Monday, August 10, 2009

The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, July 4-14, 1863
Eric J. Wittenberg, J. David Petruzzi and Michael F. Nugent
Every historical buff and wargamers knows how the three-day battles of Gettysburg turned out. Little, however, is discussed about what happened after the battle until the start of the start of the 1864 campaign. What happened after Gettysburg? How did Lee escape? How did Meade follow up his great victory in southern Pennsylvania? What routes did the opposing armies take? This book could be considered the definitive text as it describes the events of 4-14 July 1863 and offers incredibly detailed instructions on how to actually drive the paths taken by both armies after the battle. Over 60 pictures/drawings interspersed in the book, 12 battle maps, 348 pages; appendices to include instructions to allow a driving tour of the retreat, a driving tour of the Confederate wounded and orders of battle, 60 pages; notes, 55 pages; bibliography, 50 pages; index; 16 pages.
The authors do an outstanding job of presenting the story of the Confederate retreat. They discuss the travails of the miles and miles of hundreds of wagons containing the Rebel wounded as they escape from Pennsylvania and have to fight off raiding Union cavalry and local townsfolk. Other chapters are devoted to the retreat of the main Confederate army and the difficulties encountered by the Union army. Despite having won a great victory, much of the army was worn out with reinforcements coming from green untried forces. The most interesting parts of the book included the many smaller actions that were fought throughout these 11 days, which were mostly cavalry actions.
Beyond being an excellent read, wargamers will find this book is a GOLDMINE for potential scenarios. Have you got Union and Confederate cavalry figures that have collecting dust? It is time to dust them off and get them ready for the gaming table. There are several small unit actions for skirmish games and a few larger battles for full table games. The desperate Confederate defense of Williamsport is most intriguing – as Union cavalry attempts to block the southern retreat, the Rebels resort to gathering up wounded soldiers to form a hasty defense. There is also an awesome “what if” battle pitting Meade’s forces that have caught Lee’s entrenched Confederates at Williamsport and Falling Waters. I would be very interested in replaying these battles on the gaming table!
The authors do an excellent job of writing a book that is easy to follow and fun to read. Their conclusions offer insight about the problems encountered by the Union army in their pursuit of Lee and an objective discussion about where the blame should lay for not “ending the rebellion by destroying Lee’s army north of the Potomac”. This is an excellent book and one that should be in the library of every American Civil War buff - one of my favorite books this past year!
Price: $34.95


Post a Comment

<< Home