Friday, December 13, 2019

Book News: The Cavalries in the Nashville Campaign

With his prolific output over the past five years, historian Dennis Belcher has quickly become a leading authority on western theater cavalry forces and their involvement in the various major heartland campaigns fought there. His previous books on the topic include The Cavalry of the Army of the Cumberland (2016), The Cavalries at Stones River: An Analytical History (2017) [in my opinion, his best work so far], The Union Cavalry and the Chickamauga Campaign (2018), and a 2014 biography of Army of the Cumberland cavalry architect and general David Stanley.

His newest contribution to the subject matter is The Cavalries in the Nashville Campaign, which will be published by McFarland in 2020. From the description, it is "an analysis of contributions made by the two opposing cavalry forces and provides new insights and details into the actions of the cavalry during the battle. This campaign highlighted important changes in cavalry tactics and never in the Civil War was there closer support by the cavalry for infantry actions than for the Union forces in the Battle of Nashville." On the last point, I wonder if he directly compares successful western infantry-cavalry tactical integration at Nashville with similar late-war developments in the east (specifically Five Forks and the following Appomattox Campaign).

As opposed to the literature's coverage of the controversial Spring Hill and Franklin lead-ins to Nashville along the great battle itself, the retreat from Nashville phase is least detailed among the many books written about the campaign. Improving upon this relative deficiency, "(t)he retreat by Cheatham's corps and the Battle of the Barricade receive a more in-depth discussion than in previous works on this battle." I had to refresh my mind about where the "Battle of the Barricade" occurred and presumably it is another name for the fight between Wilson and Forrest at Anthony's Hill. When the time comes, this title will definitely be read and reviewed on the site.

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