Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pete Jorgensen passes

Those who are fans of The Civil War News and The Artilleryman Magazine (myself on both counts) know of C. Peter Jorgensen - author, editor, and preservationist. I just received the following:

C. Peter Jorgensen of Tunbridge, Vermont died Sept. 25 of cancer at age 68. His funeral will be Saturday, Oct. 3, at noon at the Tunbridge Church followed by a burial service and Pete's Party, both at his Monarch Hill Road home, to which all are invited. The committal ceremony will be reminiscent of the annual Tunbridge Memorial Day service in which Jorgensen participated until this year. It will include music by the Constitution Brass Quintet, firing squad, the release of white doves and cannons fired by the Vermont Civil War Hemlocks. Buffet lunch will be served after which friends will be invited to share reminiscences.

A complete obituary will follow, and any e-version of it I will try to post here. Prayers and good thoughts go out to Kay Jorgensen and her family.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Battle of Hunterstown tour, Part 1, now on "Gettysburg Daily"

Steve Stanley and J.D. Petruzzi at the new historical
wayside on the battle-era John Tate Farm, Hunterstown Pa.
In the old road trace of the road leading from the old town square
(grassy area in the background) to the York Pike and Gettysburg.

Webmaster Bobby Housch has put up Part 1 of the tour of the July 2, 1863 cavalry battle at Hunterstown by me and Steve Stanley on Gettysburg Daily. We begin with the opening skirmish a couple hundred yards east of what was the town square, then proceed to the square, and finally we show the old road trace of the road to the York Pike that ran through the John Tate farm (which was used by the troopers as they galloped to what would become the main battlefield on the Felty and Gilbert farms).

Please check it out - we hope you like it! Part 2 (on the main field of the battle) is to follow, then will be our tour of the July 3 battle at Fairfield (likely also in two parts). Detailed narratives and tours of the two battles are included in our book The Complete Gettysburg Guide.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Photo Contest Winner!

Tyler Fasnacht on Big Round Top with
The Complete Gettysburg Guide

Young Mr. Tyler Fasnacht is the winner of our Complete Gettysburg Guide Photo Contest! In July, we started a contest for folks to send us pictures of them holding the book, or with the book in various places such as the battlefield, etc. Tyler sent us a photo of him holding the book on the summit of Big Round Top. ALL of the photos were simply fantastic - many of them very creative and taking much effort to create. But we feel that anyone who is willing to lug the book all the way to the top of Big Round Top deserves a prize!

Tyler has his choice of a Special Signed and Numbered Limited Gettysburg Edition of the book, or a choice of any other Savas Beatie title on us! Congratulations to Tyler, and congratulations and thank you to everyone who participated.

Here are more submissions:
Craig "The Marker Hunter" Swain

Ron Linfonte (center) and his two sons, along with
a Harpers Ferry Springfield musket given to his grandfather
in the 1920's by a Civil War veteran

Rae-Ann McDonald, in full cavalry uniform, with her
steed Maybee, both enjoying The Guide

Now you can see why it was so difficult to choose a winner! More photos to come...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

...Oh my! Part 2

In a short time, we were in historic Shepherdstown, a place I haven't visited in a few years. While we went through town, the Shepherd University football team was playing in the stadium to a large crowd. After a while we reached Harpers Ferry. I love it there. I brought my wife there shortly after we were married, and showed her around. I even walked her out to the Jefferson Rock, quite a hike up the mountain.

The four of us were starved (yes, I know, that shocks folks who know me well), and one of my favorite places is a BBQ restaurant located near the train depot, a restaurant that is actually in a train car. Steve and Kyrstie have been there before, too, so we sat down to a great meal of Lt. Louis ribs slathered in sauce. I finished my rack, but I don't think Steve got all the way through his. Kyrstie only ate half of hers. Leigh Ann had a pulled pork sammich, and when through we we all satisfied. I'm grateful to our waitress, Brooke, who steered me away from my initial ordering of the fruit punch as my beverage. "Tastes like cough medicine," she admitted, out of earshot of the owner behind the grill. I got the root beer instead, seemingly a wise decision. I gave her an extra tip for the advice.

