Academic journal article Military Review

THE CAVALRY BATTLE THAT SAVED THE UNION: Custer vs. Stuart at Gettysburg

Academic journal article Military Review

THE CAVALRY BATTLE THAT SAVED THE UNION: Custer vs. Stuart at Gettysburg

Article excerpt

THE CAVALRY BATTLE THAT SAVED THE UNION: Custer vs. Stuart at Gettysburg, Paul D. Walker, Pelican Publishing Company, Gretna, LA, 2002, 155 pages, $18.95.

Most historians consider Confederate Genera] George Pickett's infantry charge at Gettysburg to be the final, desperate act of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. In The Cavalry Battle that Saved the Union: Custer vs. Stuart at Gettysburg, Paul D. Walker reveals the apparent genius behind the plan: Confederate General Robert E. Lee's grand scheme was to attack with infantry from the front while Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry swept into the rear of the Union formations.

In an engagement rarely mentioned in histories of the battle, Union Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer-outnumbered and at a decided disadvantage-counterattacked with 5,000 Union cavalrymen. As Confederate forces massed opposite Cemetery Ridge for the decisive assault, four brigades of rebel cavalry and artillery attacked from the rear, with the outcome of the Civil War at stake.

Walker, a 30-year veteran of armored cavalry formations, was inspired to write The Cavalry Battle that Saved the Union while a student at the Army War College. There he learned that despite involving nearly 13,000 cavalrymen from both sides, the battle rarely receives mention in any official histories. …

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