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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Stuart's Tarheels

A short review of a re-release, originally published by Butternut & Blue, but now a second edition from McFarland (which of course means a hefty price tag, in this case $55):

Chris Hartley’s revised edition of Stuart’s Tarheels: James B. Gordon and his North Carolina Cavalry in the Civil War has two strengths. First is a nearly 150-page roster of the 1st NC Cavalry, which makes the book a necessity for anyone with a vested interest in that regiment. Second is the book’s penultimate chapter about Sheridan’s Yellow Tavern raid and Gordon’s role in the Confederate response to it; most writers focus – and understandably so – on the actual Yellow Tavern fight and mortal wounding of Stuart, with just a passing reference to Gordon’s North Carolina brigade nipping at Sheridan’s heels while the majority of the Federals engaged Stuart’s two brigades. Hartley outlines Gordon’s movements and the running engagement with David Gregg’s horsemen along Mountain Road, putting it in proper context with Stuart’s and Fitz Lee’s fight at Yellow Tavern. He continues this narrative to the following day with the fight at Brook Church and Meadow Bridge just north of Richmond – which proved to be Gordon’s last fight – another part of the Yellow Tavern raid that is seldom treated in any great detail.

Maps and photographs are adequate, although more of both would be welcome additions (although the maps themselves are somewhat lacking in detail). Many of the engagements described are not covered in any great detail, even when Gordon’s command played an important role. References to what Gordon or others saw or were thinking, which cannot be documented, are numerous.

While the author’s writing style can be trying at times, the information contained is useful, especially for those with an interest in Stuart’s North Carolina brigade. For cavalry aficionados or historians of North Carolina in the war, Stuart’s Tarheels is essential.

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