Before 1863, the Union’s cavalry was somewhat a joke and second-rate compared to the Confederacy’s. The Union commanders neither thought much of nor much used the cavalry. They used it mostly for orderlies or as bodyguards for the general staff. This began to change with cavalry victories in skirmishes and other battles. One of these victories of sorts was in response to Confederate General Fitz Hugh Lee’s Hartwood Church raid in February 1863, where he left a note for his old friend in the Union cavalry, General William Averell. General Averell was able to leave a reply to Lee later at Kelley’s Ford in March 1863.
Wittenberg has done a wonderful job of putting together quotes from a variety of primary sources. This method works well with his editing, letting those who were actually involved tell the story. These accounts are given by North and South, officers and troopers.
There are several maps and black-and-white portraits and endnotes for each chapter. The appendices have lists of the commanders at each battle for both sides. There is a glossary, a bibliography including primary sources of newspapers, manuscripts, and published sources; secondary sources are of books and articles. The book ends with an index.
The foreword is by Civil War author Edward G. Longacre. Wittenberg is the author of Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads and the Civil War’s Last Campaign (Oct. 2005), Little Phil (April 2005), Protecting the Flanks (2002) and Glory Enough for All (2002). He also edited General James H. Kidd’s writings into two books: At Custer’s Side (2001) and One of Custer’s Wolverines (2000). Wittenberg has specialized in the Civil War Union’s cavalry, as is evident from the books he has either authored or edited.
Wittenberg’s book is both interesting and readable, recommended to those interested in the Civil War cavalry or in horses.