We then walked down to the Harpers Ferry bookstore, which has a great selection of books - Civil War, general history, local history, etc. It never fails that I melt the credit card in there, and this day was no exception. I found a recent book on the history off the CW in Loudoun County I've been meaning to get, as well as a new book on Chew's artillery battery in the war that will prove to be a great resource for Jeb Stuart's artillery. I found a quote from one of Chew's gunners in there about the July 3, 1863 battle of Fairfield outside Gettysburg that I wished I'd had a while back. A couple of my books were there as well, always good to see. Leigh Ann, a school teacher, bought the book of Lincoln's Quotations for use in her classroom. It is a newer paperback reprint. When I saw it, I told her that I actually have a hardcover first edition of it and that it's a good book and I recommended it.

We needed to get back to Gettysburg, so we got back on the road and arrived back in town about 7:00 pm. That gave us enough time to freshen up, let me make a few phone calls, and head out for the evening. I met Steve and the girls at Kilwin's on Steinwehr Avenue for ice cream. My hot fudge sundae hit the spot!

We then walked down to Jim Glessner's American History Store. Jim had only two copies of the Gettysburg Guide left, and Steve promised to drop some more off later. We shot the bull for a while, then we drove to the Mine. Before meeting up with the gang, I had stopped at Sal Prezioso's house, "Red Patch." Sal had asked me to stop, and then I convinced him to come out and play - to come to the Mine for a few drinks. After telling his lovely wife Gail that I was going to booze up her husband and corrupt him, he followed me to the Mine - he admitted that in all the years he's lived in Gettysburg, the Mine was the one spot he's never visited. It was my duty, of course, to correct that omission.

We had a terrific time that night, talking with friends including Jim Lamason and his wife Bev. Sal got initiated in the atmosphere of the Mine, and regaled us with tales of his many overseas travels. I think he had a good time that night, and hopefully Gail will let him out once or twice again.

I was scheduled to tape the tours of Hunterstown and Fairfield on Sunday at 2:00 pm. The tapings for Gettysburg Daily had been set up by my publicist at Savas Beatie, based on the tours of the cavalry battles there in the Gettysburg Guide. I had some time Sunday morning to run out to Hunterstown and make sure that it was okay to be on the property of the historic John Tate farm, owned by Hunterstown Historical Society founders Roger and Laurie Harding. When I arrived, Roger was painting the fence in front of the house, and Laurie also came out to greet me. When I described the taping, they agreed that it would be great PR for the battlefield. I would be able to take Bobby onto their property and show the old road trace that led out of the old town square, on which the Confederate and Federal cavalry galloped to what became the main battlefield on the Felty and Gilbert farms. Laurie also told me that she had a pen and ink engraving showing the old road trace as it went between the Tate barn and blacksmith shop - she promised to have a copy of it for me that afternoon.

I had lunch back in Gettysburg, and then went back to Hunterstown to meet Bobby and Steve. Steve had printed large versions of the pertinent battle maps from the book for us to show on camera. Bobby arrived at 2:00 pm, and we drove east to the area of the wartime Jesse and Jane Ann McCreary home, in front of which the opening skirmish of the battle took place. Steve and I got ready, and Bobby turned on the camera. Well, he tried to, that is. It wouldn't work for him. He changed tapes, changed batteries, but nothing worked. Uh oh.

After Bobby tried everything but just couldn't get it working, he pulled out a smaller digital camera that could take both pictures and video. We now would really have to keep each vignette short. I described the opening skirmish, the we went to the old town square to talk there. Steve held up one of his maps and we showed how the area looked in 1863. We then went to the old road trace through the Hardings' farm, and on their fence was an envelope for us from Roger and Laurie. Inside were two very nice copies of the pen and ink drawing of the old road - really neat! We did a taping there, then several tapings on the main battlefield. Several times Steve held up his maps for us to point out the locations and 1863 topography.

