best books on gettysburg civil war battle history

10 Best Books About The Battle Of Gettysburg [Explore The American History]

by Rey Sagar

If you are more of a history-curious person then you might already hear about the battle of Gettysburg. Which was happen back on June 9, 1863.

And If you want to learn more about why the battle happened? and what is the Gettysburg Address? & what is the Gettysburg Campaign?

Then this article is absolutely for you.

Here we are going to give you the list of the best books on Gettysburg, so you will get better ideas about the questions that you have on your mind right now. 

We have done plenty of research to get the best book on Gettysburg campaign, so feel free to cheer us up in the comment section below, if you like it.

Also if you have anything in your mind, to add on this list of books le us know, we’ll be happy to know your thoughts on it.

10 Best Books On Gettysburg Battle History

Before I give you the best books on the battle of Gettysburg, Let's know a little about what was the purpose of the Gettysburg Address?

He had three main purposes:

  • To bring the country (especially the North) together, when it was divided by different views of the war.
  • To reiterate his view of the purpose of the United States, including that it be one single ‘Great Nation.’
  • To provide a direction for the future ‘soul’ of the United States.
  • Note the main topics covered in the speech: the U.S. is based on Liberty, Freedom and all men are created equal. The Civil
  • War is testing whether a nation such as the U.S. can exist. We should go forth with increased devotion and a new birth of freedom, to continue the work of the United States.

A lot of people don’t realize that during the civil war, there was a war on the battlefield, but there was also a strong conflict of opinions WITHIN THE NORTH about the Civil War and its purpose.

Lincoln’s entire presidency was dedicated to the idea of keeping the country together, first, and to providing freedom, second.

Many people in the north didn’t think the country should be kept together, or that freedom - especially the freedom of slaves - was important.

Some people felt strongly enough to fight for one or both of those ideals, but many people rejected the whole idea. While millions of people were marching off to war, many other people were protesting and rioting in the streets, at times.

Lincoln wanted to solidify the support of the North behind the war, and get people looking at the great visions and the things that were important, and not just the tremendous loss and sacrifice that the war entailed.

Now let's check out the list of the best books on the Gettysburg address, some of the books also written by Mr. Lincoln himself.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, we may earn a little commission at no additional cost to you.

1. Gettysburg - The Last Invasion

I think it would be difficult if not impossible to find a book about Gettysburg that was more thoroughly researched and coupled with thought-provoking analysis than what Allen Guelzo has presented us within this book.

I cannot say that I am a Civil War buff but I have done a fair amount of reading about that war and this battle.

What amazed me was Guelzo’s analysis. Things I thought I knew I no longer feel confident in repeating as fact.

Joshua Chamberlain not a hero at Little Roundtop? Pickett’s Charge, not an insane suicide mission?

The victory is more a demonstration of lucky breaks than any superior strategy or soldiering or leadership. Yes, these are just some of the things this author opines and then backs up.

At 482 pages of text and 117 pages of notes, this is not a quick read and maybe not for a reader with an only casual interest in this battle.

However, I highly recommend this book to readers who wants to know more about Civil War.

Best book on Gettysburg Our Pick

Our Ratings

2. The Killer Angels

‘The Killer Angels’ stands tall as the best novel about the American Civil War ever written, and there have been many. E. L. Doctorow’s ‘The March’.

For example, about the military convoy and its swelling ranks of thieves, whores, and freed slaves following General Tecumseh Sherman’s trail of destruction, is a great book,

But it doesn’t manage to convey the scope and complexity of battle with the grace Shaara does.

This book is a favorite among Civil War readers, on a level with the best non-fictional works.

One reason is its underlying faithfulness to historically accurate character portrayals and accountings of the major turning points in the Gettysburg battle.

It is no exaggeration to claim that the experience of immersing oneself in this book will give any curious reader inspiration to want to know more about the Civil War.

Highly recommended battle of Gettysburg book novel.

For those who think the reading of history must always be boring, this book will dissuade those notions. Civil War writing just doesn’t get any better.

Best Novel on the battle of Gettysburg

Our Ratings

3. Stars In Their Courses

If any of you have watched Ken Burns mini-series “The Civil War”, then you will be familiar with Shelby Foote as one of the contributors.

He is remembered for his slow southern accent and his depth of knowledge of the Civil War.

This book focuses on The Battle of Gettysburg, probably the best known and most studied of all Civil War battles.

