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Flames Beyond Gettysburg: The Gordon Expedition, June 1863

 by Scott L. Mingus Sr., Ironclad Publishing

Given all that has been written about the Gettysburg Campaign over the last 145 years or so, it’s amazing and not a little exasperating that new books continue to appear on this much-chronicled series of battles. In Flames Beyond Gettysburg, Scott L. Mingus Sr. adds to that voluminous literature with a detailed examination of the advance of Confederate forces through Adams County and York County to the banks of the Susquehanna River at Wrightsville.

Mingus has done an impressive job in executing this study, mining an extensive range of primary source materials to craft a compelling narrative. Readers will find additional value as well in the profiles of the individuals who shaped the events of June 1863, from Elijah White and the redoubtable John Gordon to Darius Couch, Granville Haller, Jacob Frick and the men Federal authorities hastily assembled under their command to resist the Confederate advance. Plenty of illustrations and helpful maps have been incorporated as well, to supplement Mingus’ effectively organized and well-written text.

Of particular interest are the six tour guides Mingus includes as appendices, which offer clear directions to various sites in the operations described in the book. Included among these are the Witmer Farm north of Gettysburg, which witnessed a skirmish between Confederate cavalry and Federal militia, as well as Wrightsville, which marked the apogee of Gordon’s advance and was witness to a brief engagement in which African-American militia participated. That en counter ended with the Federals fleeing across the Susquehanna, crossing over and subsequently burning the great covered bridge linking Wrightsville with Columbia.

Of course, the operations described in this book were little more than a sideshow that had no real effect on the outcome of the larger Gettysburg Campaign. But while Flames Beyond Gettysburg is unlikely to ever appear on anyone’s list of essential works on the war—and also guaranteed to raise the hackles of those who bemoan that students of Gettysburg seem to be saying more and more about less and less—this affordably priced book offers much that will certainly appeal to Gettysburg enthusiasts and anyone else who appreciates an interesting story well told.


Originally published in the October 2009 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here