Kentucky Cavaliers in Dixie: The Reminiscences of a Confederate Cavalryman

By Geo. Dallas Mosgrove | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

JAMES A. RAMAGE

Kentucky Cavaliers in Dixie: Reminiscences of a Confederate Cavalryman endures as one of the most perceptive, realistic, and multifarious eye- witness accounts of the Civil War. As a Southerner in a day of romance, George Dallas Mosgrove appreciated chivalry, but writing after the war, he recalled and brought to life the dehumanization and horror of fighting with deadly modern weapons.

Mosgrove was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on August 18, 1844, son of William Mosgrove, a carpenter born in Pennsylvania, and Elizabeth, a Kentucky native. At the age of eighteen he was living in Carroll County, Kentucky, near Carrollton, when during the excitement of Bragg's invasion of his state he enlisted in the Confederate cavalry. He remained a private throughout the war, identifying with men in the ranks and observing their feelings; as regimental and then brigade adjutant's clerk he worked at headquarters, came into contact with several of the most colorful commanders of the war, and became an unusually well-informed private.

Mosgrove consulted the reliable diary of Adj. Edward O. Guerrant and therefore, with only a few exceptions, achieved remarkable accuracy with his factual narrative. An excellent judge of character, he wrote astute critical evaluations of famous Confederate generals. His comments are frequently quoted in the latest biographies and monographs and still hold up in light of recent historical literature. And most important of all, Mosgrove could write--this book brings alive scenes in camp and on the battlefield, and Civil War soldiers come alive and move and talk and reveal their joys and disappointments.

Mosgrove joined the Fourth Kentucky Cavalry under Col. Henry L. Giltner in September 1862, and his first general was fellow Kentuckian Humphrey Marshall. A graduate of West Point and veteran of the Mexican War, Marshall weighed three hundred pounds but moved with energy and grace and looked splendid on horseback. He had a kind heart and cared for his men. Mosgrove declared that Marshall rather than Braxton Bragg should have been commander of the Army of Tennes

-vii-

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