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The Lightning Mule Brigade: Abel Streight's 1863 Raid into Alabama Paperback – December 2, 2008
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About the Author
Robert L. Willett has an MBA from Western Michigan University and a 40 year career in commercial banking. He has held bank presidencies in Michigan, Florida and Saipan. Retired since 1993 he still does international bank consulting in such diverse locations as Cluj, Romania;Kampala, Uganda; Yuzhno-Sakhalin, Russia and Baghdad. An avid student of history he has had four books published: "One Day of the Civil War," "The Lightning Mule Brigade," "Russian Sideshow" and "An Airline at War." This is the second printing of "The Lightning Mule Brigade."
Top customer reviews
The aspect of Streight's Raid I found most interesting is an apparent disconnect between its strategic context and its operational goal. At the strategic level, the operation was intended to divert Confederate cavalry from interfering with Grant's crossing the Mississipi below Vicksburg, as has been described by Ed Bearrs. Operationally, however, it used Streight's desire for independent command and his belief that he could exploit Unionist sympathies in northern Alabama in service of a one-way mission (no plan for a return to Union-controlled territory evidently existed) to cut a railroad line in Rome, Georgia. The raid turned out to be a strategic success but an operational failure. Did Streight realize this?
The maps are good for a book this size. A few typos were noticed.
I feel as though it was a fair representation of both Union and Confederate point of views. The acute attention to detail and first hand accounts were beneficial to the storyline. I am not an avid reader of military battles, so this next comment should be taken with a grain of salt. I found some portions of the book to be a little confusing. On more than one occasion, I had to back up a page and read it again. Someone more educated in regard to the Civil War might have zipped through these sections with ease. This is the only reason I subtracted a star from the review. I strongly suggest this book to anyone who is a "Civil War Buff". If this were a movie, no one would believe it was non-fiction.
Robert L. Willett conducted his own raid into previously uninhabited territory, and for this I commend him. There were no major battles fought in Alabama during the Civil War. Maybe it is for this reason that Streight's Raid is rarely written about. Maybe it's because the outcome of Streight's Raid somewhat glorifies Nathan Bedford Forrest. It may be too taboo in today's politically correct environment to glorify the founder of the Ku Klux Klan - whose military tactics were admired and studied by Nazi General Erwin Rommel. The significance of Forrest's "victory" is strongly debated. Could this be the most overlooked raid of the Civil War? Not anymore...
While the use of mules seemed comical, in terms of the ultimate effect of a military feint it definitely got the South's attention. What is most amazing is how deep into the South Streight's forces got, considering the noisy and inept way the invasion progressed. Considering all that went on in the Civil War during this raid into Alabama, this is relatively speaking a light-hearted episode.
Robert Willett has written an interesting story based on eyewitness accounts and regimental histories. This work, which is well cited, is the only in depth work on this raid. Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of this work is that it will not gain the attention it deserves since it was not published by an academic press or written by an academic scholar. So much the loss.