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Soldiering in the Army of Northern VirginiaA Statistical Portrait of the Troops Who Served under Robert E. Lee$
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Joseph T. Glatthaar

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834923

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807877869_glatthaar

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The Cavalry

The Cavalry

(p.33) Chapter Three The Cavalry
Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia

Joseph T. Glatthaar

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses on the Battle of First Manassas, in which the Union army feigned a frontal attack and skillfully maneuvered a flanking force that turned the Confederate left wing and began rolling up the Rebel defenders' line. Stout infantry resistance, timely reinforcements from the Shenandoah Valley, and Federal exhaustion combined to turn the tide. What looked like a Union victory transformed into a Confederate rout. Although the Union commander, Major General Irvin McDowell, had positioned three brigades at Centreville, Virginia, to prevent a retreat from becoming a disaster, the Confederate army could have exploited its victory better. Its infantry was too tired from fighting all day and too disorganized in triumph to take advantage of the Union collapse. Joseph E. Johnston needed cavalry, the arm that traditionally pursued an enemy, to crush any resistance and to capture large numbers of fleeing soldiers and equipment.

Keywords:   First Manassas, Union army, frontal attack, flanking force, Confederate left wing, Rebel defenders

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