Next was Fairfield. Bobby stopped in town to get another disc for his camera, and we made the 10-minute drive to Fairfield. Again we taped at the area of the opening actions, then went to the main battlefield. I showed the old road trace of what is now Knox Road, and made a point to emphasize that the very tough fences along the roads and in the fields really made it difficult for mounted operations. I then finished up with a little talk about the ramifications of the July 3 battle there, which showed how exposed Lee's rear was, and the unexploited opportunity to choke off one of Lee's main lines of retreat - the Fairfield Gap/Monterey Gap corridor.

Since it was already 5:00 pm, there wasn't any time to do South Cavalry Field as planned. Also, I needed to get on the road for the nearly four-hour drive. We made a plan to tape SCF on March 7 next year.

Bobby is really a terrific guy. He's very personable, easy to work with, and I really appreciated the opportunity for the additional exposure for the tours in our book. Folks in over 120 countries view and enjoy his website. Doing the tapings was a great deal of fun. While at Fairfield, one of the 6th US Cavalry's squadron commanders slipped my mind for a moment, and I went blank. We had to stop the tape, and we had a good laugh over it. Bobby doesn't expect folks to be infallible experts, just to be well-informed, passionate about the events, and to have fun with it all. We certainly did.

Back at Steve's apartment, we signed a bunch of copies of the Guide - second editions since the first edition was pretty much gone shortly after release. The third edition has just been ordered, which is really very humbling. I brought back a couple cases which needed to get shipped out for orders.

There was a lot of construction on the freeways, so it took me all of the four hours to get home Sunday night. I was beat, but was able to look back on a very nice weekend in Adams County, Antietam, and Harpers Ferry. After being sick for nearly an entire month, and pretty much chained to the house and office since, it was fabulous getting out for a couple days and having a great time with great friends. I'm hoping to get back once or twice before Remembrance Day in November.

Bobby tells me the Hunterstown tour segment should be on his site this Friday - I'll post a link here once it appears.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Gettysburg...Antietam...Harpers Ferry...Hunterstown...Fairfield...Oh my!

Last night I returned from a very busy, yet enjoyable trip to Gettysburg and nearby environs. The trip was mainly to give taped tours of the battle of Hunterstown and Fairfield for Bobby Housch for his GettysburgDaily website, but also for Steve Stanley and I to do some legwork for our next book, The Complete Antietam Guide. I couldn't leave until after work Friday, so I arrived in Gettysburg about 10 pm.

Buddy Jim Glessner, who manages The American History Store on Steinwehr Avenue, called me while I was on the road to let me know that two Licensed Battlefield Guides had heard I was coming to town and wanted to meet me. They were waiting for me at O'Rorkes. When I arrived, we had a very nice discussion about The Complete Gettysburg Guide, and they told Steve and I how much the guides enjoy the book. We were very honored by that - I have so much respect for the guides and park rangers, and the fact that they enjoy and recommend the book means a great deal to us. Everyone especially enjoys the tours of the cavalry actions - so little is generally known about them, and the book has given many folks much detail and so much to see. And the tours of the cemeteries and rock carvings has a lot of people talking - those are ones I keep hearing that folks really enjoy.

After an hour or so, Steve and I, along with Steve's fiance Kyrstie and Jim headed to The Mine for a few beers and some pizza. I'd eaten dinner but was starved by that time, so I had Dominos deliver to the bar. We had a nice time for a couple hours before I headed to my usual bunkhouse, Dave and Carol Moore's home on Herr's Ridge.

Steve and I had Saturday free, so we planned a trip to Antietam. After breakfast, Steve, Kyrstie, their friend Leigh Ann and I hopped in my truck and headed for Gettysburg's sister field. We got to the Visitor Center about 10:30, where we found ranger John Hoptak holding court behind the counter. John's a cool guy, besides being an Antietam expert. He always has a big smile on his face, and it was great to see him again. John told us about the new walking tours at the newly-acquired Roulette Farm, and we determined to walk the Federal Attack on the Sunken Road there. I asked if ranger Mannie Gentile was going to be around, and John told us that after his morning tour, he'd be in the VC that afternoon. We decided to come back later so we could see Mannie.

