Cain at Gettysburg
In June 1863, the Confederate army, under the command of General Robert E. Lee, enters Pennsylvania to take the war to the North. His army soon meets the Union army, led by the recently promoted General of the Army of the Potomac, George Mead. For three days in July, these two armies clash in and around the small town of Gettysburg. While the generals plan and give the orders, men in both armies face the actual fighting. Sergeant Blake and Private Cobb of the 26th North Carolina, two men as different as two people can be, lead several desperate charges against Northern lines, resulting in many casualties. German immigrants of the 26th Wisconsin, led by Colonel Krzyzanowski, attempt to correct the bad press received about their unit during the battle of Fredericksburg, where the German soldiers were called cowards. Both units see heavy fighting during these three days until the final clash on July 3rd – remembered after the war as Pickett’s Charge.
Ralph Peters has written an exciting novel reminiscent of Michael and Jeff Shaara’s classic novels of the Civil War. His battle scenes are both exciting and horrifying. At times I thought he overemphasized the gory scenes, but considering that the major action occurs on a battlefield, the author undoubtedly felt it was necessary to show the brutality of war with this visual effect. The dialog between the characters, especially between the fictional soldiers, helps drive the story to its obvious conclusion. You could also feel the discontent between Generals Longstreet and Lee. Both men disagreed on how to fight the battle, but you soon realize Longstreet had to respect Lee’s authority. An excellent retelling of this significant campaign, and I would highly recommend this novel to Civil War enthusiasts.