggled in a virtual death grip across a dozen square miles of rolling Pennsylvania countryside.Symonds encapsulates the grand sweep of the Pennsylvania battle by mapping both sides' military strategy, such as the Confederate decision to invade Pennsylvania, the cat-and-mouse game as Lee's army moved north, and, finally, the terrible clash of arms on the hills and fields ofGettysburg. The book also draws upon first hand accounts from the front lines, humanizing the Blue and Gray -- the soldiers fighting for their lives and country. Richly illustrated with nearly three hundred photographs, color paintings, and illustrations, and with a wealth, of letters, diaries, and memoirs accompanying the text, this is the story of Gettysburg as it has never been told before. It is sure to become a high water mark in Civil War history writing.

Author Notes

Craig L. Symonds is the author of a half dozen books on the Civil War. He is Professor of History at the United States Naval Academy. Mr. Symonds lives in Annapolis, Maryland

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This lavishly illustrated chronicle of the battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 begins with a letter from Brigadier General John D. Imboden of the Confederate Army, who was in charge of a wagon train of wounded and dying soldiers. "During this one night I realized more of the horrors of war than I had in all the two preceding years," he wrote. His letter vividly sets the tone of the book, which describes the three-day battle, the deadliest in American history. Symonds, author of six previous Civil War books, explains the military strategy of both sides, from Chancellorsville, Virginia, in May, where the sequence of events led to the battle, to General Robert E. Lee's escape across the Potomac River. Symonds draws on letters, diaries, and memoirs to complement his incisive text. --George Cohen

Library Journal Review

With these two books, American Heritage continues its tradition of captivating historical storytelling through readable narratives and hundreds of illustrations of contemporary paintings, photographs, and maps many in color. The New History of the Civil War is a reissue of the second edition, published by Viking in 1996, which updated the highly acclaimed classic The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War (1960). Edited by McPherson (George Henry Davis Professor of American History, Princeton), it retains the style of the late Catton, known for award-winning histories that engage readers in understanding why Northerners and Southerners became passionately embroiled in America's deadliest war. What Catton did for the war generally, Symonds (history, U.S. Naval Academy) does for the Battle of Gettysburg, a monumental clash that marked the turning point of the war. Symonds focuses his narrative on the drama of battle, which lasted for three long days. Civil War aficionados and the curious will enjoy both books. Recommended for public and high school libraries, though libraries facing tight book budgets should stick with the New History of the Civil War for its panoramic coverage of the Civil War. Charles L. Lumpkins, Pennsylvania State Univ., State Coll. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



