Notable Civil War historians herein continue the evaluation of select commanders begun in The First Day at Gettysburg: Essays on Confederate and Union Leadership. Using fresh manuscript sources coupled with a careful consideration of the existing literature, they explore issues such as Robert E. Lee's decision to renew the tactical offensive on July 2; James Longstreet's effectiveness in executing Lee's plan; the origin and impact of Daniel E. Sickle's decision to advance his Third Corps, which formed the infamous "Sickle's Salient"; the little-understood role of Henry W Slocum and his Union Twelfth Corps; and the contribution of John C. Caldwell's division in the maelstrom of the Wheatfield. Provocative and occasionally at odds with one another, these essays present new evidence to expand understanding of the battle and offer sometimes controversial interpretations to prompt re-evaluation of several officers who played crucial roles during the second day at Gettysburg. Historians and other students of the battle who are not persuaded by all of the essays nonetheless will find they cannot lightly dismiss their arguments.
Gallagher has put together a worthy sequel to his The First Day at Gettysburg. The volume contains five essays, originally delivered as papers at a 1991 conference. Each examines the mistakes and successes of a different military commander involved in the confrontation between 100,000 Union troops and 70,000 Confederate soldiers that sealed the fate of the Southern cause. Robert K. Krick offers a convincing reassessment of Confederate James Longstreet, long vilified as the author of the rebels' defeat. William Glenn Robertson provides a no less controversial appraisal of Federal General Daniel Sickles, who, according to conventional history, blundered in his actions at the Peach Orchard. Gallagher himself takes on the formidable task of rating the performance of Robert E. Lee, concluding that his actions were more reasonable than they have often been judged. The book proves a reflection on the nature and foibles of military leadership, and it opens up the entire panorama of the engagement and of Lee's campaign. Civil War buffs will doubtless be left eagerly awaiting a similar treatment of the final day of the encounter. Photos not seen by PW.