Part of the USA Today Network

So You Think You Know Gettysburg? Volume 2 published


James and Suzanne Gindlesperger are back with another volume of their popular and well conceived color photo book of Gettysburg iconic sites and monuments! So You Think You Know Gettysburg? remains one of my favorite books on the statuary and major features of the Gettysburg battlefield. Obviously, with more than a thousand statues, memorials, markers, and similar remembrances on the Adams County, Pennsylvania, battlefield, Jim and Suzanne could only barely scratch the surface in their first book. Even now, with this second volume, there remain plenty of monuments yet to be covered, so perhaps a third volume is in the offing?

As with the first volume, this new book is chock full of full-color photographs and brief narrative covering significant monuments. The text and pictures are arranged to be usable for touring the battlefield and are presented in the same order that a driver might encounter them while following the road maps provided by the authors.

So You Think You Know Gettysburg? Volume 2 is structured in eleven chapters each devoted to a major section of the battlefield, loosely arranged chronologically following the progression of the battle from July 1 through July 3, 1863. Chapter 1 kicks off with a series of 23 monuments west of Gettysburg on McPherson Ridge, the Railroad Cut, Oak Hill, and Oak Ridge. Similarly, each succeeding chapter features excellent photographs of between 15 and 23 monuments. All are different than the selections from Volume 1 and taken together are a wonderful overview of not only the veterans’ memorials, but also the overall flow of the fighting at Gettysburg.

Jim and Suzanne also include a few entries with some of the more esoteric places a battlefield visitor might be interested in knowing more about, including the old Guard Shack Foundation and Oates’s Rock Ledge on the Round Tops. The tour of the area around the town itself includes a stop at Lincoln Cemetery, which served Gettysburg’s black population.

Photos are included of some natural rock formations near Devil’s Den, including Elephant Rock and Table Rock. These are famous to generations of battlefield tourists and are a nice addition to Volume 2. They also include a photo of the route of the old trolley line, a Confederate gravesite, and other non-monument features of the Gettysburg battlefield.

Appendix A contains a list of all of the Union Medal of Honor recipients and Appendix B covers the Gettysburg recipients of the Confederate Medal of Honor, a rather recent recognition first bestowed posthumously in 1977. Appendix C is a rather curious addition: the famed Sullivan Ballou letter. Well known to many Civil War buffs through Ken Burns’ Civil War series on PBS, the poignant words are perhaps the single best love letter from the Civil War. However, though his regiment did fight at Gettysburg, Ballou was killed in 1861 two years before the subject matter of the book. His letter’s inclusion seems a little out of place, but it does work well for the casual battlefield tourist who might not have access to it otherwise, and of course, Ballou’s words are timeless and applicable to ill-fated soldiers throughout time.

The authors include a brief list of suggested reading material, as well as an index.  Checking in at 270 pages, this book is a perfect length to satisfy the reader with more than 200 photographs. Like Volume 1, this work is a worthy addition to the bookshelf of any Gettysburg fan as well as being a wonderful memory of that first battlefield visit for the casual tourist.

Jim and Suzanne, here’s a HUZZAH! for another job well done joining your previous first volume on Gettysburg and the one on Antietam. What’s next? Vicksburg or Shiloh would be worthy future additions to the series, hint, hint!