Without Warning2023-11-05T11:11:44-07:00

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Dr. Terry C. Pierce was the Director of the USASFA Center of Innovation, where he championed disruptive innovations for the Federal Government. Previously, he was Associate Dean and research associate professor of Information Sciences at NPS. READ MORE » 

Dr. Terry Pierce in Uniform

Without Warning:

The Saga of Gettysburg, A Reluctant Union Hero, and the Men He Inspired

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Cover of Without Warning: The Saga of Gettysburg, A Reluctant Union Hero, and the Men He Inspired. Features image of George Meade painted by Dale GallonWithout Warning is a historical novel of the Battle of Gettysburg appealing to fans of Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Killer Angels. Without Warning is a surprising story that discloses a previously hidden truth, like Dee Brown’s 1971 revelatory book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, that forever changes our vision of a historical event.

Shaara’s legendary novel focuses primarily on key Confederate leaders and a few Union soldiers. Without Warning is the “flip side.” It’s a gritty retelling of the battle from the perspective of the Union’s newly appointed commander, General George Meade, and some of his lieutenants. The story opens with Lincoln ordering Meade to take command of the Union army three days before the Battle of Gettysburg. Under severe protest, Meade reluctantly relieves General Hooker as Lincoln’s fourth commander of the Army of the Potomac, and unexpectedly and against all odds, soundly defeats the Confederate army.

Meade’s remarkable story has remained largely untold for the past 150 years, at least in part because most people find it difficult to accept that a brilliant military commander such as Robert E. Lee was outgeneraled and defeated by an unheralded, goggle-eyed opponent. Instead, they place the blame for the crushing defeat on Lee’s subordinates, believing the Federals had little to do with the victory.

Remaining faithful to history, I have not consciously changed any facts. All the federal officers and soldiers are real-life participants in the battle, including the conniving General Daniel Sickles, who flagrantly disobeyed orders, creating a situation that nearly destroyed Meade’s army. Counter to The Killer Angels, Lee’s army and his generals are the villains in Without Warning. The result is a surprising story as accurate as the history but more fascinating and compelling.
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Expecting A Battle by Dale Gallon - www.gallon.com

The front cover of Without Warning: The Saga of Gettysburg, A Reluctant Union Hero, and the Men He Inspired is based on a painting by Dale Gallon, called Expecting a Battle. Gallon Gallery has given permission for Terry Pierce to use Expecting a Battle as the basis for the novel’s cover. Expecting a Battle was originally commissioned by the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg in 1999.

Expecting a Battle captures activities at Major General Meade’s headquarters, located at the Leister House, Gettysburg, PA, July 2, 1863.

It’s about 4:00 p.m. and Confederate artillery has opened up a blistering barrage against Meade’s left flank, occupied by Major General Daniel Sickles, who is commanding the Union army’s Third Corps. Meade has just learned that Sickles has moved Third Corps forward one half mile in front of his assigned defensive position. Meade is speaking with Major General Winfield Hancock commanding Second Corps, while preparing to ride toward the Peach Orchard to meet with General Sickles.

Expecting a Battle captures the start of one of the most contentious controversies of the Battle of Gettysburg — Sickles’s movement of his Third Corps forward to an indefensible salient without Meade’s approval. What followed was Meade’s greatest test as the Union’s commanding general. Why did Sickles move forward and jeopardize the entire Federal defense? How did Meade prevent the collapse of the Union line? Without Warning transports the reader inside both Sickles and Meade’s minds to answer these questions.

If you would like to order copies of Expecting a Battle by Dale Gallon please:


You’re going to love the maps in Without Warning. Artist Aaron Matney worked hard to capture the lay of the land at the Battle of Gettysburg.


Rear Admiral Becker (USN Ret.) Reviews “Without Warning”

From Proceedings, U.S. Naval Institute, October 2020 Book Reviews (page 85) "WITHOUT WARNING: THE SAGA OF GETTYSBURG, A RELUCTANT UNION HERO AND THE MEN HE INSPIRED" Reviewed by: Rear Admiral Paul Becker, U.S. Navy (Retired) "This is an amazing, exciting, easily readable historical novel. America’s Civil War and those who fought it feature prominently in today’s social discourse. The timing could not be better to renew one’s understanding of such [...]

