.... of the Battle of Gettysburg are reflected in a running accompaniment of the personalities and strategy of the military leaders of both sides that backgrounds the stories of the men, Yankees and Confederates, who are part of the events, and the action and the plot again prove that war is a personal thing. For Private Whitfield Johnson, 17, Union Army, it meant capture, escape and the girl Leora; for Lt. Mabry, South, it meant scavenging and retaliation; for Lt. Castetter, North, it meant the suicide of his old Harvard professor and his own death; Private Patterson, South, conquered his fears but lost his humanity; while bank teller Sgt. Marshall found he could be a brave -- but not reasonable. The South's ""great gamble"" in which Lee was the aggressor and Meade the defender, the skirmish that became a battle at a ""minor geographical point"", the wild confusion and often aimless fighting, the blundering into each other (the Confederates were looking for shoes), the enlisted man who couldn't be fooled -- and the officers that were -- this makes up a continuum and a panorama that is -- of necessity -- a toll of bodies that once were men, of bravery and courage and sheer cowardice, and of soldiers that often were less than that. Moments here that keep a sense of history within the frame of all too humanness also keep the reader-reading.