Book Review by Chuck Pribbernow
The following book Review was written by former David D Porter Camp 116 Brother and currently member of Abe Lincoln Camp No 2 Dept of Missouri (Ark)
I have read these two books in the past two weeks both related to military intelligence during the Gettysburg Campaign. My suggestion is to read Spies, Scouts, and Secrets in the Gettysburg Campaign by Thomas J. Ryan and to skip Much Embarrassed. Ryan gives a very detailed account of the various methods of intelligence gathering throughout the advance into Gettysburg, the battle and the retreat. He has won multiple awards for this book and they are justly deserved. Much Embarrassed on the other hand spends 111 of the total 187 pages going over basic Civil War history with some intelligence included in battles prior to Gettysburg. Obviously this doesn't leave much room for a detailed account of Gettysburg. Some statements irritated me and made question the research invested in this work. In regards to Brandy Station: "Over the course of the day, the two cavalries merrily galloped amongst each other swinging sabres and firing carbines , but otherwise achieving very little." Merrily galloped? Achieved very little? Even the stated casualties of 1200 , which from my research is understated, are downplayed. This was the largest cavalry action of the war and the first real success for the Union Cavalry. And did you know that " the Army of Northern Virginia eventually manoeuvred (be prepared for United Kingdom spelling) their way unmolested back across the Potomac on 14 July". We know that Meade was slow in his pursuit, but entire books have been written on the retreat. At least the death of Pettigrew was acknowledged in the Epilogue so at least he didn't die in unmolested action. This is my opinion so take it as just that: read the Ryan book if this subject is of interest to you. You won't be disappointed. Life is short, time is precious, don't invest it in Much Embarrassed.