Fight Like the Devil - The First Day at Gettysburg, July 1, 1863, Chris Mackowski, Kristopher D. White, Daniel T. Davis

Fight Like the Devil - The First Day at Gettysburg, July 1, 1863, Chris Mackowski, Kristopher D. White, Daniel T. Davis

The first day of the battle of Gettysburg was very different to the more famous second and third days. It was fought over different ground, to the north of the town, instead of on the famous ridges to the south, and it began as an encounter battle, with both sides throwing extra troops into the fighting during the day. As a result neither Lee nor Meade play a really major part in the day’s events, although Lee’s vagueness and Meade’s decision to make his stand at Gettysburg and not on his preferred battleground, were key to the result of the battle. Because of the way the first day evolved, it is a more ‘bitty’ story than the events of the second and third days, and this perhaps helps explain why it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.

There is space here for the authors to look as some of the myths that surround the battle, including the famous story that the Confederates came to Gettysburg looking for shoes, or the debates around the Confederate failure to attack the new positions the Union troops took to the south of the town. Most of these are addressed in the series of appendices, so they don’t interfere with the flow of the main text.

I have read some larger accounts of the entire battle that give the first day a fair amount of coverage, but none that go into quite this level of detail. The book also benefits from looking at the events of the first day of the battle as being important in their own right, and not simply as the build-up to the more famous struggles of the second and third days. The text is supported by good clear maps, and by an impressive selection of contemporary and near contemporary photographs, which give a good feel for how the battlefield looked at the time, before it became a vast battlefield park.

Chapters
1 - The Campaign
2 - First Shots
3 - Fight Like the Devil
4 - Herbst Woods
5 - The Death of John Reynolds
6 - The Railroad Cut
7 - Oak Hill
8 - Oak Ridge
9 - The XI Corps Arrives
10 - Collapse
11 - Battle in the Brickyard
12 - The Key to the Battlefield
13 - Cemetery Hill

Author: Chris Mackowski, Kristopher D. White, Daniel T. Davis
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 168
Publisher: Savas Beatie
Year: 2015


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