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Chancellorsville and Gettysburg

Abner Doubleday

Book Overview: 

Abner Doubleday began the Civil War as a Union officer and aimed the first cannon shot in response to the bombardment opened on Ft. Sumter in 1861. Two years later, after a series of battles (including Antietam, where he was wounded), Doubleday took over a division in the Army of the Potomac's 1st Corps.

These are his memoirs of service in two of the War's great campaigns. At Chancellorsville, a very promising start made by General Hooker against Lee's Confederate forces fell to a defeat when, in Doubleday's estimation, normal and prudent precautions against surprise in the heavily-wooded battlefield were not carried out; he also seemingly apologizes for Hooker's lack of leadership during the battle as a result of his having been stunned by a cannon ball hitting the post against which he was leaning.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Hill sent for his reserves to come up, and three rebel brigades were thrown against Carroll, who was supported by the remainder of French's division and a brigade from Humphrey's division of Meade's corps, and French's flank movement was checked. Then another front attack was organized by the enemy, under cover of their artillery at Hazel Grove, and Nicholls', Iverson's, and O'Neill's brigades charged over everything, even up to Best's batteries at Fairview, which they captured; but our men rallied, and drove them headlong down the hill, back to the first line Sickles had occupied at daylight. It was a combat of giants; a tremendous struggle between patriotism on the one hand and vengeance on the other.

French now tried to follow up this advantage by again pressing against the Confederate left, but it was reinforced by still another brigade, and he could make no progress.

The struggle increased in violence. The rebels were determined to brea. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Good civil war history. Not as good as Grant, but it's written as well. Disclaimer: I couldn't finish it because I have an original copy, and the pages are so brittle I was endangering the book....more

I was surprised by the quality and clarity of Doubleday's writing. My only issue was with the readibility of some of the maps; especially those less than a full page in size.

Ordinarily the best way to learn about an historical event is by reading “primary sources”, documents written by someone who was actually there. The danger of this is that sometimes the author has an “axe to grind.” This is unfortunately the case with General Abner Doubleday’s book.
The author did a

this book surprised me. I have read many books written by participants in the Civil War, from privates to the leaders of each side. This is the first one I have read by Doubleday, and I was surprised by its style.

Most writers from that era, even uneducated privates wrote in very flowery language,

This is written in the same familiar style of many of the Union officers who wrote about their experiences of the Civil War. It is direct and factual. At times it could be dry. However, I thought the section on the first day of Gettysburg was one of the best and clearest descriptions of the battle.

The author, a Union general at both Chancellorsville and the Battle of Gettysburg, was purported to be the inventor of baseball--this has been debunked by almost all sports historians--although Doubleday himself never made such a claim. The book was initially published about 20 years after the Civil

Very detailed

I found that in reading this very detailed account of each attack that a map of the area being described was very helpful. The author did a good job of presenting both sides.

Great viewpoint of someone who was there and in command of units that were engaged in the fight.

Vol. 6 - Chancellorsville & Gettysburg
The Scribners History of the Civil War (1883)

The Union defeat at Chancellorsville allows Lee to slip away and invade the north in a campaign that ends at Gettysburg. Abner Doubleday's (the putative inventor of baseball) account is aimed at the popular reader mor

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