By David E. Petzal
“Gettysburg: The Last Invasion,” is a terrific new book by a historian named Allen C. Guelzo, who is a fine writer, a superlative researcher, and a radical thinker. I’ve been reading about the battle practically since it happened, and I doubted that anyone could come up with anything really new, but he has.
Guelzo has drawn a number of conclusions that will infuriate some and enrage others, but among the most startling of his conclusions is this (in my words): The horrendous number of casualties over those three days was caused not by the effectiveness of the rifle musket, but by the poor training (or nonexistent training) of the soldiers involved, the near impossibility of controlling them in any kind of effective fashion, and the epic incompetence of some of the generals involved. It was, he states, an era of combat in which it was still more or less safe to stand erect on the field of battle.