Book review: Historic Photos of Gettysburg by John S. Salmon

Veteran writer / author John S. Salmon has assembled an excellent collection of some of the most famous photographs of the historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania battlefield and town, most taken with a couple of decades after the July 1863 battle. Included are some of the very best photographs, including some of the studies of dead soldiers, pictures of the key buildings and locations, early battlefield monumentation, and the various reunions of the veterans. The book is a very useful addition to the Civil War library and would make a fine “coffee table book” for display and browsing. The photo collection is varied and insightful, and the breadth of the pictures selected allows the reader to get a good feel for early photography at the battlefield and environs.

The author includes brief captions for the photos, and that is where I have some minor issues with the book. Hopefully in a second edition, some glaring errors in these captions will be corrected. For example, Zacharia Taney should be Zephaniah according to most local accounts (page 25); a barn on page 84 is portrayed as the Nicholas Codori farm (recent research has shown that this photo is actually a different barn, one that was behind the Dobbin House closer to town), and on page 74, the author incorrectly states that a grave belongs to W. Williams, Company B, 24th Michigan Cavalry should be the 24th Michigan Infantry. There are a few other nagging little nits as well in other captions.

That being said, the photos are the prize of the book. It is easily on the of the best anthologies of Gettysburg photographs in terms of overall scope. The poorly researched captions are not enough of a distraction to prevent me from recommending this book, especially if corrected in a second edition.

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