Cooper H. Wingert is a young author from central Pennsylvania who has proven to be a very talented researcher in his short career as a writer and history buff. The Enola native has been studying primary accounts of the defense of Harrisburg during the Gettysburg Campaign and the Confederate march through Cumberland County toward the Susquehanna River. He has deftly scoured local and state archives and has assembled an collection of sources rarely or never before used to tell the story of the eventful days of late June 1863 when an enemy army threatened the state capital.
Almost Harrisburg: The Confederate Attempt on Pennsylvania’s Capital, Gettysburg Campaign, June & July 1863 has just been published in April 2012. The new book boasts a solid array of black-and-white photographs, illustrations, and original maps to aid the reader. The author presents the details of the campaign for Harrisburg in an unbiased fashion, examining primary accounts from Confederate soldiers and officers, local civilians, state politicians, and the New York and Pennsylvania militiamen who defended the city.
A preface by Pennsylvania Civil War author Scott L. Mingus, Sr. sets the stage and provides historical context for the book. Cooper Wingert breaks down the opposing movements and tactical situations chronologically, beginning with an introduction to the Gettysburg Campaign and Harrisburg’s strategic importance. Robert E. Lee had instructed a key subordinate, Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell, to seize the city if he had the means to do so. Ewell, however, did not aggressively pursue a direct attack on the hastily built fortifications across the river from Harrisburg, which was defended by thousands of militia of varying quality levels and military experience.
This new book more than adequately tells the story, and will leave the reader with a solid understanding of the military proceedings around Harrisburg as the Rebels try to reach the Susquehanna River. Cooper Wingert continues to provide ample evidence that he is one of the finest young Civil War historians in the country. Not yet in high school, he continues to hone his research and writing skills, and this book stands on its own merits.
Almost Harrisburg should be on the shelf of any student of the Gettysburg Campaign who is interested in the defense of the state capital. Pick up your copy at Civil War and More, a fine bookstore at 10 S. Market Street in Mechanicsburg. Owner Jim Schmick will take orders via phone, internet / e-mail, or in person for Cooper’s new book.