From Publishers Weekly
In the enormous American Civil War canon, comparatively little has been written about the cavalry. Walsh (Whip the Rebellion
, etc.) remedies the situation with this sprightly account of cavalry leaders and operations, from their beginnings in the spring of 1862 to the war's bitter end at Appomattox on April 7, 1865. Walsh's narrative emphasizes personalities—most of them Southerners—including courageous Fitzhugh Lee, son of Confederate commanding general Robert E. Lee; fiery Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan; J.E.B. Stuart, who perished at the Battle of Yellow Tavern near Richmond in May of 1864; John Hunt Morgan, who daringly led Confederate troops into Indiana and Ohio; and John Singleton Mosby, known as "the Gray Ghost" because he and his men, operating in the northern Virginia Piedmont, seemed to appear and disappear without warning. Union luminaries include the fierce, take-no-prisoners Philip H. "Little Phil" Sheridan and young, hotheaded George Armstrong Custer. Walsh offers his personality-driven, battle-tactic–heavy stories in short chapters, presented chronologically and divided into actions in the eastern and western theaters, in this smoothly written, accessible effort. (Dec.)
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Seasoned editor and historian Walsh gives us an excellent popular history of Civil War cavalry. Spanning from spring 1862 to spring 1865, it covers such large actions as Brandy Station and the wasting of the Shenandoah Valley, small actions of scouts and skirmishers (which occurred nearly every day of the war), and the men and horses that made both sides' mounted arms effective. Massed cavalry charges were vulnerable to rifled muskets and artillery, and dismounted action came to play a large role in the Civil War cavalry's story. That gave the advantage to the North, whose cavalry became more and more generally equipped with repeating rifles. Further, since no cavalry can sustain itself in the face of diminishing supplies of new horses and of food for the animals already in service, the fate of the Confederacy's mounted troops was sealed. A worthy shelf mate to Walsh's portraits of Lee ("Damage Them All You Can
," 2002) and Grant ("Whip the Rebellion,"
2005) and their armies, especially for new Civil War students. Roland GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved