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Battle of Brandy Station, The:: North America's Largest Cavalry Battle (Civil War Sesquicentennial) Paperback – March, 2010


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Battle of Brandy Station, The:: North America's Largest Cavalry Battle (Civil War Sesquicentennial) + Brandy Station 1863: First step towards Gettysburg (Campaign)
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Product Details

  • Series: Civil War Sesquicentennial
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (March 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596297824
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596297821
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #747,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Wittenberg is even-handed, covering both sides in detail and meting out praise and criticism often to the same individuals. His use of first-person accounts and a well-honed ability to describe cavalry fighting bring the thunder of thousands of hooves, the clang of steel upon steel and the crack of carbines to life for the reader...As a work on a very important episode in the development of cavalry fighting in the Civil War, this book is highly recommended." --Kenneth Williams, Civil War News

About the Author

An attorney in Columbus, Ohio, Eric J. Wittenberg has long been a student of Civil War cavalry operations. Wittenberg has published fourteen books on Civil War history, most of them centering on Virginia. Additionally, his articles have appeared in Gettysburg Magazine, North & South, Blue & Gray, Hallowed Ground, America s Civil War and Civil War Times Illustrated. He is very active in battlefield preservation and is affiliated with the Civil War Preservation Trust and the Brandy Station Foundation. He has worked extensively with the trust on the preservation of the Trevilian Station battlefield in Louisa County, Virginia, and is a member of the advisory board of the Trevilian Station Battlefield Foundation. He has also fought for the preservation of the Buffington Island battlefield in Meigs County, Ohio; Brandy Station in Culpeper, Virginia; and for various sites associated with the Battle of Gettysburg.

Customer Reviews

A very well written book.
Eileen J. Lafave
I recommend this book for those that want to learn about the civil war and its major battles but don't want to read a 400 or 500 page book.
John Benintendi
Great detailed description of both sides of this important cavalry battle of the Civil War.
Tom Betz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Michael D. Peters on May 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
Books on Brandy Station are limited, both in scope & number. This is quite surprising, since the battle kicked off the Gettysburg Campaign, the most documented campaign in U. S. military history. Brandy Station was the opening act of a brutal drama and critics have, for the most part, ignored its importance. In Gettysburg's massive bibliography, there are but a few titles devoted exclusively to Brandy Station.

The first Brandy Station book, written by Fairfax Downey in 1959, was "Clash of Cavalry: The Battle of Brandy Station, June 9, 1863." It is outdated & lacks the first person accounts now demanded by Civil War students & scholars.

2002 gave us "Brandy Station: A Battle Like None Other," a Willow Bend book written by Richard Crouch. An online reviewer calls this an "awful book," criticizing the maps, the editing & the author. The reviewer concludes, "This is a book by an amateur published by amateurs: there are no modern maps to help the narrative, there are typos and words run together. The overall effect is poor. Save your money."

In 2006, McFarland Press released "Brandy Station, Virginia, June 9, 1863: The Largest Cavalry Battle of the Civil War," by Joseph McKinney. Like all McFarland titles, it is quite pricey -- $55 for just 340 pages. (Are you kidding me? And they say the oil companies "price gouge.") The maps are poor. However, the research is first rate & McKinney knows the terrain.

In 2008, as part of its "Campaign" series, Osprey Publishing released "Brandy Station 1863: First Step Towards Gettysburg," written by Dan Beattie & illustrated by Adam Hook. It is well written, well researched & has been well received by readers. But Brandy Station needs more than 96 pages to tell its story.

Fear not!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By David W. Nicholas on August 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is a brief survey of the Battle of Brandy Station, one of the more important overlooked battles of the Civil War. The fighting here was savage, and the battle had important implications for the rest of the war. One famous quote from a Confederate, that Brandy Station "made the Union cavalry", is repeated approvingly in this book and other places. As a result, this short survey of the battle is useful, because it gives a brief account of the fighting and how it progressed, and why things came out the way they did.

