Thursday, January 5, 2012

Finished reading. . .

Brig. Gen. James B. GordonImage via Wikipedia
. . . Chris J. Hartley's Stuart's Tarheels: James B. Gordon and His North Carolina Cavalry in the Civil War (2nd Ed.)

Gordon was a North Carolinian from Wilkes, a few counties over, who formed the 1st NC Cavalry regiment at the beginning of the war and rose to command of the entire state battalion (including, of course, the 5th) before his death after Yellow Tavern.

Hartley first published this biography fifteen years ago: This is the second edition, issued in 2011, and I got a free copy through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program. Well-researched and very detailed, the book includes maps drawn by Hartley himself. Over 140 of the book’s 435 pages are devoted to a roster of Gordon’s own 1st Cavalry, which Hartley also compiled himself—and the roster is an impressive accomplishment in its own right. Hartley writes a better battle and draws a better map than many of the historians I've read since I began this quest. I found myself saying, "Oh, now I get it" when reading of the experience of battle, and I had a blast seeing exactly where Bill's regiment camped the night before the first battle at Brandy Station.

I can tell I'm learning, though, when I squint at the cover art and think to myself, "No, that's not right." The soldiers aren't holding their sabers properly, they aren't in battle lines, and the flag is in the wrong place in the mob.
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