Friday, August 28, 2020

Booknotes: The Cavalries in the Nashville Campaign

New Arrival:
The Cavalries in the Nashville Campaign by Dennis W. Belcher (McFarland, 2020).

I've mentioned before how much I appreciate Dennis Belcher's recent work on heartland cavalry and mounted operations conducted there. In addition to The Cavalry of the Army of the Cumberland (2016) and a biography of the man he credits most for its organization (General David Stanley), Belcher is the author of a series of cavalry-focused examinations of the greatest clashes between the Confederate Army of Tennessee and the Union Army of the Cumberland. Following in the footsteps of The Cavalries at Stones River: An Analytical History (2017) and The Union Cavalry and the Chickamauga Campaign (2018) is Belcher's newest work, The Cavalries in the Nashville Campaign.

From the description: "The Nashville Campaign, culminating with the last major battle of the Civil War, is one of the most compelling and controversial campaigns of the conflict. The campaign pitted the young and energetic James Harrison Wilson and his Union cavalry against the cunning and experienced Nathan Bedford Forrest with his Confederate cavalry. This book 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. The retreat by Cheatham's corps and the Battle of the Barricade receive a more in-depth discussion than in previous works on this battle. The importance of this campaign cannot be overstated as a different outcome of this battle could have altered history. The Nashville Campaign reflected the stark realities of the war across the country in December 1864 and would mark an important part of the death knell for the Confederacy."

With its detailed organization, command, and operational history narrative accompanied by very helpful original cartography, the Nashville study exhibits the same general presentation style found in the earlier Stones River and Chickamauga books. For the Union side in particular, Belcher has firmly established himself as one of the leading authorities on western theater cavalry forces.


  1. Thanks for posting this note on an exciting new book. I just went through your link and purchased the paperback (though the much cheaper Kindle version was tempting). The work of Hatch's division at Nashville is one of the glories of cavalry use in the war and the division included the 12th Missouri. I think it was about 20 years ago that Jerry Keenan wrote a book on Wilson's Corps. It will be interesting to see how Dennis Belcher covers both the Union and Confederate cavalries. Look forward to your review. Tom Jones

    1. Thanks, Tom. I think all of Belcher's cavalry books are very good, but my favorite among them is still the Stones River one that addresses both sides. That the Nashville book does the same makes me look forward to it all the more.


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