Book Review: “Double Canister At Ten Yards”

 

There’s a saying among Civil War historians, it might be old but no one is really sure of it’s earliest origins. The saying goes that if 10,000 books have been written on the American Civil War, 9,000 of them have been about the battle of Gettysburg. Books on the Pennsylvania battle range from general histories to minute, minute-by-minute micro-tactical studies of regiments or even companies. Of the hundreds, if not thousands of books on Gettysburg, few, however, have focused purely on the long arm of each army during the three day engagement.

David L. Shultz’s work, “Double Canister At Ten Yards”: The Federal Artillery and the Repulse of Pickett’s Charge, July 3, 1863 originally entered the Gettysburg historiography in 1995 by Rank and File Publications. Now, the book has been re-released by Savas Beatie and includes numerous updates, including delineated chapters, new maps by Philip Laino, and index, and expanded images and photographs.

Shultz is not the only historian or author to tackle the subject of the artillery at Gettysburg. Fairfax Downey examined The Guns of Gettysburg in 1958 while Silent Sentinels by Licensed Battlefield Guide George Newton, a Savas Beatie publication, came into the historiography in 2005. Gettysburg National Military Park Ranger Greg Coco wrote on the subject of the artillery at Gettysburg in his work A Concise Guide to the Artillery at Gettysburg in 2007. Just a year later, battle cartographer Bradley Gottfried also published on the subject with his book The Artillery of Gettysburg.

Where Shultz’s work differs from the others in the historiography of tomes focusing on the artillery at Gettysburg is his focused examination of only the Federal artillery and their role on July 3, 1863. Like their infantry counterpart on Cemetery Ridge, the Federal response on the afternoon of July 3 is often overlooked. Historians and buffs alike often look to the challenges and failures of the Confederate artillery and infantry that day while omitting the notion that the reason for those challenges and eventual Confederate defeat may have had something to do with the Federal defenders on Cemetery Ridge.

The narrative reads as do many others that describe those fateful events of July 3, 1863. One will find many familiar primary accounts from the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion as well as Battles and Leaders, in addition to numerous, yet notable secondary works by authors such as Richard Rollins, Edward Longacre, and Edwin Coddington. Where the work demonstrates its merit within the historiography of the artillery at Gettysburg, however, is its use of Henry Hunt’s papers and writings. The detailed analyses of Hunt’s movements, orders, and work at Gettysburg is rarely to be found elsewhere in such a concise and examined way.

Overall, a thin volume that should easily find room on a serious student’s shelf.

 

“Double Canister At Ten Yards”: The Federal Artillery and the Repulse of Pickett’s Charge, July 3, 1863.

David L. Shultz.

Savas Beatie, 2017.

144 pp. Reprint.