Book Review: Stay and Fight it Out: The Second Day at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863, Culp’s Hill and the North End of the Battlefield

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by Chris Mackowski and Kristopher D. White

El Dorado Hills, Ca.: Savas Beatie, 2023. Pp. xxiv, 165. Illus., maps, appends., biblio.. $16.95 paper. ISBN: 1611213312

The Fight for Culp’s Hill

Despite having gripped the American imagination for 160 years, engendering numerous books and studies, much misinformation and many apocryphal tales still circulate about the battle. In this book authors Mackowski and White follow earlier “Emerging Civil War” works on particular aspects of the battle (e.g., Fight Like the Devil, on July 1st, Don't Give an Inch, on the massive Confederate assault on the south end of the Union July 2nd), with a look at the fighting at the north end of the Union line on July 2nd, particularly at Culp’s Hill, a rather neglected, but critical part of the battle..

The authors open with some background, providing readers with context to understand the events of July 2nd. Their account of the second day's fighting opens with a look at the planning discussions between the principal local commanders on both sides, notably the Confederacy’s Richard Ewell, Jubal Early and Robert Rhodes, and the Union’s O.O. Howard and Winfield Scott Hancock. The work highlights their personalities, and then continues to offer analysis of the generals' decisions throughout the battle, helping readers understand the reasoning behind particular decisions.

In the main text, we get a close look at the fighting around Culp’s Hill and the northern end of the Union line. There are artillery clashes between Union batteries atop the heights south of Gettysburg and Confederate ones on Benner's Hill, there’s fighting at Brinkerhoff's Ridge, and then late in the day, two nocturnal Confederate assaults on Culp's Hill and East Cemetery Hill.

In the end, when Union officers met to decide whether to withdraw to a better position or continue to hold, Maj. Gen. Henry Slocum, commanding the Twelfth Army Corps, at the northernmost end of the Union line, uttered the words “Stay and fight it out,” to which his comrades agreed, noting that their position was strong.

The authors then add an epilogue, to carry the story of the fighting through July 3rd, the final day of the battle. In conclusion, they argue that the attack on Culp's Hill offered the Confederacy an excellent chance to secure a victory, which was denied them.

The book includes a number of valuable sidebars clarifying particular points, and a rather good guide for a motor tour of the field.

Kristopher D. White is the deputy director of education at the American Battlefield Trust.

Stay and Fight It Our  offers an accessible, highly informative, readable, and well-rounded picture of the events on July 2 at Culp’s Hill and the North End of the battlefield, and is highly recommended.

 

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 Navigating Liberty: Black Refugees and Antislavery Reformers in the Civil War South, Gettysburg In Color, Vol 1, "The Bullets Flew Like Hail", John Brown's Raid, Searching For Irvin McDowell, A House Built by Slaves, They Came Only To Die, General Grant and the Verdict of History, Gettysburg In Color, Vol 2, Man of Fire, To the Last Extremity, Hood's Defeat Near Fox's Gap, "If We Are Striking for Pennsylvania", Vol. 2, Outwitting Forrest, All That Can Be Expected, Force of a Cyclone, Lincoln and Native Americans, Detour to Disaster, Lincoln in Lists, A Wilderness of Destruction, Twelve Days, and The Civil War Memoirs of Captain William J. Seymour.

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Note: "Stay and Fight it Out" is also available in e-editions.

 

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

www.nymas.org

Reviewer: David Marshall   


Buy it at Amazon.com

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