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270CIVIL WAR HISTORY and specifically the role ofStuart's cavalry. Perhaps there is simply not a lot to add here. Like Fairfax Downey before him (CL·sh of Cavalry, 1959), Thomas sees Brandy Station as the watershed battle in which the Federal cavalry came of age. He rather sits on the fence regarding Stuart's culpability for being absent during the march to Gettysburg and for the effect of this on the campaign. Where he does criticize Stuart, seeing little purpose to his second or Chambersburg ride around McClellan (p. 180), he may be a little harsh for he underrates the moral value of this exploit. Overall, Thomas evaluates Stuart as being the best cavalry leader at least on the rebel side. He argues that other generals, including Forrest and Wheeler, were each good in one area, such as reconnaissance and counter-reconnaissance , mounted action or combined operations with artillery and infantry. But Stuart was good at all of them. Perhaps this was so, but one feels there was more to be unearthed here. One suspects that Stuart failed to change with the changing pace ofthe war after 1862 and he did not have the imagination to match innovative arrangements to the new war ofGrant and Sheridan in 1864. Only a more exhaustive analysis ofbattlefield tactics and deployments would answer this question. Taken as a whole, this is a good book which makes a major contribution. It is well written by Dr. Thomas, a professor ofhistory at the University of Georgia, who has great experience in the field, past credits including The Confederate Nation, 1861-1865 and The Confederacy as a Revolutionary Experience. The smooth prose and range of sources will appeal to buff and professional alike. As for Stuart, he did not get his cavalier's wish to die at the head of a cavalry charge. Death was due to internal hemorrhaging and peritonitis. As Thomas says, "he died ofhis own blood and feces" (p. 300). A sad end for a somewhat sad man. Michael C. C. Adams Northern Kentucky University "The Best School in the World": West Point, the Pre-Civil War Years, 1833-1866. By James L. Morrison. (Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 1986. Pp. xii, 255. $27.50.) Historians generally acknowledge the importance of West Point in the Civil War. After all, 37 percent of the Union's and 34 percent of the Confederacy 's generals were Academy graduates, as were virtually all of the most famous military leaders. While there are biographies ofmany ofthese men which touch on their cadet days, the Military Academy remains as a BOOK REVIEWS271 somewhat hazy background to their later careers. Nor do general histories of the Academy dirow much light on the period of this book. They emphasize the early years of 1802 to 1833, from the establishment through the influential superintendency of Sylvanus Thayer. James L Morrison, Jr., thus, is the first scholar to concentrate on the decades before the Civil War when so many of those generals passed dirough the school. Professor Morrison, a former army officer and member of the faculty at West Point, began this study as a dissertation with the goal to describe and evaluate not only the curriculum and administration but also the social, military, and bureaucratic aspects of the school. Widi impeccable research and a graceful writing style, he succeeded in his mission. After providing a good description of the regular army of that era, he proceeds to examine the views and actions of the several presidents and secretaries of war on the Academy. From Andrew Jackson, he took the book's title; yet initially Jackson interfered arbitrarily with the superintendent's disciplinary decisions. Others, except for the ever-busy Polk, more or less left West Point alone. The secretaries, as one would expect, were much more involved in the affairs of the school on die Hudson . Jefferson Davis, a graduate, showed more interest than many appreciated . Another group of Washington officials also had an important say about affairs at West Point. These were the Chiefs of Engineers who had jurisdiction over the institution. At the Academy, die superintendents and the senior professors governed, and Morrison gives them close attention...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 270-271
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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