Gettysburg Reading Recommendations

Obviously, there are many excellent books on the Battle of Gettysburg, and this list contains only a small sampling of those. This list of Gettysburg reading recommendations is a mix of “classic” scholarship and public histories. All of these books have a special place on my personal bookshelf.

My annotations are subjective, and yet I hope helpful. This bibliography groups books into four categories — the battle, the park, human interest, and other.


The Battle of Gettysburg

Catton, Bruce. Gettysburg: The Final Fury. New York: Random House, 1974. Catton’s short but classic telling of the Battle of Gettysburg is one of my favorites. It is fast-moving and clear for the general reader.

Coddington, Edwin B.. The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1968. This big, dense book is widely recognized as a “must have” military history on the Battle of Gettysburg.

Gottfried, Bradley M.. The Brigades of Gettysburg. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2012. I recommend Gottfried’s book for students who want to study the Battle of Gettysburg from the perspective of a particular brigade or set of brigades. Each sub-chapter in Gottfried’s book focuses on the battlefield actions of a brigade and its associated regiments.

Gottfried, Bradley M.. The Maps of Gettysburg. New York: Savas Beatie, 2010. For students who want to understand Gettysburg’s battlefield actions at the regiment-level, Gottfried’s book is my favorite. The maps are colorful and easy to understand. The text for each map complements the map in a clear and focused way.

Guelzo, Allen C.. Gettysburg: The Last Invasion. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013. Guelzo’s book is a fascinating chronological summary of the Battle of Gettysburg from a military perspective. It is a large book, but well-worth the read. For me, it reads like a novel.

Kantor, MacKinlay. Gettysburg. New York: Landmark Books, 1952, 1980. Although written for children who can read at a Grade Six Level, Kantor’s book is an excellent introduction for adults who want to understand the basics of the Battle of Gettysburg before diving into more detailed material. Although the language is simple, the presentation is mature.

McPherson, James M.. Hallowed Ground. New York: Random House Audio, 2003. CD-ROM. If you have a set of Gettysburg battle maps in front of you, McPherson’s audio “walk at Gettysburg” is an accessible and interesting introduction to the Battle of Gettysburg.

Petruzzi, J. David, and Steven A. Stanley. The Complete Gettysburg Guide. New York: Savas Beatie LLC, 2009. This is an auto-tour book that extends beyond Gettysburg National Military Park to the town and outlying field hospitals. Petruzzi’s book provides a helpful overview of historical sites that are not easily accessible by bicyclists who prefer to avoid major roads.

Petruzzi, J. David, and Steven A. Stanley. The Gettysburg Campaign in Numbers and Losses. El Dorado Hills, CA: Savas Beatie LLC, 2012. Historians have heated debates over battlefield numbers. Although the numbers in this 2012 book might be debated by scholars, the book stands as a valuable reference. Its maps, orders of battle, and battlefield event summaries are great resources for history students.

Pfanz, Harry W., Scott Hartwig and George Skoch. The Battle of Gettysburg: National Park Civil War Series. Hatboro, PA: Eastern National, 1994, 2006. If you are looking for one clear but detailed and accurate summary of the military actions at the Battle of Gettysburg, this book by Harry W. Pfanz is my number one recommendation.

Pfanz, Harry W.. Gettysburg: Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993. This book is part of Pfanz’s classic trilogy on the Battle of Gettysburg.

Pfanz, Harry W.. Gettysburg: The First Day. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001. This book is part of Pfanz’s classic trilogy on the Battle of Gettysburg.

Pfanz, Harry W.. Gettysburg: The Second Day. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987. This book is part of Pfanz’s classic trilogy on the Battle of Gettysburg.

Reardon, Carol and Tom Vossler. A Field Guide to Gettysburg. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013. This book is an auto-tour of Gettysburg National Military Park and the surrounding area. The author’s purpose is to tell the history of the battle’s three days from the perspective of people and places. It contains photographs, maps, and directions for tourists driving cars. (They are not usable for bicyclists.)

Symonds, Craig L. and William J. Clipson. Gettysburg: A Battlefield Atlas. Charleston, SC: The Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1992. Although an introduction to military tactics at the Battle of Gettysburg, Symonds’ book is detailed than the Pfanz’s introductory book published as part of the National Park Series. The narrative and maps are clearly connected, which helps to turn a complicated battlefield history into an understandable story.

Teague, Charles, Compiler. Gettysburg by the Numbers. Gettysburg, PA: Adams County Historical Society, 2006.  This small booklet consists of many lists and interesting facts. Want to know how many horses and mules died at the Battle of Gettysburg? How about the length in miles of a Union infantry bridge on-the-march? This booklet will answer those questions and much, much more.

Sears, Stephen W.. Gettysburg. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003. Sears’ book is regularly listed as an important historical contribution to American Civil War history and the Battle of Gettysburg. The book’s main source is the Official Records of the U. S. War Department. Sears’ book takes very difficult primary source material and recasts it in readable form for students of history.

