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

by Edward G. Longacre

First modern study to focus solely on the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac. Includes all major battles and commanders.
Download Lincoln's Cavalrymen: A History of the Mounted Forces of the Army of the Potomac epub
ISBN: 0811710491
ISBN13: 978-0811710497
Category: History
Subcategory: Americas
Author: Edward G. Longacre
Language: English
Publisher: Stackpole Books; 1st edition (July 1, 2000)
Pages: 480 pages
ePUB size: 1755 kb
FB2 size: 1746 kb
Rating: 4.4
Votes: 877
Other Formats: lrf docx lrf txt

Nice overview of a subject that has an over-simplified history in Civil War writing; the steady improvement of the cavalry wing of the eastern Army until coming of age in 1863. The loss of one of the war's finest Brigade and Division level field officers, John Buford and earlier, Bayard muted just how solid its performances became. Often it was said, 'only until the end of the war, etc.' This book shows otherwise. Considering that Pleasanton pulled Buford off the flank of the 3rd Corp at Gettysburg and that Buford didn't even bother to request clearance from hid chief to take down the rearguard of the ANV at Falling Waters and we seem to have more evidence of the McClellan cabals' never ending efforts to pull their punches. Finally, their commander, Sheridan, was put in charge to make available joint infantry/cavalry operations. Not a 'cavalryman's cavalryman, but a tough cookie who made it happen. A longer postscript dwelling on these more political controversies would have added to the picture.
Very detailed account. Fills in a lot of background history of the war from the cavalry point of view. Very happy with this purchase.
Longacre's work is scholarly while readable at the same time. His sense of what is important for our contemporaries to learn from their contemporaries is extraordinary. Also he occasionally let's his sense of humor run a bit as in his narrative on recruiting: "Except for the obvious boy, the infirm greybeard and the midget, the service accepted everyone fit enough to walk into the recruiting office". Many historical writers tend to take themselves and us the reader much too seriously and would not let a sentence such as that slip into their work.

Writers like Edward Longacre "who know their sugar" from scholarly research just as did those that tend to "walk fast and look worried" all the time take the edge off of the works that tend to drag across the mind grudgingly like a lawyer's brief. His companion work; Lee's Cavalrymen had me on the edge of my seat as it took me along towards Yellow Tavern, knowing all along that I knew the "end of the story" as Paul Harvey used to say and that the end could not change because it had already occured. You cannot change history... but there's great good in making it interesting for the reader, whether a casual observer or a serious student. Makes me want to find my High School History Teacher and give him one across the chops.

After reading a work on McClernand, while informative and well researched and shed new light on that Political General for me it read like "Lincoln, Grant, Sherman et. al. v. McClernand"; i.e. a legal brief. Reading History for the knowledge and perspective that it can provide for seeing the mistakes "We The People" are making today is too often akin to marriage and tapioca; that is to say when it's good it's great and when it bad it's poison. The work of a Longacre provides a very refreshing interlude between those written by those of the crowd that think the work is much too serious to let the lighter moments intrude on the scholarship.

Do not misunderstand; both Longacre and the "don't smile this is serious" crowd are indispensable and both must be read and absorbed by the serious student of the mid-Victorian era who has little if any access to the source material, not to mention the fact that the hour glass is nearing empty and with no staff we "greybeards" living a continent away from the scene must rely on all those that started their quest while much younger and nearer to the scene to obtain an understanding and obtaining a true picture of the events as the occurred. So long as the notes and bibliography are strong I am grateful for the occasional writer who makes the work a tad bit more enjoyable to read.

It is the serious and respectful writers of history we have to thank for the paucity of information that has been passed down on that which the soldiers really thought and said when the "hair got in the gravy" so to speak. "Oh Gosh I've been shot" simply does not get it for me... I've been on the receiving end of a shot fired in anger and the word "gosh" had no part in the narrative of that evening in "paradise".

It is the serious crowd that has transformed the nomenclature of the events of day three at Gettysburg from Pickett's Charge to "the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge". The folks that traversed that field called it Pickett's Charge, who are we to disrespect their efforts by saying they were wrong in calling it such. Not to mention censoring the words Hancock uttered when he was wounded "7 inches below the hip socket"... do the measuring, that's very close to the "groan area", Hancock was known for his "colorful vocabulary", and yet "serious" historians and transcribers have, as a service to the future, censored what he really said... or exclaimed would be a better word. I'm sure what he really said is much more acceptable than the words my imagination projects into his mouth. But all that is lost to us by transcribers editors and historians who believe the masses are to easily offended by facts so they substitute d----d for what was really said.

