Clash of cavalry; the Battle of Brandy Station, June 9, 1863 by Fairfax Downey

Read: September 4 - September 9
Format: 153 pages
Source: Public library, ILL
Subject: Cavalry during the US Civil War, Battle of Brandy Station
Category: Full Course Meal
Genre: History
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book, SYLL, TIOLI
Stars: 2½

During the American Civil War, numerous improvements were made to the "art of war" for the time but the most surprising may have been the improvement of the Calvary for the Northern/Union forces. This may have been best seen at the battle of Brandy Station (a small railroad post near Culpepper VA less than 40 miles from Washington, D.C. so named because "they had Brandy") which was fought on June 9, 1863 and by some historians was the opening of the Gettysburg campaign.

The main focus for the Confederate Army was to take the war to the North while for the Union forces, their goal was reconnaissance of the Rebel army. During this battle with JEB Stuart in charge of the Southern units and Pleasanton commanding the Union troops, the northern Calvary made tremendous gains in confidence while the battle was a considered a draw. Many historians apparently argue over the importance of this battle citing the start of the supremacy of Northern Calvary troops and at the same time, the deterioration of Stuart's Confederate dominion.

This was an unusual book and I don't necessarily mean that in a good way. It was filled with information - maps that were too small to read, lists of military officers and units from numerous states and areas of the nation, commanders of both sides, descriptions of horses and what color horse went with what unit (did I really need to read that?), sheet music which told the troops to charge, retreat, etc., pictures of armaments and their use and descriptions, troop movements, it went on and on. I did manage to gather in the midst of all this miscellaneous information the value of the Calvary officers and their role in the battles - not clearly but to a certain extent. This book was poorly written, very disjointed and jumpy and, I fear, that this little known battle does not receive it's proper significance because of such coverage. But I am glad I read it.

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