GETTYSBURG’S FORGOTTEN CAVALRY ACTIONS – FARNSWORTH’S CHARGE, SOUTH CAVALRY FIELD, AND THE BATTLE OF FAIRFIELD, JULY 3, 1863

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Wittenberg, Eric J. Savas Beatie Publishing. Softcover, 264 pages.

In 1998, Eric J. Wittenberg’s masterful cavalry study won the Bachelder-Coddington Literary Award for the year’s best new work interpreting the Battle of Gettysburg. This fully revised edition adds extensive new research, interpretations, and conclusions that substantially add to our understanding of these important mounted actions.

Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions examines in detail three of the campaign’s central cavalry episodes. The first is the heroic but doomed legendary charge of Brig. Gen. Elon J. Farnsworth’s cavalry brigade against Confederate infantry and artillery. The attack was launched on July 3 after the repulse of Pickett’s Charge, and the high cost included the life of General Farnsworth. The second examines Brig. Gen. Wesley Merritt’s tenacious fight on South Cavalry Field, including a fresh look at the opportunity to roll up the Army of Northern Virginia’s flank on the afternoon of July 3. Finally, Wittenberg studies the short but especially brutal July 3 cavalry fight at Fairfield, Pennsylvania. The strategic Confederate victory kept the Hagerstown Road open for Lee’s retreat back to Virginia, nearly destroyed the 6th U.S. Cavalry, and resulted in the award of two Medals of Honor.

This new expanded sesquicentennial edition boasts several worthy additions, including nearly 15,000 words of new material based upon recently uncovered archival sources, a new appendix (coauthored with J. David Petruzzi) that resolves the dispute about where Farnsworth’s Charge and Merritt’s fight occurred, a walking and driving tour complete with GPS coordinates, and updated photographs of participants to the fighting and other images that show the modern appearance of the Gettysburg battlefield, which now more closely reflects its 1863 appearance.

Wittenberg’s Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the “forgotten” combat waged by the mounted arm, and thus enjoy a richer and deeper appreciation for the complete story of Gettysburg.

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