01 July 2009 by Published in: General News 16 comments

Brett Schulte at TOCWOC came up with a brilliant idea, which was to get a number of Civil War bloggers to list their ten favorite/most influential Gettysburg books on the anniversary of the battle. Brett was kind enough to ask me to participate, so here’s my list. I have not included any of my work on this list, as it would be immodest to do so.

1. Edwin B. Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command. This book is the bible for any serious student of the campaign. The treatment of the retreat is a little weak, only because Prof. Coddington died before it could be completed, and someone else had to finish the work.

2. Harry W. Pfanz, Gettysburg: The Second Day. A truly magnificent book that provides the sort of detailed study of Longstreet’s assault on the second day that I crave. This book is a must-have for the library of any serious student of the campaign.

3. Edward G. Longacre, The Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign:A Tactical Study of Mounted Operations during the Civil War’s Pivotal Campaign, 9 June-14 July 1863 . This 1986 book provides the first study of cavalry operations in the Gettysburg Campaign dedicated entirely to mounted operations. Its coverage lacks detail, but it’s well-written and comprehensive. It was one of the books that got me started doing what I do.

4. David G. Martin, Gettysburg, July 1. I’m a first day guy. It’s by far my favorite part of the battle. An incredible research resource, this was the first detailed study dedicated entirely to the first day of the battle. It can be tough to read, but it’s worth the effort.

5. Richard Shue, Morning at Willoughby Run. Dedicated exclusively to the morning of the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, it’s thought-provoking and detailed.

6. J. D. Petruzzi and Steven Stanley, The Complete Gettysburg Guide: Walking and Driving Tours of the Battlefield, Town, Cemeteries, Field Hospital Sites, and other Topics of Historical Interest. This is the tour guide for those who want both the mainstream and the obscure, and there is simply no substitute for the superb maps of master cartographer Steve Stanley. Another must-have for every Gettysburg library.

7. Jeffry D. Wert, Gettysburg, Day Three. Readable, complete, and well-researched, this is the best account of the entire third day of the Battle of Gettysburg ever written. I greatly admire Jeff Wert’s work and believe that this book is some of his very best work, even though a couple of the maps got bollixed up.

8. Scott L. Mingus, Sr., Flames Beyond Gettysburg: The Gordon Expedition. I’m all about the obscure stuff. The more obscure, the better. This episode occurred before the Battle of Gettysburg and had far-reaching consequences for the outcome of the campaign for a lot of reasons. Scott Mingus has done an outstanding job of documenting these events in a readable book. I am little bit biased; I wrote the introduction to this book. However, it is one of my favorites and would be even if I hadn’t written the introduction.

9. The Bachelder Papers. These are three volumes of correspondence by participants in the battle. These letters to John B. Bachelder are invaluable to trying to interpret events at the Battle of Gettysburg and also some of the events that occurred during other aspects of the campaign. I use these three volumes often in my work on the Gettysburg Campaign.

10. W. P. Conrad and Ted Alexander, When War Passed this Way. This book is indispensable if you’re interested in how the Gettysburg Campaign impacted Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Franklin County witnessed the second largest battle north of the Mason-Dixon Line at Monterey Pass, the passage of Lee’s army to and from Gettysburg, and the passage of the Wagon Train of Wounded. This groundbreaking study is a must-have for any serious student of the campaign, but good luck finding a copy. It’s long out of print and very, very hard to find. Hopefully, someone will bring it back into print one of these days (hint, hint, Ted Alexander….)

There are probably others, but these are the books that come to my mind as being essential to any Gettysburg library.

The permanent page for this project may be found here. The debate should be fun.

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  1. James McCorry
    Wed 01st Jul 2009 at 9:44 am

    Eric; A good list but I would certainly include Maps of Gettysburg by Gottfried. it really helps the tramper or armchair novice understand what happened. Also my favorite- Gettysburg Magazine (in Hardcover Edition). This saves purchasing many Gettysburg books for those who do not have a lot of space or money. Thanks

  2. Wed 01st Jul 2009 at 9:45 am


    Great list! I have four of the books you listed in my own Top 10. I agree wholeheartedly that anyone wanting to truly know Gettysburg needs the Bachelder Papers. I wondered if anyone else would choose them as a selection in their list. I’ve got a link to this post up at the permanent page for the event. Thanks for participating!

