Thursday, February 2, 2023

Booknotes: Lee Invades the North

New Arrival:
Lee Invades the North: A Comparison of the Antietam and Gettysburg Campaigns by Bradley M. Gottfried (Author, 2022).

I'm obviously not familiar with every title among the legions of 1862 Maryland Campaign and 1863 Gettysburg Campaign studies, but I don't recall any existing work offering an in-depth, point by point discussion of the differences and similarities between the two. Bradley Gottfried, a Licensed Town Guide for Gettysburg, Certified Battlefield Guide for Antietam, and author of numerous publications addressing both campaigns, has not encountered such a book either, and that proved to be the motivating force behind the creation of his 2022 book Lee Invades the North: A Comparison of the Antietam and Gettysburg Campaigns.

Gottfried envisions nearly every aspect of both campaigns, from beginning to end, as open to fruitful comparison. His description offers an overview of topical breadth as follows: "The military and political environment at the beginning of each campaign," "why Lee undertook the invasions," "the armies and their leaders," "the condition of the armies," "military intelligence," "getting to the battlefield," "battles along the way," "battlefield terrain," "initial encounters," "the three phases of battle in each campaign," "the armies and their commanders-in-chiefs," "post-campaign events," and "final thoughts."

The above and more comprise chapter-length subsections in the book, and those are subdivided even further into as many as a half dozen additional topics of discussion. Each chapter's text exploration is supplemented, in tabular format, by a useful recapitulation of that subject's most notable similarities and differences. Both primary and secondary research were involved in this volume's creation, with notes and bibliography revealing a wide range of manuscript, newspaper, government document, book, and article resources. Gottfried also includes 35 maps drawn from his published atlas studies of both campaigns.

It's obvious from all this that Gottfried has deeply pondered the subject from top to bottom. If you're the kind of reader who has already spent years devouring everything Antietam and Gettysburg and are wondering if this might be the book for you, the author notes in the foreword that the material is directed toward both newbies and nitpickers alike. "This book is written for all readers. Anyone who is not familiar with the campaigns might wish to read the entire volume; those with greater knowledge will benefit by concentrating on the comparison sections."

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