Kent State University Press


Campaign histories of the Civil War concentrate their efforts on the subsequent battles that offensives generate, but tend to overlook the movements that lead up to the battles themselves. Robert J. Wynstra’s At the Forefront of Lee’s Invasion: Retribution, Plunder, and Clashing Cultures on Richard S. Ewell’s Road to Gettysburg takes a very different approach in that it is purely an account of one Confederate corps’ movement to battle, with only a cursory description of the Battle of Gettysburg at the end. As the leading element of Robert E. Lee’s incursion into Pennsylvania in 1863, Lt. Gen. Richard Ewell’s II Corps conducted the deepest penetration into Union territory by Confederate infantry and therefore had the most contact with Union civilians during the operation. The interaction between Ewell’s soldiers and Union civilians is the main point of the book, as Wynstra uses copious sources to describe not only Ewell’s movements through the Maryland and Pennsylvania countryside but also their interaction with the civilians whose property was seized to supply Confederate needs.