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Reading Book Guide

Silent Sentinels: A Reference Guide to the Artillery at Gettysburg, by George W. Newton

Artillery played an important and perhaps decisive role in the July 1863 battle of Gettysburg. Although many hundreds of books have been published on the battle, very few have focused more than a few paragraphs or a sprinkling of entries on the "long arm" and its role in the battle. This gap is finally filled by Silent Sentinels. We hope these thought-provoking questions lead to some lively book discussions.

  1. Discuss the South's limited manufacturing resources as opposed to the North's. How effective was the South in overcoming this deficiency.
  2. The title of the book is Silent Sentinels. What images does this title, and the lone cannon on the cover, bring to mind?
  3. Most of the guns that sit on the Gettysburg battlefield today were used in the Civil War. How would you view them when taking a tour of the field, as opposed to the monuments?
  4. When recruiting men for the newly formed artillery batteries, what occupations would have been most helpful? Would it have been wise to restrict artillery recruits to only certain trades? Which side could have been more restrictive and why?
  5. Discuss the mindset of both a northern and a southern artilleryman in battle. What would they be doing, thinking, etc.?
  6. What kind of courage would it take to be in the artillery in the Civil War? What could each man do to find that courage?
  7. Horses were a necessary part of life in the 19th century and critical to the artillery. What advantages and disadvantages were there in a soldier's close relationship to horses?
  8. Was it easier to be in the infantry, the artillery, or the cavalry in the Civil War? Discuss the pros and cons.
  9. Sacrifice is a word often used when discussing men in both armies. Nearly 10% of the US population in 1860 became soldiers on both sides. Would 10% be willing to do that today? Under what, if any, circumstances?