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Gettysburg a Meditation on War and Values

by Kent Gramm

  • ISBN: 9780253326218
  • ISBN10: 0253326214

Gettysburg a Meditation on War and Values

by Kent Gramm

  • List Price: $19.95
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Indiana Univ Pr
  • Publish date: 02/01/1994
  • ISBN: 9780253326218
  • ISBN10: 0253326214
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Description: Gettysburg is a book about values - the values of the Civil War generation and those we live by today. Theirs was a generation willing to die in great numbers for a principle as abstract as union. What motivated them? What have we done with the heritage that they bequeathed to us? This book asks whether America in the 1990s knows what its present character, economics, and society cost, and whether the country's present battles have as noble a purpose and as hopeful a prospect as the great cataclysm of July 1863 - the Battle of Gettysburg. Walt Whitman perhaps said it best: "Will the America of the future - will this vast, rich Union ever realize what itself cost back there, after all?" This is, in effect, the story of two battlefields: Gettysburg during July 1863 and Gettysburg during the 1990s. Following Thoreau's dictum that "it is the province of the historian to find out, not what was, but what is", the author has searched for contemporary America among the famous places of Gettysburg's historic landscape: McPherson's Woods and the Seminary, where the Iron Brigade made its decisive last stand and defined the economics of glory; the town itself, now a monument to the grim struggle of the past and the commercialism of the present; Cemetery Hill, where German gunners defended their pieces with rammers, water buckets, and unintelligible oaths; Seminary Ridge, where a young division commander pondered the meaning of the war and the will of God; Little Round Top, where the 15th Alabama nearly accomplished the humanly impossible; the Peach Orchard, where determination and heroism saved a day that, in the words of Bruce Catton, "needed a lot of saving"; the wheat field, where a Yankeecolonel got a deathly glimpse of his future; the field of Pickett's Charge, where Lee's chief lieutenant first had to fight out his own lonely battle, and where a doomed and disgraced general then fought and won his battle with history and honor; and finally the battlefield after July 4 - the aceldama, the field of blood. This book presents a new perspective on the importance of the first day's battle, reassesses the tactical impact of new weaponry, examines in light of battlefield statistics the famous defense of Little Round Top, re-evaluates the thinking of Robert E. Lee, looks to Walt Whitman and Abraham Lincoln for explanations as to why the nation fought at all, and illuminates such lesser-known heroes as John F. Reynolds, John Buford, A. A. Humphreys, Joseph Kershaw, Freeman McGilvery, John Bigelow, and William Dorsey Pender. This is a book for any person who has pondered the meaning of American history or has visited any of the Civil War battle sites, heard voices from the past, and wondered who those people were and how we relate to them today.
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