This book inspired the novel “The Killer Angels” and that novel inspired the movie “Gettysburg”. Both books inspired Ken Burns PBS show on the Civil War.

While this book is a single chapter from the 3 volume Civil War narrative, it reads as a complete story of the great battle.

Shelby Foote was a wonderful writer and this book is a must-read for anyone interested in what happened in this small Pennsylvania town in July 1863.

Best book on Gettysburg campaign

Our Ratings

4. Gettysburg - By M. David Detweiler

If used to read a lot of books on the battle of Gettysburg but still have no real idea of how the battle unfolded on the map this is the book for you!

I often find it difficult to follow the flow of AAR’s & struggle to picture in my mind’s eye the movement of units, and the terrain they occupy, in relation to other units.

Thus, this is the kind of book I’ve always wanted. It provides a narrative of the Battle of Gettysburg with maps on every page, giving a play-by-play of what happens.

It is impossible to get lost since every movement and engagement of troops is shown on a corresponding map.

I only wish there was a book like this for every major engagement of the ACW!

So I gave this book a 5-star rating based on its excellent use of maps and map segments to illustrate the sequence of events for the 3-day battle.

Battle of Gettysburg book with maps

Our Ratings

5. The Gettysburg Address

I found this book revelational.

Broken down into chapters named after passages of the Gettysburg Address.

The book covers much more than the titular speech, from the founding of our country to the motivations and consequences of the Civil War.

Education in American history is sorely lacking, and The Gettysburg Address can teach you many things that you’d never spent much time thinking about:

  • The discrepancies between the Declaration and the Constitution;
  • Why slavery abounded in the South but not the North;
  • How the Battle of Gettysburg was won;
  • How Lincoln’s assassination negatively affected the post-war reconciliation between the states.

Highly recommended this graphic novel as an easy and enjoyable way to learn more than what an elementary education taught us.

Best book on the Gettysburg address

Our Ratings

6. Meade at Gettysburg

It’s tempting to look at all the books written on Gettysburg and wonder – what new can be written and/or learned about this battle? After you read Brown’s excellent Meade at Gettysburg, you’ll realize there is still much to learn and explore about this battle.

Brown is approaching this battle from Meade’s perspective – what were his orders?

What was his information?

What factors shaped his planning decision making?

What was his plan for the campaign and what factors shaped and changed it?

Brown takes a nice, clear analytical approach to Meade in the Gettysburg campaign.

In the process he provides clarity to a number of Gettysburg debates such as Meade’s intent in sending Reynolds to Gettysburg and his plan for the Pipe Creek Line.

An all-around excellent book that adds much to the understanding of the battle of Gettysburg.

Battle of Gettysburg book Newest Publish

Our Ratings

7. Gettysburg

The title of this book is a bit deceiving. There is much more to this work than just the battle itself.

Sears sets up the scenario by revealing how the different pieces for this accidental battle fell into place.

It begins with Lee and Davis planning their invasion of the North with the parallel account of the political bickering in the Union Army which resulted in General Meade becoming the reluctant Commander of the Army of the Potomac.

The Gettysburg Campaign begins June 3 in Culpeper VA as Lee and his forces make their way north and it ends nearly a month later when they recross the Potomac back into Virginia.

There are battles and skirmishes on the way to Pennsylvania and more battles and skirmishes during the retreat.

Sears covers every movement of the battle itself taking time to give short bios of the officers and descriptions of the terrain. None of this slows the story down.

A good comprehensive book that tells the complete story of a great three-day battle that not only affected one nation but also had ramifications for the future of the world.

Battle of Gettysburg book Brief Discussion

Our Ratings

8. Historic Photos of Gettysburg

Unlike the other books on this list,

Yes- it’s a picture book… but it’s a very good one. I have taken two history classes about the Civil War (one in high school and one at MSU)and although they were interesting, I’ve never really considered going back and studying it further.

But this book caught my eye at the City Library.

It gives you a visual tour of the battlefield sites at the time of the war (July 1863) as the many monuments are added through the years and again at various reunions of the soldiers in 1913 and again in 1938.

Presidents Taft and FDR appear at the reunions.

If you have any knowledge or interest in Civil War history and want to see more of a visual perspective then this is worth a look.

The great historic battle of Gettysburg book with memorable pictures.

Best book on Gettysburg campaign Picture Book

Our Ratings

9. A Field Guide to Gettysburg

If you are planning to go on a trip to Gettysburg, this book is an absolute gem.