Steve also wanted to get some more pictures for the book, so we first headed to the Dunker Church. I enjoy going in there, and we sat in one of the pews for a while. A couple of Confederate living historians came in, and we talked for a while. Next was the Maryland monument, and Steve got some nice shots there. We then drove to the Mumma Cemetery, then the Roulette Farm. I hadn't been able to walk it since the NPS acquired it, so the four of us walked down the dirt road leading to the house and outbuildings. We crawled all over the place and I enjoyed seeing the house up close for the first time. Something I found in one of the sheds surprised me, though. Inside was a complete wooden original artillery limber and ammunition chest. It looks like it had been there since the battle. On the ground behind it was a rusty 3-inch Ordnance barrel. I wondered aloud how long it had been there and how it got there. I wondered if perhaps it was found on the field after the battle (one of the wheels was in pretty bad shape) and maybe Roulette had snatched it. Until the NPS got the property, maybe no one but the owners knew it was even there. I determined to ask someone when we got back to the VC, but of course I completely forgot later.

We then hiked the Federal Attack trail to the Sunken Road, which was a real eye opener. Coming up to the very high ridge overlooking the road, it made an impact on me how those Federal flags appearing over the ridge must have looked to the Rebs below. As always, walking the ground teaches everything - nothing replaces it. And the view of the Sunken Road below was one that I took in for quite some time, enjoying the educational and different view.

The girls convinced Steve and I that we just had to walk up the observation tower - easy for them, they're both in their 20's and Steve's and my knees have seen better days. The girls walked the Sunken Road to the tower, and Steve and I knew that in order to store what would be much-needed reserve energy, we drove the truck to the tower. By the time we got there, the ladies were already at the top. Youth is wasted on the young! Steve and I groaned... er... climbed our way to the top, and of course the view was spectacular as always. The sky was rich blue, and there wasn't a single cloud. It was a fabulous day. And wonderful for taking pictures. Steve got lots of shots from up there, and thinks maybe he might have a candidate for the cover of the Antietam Guide.

We walked back down the tower - I don't think anyone had to carry Steve or me, but I might be mistaken - and headed back to the Visitor Center to hopefully find Mannie. And find him we did. Mannie, dripping suave and coolness, was perched behind the counter edifying upon a group of visitors. He saw me out of the corner of his eye and threw me a "J.D...." in the middle of his conversation with the folks. When he was finished we had a great talk. I introduced him to Steve and the girls, and he gave us some great things to think about for the book. I took his comment that "much about Antietam that seems obvious, may not be so obvious" to heart. Lots of folks have strong opinions about McClellan, Lee, what could have been done or wasn't, and that events as transpired seems obvious to the point of near silliness... but the key is to look deeper. Thanks, Mannie, and I will keep that in mind as we get further along.

We said goodbye to Mannie, signed some copies of the Gettysburg Guide in the bookstore (they had only 3 copies left, and Steve had to take two more cases down to them today), and we then drove to the town of Sharpsburg for lunch. Since it was Anniversary Weekend, the Sharpsburg Festival was going on. I'd attended it several times before, and the food is great. Unfortunately, they'd already run out of chicken by the time we got there (about 1:30 pm). Rats! We settled for some hot dogs and sat on a rock wall to eat. We walked through the festival a bit, then drove to our final destination - Burnside's Bridge.

There were lots of people there, and Steve got more nice shots of the area. The skeeters were getting to us, though, so after about a half hour we walked back up the hill. But before leaving, I showed the gang the venerable William McKinley monument - what friend Steve Basic calls the silliest monument on any battlefield. Ha ha, I find it hard to argue with him. Dedicated to what was then a popular and lamented former President, the monument specifically commemorates the fact that then-Sgt. McKinley brought coffee and food to the boys on the line - exposing himself to fire in doing so. Of course, if the popular McKinley had never become President and subsequently assassinated, the monument would not exist. Of all the unsung acts of bravery that took place on Civil War battlefields, and have never been commemorated by a marker of any kind, it does indeed seem a monument to emotional reaction more than anything else. Ah well.

