01 November 2010 by Published in: Civil War books and authors 5 comments

The Battle of Brandy StationKen Williams has written an especially flattering review of my Brandy Station book in the November issue of The Civil War News:

The Battle of Brandy Station:
North America’s Largest Cavalry Battle
By Eric S. Wittenberg
(November 2010 Civil War News)

Illustrated, photographs, maps, notes, appendices, bibliography, 271 pp., 2010, The History Press, www.historypress.net, $24.99, softcover.

The History Press continues its Civil War Sesquicentennial Series with another concise history of a major battle in the war — this time the June 9, 1863, fight at Brandy Station between the cavalry forces of the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac.

Veteran Civil War cavalry author Eric Wittenberg brings his considerable skills to the task of describing this important opening of the Gettysburg Campaign.

The author states that this book is not intended to be the definitive work on the battle. He notes that an upcoming work by Clark B. “Bud” Hall promises to be more comprehensive. That said, Wittenberg’s book is, in this reviewer’s opinion, superior to the 1959 Fairfax Downey account, Clash of Cavalry, which has long been the standard work.

The Battle of Brandy Station presents a compelling narrative of the events leading up to the momentous clash of June 9, along with concise mini-biographies of the leading participants.

Each side’s plans and movements are described and analyzed. The fluid and chaotic account of the fighting is handled with great ease by an author well-versed in the details of cavalry fighting.

Superb action maps by Steve Stanley add greatly to the combat narrative. Photographs and illustrations of participants, period views and modern locales are generously interspersed throughout the text.

Two appendices accompany the account — orders of battle for both Federal and Confederate forces plus a walking and driving tour of the battlefield that includes GPS coordinates. An extensive bibliography is included along with copious endnotes. Unfortunately there is no index.

Wittenberg is even-handed, covering both sides in detail and meting out praise and criticism often to the same individuals. His use of first-person accounts and a well-honed ability to describe cavalry fighting bring the thunder of thousands of hooves, the clang of steel upon steel and the crack of carbines to life for the reader.

As a work on a very important episode in the development of cavalry fighting in the Civil War, this book is highly recommended.

Reviewer: Kenneth Williams

Kenneth D. Williams is writing a book on the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteers and is doing doctoral level work in American history. He has worked as a park ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site.

Luckily, the second edition of the book now includes a full index, which is a significant improvement. I had understood that the first edition would have included one, and was disappointed when it didn’t. Fortunately, The History Press heard enough complaints about the lack of an index–including mine–and has now added one.

Thank you very much for the kind words, Ken. I really appreciate it.

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  1. Tom Canfield
    Mon 01st Nov 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Eric, I read the review. As always, my sincere Congratulations. Can’t wait to get a copy. I still have three of your other books yet to read. Best regards.

  2. Matt Detsuh
    Tue 02nd Nov 2010 at 11:19 am

    I enjoyed reading it, it was well done, like all of your books, Eric.
    I was hoping, like several of your other books, it’d be on Kindle too. Your publisher would make 2 sales then; one soft or hardcover, and one digital sale. :^)

  3. Barry Dussel
    Tue 02nd Nov 2010 at 5:36 pm

    I’ve had the book for awhile now. Great read. I wouldn’t need the index but it’s nice for those not familiar with the action. Keep the books coming Eric!

  4. Wed 03rd Nov 2010 at 1:31 pm

    The National Archives and Records Administration have a video we would like to share with your readers on our Civil War Exhibit. This the link http://tiny.cc/CivWar


  5. Wed 03rd Nov 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Excellent. I greatly enjoyed your books about the cavalry actions at Gettysburg “in class” at AMU and I look forward to reading this one.

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