  3. Wed 01st Jul 2009 at 9:53 am

    Three of these are out so far, and not on book is repeated on my list. Cool!

  4. Paul MacInnis
    Wed 01st Jul 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Hi Eric,good stuff.I am so glad to see you have “Morning at Willoughby Run” on your list.David Martin’s book in its first run was full of errors,his second edition cleaned them up,but are are dry,dryer,dryest IMHO.Like you I’m a “first day” guy and “Gettysburg July 1″disappointed me.For a one volume all-inclusive I liked Stepen Sears’ “Gettysburg”.BTW, I am three fourths of the way through “A Terrible Glory”.It’s terrific.Your recommendation was spot on.Thanks. Paul

  5. Paul MacInnis
    Wed 01st Jul 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Ooops…should have read…”but they are…”

  6. Chris Evans
    Wed 01st Jul 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Great list Eric! I know you dislike Pickett’s Charge but the best book I’ve read on it besides Stewart’s is Earl Hess and his wonderful book that came out in 2001. It really has good primary source material and good writing in it and is quite hefty and well documented.

  7. Thu 02nd Jul 2009 at 6:52 am

    Thanks for the kind words, Eric! Sales have been terrific to date. Jubal Early and John Gordon’s expedition has too long been ignored by modern historians, so I am pleased that my book has been so well received to date.

  8. Chris Van Blargan
    Thu 02nd Jul 2009 at 8:05 am


    There are so many good books, you almost need to break it down into categories. For instance, while it would not make my adult list, McKinley Cantor’s Gettysburg is a great children’s book. And while Coddington’s study is a must read, it’s not a page turner like Harry Pfanz’s studies, which describe events on the regimental level and includes eyewitness accounts within the narrative. My list of favorites on the battle proper, as opposed to the advance and retreat, includes Pfanz’s three books, Martin’s Day 1, Morning at Willoughby Run, Stone’s Brigade and the Fight for McPherson’s Farm, Protecting the Flank, Battle Between the Farm Lanes, The Maps of Gettysburg and Gettysburg’s Bloody Wheatfield. Still trying to get my hands on Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions which, if anything like One Continuous Fight and Plenty of Blame, would probably be on my list.


  9. Chris Evans
    Thu 02nd Jul 2009 at 9:29 am

    I am lucky enough to have a copy of ‘Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions’ . It really is a great book that contains excellent information on Farnsworth’s charge ,for instance. Highly recommended!

  10. RJK
    Thu 02nd Jul 2009 at 11:07 am

    “When War Passed this Way” Sound fascinating. The cheapest I found was on ABE books online, but very expensive. Local Library and Region does not have it either.
    Any suggestions? Would I find it around Gettysburg?

    Thanks for the list.

  11. J. David Petruzzi
    Thu 02nd Jul 2009 at 11:24 pm

    Thanks so much for listing The Complete Gettysburg Guide – Steve Stanley and I are honored! We’re humbled by how well it is selling and being received, and the comments we’re receiving about it.

    And it’s being taken out and used – we’ve been hearing how dozens of folks were seen out on the battlefield that past couple days with it. One fellow told us how we had just gone out with the book to find the David Acheson burial rock, and met another fellow on the way out who also had the book looking to find it.

    Really cool.


  12. Fri 03rd Jul 2009 at 4:27 am

    It’s interesting that Eric is (I believe) the only top-ten contributor to list a primary source–or collection of them, in the case of the Batchelder Papers. I realize that book-length eyewitness accounts devoted to a single battle are rare, though. Although many of the accounts are lifted from other published works, I find Richard Rollins’ “Pickett’s Charge: Eyewitness Accounts” to be enjoyable and useful.

  13. Fri 03rd Jul 2009 at 4:48 am

    it looks like Harry’s Bull Runnings also lists a number of primary sources. Whoops.

  14. Mon 06th Jul 2009 at 2:42 am

    Excellent list Eric.

    I’m off to pick up Scott L. Mingus’ work on your recommendation aand the Bachelder Papers.



  15. Chris Van Blargan
    Tue 07th Jul 2009 at 3:59 am

    Eric – Forgot another great book – Buckeye Blood: Ohio at Gettysburg by Baumgartner. A must have for anyone interested in Ohio’s involvement in the battle.

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