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Book Reviews

"The Battle of Gettysburg," The North American Review 198, no. 622 (1913): 139-140.

"The Battle of Gettysburg," Overland Monthly & Out West Magazine 62 (1913): 206-207.

Nation 97 (1913): 171.


"The Battle of Gettysburg," The North American Review 198, no. 622 (1913): 139-140.

The Battle of Gettysburg. By Jesse Bowman Young. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1913.

The full significance, the full tragedy, the whole mechanism of a great battle - these are things hard to grasp. Not only is information scattered and difficult of access, but the entire phenomenon is of a complexity requiring profound study. When, however, it is given us through the labors of another to understand, as a whole and in detail, such a battle as that of Gettysburg, we feel that we are privileged to be present at the most tremendous scene of one of the greatest drama in history.

Such is the effect upon us by Jesse Bowman Young's The Battle of Gettysburg. The book has the earnestness, the sense of the grim realities of war, that one expects in the reminiscences of a veteran. It has also a comprehensiveness and thoroughness which could only result from years of investigation and careful study. The author, he tells us, "although but a stripling, was an officer in the battle." Attached to the staff of Brigadier-General Andrew A. Humphreys, he had somewhat exceptional opportunities to be in personal touch with the great movement. His residence in the Cumberland Valley for a dozen of years after the war, during which his duties as a "circuit-rider" led him gradually over all the roads traversed by the two armies explains the remarkable topographical clearness and the pictorial reality of his narrative. In reading it we become aware that we are receiving knowledge obtained as nearly as possible at first hand - we are reading the narrative of a man who has studied every foot of the battlefield and who knows the whole region with the knowledge of familiarity. "Many circumstance," he writes, "tended to reproduce the shifting scenes and manœvers of the campaign and battle before my imagination, and to inscribe them in my soul." Imaginative maturing of the subject in the author's mind, familiarity with the scene, a constant desire to know the minute details of the truth for one's own satisfaction, these are influences tending to produce a book of unique interest.

Of course the author has drawn freely upon available written sources of information, but his book is far from being in the nature of a compilation. He has made a true nexus of his facts, and his carefully-thought-out opinions as well as his fresh assembling of material give his narrative historic value. With the enthusiasm of the historian who lives in the events which he describes, Mr. Young has gathered up and sifted traditions, anecdotes, every sort of fact that would add to the human interest of his book. He has sketched the career and character of every person of importance who took part in the engagement of either side. With an extraordinary approximation to completeness, he has determined the personnel of both the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia. He has shirked no side of his subject. The causes that led to the battle, the motives and plans of the commanders, the pivotal issues which the engagement decided, all are discussed with thoroughness and insight. In the narrative of the battle itself he succeeds remarkably in making a difficult matter plain, without sacrifice of essential detail, and in bringing past events vividly before the mind. Comprehensiveness, clearness, human interest, and the indefinable power which is the reflex of the author's own personality and point of view - these are qualities that make The Battle of Gettysburg not only a valuable source of information, but a book to be read for its own sake.


"The Battle of Gettysburg," Overland Monthly & Out West Magazine 62 (1913): 206-207.

"The Battle of Gettysburg," by Jesse Bowman Young

It is appropriate that the labor of years, which Jesse Bowman Young has spent in collecting and analyzing material for his comprehensive narrative, "The Battle of Gettysburg," should be crowned by the publication of the book, almost upon the anniversary of the battle, and at a time when the attention of the whole country is turned toward the former battle-field. But the book is far from being of the sort which bases its chief claim to interest upon timeliness. As a fresh survey of the campaign and battle, including every fact of importance, written with the vividness of reminiscence, and characterized by a clearness and definiteness that result from the author's long familiarity with the region in which the battle was fought, "The Battle of Gettysburg" has a permanent and distinctive value. Mr. Young was an officer in the battle, and his duties as assistant provost marshal assigned to the headquarters of Brigadier-General Andrew Humphreys, gave him unusual opportunities for observation both on the march and in the thick of the fight. For a dozen years after the war he resided in the Cumberland Valley, and in Adams County, of which Gettysburg is the countyseat - for three years of this time in Gettysburg itself. "During these years," he writes, "the different landscapes, along with the incidents and movements of the campaign, wove themselves into panoramic visions in my brain so vividly that they have become an indelible part of my experience." As a "circuit rider" he journeyed over all the roads traversed by the two armies, and while living in Gettysburg he came to know every foot of the great battlefield and the location of every organization which took part in the engagement. Few men, we imagine, have ever attained such a clearly pictured and thoroughly inter-related conception of any great battle. The author has supplemented his personal knowledge by wide reading and close study of military problems involved. In addition, the book contains many personal sketches and a special feature is its compact array of the record of all West Point graduates who served in the campaign battle on either side. The student of history, the student of warfare, the veteran of the war, will find "The Battle of Gettysburg" of peculiar interest from his own point of view. To the general reader it presents a wonderful picture of two great armies in action.

Published by Harper & Brothers, Union Square, New York.


Nation 97 (1913): 171.

Of the numerous books about Gettysburg which the recent anniversary of the battle has called out, Jesse Bowman Young's "Battle of Gettysburg" (Harpers) is, for the lay reader, the most readable and generally satisfactory. The author, himself a Union officer, knows the ground intimately; he has read and weighed the voluminous literature of the campaign, including a number of works published within a few months; and he writes clearly and interestingly. His judgments of men and movements are on the whole, such as have come to be accepted by more critical authorities; while on controverted points he fortifies his own conclusions by an adequate presentation of the evidence. Extended appendices give the rosters of the two armies, together with the record of the two armies, together with the record of West Point graduates who served on the two sides. The illustrations reproduce a number of contemporary prints.


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