The battle was fought when the Union cavalry scouted the Confederate positions, trying to figure out where the Confederate army was going, in the late spring of 1863. Of course within a few days the Confederates would be marching north on the road that eventually led to Gettysburg. The Confederates of course didn't want to let the Yankees know this, so they fought the cavalry probe rather vigorously, but the Union forces were handled very aggressively and pushed the Confederates very hard for much of the day. The Yankees finally withdrew, which led the Confederates to claim victory; more perceptive observers noted that the Confederates had been surprised, that many of the Confederate troopers were tired from several days of parades and reviews, and that the Confederate forces, some of them anyway, were timidly handed and rather easily pushed around by the Union forces. Earlier in the war the Union cavalry wouldn't have been this much of a challenge to the Confederates; as the quote cited above notes, after this they became much more of a problem for the Confederates.

I have two major objections to this book. One is that there's no index.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. David Petruzzi on April 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
My friend and fellow cavalry afficianado has struck gold again with this wonderful narrative of the June 9, 1863 battle at Brandy Station. Since the 1950s we haven't had a good full history of the battle. Eric brings his knowledge of the players, their history, and an impeccable understanding of the terrain (we both together and separately have crawled over every available inch of the ground) to bring to the public an enjoyable, highly readable, and most accurate account of the battle to date. The icing on the cake is that the book has the first driving/walking tour of all the sites - including GPS coordinates, a feature Eric and I, with Mike Nugent, introduced in one of our joint books a few years ago (One Continuous Fight). Prefaced with an imprimatur by Civil War Preservation Trust President Jim Lighthizer, and illustrated with the unbeatable maps of master cartographer Steve Stanley, this book is now the standard for Brandy. Take this book for a walk and enjoy.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Civil War Librarian on August 2, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
New and Noteworthy---The Battle of Brandy Station, Virginia

The Battle of Brandy Station: North America's Largest Cavalry Battle, Eric J. Wittenberg, Steven Stanley [maps], History Press, 272 pp., 57 illustrations and photographs, 12 maps, notes, bibliography, guided tour, order of battle, paperback, $24.95.

Fought on June 9, 1863, the Battle of Brandy Station, Virginia was the largest predominantly cavalry engagement of the American Civil War. Many Civil War enthusiasts regard the battle as solely a cavalry fight but there were eleven Union regiments engaged. Also, though many view it as the beginning of the Pennsylvania Campaign, it may also be seen as the conclusion of the Chancellorsville campaign. Wittenberg's effort would have been strengthened by noting the Union cavalry's raid that began April 27, before the Battle of Chancellorsville. He does develop a picture of the Federal cavalry's growing aggressiveness by covering the purge of Rebel guerrillas from the Northern Neck region between the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers in mid-May.

One of the several delights of Wittenberg's The Battle of Brandy Station is his handling of primary sources of the combatants. There are about 100 indented and italicized comments from the soldiers. The voices of the soldiers are heard throughout the narrative. Wittenberg takes a non-partisan stance towards the sides; both criticism and compliments fall on Blue and Gray. Stuart's three grand reviews and sham battles [May 22, June 4 and June 5] are not overweighted against him. But for Wittenberg , more illustrative are Stuart's over wrought responses to the Richmond press' reports that hold him accountable after the battle.
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More About the Author

Eric J. Wittenberg is an award-winning Civil War historian. A native of southeastern Pennsylvania, Wittenberg focuses on Civil War cavalry operations. He is the author of more than 15 published books. He was educated at Dickinson College and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and is a practicing attorney (someday, he might even get it right and get to stop practicing!). Wittenberg is a member of the Governor of Ohio's Advisory Commission on the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, and also serves as the vice president of the Buffington Island Battlefield Preservation Foundation. He, his wife Susan, and their two silly golden retrievers live in Columbus, Ohio.

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