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Battle of Monroe's Crossroads and the Civil War's Final Campaign

by Eric J. Wittenberg

Other authors: Mark L. Bradley (Foreword)

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572342,203 (4)1
The Battle of Monroe's Crossroads, fought March 10, 1865, was one of most important but least known engagements of William T. Sherman's Carolinas Campaign. Confederate cavalry, led by Lt. Gen. Wade Hampton and Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler, launched a savage surprise attack on the sleeping camp of Maj. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick, Sherman's cavalry chief. After three hours of some of the toughest cavalry fighting of the entire Civil War, Hampton broke off and withdrew. His attack, however, had stopped Kilpatrick's advance and bought another precious day for Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee to evacuate his command from Fayetteville. This, in turn, permitted Hardee to join the command of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston and set the stage for the climactic Battle of Bentonville nine days later. Noted Civil War author Eric Wittenberg has written the first detailed tactical narrative of this important but long-forgotten battle, and places it in its proper context within the entire campaign. His study features 28 original maps and 50 illustrations. Finally, an author of renown has brought to vivid life this overlooked portion of the Carolinas Campaign. Ohio Attorney Eric J. Wittenberg is a noted Civil War cavalry historian and the author of some dozen books and two dozens articles on the Civil War. His first book, "Gettysburg's Forgotten Cavalry Actions," won the 1998 Bachelder-Coddington Literary Award.… (more)

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A serviceable account of the last major cavalry battle of the war. At 336 pages, this is not a long book, but could indeed have been much shorter — the battle itself is described in only 55 pages. The battle was a tactical victory for the Union, which controlled the ground at the end, but Union commander Judson Kilpatrick earned only partial credit for it, since he failed to post picket or vedettes on the northern flank, which enabled the Confederates to open the action with a total surprise which saw Kilpatrick running way in his nightshirt. Fortunately for him, a swamp on the federal left flank proved to be a greater obstacle than the Confederates foresaw. In addition, the hungry rebels couldn’t resist the temptation to loot the federal camps, which caused them to lose momentum. Finally, many of the Union cavalry were armed with seven-shot Spencer repeaters, while a provisional brigade of dismounted Union cavalry that were present were armed with rifle muskets and bayonets, leading the Confederates to believe that they were facing federal infantry. ( )
  charbonn | Oct 20, 2017 |
This book suffers somewhat in repeating various statements throughout the narrative. This may be the result of trying to stretch the material to provide sufficient length or possibly from a mediocre edit. In addition, there are some proofreading errors while not many or severe, do catch one's attention. A sizable portion of the work deals with biographical information on some of the battle's actors and while at first annoying, does give one a good appreciation of who they were.
To me, a major failing is the poor quality of the maps, the troop icons seeming to have been superimposed over a stock map, often obscuring in whole or in part place names. The graphics used did not enhance the narrative.
Overall though, Wittenberg provides a readable and informative treatise on this mostly forgotten cavalry action. It is worth the read. There are a number of historical tidbits tucked away in the body and the work gives a pretty good picture of a quite-neglected campaign near the war's end. ( )
  bobbre | Sep 17, 2017 |
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Eric J. Wittenbergprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bradley, Mark L.Forewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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The Battle of Monroe's Crossroads, fought March 10, 1865, was one of most important but least known engagements of William T. Sherman's Carolinas Campaign. Confederate cavalry, led by Lt. Gen. Wade Hampton and Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler, launched a savage surprise attack on the sleeping camp of Maj. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick, Sherman's cavalry chief. After three hours of some of the toughest cavalry fighting of the entire Civil War, Hampton broke off and withdrew. His attack, however, had stopped Kilpatrick's advance and bought another precious day for Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee to evacuate his command from Fayetteville. This, in turn, permitted Hardee to join the command of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston and set the stage for the climactic Battle of Bentonville nine days later. Noted Civil War author Eric Wittenberg has written the first detailed tactical narrative of this important but long-forgotten battle, and places it in its proper context within the entire campaign. His study features 28 original maps and 50 illustrations. Finally, an author of renown has brought to vivid life this overlooked portion of the Carolinas Campaign. Ohio Attorney Eric J. Wittenberg is a noted Civil War cavalry historian and the author of some dozen books and two dozens articles on the Civil War. His first book, "Gettysburg's Forgotten Cavalry Actions," won the 1998 Bachelder-Coddington Literary Award.

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