GETTYSBURG’S FORGOTTEN CAVALRY ACTIONS: Farnsworth’s Charge, South Cavalry Field, and the Battle of Fairfield, July 3, 1863
by Eric J. Wittenberg
- Paperback: 244 pages
- Publisher: Savas Beatie (November 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1611210704
- ISBN-13: 978-1611210705
An excellent book just got better!
In 1998, Eric Wittenberg saw his first book published. Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions: Farnsworth’s Charge, South Cavalry Field, and the Battle of Fairfield, July 3, 1863 won the Bachelder-Coddington Award that year. About 2006, the book went “out of print” becoming a “collectable”. As one of the best books on the secondary market, the price, for a new copy, climbed above $100 for a paperback of about 140 pages.
A combination of business decisions resulted in publishing rights returning to the author and Savas Beatie expressing interest in publishing the book. Since the late 1990s, many changes occurred at Gettysburg. Researchers found new sources of information expanding our knowledge of these actions. Additionally, there is a major question on the location of Farnsworth’s Charge. Both the author and the publisher wanted a new edition not a simple reprinting of the 1998 book.
The main text expands by about 15,000 words. They replaced a map while adding photographs showing the park as it is. Full walking and driving tours, with GPS coordinates allow readers to locate what they read about. A new appendix, co-authored with J. D. Petruzzi, addresses the question about where Farnsworth’s Charge occurs. All of this expanded the book from approximately 140 pages to 230 pages. We have a new book not a reprint of the 1998 edition and the differences are substantial. I was lucky enough to buy a copy of the 1998 book prior to the price jump.
This is all well and good but what is in the book? The “Forgotten Cavalry Actions” occur on July 3 at the South end of the battlefield and at Fairfield. These are brutal battles in terrain not well suited to cavalry. Farnsworth’s Charge is the best known of the actions. This is a detailed account of what happened and why it happened. Wesley Merritt’s action on the South Cavalry Field might have turned Lee’s flank in the hours before and after Pickett’s Charge. Evander Law’s Alabama Brigade and G. T. Anderson’s Georgia Brigade bear most of the burden of this fight for the AoNV. These are standup Calvary vs. Infantry fights that the AoNV cannot afford to lose. The author manages to keep these two actions together within the context of the larger battle. The last action is the Battle of Fairfield, a vicious Cavalry vs. Cavalry fight. A union victory would have cut a major road needed for Lee’s retreat. Small actions can have intense personal memories. This is the case with Fairfield and the author takes us into the fray through these memories.
Eric J. Wittenberg is one of our best authors with extensive knowledge of Civil War Cavalry. One of his best books just got better.
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