SHERMAN'S HORSEMEN: Union Cavalry Operations in the Atlanta Campaign by David Evans

SHERMAN'S HORSEMEN: Union Cavalry Operations in the Atlanta Campaign

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A vivid account of the campaign that helped decide the outcome of the Civil War. Evans provides a comprehensive study of the role of the cavalry in Sherman's coordinated assault on Atlanta in 1864, involving three federal armies that swept in from the west through Alabama and Georgia. Those armies left a horrible wake of damage in their path, and they suffered horribly as well. Evans writes of their work with a keen eye for detail, describing the confusion of the battlefield and the bloody aftermath of a cavalry engagement, with ""horses sprawled glassy-eyed and still, the flies already swarming over torn bodies and protruding entrails."" (He is also capable of humor, recounting the tale, for instance, of a Southern woman who protested that the raiders who had come to her farm couldn't possibly be Yankees because they didn't have horns. ""We are young Yankees, our horns haven't sprouted yet,"" replied a Union soldier.) Along the way Evans provides portraits of individual cavalry officers, like Maj. Gen. George Stoneman, the hard-driving Lt. Col. Fielding James, and the ""capable but unstable"" Brig. Gen. Edward McCook. Evans paints a sympathetic portrait of Sherman, who wrote to his wife during the campaign, ""I begin to regard the death and mangling of a couple thousand men as a small affair,"" and who confessed to a fellow officer, ""Grant don't care a damn for what the enemy does out of his sight, but it scares me like hell!"" Evans notes that Sherman broke with the usual strategic practice of using cavalry to support infantry assaults, instead launching his horsemen on lightning raids against the Southern armies. He also suggests, provocatively, that Sherman might have abandoned the Atlanta campaign after a series of defeats, had the city not surrendered. A rich narrative that will delight students of the Civil War.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1996
Page count: 688pp
Publisher: Indiana Univ.