Outstanding New Book on Gettysburg Faces
More than 150,000 soldiers, Unionists and Confederates, fought at the Battle of Gettysburg from July 1-3, 1863. Each had their own life story. Almost all had left family, friends and home behind to serve their respective causes. A few were professional soldiers before the war and had careers in the army. Most, however, came from civilian occupations: farmers, mechanics, factory workers, teachers, artisans, etc. Many of these warriors had been photographed earlier in the war for posterity.
Ronald S. Coddington is one of America’s foremost experts on Civil War-era martial imagery and the 19th century in general. The publisher and publisher of Military pictures magazine, he sorted through the photos that appeared in the pages of that publication and selected 100 of them (75 Union, 25 Confederate) for a beautiful new book from Gettysburg Publishing.
Faces of Gettysburg: Portraits and Personal Stories is, quite simply, a brilliant effort.
The stories are gripping, sometimes filled with pathos and sadness, as many of these faces were buried under the ground in Adams County after the battle. Others courageously battled the physical handicaps caused by their injuries at Gettysburg. Blindness, amputations, massive scars: former soldiers in the years following the battle posed for photographers, who captured the resilient spirit of these victors. Many have led full and rewarding lives, raised families and held steady jobs despite their injuries at Gettysburg. Coddington researched their life stories and gave us a teasing brief glimpse into their respective lives.
The stories are as varied as the photographs. A soldier who returned to marry the woman who treated his wounds as a nurse. Another man who survived Gettysburg to die a year later in another brutal battle, this time in Virginia. A Confederate who survived the war and rebuilt his life in war-torn Georgia, filled with memories of his brief stay in Pennsylvania in 1863. Officers and soldiers. Survivors and victims. Old and young. Union and Confederate.
Coddington’s deeply researched and well-written stories bring those images from long ago to life in this new book. Editor Kevin Drake and the team at Gettysburg Publishing are to be commended for the high quality of the graphic layout and final product. Printed on high quality paper, the book is a pleasure to read.
Copies are available from Civil War and More and other major physical bookstores, as well as direct from the author or Internet retailers such as Amazon.
Ronald S. Coddington, Faces of Gettysburg: Portraits and Personal Stories (Gettysburg Publishing, 2022), paperback, 362 pages, unannotated, indexed. ISBN 978-1-7346276-4-0.