Kirkus Reviews “Without Warning”

Pierce begins this detailed work on June 27, 1863. It is the middle of the Civil War, and President Abraham Lincoln and his team in the White House want a change. The Rebels have invaded Pennsylvania. A wrong decision could very well lead to an attack on the nation’s capital. A messenger is dispatched to the front lines to tell Gen. George Meade that he is the new head [...]

“I absolutely loved Without Warning!  My knowledge of the Gettysburg Battle came from reading Killer Angels many years ago and two walking tours of the battlefield over 20 years ago.  Until I read Without Warning, I knew very little about Meade and his subordinates and what they did to win the battle.  This book is, however, most important to me because it shows the amazing influence of character on one’s leadership abilities.  My father, Technical Sergeant Charles Henry Coolidge, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in France in 1944.  He is still alive and when I recently visited him in Chattanooga and I told him Without Warning. I’ve told the Tennessee Medal of Honor Heritage Center Board of Directors that when Without Warning is published I want it sold in the Center.  This novel should be mandatory reading at all our military service academies as well as at our Command and Staff and War Colleges.  In fact, I would recommend it to anyone interested in developing character traits for leadership.”

– Lieutenant General Charles Coolidge
USAF, Retired; Senior VP, Airbus

“Fighting men and women want leaders of character…it’s a central theme, unchanging aspect of the Profession of Arms. In this brilliant historical novel, Terry Pierce extracts from the chaotic tapestry of Gettysburg the moral character of General Gordon Meade, an individual who reluctantly took command of the Potomac Army and let it to victory over the forces of the vaunted General Robert E. Lee some 6 days later. In the process, he replaced the Napoleonic frontal attacks learned at West Point with the dominance of tactical defense. Most importantly, he demonstrated that camaraderie and combat effectiveness are forged by character, not charisma and popularity. This lesson continues to today.”

– Lieutenant General Erv Rokke
USAFA, Retired; Harvard PhD

(General Rokke was former Dean of the US Air Force Academy and the Senior American Military Attaché at US Embassy in the Soviet Union.)

Without Warning is one of the most compelling war novels I’ve ever read. It captures the Fog of War in such a raw and visceral way that it catapults the reader back in time, placing them squarely on the battlefield of whizzing bullets and blasting cannon fire. But perhaps even more powerful is the way in which the book places you inside the minds of the different decision makers – sharing in the turmoil and gnawing responsibilities that plagued each decision made. The descriptive narrative of the book paints a vivid and vital struggle – man between man, General between General, decision between decision, each of which carries a degree of moral ambiguity where there often exists no definitive correct decision – only a tactical gamble. Therefore, the reader shares the weight of command – the unenviable position of comprehending the fear of failure and fittingly, walks away sharing in the exhaustion of the men who led and struggled, lived and died. This book should be mandatory reading for all those who aspire to grasp the entire spectrum of decision-making during those few overwhelmingly trying days that helped shape our country.”

– Lieutenant Colonel James Ryan Cutchin

(Cutchin’s heroic actions in Iraq were portrayed by Matt Damon’s character in the The Green Zone.)

Without Warning is a well-researched and written ‘you are there’ style historical novel of the Battle of Gettysburg whose central character is General Meade. His characters seem to ‘come alive’ as they were at the time to inform and inspire about their fears, intentions and actions in combat. Without Warning is a surprising story that discloses the inner most thoughts and feelings of those engaged. Pierce’s solid research into battle reports, correspondence, diaries, and other reference works demonstrates a deep insight into the minds of the featured participants. Using possible colloquial speech and jargon that soldiers generally used, he places the reader in the middle of the action, thereby altering the reader’s vision of the historical event. The result is a story which strives for historical accuracy, albeit in a personalized context that makes his approach both fascinating and compelling. In sum, Without Warning is a character- and voice-driven revelatory historical fiction. Some will face crises without warning such as Meade did. How it is dealt with depends on character and leadership. This novel depicts how Meade dealt with his life-changing moment and became America’s reluctant hero.”

– Dr. Andy Waskie, PhD
Professor, Temple University; President, General Meade Society

(The General Meade Society’s goal and mission is to promote the life and career of George G. Meade.)

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