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Re-enactors portray Pickett's Charge during ongoing activities commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Sunday, June 30, 2013, at Bushey Farm in Gettysburg, Pa.
Associated Press/Photo by Matt Rourke
Re-enactors portray Pickett's Charge during ongoing activities commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Sunday, June 30, 2013, at Bushey Farm in Gettysburg, Pa.

Pickett’s Charge at 150

History

Today is the 150th anniversary of the breakthrough attempt that ended Confederate hopes. Five thousand southern soldiers died in the short-lived Pickett’s Charge: That’s more Americans than died in the long-lived Iraq War. 

If news of this week’s Gettysburg re-creations gets your reading juices flowing, some recommendations:

  • Best history published this year: Allen C. Guelzo’s Gettysburg: The Last Invasion (Knopf).
  • Best novel about Gettysburg: Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels (Ballantine, 1997; The Modern Library, 2004).
  • Best reference book published this year with lots of eyewitness accounts, maps, photos: Rod Gragg’s The Illustrated Gettysburg Reader: An Eyewitness History of the Civil War’s Greatest Battle (Regnery, 2013). 
  • Best guide to the war’s battlefields (in my experience of visiting 30): Frances Kennedy, ed., The Civil War Battlefield Guide (Houghton Mifflin, 1990).
  • Best massive history of the war, and a great book for helping kids who like to read develop a tough yet elegant prose style: Shelby Foote, The Civil War: A Narrative, three big volumes (Random House, 1974; The Modern Library, 2011).

One more number to keep in mind: Overall, more than 600,000 Americans in a population of 30 million died in the four years of uncivil war. Our U.S. population now is ten times greater, so the deaths then are the equivalent of 6 million (as many Jews as the Nazis killed) dying today. 

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Six million: More than 100 times as many as our Vietnam War dead.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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