THE GETTYSBURG CAMPAIGN: A STUDY IN COMMAND by Edwin B. Coddington Charles Scribners Sons, 1984, 574 pages+ appendix, notes, bibliography, and index Reviewed by Joe Childress Originally published in 1968, this comprehensive study of the Battle of Gettysburg stands as an enduring tribute to its author. Among the new sources used by Coddington was the pioneering, but largely forgotten, work of Col. John Bachelder. An observer and artist attached to the Army of the Potomac, Bachelder arrived on the scene a few days after the battle, remained for more than three months interviewing wounded veterans of both armies, and spent the remainder of his life interviewing veterans to establish troop movements at Gettysburg. Now available in a compact, soft cover edition, this one-volume history is an excellent companion for those visiting the battlefield. Coddington carefully traces unit movements, command decisions, and actions on the field. Beginning with Brandy Station and the movement into Pennsylvania, the text records unfolding events, culminating in the decisive battle of the war. Although the maps are a little small and lack detail, they are an adequate accompaniment to the text. Coddington also does an excellent job of providing brief commentary on the principal participants. On Pickett's location during the charge that bears his name, Coddington provides a one-page explanation and defense. Stuart is the subject of an eight-page analysis of his actions at Rockville and following. Longstreet has a "truculent attitude and obvious unwillingness to attack". He describes Lee as "vigorous, alert, and in good spirits", providing ammunition for those who discount the charges that Lee was incapacitated due to angina or a heart attack. On the Union side, Butterfield's allegation that Meade planned to withdraw before the battle is described as "absurd". Perhaps the biggest surprise to those who learned their history from Ted Turner is the relatively brief attention given to Col. Joshua Chamberlain. Although Chamberlain's role in the battle for Little Round Top is given due credit, if you skip five pages of the text, you'll miss all references to him. The actions of Reynolds and Buford during the opening engagement at McPherson's Ridge receive Coddington's praise. The real hero of the study is George Meade. In addition to demolishing Butterfield's "absurd" allegation, Coddington explains and defends virtually every decision made by Meade, from his strategic planning on the eve of the battle to his decision not to attack the retreating Confederates on July 13. Pointing out that some contemporary critics of Meade credited Lee not only with "the laurels of the campaign" but also with victory at Gettysburg, Coddington injects a closing note of reality. He ascribes to the Union victory a new feeling among the Army of the Potomac. "The men knew what they could do under an extremely competent general.... The Army of the Potomac ... finally lived up to its promise."
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