When: November 14th
Where: Otterbein University, Towers Hall 3rd floor. Room 318. Westerville Ohio 43081. Please go to the “About the COCWRT” tab for more information.
Speaker: J. David Petruzzi
Topic: Gettysburg Campaign in Numbers and Losses; June 9th to July 14th
Known to most folks as just “J.D.”, J. David Petruzzi has been a life-long student of history. Although his primary interest is the American Civil War, he also enjoys studying all aspects of American and world history.
Following his graduation from The Pennsylvania State University, J.D. became more serious about studying the Civil War. His special penchant is for the cavalry, so he began researching the mounted arms of both sides. He visited many repositories such as university and historical collections, the U.S. Army War College, and National Park Service and other government archives and began gathering a large amount of primary source material. J.D. also began collecting books, and now has a primary and secondary book collection of Civil War and related topics that numbers about 4,000 volumes. He soon began reenacting, often portraying a Union cavalry officer.
In 2003, J.D. began writing articles on cavalry and Gettysburg topics for popular Civil War magazines such as America’s Civil War, Civil War Times, Blue&Gray, and The Gettysburg Magazine. Most of his articles dealt with little-known, obscure events during the war, events that he enjoys discovering, learning about, and teaching to others.
In 2004, J.D. wanted to begin writing books about the subjects he loves, and in 2006 his first book appeared (co-authored with Eric J. Wittenberg) titled Plenty of Blame To Go Around: Jeb Stuart’s Controversial Ride to Gettysburg which opened to wide acclaim. Since then, J.D. has authored several more books with many more in the works. He also was a Historical Adviser and actor in two television docudramas produced at the time.
While writing the articles for magazines, J.D. met and befriended master cartographer Steven Stanley, most noted for his beautiful and deeply-researched maps produced for the Civil War Trust. Steve produced the maps that accompanied J.D.’s articles, with the pair working closely together since J.D.’s subjects had mostly never been mapped previously. For a number of years, J.D. had considered the idea of writing a guidebook for the various Gettysburg battlefields and surrounding sites of interest. Steve graciously agreed to produce the maps for the book. But finding that in addition to his map-making abilities that Steve was also an extremely talented media designer, publisher Theodore Savas of Savas Beatie LLC agreed to have Steve also design the entire book. In 2009, the fruits of J.D.’s and Steve’s labors appeared – The Complete Gettysburg Guide. Featuring an easy-to-follow tour of the entire main battlefield, the book also features tours of the town, cemeteries, surrounding cavalry battlfields, field hospital sites, and even the historical rock carvings on the battlefield. Entirely in full color with 70 of Steve’s original maps, the book has won several prestigious awards and has been widely praised as setting a new standard for historical guidebooks. The pair plan a series of such guides for many more battlefields.
In early 2011, J.D. was selected to be the Historical Advisor for an upcoming television miniseries, set to air in 2013, titled To Appomattox. Written and produced by screen writer Michael Frost Beckner (Spy Game, CSI, The Agency) and directed by Mikael Solomon (Band of Brothers, Rome) the eight-part series follows the lives and careers of main characters Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, William T. Sherman, and James Longstreet. In addition to advising the writer, producers, and cast (which include William Petersen, Michael C. Hall, Paul Giamatti, Stephen Lang, and several other television/movie actors as well as Country Music stars and Nascar drivers), J.D. is also coordinating the efforts of a world-class team of consultants which include National Park Service Historian Emeritus Edwin Bearss and about a dozen authors and historians. J.D. has also been assisting the production company by helping to write portions of the script and conducting research that is the foundation for the series’ storyboards and sets. The series is anticipated to be the media highlight of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, and J.D. is both humbled and honored to be a part of the project.
Living in western Pennsylvania with his wife Karen and their dacshund Buddy, J.D. works steadily on his book projects. The owner and manager of a successful insurance brokerage, in his free time J.D. also enjoys gardening, fishing, and watching movies.
Historical Advisor to the upcoming TV miniseries To Appomattox www.toappomattox.com
Books at www.completegettysburgguide.com; www.stuartsride.com; www.gettysburgretreat.com
The Complete Gettysburg Guide – Winner of the 2009 US Army Historical Foundation’s Award for Excellence, Reference Category.