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The Union Cavalry Comes Of Age: Hartwood Church to Brandy Station, 1863 Hardcover – September 11, 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc.; 1 edition (September 11, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574884425
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574884425
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,182,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A splendidly written and thoroughly researched study." --AMERICA'S CIVIL WAR

From the Publisher

A noted authority on cavalry challenges a Civil War myth

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.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jules Lonetree on July 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Is it fun to read about the cavaliers in Gray? Sure. Was the Union cavalry really as inept and pathetic as we have been led to believe? Not a chance, at least according to historian of the blue horse Eric Wittenberg, who sets up and knocks apart just about every falsehood, half-truth and myth that has popped over over the last century and fifty odd years.
Wittenberg explains how the Union arm evolved, and explains the careers of a wide variety of officers, including prominent ppersonalities like Alfred Pleasonton, George Stoneman, John Buford, Wesley Merritt, and William W. Averell, and many lesser known commanders. He also explains how these officers, in camp and in battle, developed the Federal horse arm into a force to be reckoned with--and one that eventually ran circles around the Southern horsemen. One of the high points of the Union cavalry experience was at Brandy Station during the opening phase of the Gettsburg Campaign, and as one might expect, the author expends substantial ink writing about it. Although he does not appear to add anything new here, he does explain it from a different perspective, and that is refreshing. Brandy Station made it clear the blue horse was coming of age, but the author makes a good case it was sooner and stronger than most have heretofore acknowledged.
Wittenberg's writing is solid (not brilliant, but workmanlike and thorough). Based upon a wide variety of firsthand and secondary sources, the book adds something worthwhile to the voluminous literature, which one cannot is hardpressed to say about most of the books published these days. Much of this value is that the author explains why the Union cavalry improved in leadership and ability, and how its role evolved from 1861 to 1863, and then again to the end of the war. Though not a big fan of Brassey line, this title is one of their better releases. Recommended.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Bielakowski, Ph.D. on July 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
Union Cavalry Comes of Age: Hartwood Church to Brandy Station, 1863 is a detailed examination of the evolution or "coming of age" of the Union cavalry during the American Civil War. Conventional historical wisdom states that the Union cavalry was not an effective force until after the Battle of Gettysburg. Furthermore, the Confederacy has often been portrayed as possessing the "natural" cavalrymen, while the Union supposedly had to turn merchants and mechanics into horsemen. The author, Eric J. Wittenberg, argues that, on the contrary, the Union possessed skilled and knowledgeable cavalrymen from the beginning of the war. The relative ineffectiveness of the Union cavalry in the Eastern Theater during the first two years of the war, he argues, should be attributed to poor organizational decisions by the early commanders of the Army of the Potomac. Wittenberg believes that it was the distribution of the Union cavalry in separate regiments and brigades, rather than the unified structure used by the Army of Northern Virginia, that led to its ineffectiveness.

Wittenberg has established a solid reputation as the author or editor of several other works on the Union cavalry during the Civil War, including most importantly: Protecting the Flanks: The Battles for Brinkerhoff's Ridge and East Cavalry Field, Battle of Gettysburg, July 2-3, 1863 (Ironclad Publishing, 2002) and Gettysburg's Forgotten Cavalry Actions (Thomas Publications, 1998, and winner of the 1998 Bachelder-Coddington Literary Award). Union Cavalry Comes of Age is organized into nine chapters, which offer a chronological history of the Union cavalry from the formation of the Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac, in February 1863 to the Battle of Brandy Station in June 1863.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. Petruzzi on January 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you are a Cavalry afficianado, or simply want to expand your knowledge of the American Civil War, you must have this book. Equisitely researched and documented, Eric shows his intimate familiarity with the Union cavalry during the war. Many sections of the book fill in gaps previously unaddressed by any other work.
The year 1863 was inarguably the most important watershed era for Union Cavalry, which began to improve to a point at which they began to surpass their Confederate counterparts in leadership, ability, and cohesiveness. The Union horsemen's prowess, beginning in 1863, as a unified fighting arm drastically contrasts with their use as couriers and body guards for the infantry during the first two years of the war. Eric wonderfully explains both how and why the changes began and developed in this work.
This book needs to be consulted along with any other work on Union Cavalry in the Civil War, and deserves a place on the bookshelf of anyone interested in gaining well-rounded knowledge not only of the cavalry, but of both armies' operations in the first half of 1863.
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