Editor’s Note: We asked Chester County’s Bruce Mowday, an accomplished writer and historian, to revisit the origins and motivations behind a handful of his books. Mowday’s latest book, Stealing Wyeth, will be published in August.
By Bruce Mowday
I believe most of the books I’ve written are a result of the book’s subject selecting me rather than me selecting the book’s subject. Such is the case of Pickett’s Charge: The Untold Story, published by Barricade Books.
I’ve visited Gettysburg many times in my life. My parents took me there as a child, and I did so with my daughters. I even had a relative who fought in the Wheatfield and was wounded on the second day of the fierce battle.
During one visit, I was standing at the Angle where Union soldiers belonging to the Philadelphia Brigade under General Alexander Webb fought off a desperate Confederate attack, later known as Pickett’s Charge. At the time, I didn’t have any thought of writing a book on Gettysburg as thousands of books have been authored on the battle over the years. Another work on Gettysburg wasn’t needed, or so I thought.
As I looked across the open field where the 12,000 Confederates attacked the Union soldiers, I thought to myself I knew why Confederate General Robert E. Lee had to try the assault; I knew why Confederate General James Longstreet didn’t want to make the charge; I knew the story of the Confederate soldiers and the fact 150 Confederate artillery pieces filed at the Union for more than an hour.
I realized I didn’t know much about the brave Union soldiers who saved the United States that day by defeating the Confederates. All of the books on Pickett’s Charge centered on the Confederates: who was there, what happened, what went wrong, and who to blame. The victorious Northern soldiers received little recognition.
The courageous Union soldiers deserved to have their story told. I contacted my publisher, Carole Stuart of Barricade Books, and she agreed. After three years of research and writing, Pickett’s Charge: The Untold Story was published on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.