Interview with J. David Petruzzi Author of The Complete Gettysburg Guide

J. David Petruzzi PhotoLate last year, I heard rumors that my friend, J. David Petruzzi, was coming out with a new book.  I was quite excited as I had read his previous books, “Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart’s Controversial Ride to Gettysburg,” co-authored with Eric J. Wittenberg and “One Continuous Fight: The Retreat From Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee’s Army of Norther Virginia, July 4–14, 1863,” co-authored by Eric Wittenberg, and Michael F. Nugent.  Both of these books rank near the top of my “favorite Civil War books list,” and I highly recommend them.  When I had learned that J.D.’s new book was a guide to the Battle of Gettysburg, part of me was less than enthused.  With so many Gettysburg guides, I wondered what Petruzzi could offer, that was unique.  J.D. was kind enough to send me the entire book electronically, so I could review it.  After reading through the index, I quickly realized this book was sorely needed.  “The Complete Gettysburg Guide” is the only guide on Gettysburg anyone will ever need.  Not to disparage other Gettysburg guides, because there are other good ones, but none approach the level of this book.  Let me explain my justifications.

First, “The Complete Gettysburg Guide” offers more detail on the actions that took place before, and during the battle, than has previously been offered.  While not a complete narrative on the entire battle at Gettysburg, a novice to the battle will come away with a thorough understanding of the battle that would rival what they would learn by reading one of the better written books on Gettysburg.  With that said, someone like myself, who has Buy The Complete Gettysburg Guideread dozens of books on the battle, and has walked Gettysburg many times, will also learn many new things.  While you read the “Guide,” you will fully appreciate the many years that Petruzzi has spent studying the battle.

Second, the “Guide” has more maps than I have ever seen in any book, much less a battlefield guide – 72 by my count, including several period specific maps.  The author enlisted professional cartographer Steven Stanley to produce the maps and the fantastic photography used throughout the book.  Stanley, who many avid Civil War buffs know, through the use of his maps by the Civil War Preservation Trust, is undoubtedly today’s best cartographer.  The maps alone make this book a terrific value.  As I had mentioned to J.D., during our interview, every time that I wanted a map, to follow his text, it was either on the page I was reading, or the next page.

Third, Petruzzi uses many firsthand accounts of the actions on, and around, Gettysburg.  This makes the book very enjoyable to read.  Here is an example that I really enjoyed, “I would rather die on this spot than see those rascals gain one inch of ground.” US Brigadier General Stephen Weed’s last words.(i)  Weed died seconds later.

Fourth, the “Guide” allows the Gettysburg visitor to locate many out-of-the-way markers and unique battlefield sites.  I especially like the chapters on historic sites in village of Gettysburg, the Gettysburg National Cemetery, Evergreen Cemetery, Rock Carvings (actual carvings by battle participants) and the outlying field hospitals.  These can take you off the “beaten path” and allow you to see, “…primary “documents” (that) reside on the battlefield itself…”(ii)

If you are planning a visit to Gettysburg, anytime in the future, you need to add this book to your collection.  For those of you that have never been to Gettysburg, or for those seasoned Civil War enthusiasts, I encourage you to buy this book for the narrative, maps and pictures.  It is a great stand alone narrative of the battle with new material that you will not find in any other full length books on the Battle of Gettysburg.

Enjoy reading this great book!

I had the pleasure of interviewing J. David Petruzzi, on Friday, May 29.  The links below allow you to listen to the interview.  There are eleven parts, so you can listen to all of them, or a few at a time, until you are done.  J.D. gives some great insights on writing this book, and his experiences at Gettysburg National Battlefield Park.  Let me know what you think about the interview, and “The Complete Gettysburg Guide,” by posting a comment on the article/interview.  I am certain that J.D. will be monitoring the comments.  If you leave a question for him, I am certain he will leave an answer for you.

Details about “The Complete Gettysburg Guide”
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Savas Beatie, LLC.
Date of First Edition: June 1, 2009
ISBN-10: 1932714634

J. David Petruzzi Interview – 11 Parts
Total Time: 1 hour, 4 minutes, 27 seconds

Part 1:  J. David Petruzzi Interview – Part 1
Time: 7:11
Contents: Welcome | About J. David Petruzzi | Growing interest in the Civil War | Why write a new Gettysburg guide? | Discussion of Petruzzi’s writing style

Part 2:  J. David Petruzzi Interview – Part 2
Time: 8:10
Contents: The “most” Complete Gettysburg Guide | Petruzzi explains how he has learned about Gettysburg | Hidden treasures of the Day 1 tour | Prelude to the Wheat Field fighting – easy to miss areas on Day 2 | Helping readers understand the complicated parts of the battlefield

