Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Booknotes: Decisions at Gettysburg, Second Edition

New Arrival:
Decisions at Gettysburg: The Twenty Critical Decisions That Defined the Battle, Second Edition by Matt Spruill (UT Press, 2019).

Published in 2011, Matt Spruill's Decisions at Gettysburg was the progenitor of University of Tennessee Press's Command Decisions in America’s Civil War series, which did not formally launch until 2018. That original volume has now been revised and republished as Decisions at Gettysburg: The Twenty Critical Decisions That Defined the Battle, Second Edition. The new version, which is now the seventh installment in the series, "updates the nineteen critical decisions, adding a twentieth decision, and aligns the book with others in the Command Decisions in America’s Civil War series."

From the description: "Decisions at Gettysburg, second edition, further defines the critical decisions made by Confederate and Union commanders throughout the battle. Matt Spruill examines the decisions that prefigured the action and shaped the course of battle as it unfolded. Rather than a linear history of the battles, Spruill’s discussion of the critical decisions presents readers with a vivid blueprint of the battle’s development. Exploring the critical decisions in this way allows the reader to progress from a sense of what happened in these battles to why they happened as they did." I don't have a copy of the first edition for comparison, but the second edition clearly possesses the series's standardized format of critical decision analysis.

There are ten maps in total, which is a number considerably less than that found inside the typical series volume (I am thinking these are first edition carryovers), but Decisions at Gettysburg does have the modern photographic views of the battlefield that are characteristic of Spruill's books but absent from the works of other contributors. In addition to dozens of officer images, there are three order of battle diagrams in the main text and a pair of more extensive, formal OBs for both armies in the appendix section. Of the twenty critical decisions examined, one is strategic, three operational, fourteen tactical, and two organizational. Balance is eight Union vs. twelve Confederate, with eight being army-level decisions, six corps level, three division level, and three brigade level.

1 comment:

  1. Drew: It sounds as though this may not be much different from the first. That has 19, not 20, decisions but the breakdown in type seems to be similar (those in the first edition aren't so labeled). the first also has 10 maps, three org charts, OOB, and a number of present day photos.

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