Lincoln's Cavalrymen: A History of the Mounted Forces of the Army of the Potomac

Edward G. Longacre, Author
Edward G. Longacre, Author Stackpole Books $34.95 (496p) ISBN 978-0-8117-1049-7
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 07/01/2000
Paperback - 470 pages - 978-0-8061-4229-6
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Well known in Civil War circles, author Longacre (The Cavalry at Gettysburg, etc.) has written a major work on the Union cavalry of the North's primary field army in Virginia. Having mined more than 300 manuscript collections as well as numerous primary sources and secondary studies, Longacre has crafted a carefully written, well-researched tome. From the beginning of the war to Appomattox Court House, he examines the Regular Army's prewar mounted troops, then follows the genesis of the volunteer cavalry, a process that was painfully slow, especially given 1861 predictions that put the war's duration at three months. A perceptive chapter on arms, mounts, equipment and drill provides a fresh look at the problems inherent in raising and equipping volunteers on horseback. Included are capsule biographies and critical assessments of the cavalry's leaders--men like George Stoneman, John Buford, Alfred Pleasonton, George A. Custer and Phil Sheridan. Throughout, the author details the skirmishes, battles and raids conducted by Union cavalry without quite resorting to blow-by-blows. The focus is rather on the cavalry's role in the broader context of the war in the east and its many campaigns. Within this framework, Longacre succeeds brilliantly in showing us a crucial, much-tested force. Photos and maps. (Aug.)
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