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Monday, July 1, 2013

Firestorm at Gettysburg: Civilian Voices: Recommended Reading for the 150th Anniversary


For the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, let me recommend a little reading to you. Firestorm at Gettysburg tells the story of the pivotal battle of the Civil War from the civilian point of view in their own words. Two journalists amassed this fascinating tale from journals, diaries, and newspaper articles of the day kept in historical societies and museums. The book is filled with striking historical photos as well. But it is truly the stories that win the day. 

You'll find many acts of heroism among the inhabitants caught up in the battle, surrounded by the action, and doing their best to both survive and help. Off the top of my head, two women come to mind. The first angrily scolded a Confederate officer because his men were providing water for the Confederate wounded but not the Union. After hearing from her, all the wounded had their needs met. Another tells of saving the lives of many wounded after the battle who were lying on cots in the basement of a local church. She went down to check on the men during a severe storm and discovered the basement flooding. The soldiers were too weak to remove themselves from their rapidly flooding potential tomb. This brave soul and several others carried the men out of that basement to safety. 

There are humorous turns of events. One farmer, who had sent his wife away for the duration,  had an officer ride up and tell him to get something large and white up over his barn as it was to be used for a hospital. The white cloth would signal to those manning cannons that they should not target the barn. Days later, when his wife returned home, she was not happy to find her underwear snapping in the breeze above the intact barn. 

These tales are provided in chronological order and together they stitch together the story of what happened during the battle and in the months afterwards up to Lincoln's arrival. Your blood may boil when you hear of the tourists who visit and put the lives of young boys at risk when they send them out to retrieve souvenir cannon balls for them. You won't forget on boy's tale of tragedy related to those misbegotten adventures. 

You'll learn much from this different perspective on the Battle of Gettysburg in its 150th year, a perspective long overlooked and well worth knowing. Find out about Gettysburg's unsung heroes and heroines during this anniversary year. 

Ask for this book at you local bookstore or order it from the publisher, Schiffer Publishing. 

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