Author Topic: Who do I think was the greatest cavalry commander of the Civil War?  (Read 4843 times)

Sarah

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Hi All,

Here's a recent blog post from Valley Thunder: The Battle of New Market and the Opening of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, May 1864 author Charles Knight, on who he thinks was the greatest cavalry commander of the Civil War: http://newmarketbattle.blogspot.com/2012/04/who-do-i-think-was-greatest-cavalry.html

Charlie, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

What do YOU think?

CW4ever

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Re: Who do I think was the greatest cavalry commander of the Civil War?
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2012, 02:31:49 PM »
Well, that depends what the criteria for "great" is. Is it scouting and providing reliable intelligence to army headquarters? Raiding? Pitched actions? The Eastern theater cavalry operated a lot differently than in the West, where distances were much greater, etc. How are we to judge and compare? Just musing here . . .

History101

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Re: Who do I think was the greatest cavalry commander of the Civil War?
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2012, 12:29:54 PM »
I think based on this question, Eric Wittenberg's Plenty of Blame to Go Around is worthy of reading about JEB Stuart.

Charlie Knight

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Re: Who do I think was the greatest cavalry commander of the Civil War?
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2012, 09:06:16 AM »
A bit of a caveat is in order here, I suppose. First and foremost, I was trying to spare the professor from reading another "I love Jeb Stuart/Custer/Forrest" essay. Second, I was also looking at all aspects of the duties cavalry is expected to perform - intel gathering, screening troop movements, guarding supply lines, raiding supply lines, effectively working within the larger scope of a campaign, etc. And yes, Western commanders had a much much larger area of operations than did those in Virginia.

I was leaning toward John Buford for this answer, but honestly don't know enough about the man to have done an essay about him off the top of my head. But in Earl Van Dorn you have a bit of a unique situation - no other cavalry commander worthy of consideration for "greatest cavalry commander" (yes that is a deliberate slap at Sheridan - I despise the man) had the experience of being an independent theater and army commander. Van Dorn also has that whole Sidney Johnston-effect going for him too, in that he was removed from the picture too soon to know what he was capable of - as a cavalryman at least.

CW4ever

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Re: Who do I think was the greatest cavalry commander of the Civil War?
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2012, 02:02:48 PM »
Mr. Knight, thank you for the explanation. By the way, I have always been interested in the CW program offered by The American Military University. Fascinating topics.

Sarah

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Re: Who do I think was the greatest cavalry commander of the Civil War?
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2012, 09:36:40 AM »
Thanks for stopping by. Author David Powell also has an interesting take on cavalry matters in Failure in the Saddle: Nathan Bedford Forrest, Joseph Wheeler, and the Confederate Cavalry in the Chickamauga Campaign http://tinyurl.com/272lx4n

Read the author interview here: http://tinyurl.com/6u4j57j

Denny

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Re: Who do I think was the greatest cavalry commander of the Civil War?
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2012, 05:03:27 PM »
When Eric Wittenberg tells me who the greatest cavalry commander was, that will be my answer as well.  How is that for passing the buck to someone who knows way more about cavalry than I do.

Charlie Knight

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Re: Who do I think was the greatest cavalry commander of the Civil War?
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2012, 10:42:48 AM »
Good call Denny

CW4ever

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Re: Who do I think was the greatest cavalry commander of the Civil War?
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2012, 11:06:05 AM »
Ditto!

Denny

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I talked to Eric a few times at the Ohio Civil War Show, and forgot to ask him who he thought was the greatest cavalry commander.  Can you believe it?  We talked about his new baseball book from another publisher.  I talked to a few other authors and publishers, but I won't mention them on this forum.  Weather turned out great on Saturday.  Had a great time and a much thinner wallet when I left.

Lindy

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Re: Who do I think was the greatest cavalry commander of the Civil War?
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2012, 11:13:36 AM »
I'm sure Eric would have had a thing or two to say on this subject!

Denny

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Re: Who do I think was the greatest cavalry commander of the Civil War?
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2012, 08:34:54 AM »
Ok, since no one has posted here for awhile, and without any input from Eric, I am going to throw John Mosby in as my pick.  I can't debate on that pick, but maybe someone else can blow it out of the water, for one reason or another.  Discuss among yourselves.

EricWittenberg

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Re: Who do I think was the greatest cavalry commander of the Civil War?
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2012, 12:47:14 PM »
Sorry for getting into this late--I only just became aware of this thread.

My vote goes to Wade Hampton. Hampton, although not trained as a soldier, became THE highest ranking cavalry officer of the Civil War. He was the first to be promoted to lieutenant general, and unlike the other--Forrest--was the ideal subordinate. Hampton was brave as a lion, a ferocious fighter, the ideal subordinate, and a true warrior. The Army of Northern Virginia's Cavalry Corps never lost an engagement with him in command.

Eric

Denny

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Re: Who do I think was the greatest cavalry commander of the Civil War?
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2012, 03:05:23 PM »
Ok Sarah and Lindy, you can officially change my pick from Mosby to Hampton.  If I would have waited 2 more days, Eric would have posted before me, and I wouldn't have to be writing this.  Eric, you are a gentleman and a scholar, even though you live in Columbus and don't like the Buckeyes.  Just kidding!

Everyone take care, and have a great day.

Sarah

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Re: Who do I think was the greatest cavalry commander of the Civil War?
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2012, 04:15:15 PM »
Well I guess it's settled then!