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In The Union Cavalry Comes of Age, award-winning cavalry historian Eric J. Wittenberg provides a long-overdue challenge to the persistent myths that have unfairly elevated the reputations of the Confederate cavalry's "cavaliers" and sets the record straight regarding the evolution of the Union cavalry corps. He highlights the careers of renowned Federal officers, including George Stoneman, William W. Averell, Alfred Pleasonton, John Buford, and Wesley Merritt, as well as such lesser-known characters as Col. Alfred Duffie, a French expatriate who hid an ugly secret. Wittenberg writes a lively, detailed account of a saber-slashing era in which men fought for duty, honor, and bragging rights. Indeed, a taunting note left behind by Confederate Brig. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee on a raid at Hartwood Church, Virginia, in 1863 sparked Northern retaliation at the Battle of Kelly's Ford. The Federal cavalry then evolved during the trials of Stoneman's Raid, with their hard work culminating in the Battle of Brandy Station, where they nearly broke the unsuspecting Confederates in a fourteen-hour maelstrom that is considered the greatest cavalry battle ever fought in North America. A skillfully woven overview, this unforgettable story also depicts the strategic and administrative tasks that occupied officers and politicians as well as the day-to-day existence of the typical trooper in the field. The Union Cavalry Comes of Age shows that Northern troopers began turning the tide of the war much earlier than is generally acknowledged and became the largest, best-mounted, and best-equipped force of horse soldiers the world had ever seen.