Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Day that Changed America: The Gettysburg Address

A Day that Changed America: The Gettysburg Address

Shelley Tanaka
Illustrator:  David Craig 
Nonfiction Picture Book  Series
For ages 10 and up
Hyperion, 2003   ISBN: 978-0786819225

In the second year of the Civil War there was a battle that lasted three terrible days. As a result of that battle fifty thousand men were killed, wounded or captured. It took place around the little town of Gettysburg.

The plan that lay at the heart of the Gettysburg campaign was to march a large army north, win a decisive battle and then slice down into the capitol city of Washington. At the battle, Confederate soldiers outnumbered union soldiers three to one and after the first day the Confederate troops held the little town. General Lee set up his headquarters in a small stone house within its boundaries. It was a small gain for the Rebel forces however, as losses were high.

On the morning of the second day the Union soldiers were ready and waiting for the second round but it never came. By the time the Confederates did attack, the Union troops had had the time they needed to rest and get organized. They found secure placements on ridges and high ground and that was where they stayed, determined to hold their positions come what may. This was day when the soldiers fought across the wheat field, the peach orchard, and the two little hills that became so famous once the battle was over. This too was the day when so many men died. More died the next day until both sides had had enough and the Confederates retreated.

Once the fighting ended the people in the town of Gettysburg emerged from their houses and began to clean up the mess, caring for the wounded and burying the dead as best they could.

Some months later a weary and still grieving President Lincoln left Washington to attend an event in Gettysburg which included a parade and where the famous orator Edward Everett was going to tell the story of the battle of Gettysburg. Finally, the President was going to give a short address. He was determined that the people should pay tribute to those who died, and that they should understand what he saw lay ahead for the country as a whole. They had to see that slavery could not belong in the future of the United States.

In this extraordinary book the full and detailed story of what occurred at Gettysburg in July of 1863 is told. What is also told is how the town coped with its history once the battle was over. More importantly it tells how the Gettysburg address changed the way.