After a fulfilling, wonderful day at Antietam, we headed down the road for Harpers Ferry by way of Shepherdstown. I'll post on the rest of the trip tomorrow.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Bloodiest Day

I can't let today go by without acknowledging the anniversary of the massive Battle of Antietam, of September 17, 1862. Some 23,000 Americans, who wore suits of blue or gray, fell as a result of the great battle of the Maryland Campaign. It still stands by far as America's bloodiest day, thought initially to have been surpassed by expected casualties of the events of 9-11.

I've long told folks that the Antietam battlefield is my second-favorite only to Gettysburg, but I'm not sure that's true. Gettysburg may be my "favorite" since I've studied it the longest, and have visited it the most - but perhaps Antietam truly is my most favored. It's pristine, and development has not been allowed to encroach so close like so many other spots. The nearby town of Sharpsburg is a wonderful historical village, and I have several friends there. Every time I go to Gettysburg, I hope to be able to take at least a few hours and visit Antietam, with perhaps a visit to Harpers Ferry to boot.

Well, this weekend I'll finally get to Antietam again. Sunday I am doing a taping of my tours of the battles of Hunterstown and Fairfield (and perhaps South Cavalry Field) based on my latest book with Steve Stanley for the website Gettysburg Daily. But I'm driving to Gettysburg Friday evening, and Steve and I are going to spend most of Saturday at Antietam doing some legwork for our new book - a guide to the Maryland Campaign. Steve is going to take some more pictures for the book (it will feature the battlefield and surrounding areas in all seasons, just like the Gettysburg Guide), and there are several obscure spots that I need to spend some time at to take some notes. I can't wait to get back there.

The Antietam casualties were ponderous. Their sacrifice is ponderous. And what it took to become a unified nation is ponderous indeed - something we should never forget amongst the many petty arguments we often get into, just to prove to ourselves that we're still there.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Change in seasons

Here in Western PA (West Pennsyltucky for my friend Rick Allen of Maryland), we are blessed with all four seasons. Sometimes in the extreme - summers can be mild or hot as hell. Winters can be mild, or we can have -22 degree nights and snow measured in feet. Fall, however, has always been my favorite.

Right around this time of year, the signs of autumn begin. The leaves are just starting to change, and soon will be in their full painted-canvas glory... to be enjoyed for a couple weeks if a huge windstorm doesn't blow them down. Folks from other parts, in fact, drive here to western or central PA to view the leaves on the mountains.

The nights cool off after still-warm days. Today, for instance, was sunny and about 76 degrees at its warmest. Tonite, however, will dip down to about 52 - wonderful sleeping weather. It's the time of year when you need to run neither the furnace or the air conditioning. The temp in the house is comfortable 24 hours a day. That nip in the air causes folks 'round these parts to look into the sky as if reading some type of annual sign, and say, "Hhmm. Football weather." I think that phrase is passed down through generations like a favorite recipe.

And the smells - you can smell those leaves. If I went into a coma for 20 years, and was blind when I woke up, all I'd have to do is smell the outside air here and I'd know it was sometime from mid-September to mid-October. No doubt. Some folks are also beginning to burn their fireplaces and woodburners at night - meaning you can smell that wonderful, sweet aroma. I caught it when I took the garbage out tonite. One of the many Amish families that live all around me must be burning wood tonite.

Fall is also marked, for me, by the shift in my household chores. Over the past few days, I tore down my 1500-sq. ft. garden, always a sign for me that the end of summer is near. The tomato plants were dead and over, and so was everything else except the pepper and cabbage plants. The cabbage is about ready to pick, and I'll be harvesting peppers for another week or two. The garden, which was a sign of growing life and expectations of harvest several months back, is now a mostly-empty patch that soon will be covered with snow. My mom, who passed away this past February, loved the cucumbers and tomatoes that I grew. This was the first growing season without her, and every time I worked the cukes, picked one, or enjoyed one in a salad, reminded me of her. Simple things like the garden kept her memory alive for me, just like so many foods and other familiar things remind me of family and friends past.

