Review: Cavalry of the Heartland: The Mounted Forces of the Army of Tennessee

by James Durney on December 8, 2009 · 1 comment

Cavalry of the Heartland: The Mounted Forces of the Army of Tennessee
By Edward G. Longacre

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Westholme Publishing; 1st Edition (November 18, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594160988
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594160981

CavalryInTheHeartlandTheMountedForcesOfTheArmyOfTennesseeLongacreA Longacre book is always a question.  He is capable of outstanding work but often, seems willing to work below his talents.  Many of his books lack original research and depend instead on secondary sources.  Often they contain little analysis and are prone to errors.  All of his books are very readable.  He is an excellent author, able to be informative and entertaining at the same time.  Often he seems to strive for quantity over quality making him one of our most prolific authors.

This book has all the good and bad that we expect from this author.

With over 30 pages of Bibliography, the primary reference source is the excellent work by Horn & Connelly.  Almost every footnote I checked referenced one of their books.  The author uses his own books as a source on Joseph Wheeler.

The impact of the raiding done by Morgan & Forrest seems overstated.  While they were a major PR problem, snapping up small garrisons never stopped Grant or Sherman.  They created a great deal of addition effort and expenses but the impact was never as major as the author implies.  Van Dorn’s Holly Spring raid, one of the most successful of the war, rates one paragraph.  Wheeler’s role in the Tullahoma Campaign, Fort Pillow and Spring Hill are reported but not analyzed or cover in any depth.

An early statement that I found upsetting is on page 84.  The author states that the “Native American” units fighting for the CSA at Pea Ridge “were permitted to scalp their victims”.  CSA General Albert Pike lost his command over this.  Pike and Van Dorn, the CSA commander, denied and disavowed any knowledge of the incident when question by Curtis.  That something nasty occurred concerning these units is not a question.  Stating this was a sanctioned activity is incorrect.

What is right with the book?  It is an enjoyable read and provides a view of the Civil War we have not seen.  Like the provable dice game, even though the dice are loaded and if you win, they will beat you up and steal your money.  If you want to play dice, this is the only game in town.  Until something else is written this is the only book, I know of, on the subject.  It will give the reader a foundation to work with in trying to understand cavalry operations between the two major western armies.  Read in conjunction with Connelly’s books this book will be of real value.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ted Savas December 19, 2009 at 9:41 am

Brett

Good cavalry books are hard to come by. You might be pleased to know that we are publishing ( likely Fall 2010), a full volume treatment tentatively titled “Nathan Bedford Forrest and the Confederate Cavalry in the Chickamauga Campaign,” by David Powell. It has hundreds of original manuscript sources, with the added advantage of an author who knows the campaign as well as anyone, including the terrain.

Merry Christmas.

tps

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