Book Review: “If We Are Striking for Pennsylvania”: The Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac March to Gettysburg - Volume 1: June 3–21, 1863


by Scott L. Mingus Sr. and Eric J. Wittenberg

El Dorado Hills, Ca.: Savas Beatie, 2022. Pp. liii, 432. Illus., maps, personae, append., index. $34.95. ISBN: 1611215846

Lee Invades Pennsylvania

Many books have been written about the Battle of Gettysburg, but most concentrate on the events of July 1-3, 1863. In contrast, "If We Are Striking for Pennsylvania", a new two volume work on the campaign by award-winning authors Mingus and Wittenberg concentrates on the events during the month that led up to those critical days, the largely neglected four weeks during which the armies engaged in a series of movements and maneuvers that set up the great battle. He explores how the movements of the armies affected not only the strategic and political events, but also the common people of the communities in south-central Pennsylvania.

This volume covers the events of June 3rd through the 21st, that is, from the days immediately after the Confederate victory at Chancellorsville, through their decision to undertake an invasion of the North rather than send support to their armies in the West facing Ulysses S. Grant at Vicksburg, their preparations for the new campaign across the Mason–Dixon Line, and Lee's preliminary moves northward. The authors allocate a chapter to each day from Wednesday, June 3rd through Sunday, June 2st, 1863, so readers can track the movements of both armies, see the implication of various events, and see how these movements and the small actions during them influenced the elected officials and the civilians across the area and their reactions to them.

With the upcoming second volume, this is likely to become the definitive treatment of the beginning of the Gettysburg Campaign, not only because it carefully lays out the decision making of the commander, the movements of their troops, and the consequences of those movements, but also because they take into account the effects of these on the people of Maryland and Pennsylvania.

"If We Are Striking for Pennsylvania" is not merely recommended, but should be a required reading for anyone seriously interested in the Civil War, and is certain to become a classic, one of the few times that word applies and should be used.


* A review of volume 2 of "If We Are Striking for Pennsylvania" is available online,


Our Reviewer: David Marshall has been a high school American history teacher in the Miami-Dade School district for more than three decades. A life-long Civil War enthusiast, David is president of the Miami Civil War Round Table Book Club. In addition to numerous reviews in Civil War News and other publications, he has given presentations to Civil War Round Tables on Joshua Chamberlain, Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln, the Battle of Gettysburg, and the common soldier. His previous reviews here include Stephen A. Swails, The Great ‘What Ifs’ of the American Civil War Chained to History, Grant vs. Lee: Favorite Stories and Fresh Perspectives from the Historians at Emerging Civil War, Spectacle of Grief, Braxton Bragg: The Most Hated Man of the Confederacy, First Fallen: The Life of Colonel Ellsworth, Their Maryland, The Lion of Round Top, Rites of Retaliation, Animal Histories of the Civil War Era, Benjamin Franklin Butler, Dreams of Victory: General P. G. T. Beauregard, Bonds of War, Early Struggles for Vicksburg, True Blue, Civil War Witnesses and Their Books, Love and Duty, When Hell Came To Sharpsburg, Lost Causes, and Six Miles From Charleston, Five Minutes to Hell.




Note: "If We Are Striking for Pennsylvania is also available in e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: David Marshall   

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