Holding the Line on the River of Death: Union Mounted Forces at Chickamauga, September 18, 1863 by Eric J. Wittenberg

My favorite Civil War author, Eric J. Wittenberg, has recently written a book on the Union mounted force’s delaying action on September 18, 1863 at Chickamauga in Holding the Line on the River of Death.

Wittenberg is my favorite author because he details the actions of individual units, but also gives a great overview of the surrounding battle. He continues this trend in this latest book. He describes the actions of the Union and Confederate units as they fight each other, but also describes how those fights affected the surrounding units.

Wittenberg has written several books on cavalry during the Civil War, including one on Buford’s delaying actions on July 1, 1863 at Gettysburg. He takes his knowledge of Buford’s actions and compares it to the actions of the Union men at Chickamauga – he gives a slight edge to the Chickamauga men. He does not discredit Buford’s or his men’s actions, but rightly points out that Colonels Minty and Wilder and their commands at Chickamauga had fewer men and fewer repeating rifles, and were fighting more Confederates than Buford.

One of Wittenberg’s greatest strengths in the book is his discussion on the role of cavalry in delaying actions. He describes the tactics that should be used in such actions, including having vedettes and outposts in front of the main line of defense. Minty and Wilder executed textbook delaying actions.

Wittenberg includes detailed footnotes that further describe figures or actions that do not bog down the narrative. Sprinkled throughout the text are numerous photographs and wonderful maps that allow the reader to follow the narrative.

The book is an excellent addition to anyone’s Civil War library.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.