Civil War Book Review: The Battle of Brandy Station (VA): North America’s Largest Cavalry Battle

by James Durney on June 6, 2010 · 1 comment

The Battle of Brandy Station (VA): North America’s Largest Cavalry Battle
(Civil War Sesquicentennial) [Paperback]

by Eric J. Wittenberg

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (March 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596297824
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596297821

Eric Wittenberg writing on the largest cavalry battle of the Civil War, the only improvement would be to make the book very affordable.  Being a Civil War Sesquicentennial book, it carries the wished for low price.  The Battle of Brandy Station is the newest entry from The History Press in what is a very impressive series.  A well-illustrated book with excellent maps by Steven Stanley, period and contemporary pictures, a full Order of Battle with a tour of the field adds real value.  A full index, bibliography and complete endnote make this a serious history from a publisher that did not sacrifice quality to lower the price.

The heart of the book is Wittenberg’s history and analysis of the battle.  The first fifty pages are background and a look at the commanders.  He provides a series of word portraits coupled with an understanding of the politics in the mounted arm.  The next 110 pages is a detailed account of the battle.  A fifteen-page analysis, places the battle in the overall history of the war while identifying winners and losers.  An Epilogue covers a human-interest story that is associated with the participants illustrating the direction the war took after the summer of 1863.

This is a well-written account of the fighting using the words of the participants and the author’s knowledge to good effect.  The battle is a huge swirling mass of men and horses, obscured by gun smoke and dust.  The author brings a logical order out of this chaos keeping both the swirling mass and the tactical situation together.  The result is a readable, understandable account that keeps the reader involved and the narration moving.  This produces both an understanding of mounted combat coupled with an appreciation of the reality of fighting from horseback.

An excellent addition to my library, this book will be a reference on the battle for many years.  Highly recommended, this is a much-needed study of an overlooked battle.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Matt C June 7, 2010 at 1:46 am

This is a really good book I picked it up as soon as I could order it. Really created an interest in federal cavalry. Good Review.

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