Gettysburg Reenactors Rely on CSM President’s Research


‘Maps of Gettysburg’ to be used as Textbook for 150th Commemoration Planning

College of Southern Maryland President Dr. Brad Gottfried remembers the first time he stepped onto the Gettysburg battlefield around the time of the centennial in 1963 as a 13-year-old. “I had a strong interest in the war but I just didn’t get it, I couldn’t visualize what happened there,” he said.

Gottfried never imagined that years later his interest in the Civil War would be rekindled and that his work would play a part in how people young and old would experience the history of the Battle of Gettysburg during its 150th anniversary.

After writing a number of books on the Civil War, Gottfried turned his attention to documenting campaigns through the use of maps—many of them. His first project illustrated the Battle of Gettysburg in approximately 150 maps. Gottfried includes a map on a page with a description of the events on the facing page so that readers can move from map to text to better understand what occurred during each phase of the battle. Subsequent books have covered the First Battle of Bull Run and the Battle of Antietam. His book on the post-Gettysburg Campaign of the fall of 1863 will be published in the near future.

This June, Gottfried’s research will move from a two- to three-dimensional presentation when visitors attending the 150th Commemoration and Reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg will be watching people replicate troop movements, armory placement and battle scenarios highlighted in Gottfried’s book, “The Maps of Gettysburg: The Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 – July 13, 1863.”

 “At the [reenactment] planning meetings, the commanders for the North and the South use your book as a textbook and base the battle scenario planning on the maps you've provided,” said Blue Gray Alliance/Longstreet's Corps Event Media Coordinator Kris Shelton in a letter to Gottfried. “Thanks for all the incredible research you put into the Maps of Gettysburg book.”

“What makes this book different is the visual representation,” said Gottfried. “There are lots of books on Gettysburg, more than any other battle or campaign, but you have to wade through them in order to understand the battle, whereas this book allows people in a very short period of time to see the visual representations of what took place in a way that makes sense. For reenactors, such as those in the 116th Pennsylvania, they can see where this regiment started, where it engaged the enemy and what happened through the detailed maps,” said Gottfried. “I have people who come up to me and say that they have been studying Gettysburg for 30 years and after reading my book, they finally get it because of the visual representations.”

Gottfried developed an interest in the Civil War as a teenager growing up in Philadelphia but when he headed off to college to study biology, he boxed up his history books and his interest in the war for more than 20 years.

“When I returned to Philadelphia I thought I should open some of those boxes of books that I have been carting around for years. It was almost like the air in Pennsylvania reignited my interest in the Civil War,” said Gottfried, who has since written nine books on the Civil War.

In researching his next book on the Battle of the Wilderness near Fredericksburg, Gottfried uses secondary sources to get an overview of the campaign before delving into the more than 120 volumes of official war records containing reports filed by officers on what happened to their brigade, division, regiment or company following an engagement or battle. He also spends considerable time in research libraries, studying unpublished letters and diaries. In researching his earlier books, Gottfried said that he would take a small copy machine to the library, spending a hundred hours making copies of the regimental histories. With the digitization of the official war records, Gottfried now uses a hand-held scanner to capture images of documents. The final step in his research is to visit the battlefields to better understand the topography.

“I read what historians are saying and compare it with what the men who were there are saying, and weave it all together. The result is a progression of maps that shows what happened from the minute [the soldiers] stepped off the road until they returned,” said Gottfried. For one portion of a battle, he may have as many as six maps showing the troop movements during the course of the engagement. 

In addition to his book on Gettysburg, Gottfried has written “Stopping Pickett: The History of the Philadelphia Brigade,” “Roads to Gettysburg: Lee's Invasion of the North, 1863,” “The Brigades of Gettysburg: The Union and Confederate Brigade at the Battle of Gettysburg,” “Kearny’s Own: The History of the First New Jersey Brigade,” “The Artillery of Gettysburg,” “The Maps of First Bull Run: An Atlas of the First Bull Run (Manassas) Campaign, including the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, June-October 1861” and his newest, “The Maps of Antietam: An Atlas of the Antietam (Sharpsburg) Campaign, including the Battle of South Mountain, September 2-20, 1862.”

“I’ve never been in war. But when I read the stories, letters and diaries [of those who fought during the Civil War], I’m actually there,” Gottfried said. “I am there reliving battles through the eyes of these young men. In writing, [about Civil War battles] I am translating what I’ve learned, what I’ve seen, what I’ve heard onto these pages. For me, it’s a way that I honor these individuals. For what they’ve given, the least we can do is to understand their sacrifices.” 

Gottfried is a regular contributor to “Gettysburg Magazine” and “Civil War Times Illustrated” and is a frequent presenter on Civil War topics, including previous continuing education courses at CSM and at community events.

Associated with community colleges for more than 30 years, Gottfried has extensive experience in strategic planning, enrollment management, fiscal and facilities management, and cultivating community and legislative relations, as well as in developing successful initiatives in curriculum, technology, faculty, transfer programs and business development.

Gottfried holds a Ph.D. in zoology from Miami University of Ohio, a master’s degree in biology from Western Illinois University and a bachelor’s degree in biology from West Chester University.

In August 2012, Gottfried helped organize the Southern Maryland Civil War Roundtable which meets monthly from September through May and has hosted notable authors such as Eric Buckland on Mosby’s Rangers, Anne Arundel County Historical Society’s (AACHS) Rebecca Morris on the role of Annapolis in the Civil War, Matthew Borowick, columnist for “Civil War News,” on “The Court Martial of Fitz John Porter” and Civil War historian Kevin Knapp as Thaddeus Lowe, chief aeronaut of the Army of the Potomac’s Balloon Corps.

To view video of Gottfried discussing his book “The Maps of Antietam: An Atlas of the Antietam (Sharpsburg) Campaign, including the Battle of South Mountain,” visit

The battle reenactment is located two miles from the Gettysburg National Military Park and will include thousands of people playing the roles of Union and Confederate soldiers.

For more on the battle reenactment, visit

For more on official commemoration ceremonies at Gettysburg National Military Park, visit