- Paperback: 688 pages
- Publisher: Indiana University Press; 1 edition (March 22, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0253213193
- ISBN-13: 978-0253213198
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.8 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,449,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sherman's Horsemen: Union Cavalry Operations in the Atlanta Campaign Paperback – March 22, 1999
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From Library Journal
As Union General William T. Sherman's army approached Atlanta during his famous march to the sea, Confederate resistance stiffened. Sherman decided to cut off the railroads leading to Atlanta to bring the city to its knees. Evans, a Southern writer with a Ph.D. in military history, presents an "unmilitary history" of the cavalry sent to destroy those railroads. These are stories of individual soldiers, from the foolhardy Yankee who wore a captured Rebel hat into battle and was mistaken for the enemy to generals Rousseau and Garrard, whose tireless troopers destroyed two major railroads to Atlanta. Evans recounts the stories of bravery and cowardice, of ambition and sloth, all from the Union point of view. The image of Yankees as rapists and pillagers, he says, is simply not true. His compelling, highly readable book should appeal to anyone interested in Civil War history. Recommended for public and academic libraries.?Grant Fredericksen, Illinois Prairie Dist. P.L., Metamora
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews
A vivid account of the campaign that helped decide the outcome of the Civil War. Evans provides a comprehensive study of the role of the cavalry in Sherman's coordinated assault on Atlanta in 1864, involving three federal armies that swept in from the west through Alabama and Georgia. Those armies left a horrible wake of damage in their path, and they suffered horribly as well. Evans writes of their work with a keen eye for detail, describing the confusion of the battlefield and the bloody aftermath of a cavalry engagement, with ``horses sprawled glassy-eyed and still, the flies already swarming over torn bodies and protruding entrails.'' (He is also capable of humor, recounting the tale, for instance, of a Southern woman who protested that the raiders who had come to her farm couldn't possibly be Yankees because they didn't have horns. ``We are young Yankees, our horns haven't sprouted yet,'' replied a Union soldier.) Along the way Evans provides portraits of individual cavalry officers, like Maj. Gen. George Stoneman, the hard-driving Lt. Col. Fielding James, and the ``capable but unstable'' Brig. Gen. Edward McCook. Evans paints a sympathetic portrait of Sherman, who wrote to his wife during the campaign, ``I begin to regard the death and mangling of a couple thousand men as a small affair,'' and who confessed to a fellow officer, ``Grant don't care a damn for what the enemy does out of his sight, but it scares me like hell!'' Evans notes that Sherman broke with the usual strategic practice of using cavalry to support infantry assaults, instead launching his horsemen on lightning raids against the Southern armies. He also suggests, provocatively, that Sherman might have abandoned the Atlanta campaign after a series of defeats, had the city not surrendered. A rich narrative that will delight students of the Civil War. (39 b&w photos, 15 maps, not seen) (History Book Club main selection) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
This book details the major activities of Sherman’s cavalry divisions (which included mounted infantry) during the summer of 1864 as his legions descended upon Atlanta and engaged Hood’s forces in a series of four major battles and a number of cavalry raids to take control of the city.
Lacking the troops necessary to effectively surround Atlanta and not wanting to send his troops to slaughter against formidable defensive positions, Sherman hoped cavalry raids could cut Hood’s railways to prevent the movement of troops and supplies into the city, as well as damage, destroy, and capture other war resources, thereby forcing him to abandon it. The meat of this book covers these raids, as well as the attempt to free thousands of Union prisoners held in Macon and Andersonville. To a lesser extent, other cavalry operations are covered including screening infantry movements and protecting their flanks, acting as skirmishers and pickets, holding defensive positions, scouting, and gathering intelligence. I would have liked to have seen the cavalry fighting at Jonesboro included, which helped repel Hood’s last major infantry attack of the campaign.
While these cavalry raids hampered Hood’s ability to defend Atlanta and repel the Union Armies, they could not cause sufficient damage to prevent repairs and work-arounds from restoring Hood's line of communications within days afterward, or alone force him to abandon the city. Ultimately, Sherman successfully gambled on vacating Union positions east and north of the city to mass his infantry in a sweeping movement to capture the last remaining railways south of the city, whereby Hood abandoned it and retreated southward.
