Book Review: “The Devil’s to Pay”: John Buford at Gettysburg. A History and Walking Tour


by Eric J. Wittenberg

El Dorado Hills, Ca.: Savas Beattie, 2014. Pp. xx, 288. Illus., maps, appends, notes, biblio., index. $35.00. ISBN: 1611212081

Opening the Ball at Gettysburg

This outstanding volume by author Eric Wittenberg opens by introducing us to John Buford and the men he led. The narrative provides a concise account of Buford's role in the Gettysburg Campaign, including a detailed tactical discussion of his prominent role in the battle on July 1st and 2nd and ending through the withdrawal of his 1st Cavalry Division. Wittenberg, who’s written a goodly number of excellent books on the Civil War, makes effective use of anecdotes about Buford and his men, to help us better understand the battle. He. concludes with an analysis of the critical roles played in the battle by Buford, his brigade commanders, Colonels William Gamble and Thomas Devin, and the troops they led.

“The Devil’s to Pay” has four helpful appendices; an order of battle timed for 9:15 a.m. on July 1, 1863, the myth that Buford’s troopers were armed with repeating rifles, a discussion of the landscape of the defense as planned and carried out Buford, and whether Confederated infantry formed hollow squares to protect against a feinted mounted charge by Buford’s two brigades. The book also had over 80 excellent photographs and 17 helpful maps of superior quality, drawn by respected cartographer Philip Laino.

“The Devil’s to Pay” also includes a walking and driving tour of tracing Buford’s movements during the battle, with 40 GPS benchmark coordinates of each site and images of many monuments.

“The Devil’s to Pay” is indispensable for anyone seeking to study one of the Civil War's more interesting commanders, and is one of the best treatments of Buford and his important role at Gettysburg to date

Solidly researched and very readable, “The Devil’s to Pay” is highly recommend.


Our Reviewer: David Marshall has been a high school American history teacher in the Miami-Dade School district for more than three decades. A life-long Civil War enthusiast, David is president of the Miami Civil War Round Table Book Club. In addition to numerous reviews in Civil War News and other publications, he has given presentations to Civil War Round Tables on Joshua Chamberlain, Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln, the Battle of Gettysburg, and the common soldier. He earlier reviewed The Petersburg Regiment in the Civil War, Civil War Places, The Union Assaults at Vicksburg: Grant Attacks Pemberton, May 17–22, 1863, America’s Buried History: Landmines in the Civil War, The Women's Fight: The Civil War's Battles for Home Freedom, and Nation, A Republic in the Ranks, An Environmental History of the Civil War, Civil War Monuments and the Militarization of America, Arguing until Doomsday, and Armies of Deliverance: A New History of the Civil War.




Note: “The Devil’s to Pay” is also available in audio- and e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: David Marshall   

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