Summer Thunder

A Battlefield Guide to the Artillery at Gettysburg

  • Author(s): Spruill IV, Matt
  • Series:
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2010-08-15
  • Status: Active
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Among the myriad books examining the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863), Summer Thunder is one of a kind. A terrific resource for is visitors to the national military park, it explores the clashing armies’ deployment of artillery throughout the battle—from one position to another, from one day to the next. Matt Spruill, a retired U.S. Army colonel and former licensed Gettysburg guide, carefully takes readers to every point on the battlefield where artillery was used, and combining his own commentary with excerpts from the Official Records and other primary sources, he reveals the tactical thinking of both Union and Confederate commanders.

Spruill uses a sequential series of thirty-five “stops,” complete with driving instructions and recent photographs, to guide readers around the park and orient them about where the opposing units were placed and what happened there. Detailed maps depict the battlefield as it was in 1863 and are marked with artillery positions, including the number of guns in action with each battery. Meanwhile, the passages from primary sources allow the reader to see key events as the actual participants saw them. The book also brims with informationabout the various artillery pieces used by both sides, from howitzers to Parrott rifles and Napoleon field guns, and the critical role they played over the course of the battle, right up its outcome.

Summer Thunder devotes a chapter to each of the three days of the historic devotes a chapter to each of the three days of the historic Summer Thunder engagement between the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia. One can follow the battle chronologically in its entirety from Stop 1 to Stop 35, or concentrate on a specific day or a specific area. In fact, the maps and orientationinformation are of such detail that the book can be used even without being on the battlefield, making it an invaluable reference work for expert and novice alike.