The author provides an effective analysis in the Epilogue on the successes and failures of Sherman and his cavalry commanders, as well as those of Confederate forces opposing them. While operating deep in unfriendly territory, Union cavalry could not stay long in any one place due to pursuing Confederate cavalry and converging rebel infantry, militia, and in some cases units made up of local citizens, all of whom were more familiar with the territory. They were also hampered by destroyed bridges or rain-swelled rivers and creeks, limited ammunition, lack of adequate rest, hobbled and over-fatigued horses, movement slowed by wagons, captured prisoners and mules, and the need to dispatch troops to hold horses, protect wagons, guard prisoners, and provide pickets, skirmishers, and scouts—reducing the men available to tear up and destroy railways and infrastructure. Finally, some operations were hampered and costly due to poor decisions of cavalry commanders, notably Stoneman and McCook, and to an extent, Kilpatrick--all commanders now known more for their personal ambition than their leadership abilities. Fortunately, Garrard and Rousseau were exceptions, as were a number of brigade (e.g., Croxton, Minty, and Murray) and regimental commanders who led and fought well.
The book also includes a relatively brief but effective Introduction to Sherman, the Atlanta Campaign, his armies, and his strategy for capturing Atlanta. An Order of Battle listing Sherman’s cavalry divisions and commanders down to the regimental level is provided at the beginning, with notations indicating who was killed, wounded, captured, or replaced. Extensive Notes are found at the back where the author further elaborates on details in the text and support for his material, as well as conflicting and unreliable information and sources not used. The Bibliography is one of the most extensive that I have seen in a Civil War-related book and includes many public records including official war records, regimental histories, personal letters and journals, memoirs, manuscripts, period newspapers, and relevant books and articles. I commend the author for dedicating so much time and effort to researching this project and leaving practically no stone unturned, as well as his efforts to sort out the facts from the fiction. It paid dividends.
READABILITY AND STORYTELLING
This book is easy to read and comprehend, and flows well chronologically, effectively organized by major cavalry operations. There are a few words that I would have replaced with more commonly used ones. Transitions are very smooth and grammar and editing is top notch. I did not come across any typos, misspellings, missing words, etc.
The author sets up each major cavalry operation by providing essential background information and insight on the why, who, and where including official communications and meetings between commanders on planning, coordination, and preparation. Background information is also provided as the stories evolve on key Union and Confederate leaders who play a prominent role. He also provides what I felt to be even-handed descriptions of the leaders’ personalities and decision-making. I detected no bias regarding leaders or sides. Hero worshipers may disagree. The author identifies mistakes and unflattering behavior on both sides, as well as instances of heroism and outstanding leadership where it is due.
The research and personal accounts by soldiers and civilians is so extensive and thorough, that you are able to follow the raiders and their experiences throughout each day and night of their operations.
I found the battle narrative to be engaging and lively as numerous first-hand accounts give readers a feeling of the horror, chaos, desperation, futility, fear, courage, and the carnage of battle. The action includes close quarters and even hand-to-hand combat, desperate cavalry charges, artillery action, accounts of deaths and terrible wounds, and the suffering and privations endured by man and animal. I found the detailed breakouts of seemingly surrounded cavalry units and the escape of Colonels Capron and Croxton—who became separated from their units—and their attempts to evade capture for days while trying to reach Union lines by horse, on foot, and by boat to be particularly fascinating.
Many first-hand accounts by soldiers and civilians alike describe the destruction of railways and supporting infrastructure, trains, factories, warehouses, and other structures and resources, including hundreds of Hood’s supply wagons. Also foraging, confiscation of horses and mules, looting, and other activities. Included are many interactions between the cavalry and civilians: hostiles, Union sympathizers, and blacks alike.
Maps of theater of operations, raiding routes, and battles down to the regimental and smaller units are very good and appropriately situated where they are most useful. Some are full page. The black and white maps are relatively easy to comprehend, appropriately titled and dated, and include population centers, major roads, waterways, railways, and key features, e.g., bridges, fords, and buildings. Battle maps include arrows to indicate direction of movement, and identify artillery, cavalry, and infantry units.
Photographs include numerous portraits of key leaders on both sides. There are a handful of other photographs and period drawings.
HARDBACK BOOK QUALITY
The hardback book is of average size, with a good quality dust cover. The binding and page quality is very good. The text is dark, clean, and easy to read, although the font is relatively small.
CONCLUSION AND AFTERTHOUGHTS
This is an outstanding book for those interested in Civil War cavalry operations and/or the Atlanta Campaign. You can’t fully appreciate or understand the campaign without the information contained in this book. It not only effectively tells the story of Union cavalry operations during the campaign and Confederate efforts to neutralize it, but also provides excellent battle narratives expected from a battle study-based book. It is the best of the six books that I have read on various aspects of the Atlanta Campaign, and is one of the best Civil War books that I have read, and I’ve read many.
The meticulous research, readability, organization, editing, supporting maps and illustrations, and objective analysis make this an outstanding read and historical resource.
Most recent customer reviews
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