Part 3:  J. David Petruzzi Interview – Part 3
Time: 3:53
Contents: Prelude to the Wheat Field (continued) | Can there be a complete Gettysburg guide? | Benefit of walking vs. driving

Part 4:  J. David Petruzzi Interview – Part 4
Time: 8:28
Contents: Discussion on Steve Stanley’s maps | Steve Stanley’s contribution to the layout/design of The Complete Gettysburg Guide

Part 5:  J. David Petruzzi Interview – Part 5
Time: 5:18
Contents: How long J.D. has been working on book | Discussion on the “Complete Guide’s” introduction

Part 6:  J. David Petruzzi Interview – Part 6
Time: 7:23
Contents: Further discussion on the introduction | J.D.’s thoughts on writing magazine articles | Discussion on first hand accounts of battle | Publisher Ted Savas’ influence on the book

Part 7:  J. David Petruzzi Interview – Part 7
Time: 2:58
Contents: The use of GPS coordinates in the “Complete Guide”

Part 8:  J. David Petruzzi Interview – Part 8
Time: 5:41
Contents: Unique and little known sites at Gettysburg | Petruzzi’s methodology of research through listening | “Complete Guide” as a stepping stone to more complete knowledge of Gettysburg

Part 9:  J. David Petruzzi Interview – Part 9
Time: 5:39
Contents: Coordinating text with the maps | Collaborating with Steve Stanley | Using the “Complete Guide” while visiting Gettysburg

Part 10:  J. David Petruzzi Interview – Part 10
Time: 4:31
New areas to explore at Gettysburg | Students and schools using as a treasure hunt

Part 11:  J. David Petruzzi Interview – Part 11
Time: 4:56
Upcoming projects and books | Thank you and wrap up

Other Titles by J. David Petruzzi

Buy Plenty of Blame to Go AroundPlenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart’s Controversial Ride to Gettysburg
J. David Petruzzi and Eric Wittenberg

Hardcover: 456 pages
Publisher: Savas Beatie, LLC.
Date of First Edition: September 1, 2006
ISBN-10: 1932714200


Buy One Continuous FightOne Continuous Fight: The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, July 4 – 14, 1863
J. David Petruzzi, Eric Wittenberg and Michael F. Nugent

Hardcover: 576 pages
Publisher: Savas Beatie, LLC.
Date of First Edition: June 2008
ISBN-10: 193271443X 


(i) Petruzzi, J. David and Stanley, Steven, The Complete Gettysburg Guide, published by Savas Beatie, LLC. 2009, Pg. 85.
(ii) Petruzzi, J. David and Stanley, Steven, The Complete Gettysburg Guide, published by Savas Beatie, LLC. 2009, Pg. 242.

About Michael Noirot

I grew up in the Central Illinois farming community, of Dunlap. Growing up, I played sports, tinkered with cars and enjoyed photography. While I did well in school, I did not become passionate about history until my early 30's. I have built a large library, of books on early America, politics and the Civil War. I am an avid reader. Fortunately, I have had plenty of opportunities to travel, over the years, and have been to most of the Civil War battlefields. I work while I travel, so more often than not, I am up, in the middle of the night, to get sunrise pictures, or I will be out until well after dark, exploring Civil War battlefields. I have other hobbies, and passions, that I really enjoy. Number one on the list would be guitar. I play my guitars on a regular basis, and enjoy the Bluegrass, and Contemporary Christian (CCM) genres. I play a style of guitar, called FLATPICKING, where using a flat pick, you play lead solos, similar to the way a fiddle would have been played during the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Laura, my wife, and I also enjoy scuba diving, travel and spending time at our property, in the country. Lastly, we spend as much time with our families, as possible. Thanks for stopping by.
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2 Responses to Interview with J. David Petruzzi Author of The Complete Gettysburg Guide

  1. JustLiveFree says:

    Section 8.
    Lt. Col. Douglas Fowler, commander of 17th Connecticut, head removed by confederate cannonball; marker at flagpole where this happened; body never identified, so he is buried ‘somewhere’ on the Gettysburg battlefield.
    WOW. This is a remarkable interview. Thanks for and all the great tools you have given me access to, along with your narratives and interviews. Keep writing, I’ll keep following.

  2. billob54 says:

    It was said that the sight of their colonel decapitated unnerved the 17th adding to their haste in the retreat off of Barlow’s Knoll. But they had another chance against Hay’s LA Tigers the next night on ECH and held their ground proudly. I ordered this book early and waiting anxiously for it’s release …should be fantastic based on the interviews and write-ups I have read. JD and Eric’s previous books have been great.


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