The Confederate Approach on Harrisburg – Cooper H. Wingert

The Civil War Sesquicentennial Series

This series of books by the History Press during the 150th anniversary of the Civil War has interested me for some time.  They are relatively low priced, and instead of covering the rehashed major battle also tackle some less known aspects of the war. I decided to pick this one up and see what the books are like.

The book is a trade paperback, with a nice cover painting by Don Stivers. It is about 150 pages of text, with the standard additional pages for citations, references, notes and index.  There are some period and recent photographs and maps in the text, but not in that glossy paper you get in hardback books.  Good quality

The Gettysburg Campaigns Northernmost Reaches

The book itself is on the days where the Union was trying to collect militia and scratch forces to oppose Lee’s 1863 invasion of the North to limit the damage until the Army of the Potomac could march and oppose them.  Elements of Ewell’s Corps took the town of Carlisle, which had a military barracks, and then Jenkins’ Cavalry pressed on toward the Susquehanna River and Harrisburg.

Militia was busy entrenching the hills near the city and for a time there was thought of an attack.  But then Lee recalled the infantry to gather near Gettysburg in response to the reports of the Union army approaching, and the mission changed to aggressively covering the movement.  There was a skirmish at Oyster’s Point and Sporting Hill and then Jenkins pulled out.

The final action in this area was a few days later, when Stuart‘s expedition was wandering the area looking for Ewell’s corps.  He then bombarded the town of Carlisle, which had been reoccupied, before finding out where Lee was and joining him in turn,

Sure these are minor actions, but not without their interest. The book has a lot of detail – the local farmers who had goods confiscated, the scouts for both sides, letters from the militia soldiers and their commanders.  It is an excellent and detailed look at a small piece of a big campaign.

I’ll be getting more of these in the future.

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