Author: Brian Mockenhaupt Category:


In July of 1863, the largest battle ever fought on American soil swept through the tiny town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. For three days, 160,000 Union and Confederate troops slaughtered one another in the streets, fields, and forests while the 2,500 residents of this small Pennsylvania town cowered in their homes.

As the battle raged all around her, a woman baked bread for Union soldiers, unaware that she would soon become part of history. In a faraway hospital, the Union soldier she loved lay close to death, unable to get her a message. Meanwhile, a childhood friend to them both marched back into town wearing Rebel gray.

Three Days in Gettysburg tells the true story of the braided lives of these three people—Jennie Wade, Jack Skelly, and Wes Culp—against the vivid and horrifying backdrop of the crucial Civil War battle at Gettysburg. The three had grown up together, but by the time war came to their hometown, their lives had taken surprisingly different paths. Despite whispered gossip about Jennie’s family and her violent, thieving father, she and the upright Jack had fallen in love; with the coming of the war, he joined the Union army. Wes, on the other hand, had left his family, moved to the South, and renounced his kinsmen by joining “Stonewall” Jackson’s brigade. When he finally came home, he did so as a traitor.

From Iraq War veteran and journalist Brian Mockenhaupt, author of the award-winning The Living and the Dead, this moving and cinematically descriptive tale shows the personal and tragically fateful side of war fought on home turf. He takes us inside the homes of Gettysburg, where snipers lurked in attics, families cowered in cellars and bullets smashed through the house where Jennie baked her bread. Outside in the dusty streets, panicked soldiers ran for cover and dead men and horses rotted under the July sun.

Written with the clarity and empathy of a U.S. Army infantryman who served two combat tours, this is an intimate story of the largest, bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil. It is a brutal, heartbreaking tale, told through the experiences of the residents and soldiers caught in the chaos. Mockenhaupt poignantly reminds us why Gettysburg is the one battle that deservedly remains engraved in all of our minds.


“Three Days in Gettysburg affirms that history is made vivid not through its events—however epic—but through the individuals consigned by fate and circumstance to confront and endure them. The result is a compelling, beautifully researched book that is as enlightening as it is moving.” —Elizabeth Kaye, author of the No. 1 New York Times bestseller Lifeboat No. 8.

“Three Days in Gettysburg provides the reader with a taut and refreshing perspective on the 150th anniversary of this epic event. It tells the story of both the soldiers who fought and died there, and also of the non-combatants – the people of Gettysburg who endured the battle and its fetid aftermath…. A vivid picture of what it was like to experience the battle of Gettysburg.” —ThinReads


Brian Mockenhaupt is the winner of the 2013 Michael Kelly Award and a 2013 National Magazine Award finalist in feature writing. He has been a contributing editor at Esquire, Outside, and Reader’s Digest and is the nonfiction editor at the Journal of Military Experience. He served two tours in Iraq as an infantryman with the 10th Mountain Division. Since leaving the U.S. Army in 2005, he has written extensively on military and veteran affairs, reporting from Afghanistan and Iraq, hometowns, and hospitals.