I also started moving and stacking the firewood this afternoon. I buy hardwood by the tractor-trailer load and throughout the summer cut it and split it. It's great exercise, and a terrific way to heat the house in winter. We have a modern woodburner built right into the electric furnace, and we burn wood as much as possible. Excepting the cost and time that we put into the wood, we are able to heat our 2-story 4200-sq. ft. home for about $30 a month, on average and even during the coldest months. I figure - why give the money to the electric company - and as I said it's great exercise getting it ready. My dad and I cut and split wood for his fireplace and woodburner when I was a kid, so it's an activity I've long enjoyed. And considering the Cap and Tax the cretins in Congress are instituting - doubling and tripling electric rates because of a "global warming" that doesn't exist except in the inexplicable mind of Al Gore - it'll save even more money. More money to put into Civil War research!

I was raised very Italian, and in my family all the men cook. Today, I do most of the cooking and always have. My dishes always change when autumn rolls around. This week I made my homemade chili, always a winter favorite. Another is cabbage and ham stew, and several other dishes made usually only during the cooler weather.

And this is also the time of year I start digging into whatever will be the next book. I enjoy writing over the winter months, and it fits well with the summer marketing season. If I can finish a book by January or so, then it's on schedule for editing, etc. for a spring release. I wrote most of the text of The Complete Gettysburg Guide in front of the fireplace in our living room - fire blazing, wood crackling and popping, one of my wife's crocheted blankets over my lap on which I rested the laptop. Our little dacshund Buddy curled up on my stomach. Steve Stanley and I have begun work on our next one - a guide to the 1862 Maryland Campaign - and I'm sure I'll work on it mostly in front of the fire. I had actually planned to begin early, this past August, but my nearly month-long illness precluded that. Concurrently, I'm also working on the script for the audio tour that will compliment the Gettysburg guide.

Soon, the snow will begin flying. I hate it by the time January/February rolls around, but that first snowflake we usually see around here in late October or early November evokes admiration from most folks. Hey, it snowed last night. Winter's comin'. Wonder how bad it'll be? Well, they say a bad winter this time. Or - They say a mild one this year. I don't know who the hell "they" are, but those folks seem to have an opinion about everything, don't they?

Next spring, the process starts all over again. The air will warm and the sun will get higher even while there's still snow patches on the ground. I'll start tilling the garden, eager to get the tomato and cucumber plants in. I'll think of Mom and how she loved them. I'll start wearing short-sleeved shirts even while the temperature is still in the 50's, just to let Ol Man Winter know he's not welcome anymore. And a whole new season of visiting Gettysburg and other historical sites, talking to folks about this passion, and perhaps anticipating the release of another book will all be just around the corner.

That reminds me, time to get back to writing. C'mon, Buddy, time for us to hop in the easy chair in front of the fireplace. I'm not building a fire tonite - not yet - but I'm sure he'll understand.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Steve Stanley on Civil War Talk Radio

If you didn't get to hear it live today, master cartographer/photographer Steve Stanley was the guest on Civil War Talk Radio this afternoon. In addition to the discussion about our new book, I know you'll enjoy hearing Steve talk about his early interest in history and mapmaking, how he develops his maps, and his thoughts about battlefields and preservation. Most folks know Steve by the beautiful maps he produces for the Civil War Preservation Trust, and now through the interview you'll be introduced to much more! Click on the link above (you should be able to listen to the show by clicking the player in the middle of the screen, and soon the show will be archived by date).

Great job, Steve, and congratulations!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

PCN-TV Interview about "The Complete Gettysburg Guide"

Yesterday (Wednesday) I traveled to our capitol, Harrisburg Pa, to the studios of PCN-TV to tape an hour-long interview for the channel's "PA Books." I was a bit nervous going into it, since it was my first on-camera interview, but host Brian Lockman (left) made me feel very much at ease and was very easy to talk to. It was a great time! It was a very conversational interview, which made it fun. Brian told me that he really enjoyed The Complete Gettysburg Guide, and knew it very well. His questions about it, however, were very well done - instead of simply asking me about this or that in the book, he asked more general questions about Gettysburg, which allowed me to connect the topics with the book however I wished. I thought that was a really terrific way to do it. Instead of just a fact-by-fact accounting of what is in the book, we were able to have more of a conversation about its contents, the tours, the battlefield and town, and the battle's impact on history and its participants.

