Monday, February 5, 2018

The Union Cavalry and the Chickamauga Campaign

Speaking of Chickamauga...

The Union cavalry literature (for both the eastern and western branches of the arm) has made great strides in recent decades. Historian Dennis Belcher has made notable contributions to our understanding of the cavalry of the Army of the Cumberland, authoring two very useful books The Cavalries at Stones River: An Analytical History (2017) and The Cavalry of the Army of the Cumberland (2016). I thought his Stones River study was his best work so far, and hopefully his next project will succeed in a similar vein.

Set for a July release, Belcher's The Union Cavalry and the Chickamauga Campaign will feature the operations of General David Stanley's mounted corps as it "battled Nathan Bedford Forrest's and Joseph Wheeler's two cavalry corps in some of the most difficult terrain for mounted operations in the Civil War. The Federal cavalry divisions, commanded by George Crook and Edward McCook, secured the flanks on the Union advance on Chattanooga, secured the crossing of the Tennessee River, and then pushed into enemy-held territory."

More from the description: "Cavalry fights at Alpine and La Fayette marked the early part of the campaign, but the battle exploded on September 18 as Col. Robert Minty and Col. John Wilder held back a determined attack by Confederate infantry, reminiscent of Buford's actions at Gettysburg. The author isn't the first to make that comparison.

"Due to Stanley's illness, Robert Mitchell assumed command of the cavalry during the battle along Chickamauga Creek, with notable cavalry actions at Glass Mill, Cooper's Gap, and securing the flanks after the battle. Soon thereafter, the Union cavalry fought Wheeler's mounted forces raiding through Tennessee before the battle at Farmington sent the Confederate horsemen back across the Tennessee River. The contributions of the Union cavalry during this campaign are often overlooked, but the troopers fought through conditions so dusty they could hardly see the horse in front of them while boldly leading the infantry in the second costliest battle in the Civil War."

If the volume is as good as expected, it will serve as a fitting companion to David Powell's study of the Confederate cavalry during the campaign, 2010's Failure in the Saddle: Nathan Bedford Forrest, Joe Wheeler, and the Confederate Cavalry in the Chickamauga Campaign.

1 comment:

  1. I had heard Wittenberg mention a Union Calvary study Minty's action on Reed's bridge as a kind of sequel to his study of Buford's actions on July 1. If this is the case the Union Cavalry actions of Chickamauga will indeed have full coverage.

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