American Heritage History of the Battle of Gettysburg Chapter One Taken at the Flood (May 1-June 2, 1863) The sequence of events that led to the Battle of Gettysburg began in May in a 300-square-mile tangle of scrub and undergrowth in Virgina just south of where the Rapidan River flows into the Rappahannock, an area known locally as the Wilderness. Since the previous spring, when Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston had pulled back from his Manassas bivouac to settle in behind the protective barrier of the Rappahannock River, the Rapidan-Rappahannock line had constituted what one scholar has termed the "dare mark" of the Confederacy. Federal armies crossed that line at their peril. One -- the so-called Army of Virginia under Major General John Pope -- tried in the summer of 1862 only to scuttle back to Manassas where it was routed in the Second Battle of Bull Run. Another -- this one under Ambrose Burnside -- tried in December, assailing the heights behind Fredericksburg for most of a day before Burnside reluctantly but wisely gave up the effort. In May 1863 yet another Federal general -- Joseph Hooker -- accepted the dare. Hooker's trespass across the dare mark was the most carefully planned and skillfully executed of the three. Holding Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia in place at Fredericksburg with two of his seven army corps, Hooker led the other five on a lengthy flank march upriver. They crossed the Rappahannock twenty miles upstream, then swung south and east across the Rapidan to take up a position ten miles behind Lee's army near a small Wilderness crossroads named for the Chancellor mansion and marked on the maps as Chancellorsville. Hooker's maneuver was little short of brilliant. Indeed, it was so effective that Hooker himself was convinced that it would compel Lee to give up his position at Fredericksburg -- indeed, give up the line of the Rappahannock altogether and fall back to the next logical defensive position, at the North Anna River. On May 1, Hooker halted his army in the wilderness area around the Chancellor mansion and waited for his enemy to retreat. When he received a report from his III Corps commander, Daniel Sickles, that a column of Confederate infantry was moving southwesterly across his front, Hooker accepted this as evidence that Lee was in fact retreating, and he resolved to let him go. But Lee was not in retreat. True to his character as a commander who was willing to take long chances, Lee had dispatched his most trusted lieutenant, Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, on a maneuver at least as brilliant as Hooker's, and even more daring. Leaving himself with only about 15,000 men to face Hooker's main body, Lee sent Jackson's corps on a daylong twenty-mile march, first southwest, then northwest, to find the enemy rear. The column that Sickles's men had spied moving across a gap in the tree line was part of that movement. The flanker was about to be flanked. At approximately five o'clock in the afternoon of May 2, the soldiers of Oliver O. Howard's XI Corps were gathered about their campfires cooking dinner when Jackson's Valley veterans smashed into their unprotected flank. Howard's men did not immediately break and flee despite later such charges. Division and brigade commanders scrambled to reorient their forces to face the onslaught; a few units made heroic stands, inflicting a thousand casualties on the attackers and buying the Union army valuable time. But the attackers had both numbers and momentum. When Howard's men finally gave way, the gray -- and butternut-clad soldiers poured after them with Jackson driving them onward. True to his character, Jackson wanted not merely to defeat the Federal army but to annihilate it. "Press on! Press on!" he urged his subordinates. "Press the enemy until nightfall," he ordered one brigade commander. But nightfall was the problem. Difficult as it was at any time to maneuver forces effectively in the uneven terrain and dense foliage of the Wilderness, it was impossible to do so in pitch darkness. Regardless of that, Jackson was determined to sustain his momentum, and at about nine o'clock he rode out ahead of his troops in the inky darkness hoping to discover some route by which he could cut the Yankees off from their line of retreat across the Rappahannock. Having discovered a secondary road that he thought might suit his purpose, Jackson was returning to his own lines when Confederate infantry mistook his group of mounted horsemen for Federal cavalry and opened fire. Jackson was hit three times. The wounds did not appear to be serious, but at the very least they removed Jackson's furious will from the battlefield. This fight, at least, would have to go on without him. Hooker made good his "escape" across the Rappahannock. A bolder man might have tried a counterattack, for the Federals still had numerical superiority, but Hooker's nerve was shattered. Not only had the tactical situation become utterly unglued but he also experienced a personal brush with death the next morning when a Confederate artillery shell exploded against a column on the porch of the Chancellor mansion while he was leaning against it. Rather than attempt to recoup the situation, Hooker gave orders for the army to fall back. Once again a Federal army had crossed the dare mark and had suffered for it. American Heritage History of the Battle of Gettysburg . Copyright © by Roger American Heritage. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from American Heritage History of the Battle of Gettysburg by Craig L. Symonds, American Heritage Publishing Staff All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Prologue: A Town at the Crossroadsp. 7
Chapter 1 Taken at the Floodp. 13
Chapter 2 The Eyes and Ears of the Armyp. 29
Chapter 3 Invasionp. 49
Chapter 4 McPherson's Ridgep. 69
Chapter 5 The Shadow of Stonewallp. 89
Chapter 6 The Best-Laid Plansp. 109
Chapter 7 A Tale of Two Generalsp. 121
Chapter 8 The Assault Begins: Devil's Den and Little Round Topp. 135
Chapter 9 Confederate Breakthrough: The Wheat Field and the Peach Orchardp. 155
Chapter 10 The Struggle for the High Ground: Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hillp. 173
Chapter 11 The Calm Before the Stormp. 195
Chapter 12 The Grand Assaultp. 213
Chapter 13 The Cavalryp. 243
Chapter 14 The Endgame: Retreat and Pursuitp. 261
Epilogue: The Last Full Measurep. 283
Order of Battlep. 294
A Portfolio of Gettysburg Battlefield Monumentsp. 298
Selected Bibliographyp. 308
Acknowledgmentsp. 310
Illustration Creditsp. 311
Indexp. 313