The Most Glorious Fourth: Vicksburg and Gettysburg, July 4th, 1863

W. W. Norton, 2002

July 4, 1863, saw the end of two battles, Vicksburg and Gettysburg, that together inalterably changed the course of the Civil War. It was a glorious day indeed for the Union cause. In this heart-quickening work of history, Duane Schultz interweaves the stories of these two battles, fashioning a blow-by-blow account at once panoramic and intimate.

Focusing on that pivotal Independence Day and the days and weeks leading up to it, Schultz vividly portrays not only the major players of the war but also the multitude of soldiers and civilians caught up in its sweep, whether it be Lincoln pacing the floor of the telegraph office as he awaits news from the front, General Meade frantically plugging the gaps in his tenuous line, or a Vicksburg family trying to make a home in a cave while waiting out the Union siege. Throughout, Schultz weds a sympathetic eye with an unerring ability to trace the narrative thread through the chaos of events.

We see a nation in the midst of its greatest convulsion, at a moment when the end seemed in sight. The “Glorious Fourth” of July lifted the spirits of the Union Army and dashed the hopes of the Confederacy. Of course, the war was far from over, and it is Schultz’s greatest accomplishment to show how these events served as a window onto the larger war.

More Civil War Books by Duane Schultz