There are more than 1,000 books that have been written on the Battle of Gettysburg, the majority (including my three) in the past 20-30 years. Yet, there remains a strong market for new material on the battle and campaign, or for fresh, creative approaches to present and interpret well known, time honored material. Pennsylvania Civil War authors J. David Petruzzi and Steven Stanley have succeeded on both counts with their excellent new book, The Complete Gettysburg Guide.
Blending some of the best maps and color graphics ever seen in a Gettysburg battlefield guidebook with crisp, concise and enjoyable text, Stanley and Petruzzi have generated what will surely come to be regarded as the ultimate Gettysburg overview and guide. Already scores of battlefield trampers have used this book to help them interpret what happened on the hallowed grounds of the Gettysburg National Military Park, as well as some obscure sites outside the park limits that the authors include in their well crafted series of automobile tours of the area.
Gettysburg resident Steve Stanley’s excellent maps have graced several books and publications in the past decade, and he has become regarding as one of the finest graphic artists / cartographers in the Civil War industry today. This book may be his finest achievement, as the scores of color maps that dot this book bring the troop movements, terrain, linear obstacles such as fences and stone walls, and road network to life in a fashion that is both highly readable and very accurate, as accurate as can be interpreted nearly 150 years after the guns fell silent. Primary text writer J. D. Petruzzi has co-written two previous books on the Gettysburg Campaign, one on the movements of Stuart’s cavalry and one on the retreat to Virginia following Gettysburg. Now, in perhaps his finest effort to date, he fills in what happened during the battle and its immediate prelude and postlude.
The focal point of The Complete Gettysburg Guide is a series of automobile tours not only of the battlefield proper, but perhaps more importantly, the authors break new ground by including sites in the town of Gettysburg itself, as well as nearby field hospitals of the various corps of the two warring armies. Tours include several seldom visited cemeteries that played a role in the campaign, and some rather obscure sites associated with the skirmishing of June 26 and the cavalry fights at Hunterstown, Brinkerhoff’s Ridge, and Fairfield.
The title is self-encompassing — this truly is the COMPLETE Gettysburg Guide, as there are few areas of significant historical interest within the immediate Gettysburg area that Petruzzi and Stanley have missed. It is likely that for most Gettysburg buffs, this book will soon become dogeared and worn from lots of field use, as, while it’s outstanding reading sitting by the fireplace, it’s destined to find its most valuable usage as a field guide, meant to be carried along while touring or tramping Gettysburg’s fields and roadways. Buy two copies – one to keep as a reference book at home, and one to stash in the car or SUV for those road trips.
Published by Savas Beatie of El Dorado Hills, California, The Complete Gettysburg Guide is the one book to buy this summer on the Gettysburg Campaign.
The Complete Gettysburg Guide
304 pages, hardback, dust jacket