Monday, January 14, 2013

History Book - Protecting the Flank

Protecting the Flank: The Battles for Brinkerhoff's Ridge and East Cavalry Field, by Eric J. Wittenberg (2002).

I finished this smallish book over the weekend, and liked it very much. It's been sitting on the bookshelf for quite a while, and I was in the mood for a Civil War book, so I started it last week and finished it in a matter of a few evenings.

The book covers the actions on the northeast flank of the Gettysburg battlefield on July 2nd and 3rd, 1863. On the 2nd, David Gregg's Union cavalry division contested Brinkerhoff's Ridge against Walker's "Stonewall" Brigade of Johnson's Division of Ewell's Corps, which was feeling for the Union flank. On the 3rd, Gregg's division (reinforced by other Union cavalry elements) successfully held off a substantial attack by Stuart's cavalry, which was attempting to turn the Union flank and get into the Union rear in conjunction with the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble charge occurring elsewhere on the field.

This is the second or third of Wittenberg's books that I have read, and he has an easy to read style. This particular book is a relatively light 132 pages (not including the substantial section on the driving tour of the battlefield today), but has a nice amount of detail on a part of the battle that is generally glossed over quickly in the histories of the overall battle, and a part that I didn't know much about. It was informative, and taught me some things, which is always what you want.

There are lots of good maps, and pictures of many of the officers and men from units on both sides. As always, there are the repetitive quotes about "the toughest fight ever in the history of mankind", "bullets flying thick as hail", and "Captain XYZ was most gallant soldier ever", but not excessively so. A very good read.

Recommended for those with those with an interest in Civil War cavalry actions and/or a deep interest in Gettysburg.

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