The taping that we did will be edited to one hour. For a little behind-the-scenes, one thing you probably won't see (hopefully!) is when I deftly dumped nearly the entire contents of my coffee mug into my lap during the interview! Brian needed to take a break at one point for a drink, and I decided to do the same - accidentally spilling the water on my pants. We had a good laugh over it, and I thought that maybe they should just leave it in the final airing - folks who know me well would just figure "that's J.D." :)

The interview is scheduled to air on October 25 at 9:00 pm. Here is a link to the PA Books section of PCN-TV's website (scroll down through the window on the left side of the page to see the section for the book). Over 3,000,000 households in Pennsylvania receive PCN, and it will also be available as a podcast on their website so anyone can see it. I'll provide more information when I have it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

"Complete Gettysburg Guide" audio companion update

A wonderful review of the book appears in the November 2009 issue of America's Civil War magazine, in subscriber's hands and on newsstands now. I repeat it here, but also importantly for the last paragraph of Robin Friedman's review:

Casual visitors to Gettysburg usually do just fine following the National Park Service's auto tour map to get their fill of the historic battlefield. But if you really want to explore the sites and events surrounding the epic three-day battle, this comprehensive new guide by Civil War historian J. David Petruzzi and accomplished cartographer/photographer Steven Stanley is a welcome and
invaluable resource.

The guide's subtitle - Walking and Driving Tours of the Battlefield, Town, Cemeteries and Other Topics of Historical Interest - tells you all you need about the authors' goal here. Petruzzi and Stanley have developed 11 separate tours of the battle in stunning, colorful detail. The first is a tour of the June 26 Marsh Creek skirmish between Confederate cavalry and Pennsylvania militia and the final two examine the battlefield's beautiful rock carvings and its outlying field hospital sites.

Published on high quality, glossy paper, the 320-page hardcover book is both durable and easy to hold as you follow the tours. Directions for each tour's sites are provided in meticulous detail, and Stanley's maps and photographs are first-rate.

Petruzzi opens the guide with an extensive overview of the Gettysburg Campaign and then the Marsh Creek skirmish tour. The first day of the main battle often gets bypassed in favor of the fighting on July 2 and 3, but the authors want to make clear that what happened on July 1 is critical to comprehending the battle as a whole. Petruzzi and Stanley provide 12 specific stops on this tour, including the often-overlooked memorial three miles west of town marking the conflict's opening shots.

The tour for the July 2-3 fighting comes in a single chapter, with the action arranged by location rather than chronologically. This approach allows the reader to see the interrelationships between the fighting on those days. Thus, the tour begins with the Confederate position on Seminary ridge and covers the Southern penetration of the Union center late on July 2, almost at the same point it attained briefly during Pickett's Charge.

Other tours cover the little-known but significant fighting at Brinkerhoff's Ridge on July 2, as well as the July 3 battle between J.E.B. Stuart and David Gregg at East Cavalry Field. Separate tours cover the obscure July 2 cavalry clash at Hunterstown and the July 3 engagement at Fairfield, a loss for the Union mounted arm.

The authors give the Evergreen and Soldiers' National cemeteries deserved attention but should have looked further at the African-American presence during the battle. The town's small Lincoln Cemetery, a historic burial ground for African Americans, offers
eloquent testimony to the Civil War and is worth a visit.

Thank you, Robin, for such a great review of the book. As to your final point, I had actually considered trying to work in a tour of the Lincoln Cemetery (one I have visited many, many times and as recently as this past July), along with visits to Cashtown and the pass, Black's Cemetery, the battle at Hanover, etc. However, space was the consideration. If you look carefully at the book, you'll see that our publisher Ted Savas at Savas-Beatie chose the much higher quality (and expensive) sewn binding of the heavy, gloss paper - rather than the common glued binding. Note that many sections of dozens of pages, each sewn together and then bound together to produce the book, make up the whole. Logistically, with this type of production, you can't just add, say, 3 or 4 more pages. You'd have to add dozens. That's why we had to make the decision to include what we did. Another sewn section in the book would have added perhaps $5 or $10 more to the price... knocking out a huge segment of the buying public. The book retails for only $39.95 ( less than many black-and-white hardcovers today) and less than $30 on online sellers like Amazon. A bigger book would retail closer to $50, and no one would buy it.