Carol Reardon and Tom Vossler’s “A Field Guide to Gettysburg” is a tour guide of the Gettysburg Battlefield. It directs the reader to 35 critical battle locations and describes in detail what happened at each stop.

Each Section provides an extremely well-thought-out description of that part of the battle.

The text includes the underlying reason for it, what happened, why it was important, who led the troops, and vignettes of some of the participants.

I would recommend this book to anyone touring the Battlefield or interested in the details of the 30 or so most critical occurrences during the battle.

Supplemented with a good history of the battle, the reader will be armed with the tools needed to understand what happened here during 3 days in July 1863.

One of the best books on Gettysburg for travelers.

Best book on Gettysburg For trip to the battlefield

Our Ratings

10. Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage

This is an excellent single-volume description of how the battle of Gettysburg unfolded.

No doubt there are more detailed accounts of the battle, but to get a one-volume summary of the three days, as well as the run-up to the battle and its aftermath, is about as much as a lay reader can probably absorb.

I liked the section at the end where Trudeau provides a short recap of major players in this story and what happened to them following the battle and the war.

The only critique was that I wish there was more on Lee’s retreat from Gettysburg, it’s given extremely short shrift. Which you can read on the Last Chance For Victory book.

Overall, Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage is a competent and compelling narrative of the Gettysburg Campaign. It came on the heels of a long period of micro-histories of the battle, so a re-examination of the big picture was necessary.

Great comprehensive account of the Battle of Gettysburg

Our Ratings

[Bonus] - Civil War Volumes 1-3 Box Set

So the list is completed but I still want to recommend you one more book, this is actually a volume set by Shelby Foote, that includes all the battles of the Civil war including Gettysburg.

And if you are one of those who are more curious about history a lot, then this volume can give you a massive amount of information altogether.

I know, you probably cannot legitimately claim knowledge of the Civil War — at least not out loud — without having read Shelby Foote’s masterpiece which, tragically, probably could not be published today.

You see it is by a Southerner, an honest one, who does not simply apologize for and condemn slavery as demanded by today’s Red Guards in publishing and the media. Instead, here is an intelligent and original telling of the whole agony and valor.

The three volumes,

  1. Sumter to Perryville,
  2. Fredericksburg to Meridian
  3. Red River to Appomattox,

Each almost runs the length of “War and Peace.” And you can’t read any of it without thinking about the contents. It’s a minor career. But so worth it.

I doubt anyone who reads this will ever again think of the principal actors — Lincoln, Davis, Stanton, Grant, Lee, McClellan, “Stonewall,” and many others — without seeing them in the light cast by Foote.

He measures all and spares none. Just one example: you’d think that Lee would tower above the others in a true Southerner’s treatment. Not so. Foote details many faults in Lee’s personality, abilities, and actions.

This gives you the feeling that you finally grasp the interweaving forces of international relations, politics, generalship, faith, foible, and the fiasco that drove the many, many events of the War.

Highly recommended for history lovers.

Best books on Gettysburg Civil War Volumes 1-3

Our Ratings

Final Thoughts

Now, you got the list of best books on Gettysburg, and before you leave from here, why not know more about this epic moment.

Let's see why is the Gettysburg Address so memorable?

Why is the Gettysburg Address so memorable?

Edward Everett, sitting behind Lincoln, listens intently to the speech that followed his.

The main speaker of the day was Edward Everett, one of the most distinguished Americans alive at that time. He had served as a congressman, senator, governor, Secretary of State, and president of Harvard. He was was famous for giving long speeches from memory.

He spoke at Gettysburg for two hours, giving a full account of the battle, using information not widely known, and putting the great battle into its historical context. It was a masterful speech and exactly what the organizers of the event wanted.

Then he sat down, and Abraham Lincoln stood up. Within a few minutes, Edward Everett knew he was sunk. He wrote to Lincoln shortly after and said he wished he could have gotten as close to the heart of the matter in his two hours as Lincoln had done in his two minutes.

The heart of the matter — that’s it. Lincoln captured the essential meaning of the battle and the war in a few words. To a nation tired of war, he gave the conflict a new definition, as an essential struggle for liberty and democracy. He wasn’t speaking of slavery, but rather of the right of every man to rise as far as he could by his own ability, and to participate in governance. He assured the nation that the terrible cost of the war in human lives was not in vain.

No one has ever better expressed the nature of American democracy in just a few words.

That’s why it is so memorable.

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