Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Allen C. Guelzo's "Gettysburg: The Last Invasion"

Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era and Director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College. He is the author of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America and Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, both winners of the Lincoln Prize. Guelzo’s essays, reviews, and articles have appeared in publications ranging from The American Historical Review and The Wilson Quarterly to newspapers such as The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Wall Street Journal.

Guelzo applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, and reported the following:
Since Gettysburg: The Last Invasion is a history of the full Gettysburg campaign, from early June to mid-July, 1863, page 99 catches the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia still in mid-stride toward Pennsylvania. Page 99, in fact, opens chapter seven, just after the Confederates have overwhelmed the federal garrison in Winchester, Virginia, and sent a shock-wave northwards. Panicked Pennsylvanians were unsure whether the Confederates were going to strike west for Pittsburgh or Cincinnati, or east toward Philadelphia, and they bolted in road-choking multitudes in whatever direction seemed to offer safety for the moment. It’s easy now to think of this frenzy as silliness in motion; from our armchair perspective, we know that the Confederates will turn east and soon be defeated by the Union Army of the Potomac. But in the summer of 1863, the panic was widely – and realistically – felt. President Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation (in September, 1862) had cost his party a stinging chunk of its majority in Congress, plus the governorships of New York and New Jersey and the legislatures of Illinois and Indiana. Pennsylvania and Ohio were facing major state elections in the fall of 1863. If the Confederate army was successful in invading Pennsylvania – if it defeated the Union forces, or even if it just spent the summer picking the Pennsylvania countryside clean – the results at the polls would be another disaster for Lincoln. And this time, with four major Northern states in Democratic hands, and the legislature of Illinois squalling for peace talks to begin in Louisville on July 4th, Lincoln might well have been forced to open peace negotiations with the Confederates. The results – a divided continent, an independent slave-based Confederacy – were not pretty to think about. But from what you can see on page 99, all of this seemed perfectly plausible. Except for Gettysburg.
Learn more about Gettysburg: The Last Invasion at the Knopf website.

The Page 99 Test: Allen C. Guelzo's Lincoln and Douglas.

--Marshal Zeringue