Trudeau, Noah Andre. Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2002. Of all the one-volume summaries of the Battle of Gettysburg, Trudeau’s book might be the most enjoyable. It is clear and compelling. The book’s back matter has some interesting sections, including for example, an overview of the lives of battlefield participants long after the Battle of Gettysburg.

Wittenberg, Eric J.. Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions. New York: Savas Beatie LLC, 2011. Eric Wittenberg is widely known as Gettysburg’s expert on cavalry. If you want to expand your knowledge to cover a more complete military history, you might consider reading this book on Farnsworth’s Charge, South Cavalry Field, and the Battle of Fairfield.

Wittenberg, Eric J and J. David Petruzzi. Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart’s Controversial Ride to Gettysburg, 2nd ed. New York: Savas Beatie LLC, 2006. This is an interesting history of Jeb Stuart and his cavalry action at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Gettysburg National Military Park

The Gettysburg Foundation. Gettysburg National Military Park: Official Guidebook. Nashville, TN: Beckon Books, 2011. If you want to buy only one, high-level guidebook to Gettysburg National Military Park, this book is a good one to consider. It is colorful and artfully assembled for tourists who want an introduction to many Gettysburg topics.

Hartwig, D. Scott and Anne Marie. Gettysburg: The Complete Pictorial of Battlefield Monuments. Gettysburg, PA: Thomas Publications, 1995. I recommend this book for students who want to memorize monument photographs and their associated military unit. For that purpose, the book is a good study guide. Unfortunately, the photographs are black-and-white, and the book does not contain a map with monument locations.

Hawks, Steve A.. Stone Sentinels: The Battle of Gettysburg. http://gettysburg.stonesentinels.com/Hawks’ site is probably the most complete and reliably accurate online resource for studying the location and history of monuments in Gettysburg National Military Park.

Hawthorne, Frederick W.. Gettysburg: Stories of Men and Monuments as Told By Battlefield Guides. Gettysburg, PA: The Association of Licensed Battlefield Guides, 1988. This book offers a more lengthy history of a smaller number of Gettysburg monuments than, for example, the Huntington book. For its remarkable accuracy and reliable (error-free) summary of monument metadata, the Hawthorne book is one of my favorite references. (I could not find any historical mistakes after checking three government and privately maintained databases.)

Huntington, Tom. Guide to Gettysburg Battlefield Monuments. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2013. This pocket-size book is a handy catalog of monument photographs and metadata. For bicyclists, the book’s greatest limitation is that, knowing where you are on the battlefield, it is difficult to use the book to find information about monuments in your location.

Murray, Jennifer M. On a Great Battlefield: The Making, Management, and Memory of Gettysburg National Military Park, 1933–2013. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2014. In my opinion, Murray’s book is the single-best history of Gettysburg National Military Park, 1933-2013.

Gettysburg Human Interest Stories

Coe, James M., and Rev. Roy E. Frampton. Lincoln and the Human Interest Stories of the Gettysburg National Cemetery. Hanover, PA: The Sheridan Press, 1995. If you want to read about the lives of soldiers who are buried in Soldiers’ National Cemetery, this book is for you. The book begins with a brief history of the cemetery, and it includes many photographs.

Creighton, Margaret S.. The Colors of Courage: Gettysburg’s Forgotten History. New York: Basic Books, 2005. A page-turner, Creighton weaves a fascinating narrative about the stories of women, immigrants, and African Americans and their experience during and after the Battle of Gettysburg.

Meredith, Frank, Ed.. The Battle of Gettysburg As Seen By Two Teens: The Stories of Tiller Pierce and Daniel Skelly. Schoharie, NY: Savannah Books, 2010. Tillie Pierce and Daniel Skelly were teenagers during the Battle of Gettysburg. This small book contains their eyewitness accounts of the battle.

Small, Cindy L.. The Jennie Wade Story. Gettysburg, PA: Thomas Publications, 1991. This small book presents the story of Mary Virginia “Jennie” Wade, the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg.

Other Gettysburg Reading Recommendations

Boritt, Gabor. The Gettysburg Gospel: The Lincoln Speech That Nobody Knows. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006. Boritt provides an interesting history of Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address, and more broadly, the dedication of Soldiers’ National Cemetery, Gettysburg, November 19, 1863.

Coco, Gregory A.. A Vast Sea of Misery: A History and Guide to the Union and Confederate Field Hospitals at Gettysburg, July 1–November 20, 1863. Gettysburg, PA: Thomas Publications, 1988. Coco’s book provides an extremely detailed history of 160 hospital sites that formed to care for soldiers who were wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Smith, Timothy H.. Farms at Gettysburg: The Fields of Battle. Gettysburg, PA: Thomas Publications, 2007. This book is an interesting overview of several Gettysburg family farms and a description of the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Wills, Garry. Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992, 2006. Wills offers an intriguing exegesis of the different versions of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. This book is not a general history of the dedication of Soldiers’ National Cemetery; rather, it is a detailed analysis of the text of Lincoln’s address and the story behind its different revisions.