To be totally honest one must say that the soldiers had a lot to do with sanitizing the Civil War. Their letters home could not have contained disrespectful wording, nor their diaries because they knew they would be sent home for Mother to read; so they kept a civil pen so to speak. Reading Gibbon's papers and writing gives some insight and I am sure there are others.

Longacre provides a glimpse into this but in discussing the training (breaking) of the cavalry mounts by young men who had previously thought horses were simply the motive power for street cars he does provide enough for one to wonder if the horse was breaking the man or was the opposite the case. But even he leaves out the comments the neophyte cavalrymen, who themselves had never been close to a horse, made when his horse refused a jump and he was ejected over the horse's head unceremoniously onto a field littered with "mire".

It happened, it made America something which it was not before and were it not for the private soldiers "hangin' in there" while the General Officers learned their trade, mostly at the Private Soldiers expense, "We The People" would have been the worse for it. I for one wish some of the writers would tell it like it was. Has anyone ever read what they truly believe is an accurate description of a dirt street in Washington City after a three day rain? Washington City with its' 30,000 strong horse population. How is a kid in Detroit or Philadelphia in 2012 going to know that the green stuff scattered all over the roads of Washington City in '62 was not "green Jell-O" unless someone gives him a nudge in the right direction. I have not finished Lincoln's Cavalrymen so cannot say how close Longacre does come to giving a true picture but so far as I have gotten he has tried... but then he has editors too, I know all about those S-----------s!

Lincoln's Cavalrymen is "required" reading for anyone who wants to know what it was like to be a CW Cavalryman!

Michael Bragg
While the cavalry has been studied at length in Civil War studies, Edward G. Longacre’s Lincoln’s Cavalrymen stands as one of the major analyses in the history of the mounted forces. Many histories of the cavalry deal with the strict adherence to battle plans and scouting movements which made the cavalry famous but Longacre takes a different approach. In the flowing narrative style which he has made himself known for, Longacre takes the reader through the complete process and life of what it meant to be a cavalryman during the Civil War. Through the text, it becomes clear to the reader that the wealth of knowledge in its pages is rarely matched in modern Civil War academia.

Edward G. Longacre is the author of many books on the Civil War and some of his works have become the standalone studies of their subject. The Cavalry at Gettysburg is still the standard reading for students who wish to know more about the campaign and the role which the cavalry took part in. He is also the author of the new work on the Battle of Manassas, The Early Morning of War which is the best book written on the campaign which started the war. Along with Lincoln’s Cavalrymen, Longacre also wrote Lee’s Cavalrymen as a companion book to this one on Union cavalry. He is also the winner of the Douglas Southall Freeman History Award for his book Gentleman and Soldier: A Biography of Wade Hampton III.

As stated before, this book on the cavalry is much different than many other studies of the mounted forces during the war. This book begins with the very fabric of the cavalry including the men and the horses which were brought into the conflict. I was expecting a way right into the analysis of the battles and the campaigns but instead I got an analysis of what the expectations and numerous duties of a cavalryman during the war. Longacre looks into the way in which cavalrymen were chosen through the ranks and that only men of certain body type were chosen for the positions. Longacre also states that though many Confederate cavalrymen were accustomed to the practice of horse-riding, many in the Union were not so lucky in the heavily industrial north. After the duties of the cavalrymen were analyzed, Longacre takes the reader into the analyses of the battles and campaigns and the major effects which they had on the outcome of the fighting. Accompanied by both maps and pictures, there was never any question as to what Longacre was saying in his narrative.

There are many microhistories or multi volume histories on the cavalry during the Civil War. This book handles the entire war of the cavalry in the Army of the Potomac and it is handled well without being too detailed that it takes away from the research and the writing. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the cavalry. Not only the narrative of the battles and campaigns were interesting, but the way in which he explained the process of enlisting in the cavalry and the training and duties which came with the job were a great explanation to an otherwise process not usually explained. Along with his book on the Confederate cavalry, this book should be in any Civil War library, especially one with an interest in the cavalry.

Matthew Bartlett - Gettysburg Chronicle