When we began the book, we were given the 320-page limit by Ted (all with an eye toward desired production costs of the book driving the affordable retail price), meaning that once all the text, maps, and photos were produced and chosen, Steve had to lay it all out to see how it would fit. Also, notice that the opening of each tour chapter features a photograph that "bleeds" over a facing two-page spread, which is how we wanted each chapter to begin. This, then, is another factor that dictates how, and on what page, each preceding chapter must end - further dictating the page count of each tour chapter. Obviously, we knew how many of Steve's maps had to be in the book - we were not going to short-change those, period. Depending on their size, they all take up a certain amount of space. Of course, you also have to calculate in the front and back matter, bibliography, and index. (Now do you see why Steve, in the Introduction, tells what a long, tedious process it was to design the book? :) We had originally chosen to include a tour of Hanover, but it just wouldn't fit. At the end, we also had to remove several photos that Steve had planned, and wanted, to include, but it was either remove them or remove text. It was a long process of choosing what could be included (based on necessity and desire) and what had to go.

In the end, then, the desire to include "one more tour" of, for example, the Lincoln Cemetery, or Cashtown, or whatever, would have driven us to add an entire section of many more pages, driving up the price of the book and making it much less affordable to a wide variety of folks. So it was a question of adding all those 4 or 5 other tours - or none of them. Not one or two. This type of question has come up since the book's release ("Why not add this, it would have taken only a couple pages....?") and folks understand the logistics of book production when I explain this to them.

However, it allows us to... include these sites in the audio tour! The audio tour will compliment (not replace) the book. So there will be tours, sites, and events in the audio tour not in the book, and vice versa. The audio tour will not be a simple reading of the book text, and in fact the two will be quite different, giving the visitor a much fuller, broader experience when they have both (a must!). Steve and I have many, many different sites and events planned for inclusion in the audio tour, and if anyone has any suggestions please do let me know - we'd be interested and grateful for all ideas.

So that's the answer to why this or that didn't make the book - but is very likely to be in the audio companion. Stay tuned.

Friday, September 4, 2009

"Plenty of Blame To Go Around" makes Top 50 Civil War Books of All Time list

I was quite honored to learn today that Plenty of Blame To Go Around: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg made the updated Old Baldy Civil War Roundtable (Philadelphia PA) list of the 50 Civil War Books of All Time. This book (my first, and co-authored with Eric Wittenberg) appeared in 2006 and came in at #50. We are in terrific company - classics by Foote, McPherson, Shaara, Sears, Frassanito, Catton, Warner, etc. headline the list.
To have your work thought of as important as these classics is humbling and gratifying. Thank you to those who formulate the list, to all those who have enjoyed the book, and everyone for thinking so highly of the work. It is appreciated beyond words!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dimitri Rotov's review of The Complete Gettysburg Guide

We have been humbled by all the wonderful reviews that the book has been garnering. Over the past couple of months, I have been receiving emails from folks who have read it and used it on the field, and all the comments have been terrific. There are several bloggers who specialize in book reviews, and Dimitri Rotov is one that I (and everyone) respect very much. His reviews are always very insightful and detailed. Dimitri tells it like it is, and it's difficult to impress him - which is as it should be. I enjoy reading his entries every day.

Yesterday (September 2) Dimitri put up his review of The Guide. As expected, he goes into a great amount of detail. We couldn't be happier with the review, and once I read Dimitri's comments they - like so many others' -reinforced for me why we did this book. There is no better teacher of historical sites than to look at them for yourself, and study them on the spot. Thank you so much for the review, Dimitri, and I'm simply speechless. I spoke with Steve Stanley yesterday and he is one happy and humbled camper after reading it :)

On the "shingles" front (see previous post), I'm slowly healing. Once the pain is entirely gone, I think I'll be back to 100%. We're getting there!