The three-day Battle of Gettysburg left 50,000 casualties in its
wake, a battered Southern army far from its base of supplies, and a
rich historiographic legacy. Thousands of books and articles cover
nearly every aspect of the battle, but not a single volume focuses
on the military aspects of the important movements of the armies to
and across the Potomac River. Now in paperback, One Continuous
Fight: The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee's Army of
Northern Virginia, July 4-14, 1863 is the first detailed military
history of Lee's retreat and the Union effort to destroy the
wounded Army of Northern Virginia.
Against steep odds and encumbered with thousands of casualties,
Confederate commander Robert E. Lee's post-battle task was to
successfully withdraw his army across the Potomac River. Union
commander George G. Meade's equally difficult assignment was to
intercept the effort and destroy his enemy. The responsibility for
defending the exposed Southern columns belonged to cavalry
chieftain James Ewell Brown (Jeb) Stuart. If Stuart fumbled his
famous ride north to Gettysburg, his generalship during the retreat
more than redeemed his flagging reputation.
The long retreat triggered nearly two dozen skirmishes and major
engagements, including fighting at Granite Hill, Monterey Pass,
Hagerstown, Williamsport, Funkstown, Boonsboro, and Falling Waters.
President Abraham Lincoln was thankful for the early July
battlefield victory, but disappointed that General Meade was unable
to surround and crush the Confederates before they found safety on
the far side of the Potomac. Exactly what Meade did to try to
intercept the fleeing Confederates, and how the Southerners managed
to defend their army and ponderous 17-mile long wagon train of
wounded until crossing into western Virginia on the early morning
of July 14, is the subject of this study.
One Continuous Fight draws upon a massive array of documents,
letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, and published primary and
secondary sources. These long ignored foundational sources allow
the authors, each widely known for their expertise in Civil War
cavalry operations, to carefully describe each engagement. The
result is a rich and comprehensive study loaded with incisive
tactical commentary, new perspectives on the strategic role of the
Southern and Northern cavalry, and fresh insights on every
engagement, large and small, fought during the retreat.
The retreat from Gettysburg was so punctuated with fighting that
a soldier felt compelled to describe it as "One Continuous Fight."
Until now, few students fully realized the accuracy of that
description. Complete with 18 original maps, dozens of photos, and
a complete driving tour with GPS coordinates of the army's retreat
and the route of the wagon train of wounded, One Continuous Fight
is an essential book for every student of the American Civil War in
general, and for the student of Gettysburg in particular.
About the Authors: Eric J. Wittenberg, an Ohio attorney, is an
accomplished Civil War cavalry historian and the author of dozens
of articles and numerous books on Civil War cavalry subjects,
including (with J. D. Petruzzi) Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb
Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg (Savas Beatie, 2006) and
The Battle of Monroe's Crossroads and the Civil War's Final
Campaign (Savas Beatie, 2006).
J. David Petruzzi is a noted Civil War cavalry historian and the
author of many articles for a wide variety of historical
publications, including Gettysburg Magazine and Civil War Times,
Illustrated. An insurance broker in Pennsylvania, he co-wrote (with
Eric Wittenberg) Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart's
Controversial Ride to Gettysburg (Savas Beatie, 2006) and (with
Steven Stanley) The Complete Gettysburg Guide: Walking and Driving
Tours of the Battlefield, Town, Cemeteries, Field Hospital Sites,
and other Topics of Historical Interest (Savas Beatie, 2009) and
The Complete Gettysburg Guide: Audio Driving and Walking Tour,
Volume One: The Battlefield (Savas Beatie, 2010).
Michael F. Nugent is a long-time student of the Gettysburg
Campaign. A retired U.S. Army Armored Cavalry Officer and the
descendant of a Civil War Cavalry soldier, Nugent has written for
several military publications. He lives in Wells, Maine.