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Yankee Blitzkrieg

Yankee Blitzkrieg: Wilson's Raid through Alabama and Georgia

JAMES PICKETT JONES
Copyright Date: 1976
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130jmjj
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  • Book Info
    Yankee Blitzkrieg
    Book Description:

    Yankee Blitzkriegis the first comprehensive survey of Wilson's Raid, the largest independent mounted expedition of the Civil War.

    The Confederacy was reeling when Wilson's raiders left their camps along the Tennessee River in March 1865 and rode south. But there was talk of prolonged rebel resistance in the deep South using the agricultural and industrial facilties of a sweep of territory that ran from Macon to Meridian. That area had hardly been touched by the war, and in Columbus, Georgia, and Selma, Alabama, the South had two of its most productive industrial communities. Twenty-seven year-old General Wilson was certain his large, well-officered, well-trained, and well-armed cavalry corps could deny the Confederates a redoubt in the heart of Alabama and Georgia. Wilson, like many cavalry leaders, north and South, believed the mounted arm had been grievously misused through four years of war. But in March 1865, armed with support from Grant, Sherman, and Thomas, Wilson at last could test the theory that massed heavily armed cavalry could strike swiftly in great strenghth and press to quick victory.... Wilson's strategy was to get there "first with the most men," and it would be tested against the man who had invented the very phrase, Nathan Bedford Forrest. -- from the book

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6164-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. CHAPTER I ‟Jine the Cavalry”
    (pp. 1-29)

    Rain, rain, rain! Thirteen thousand four hundred and eighty Union cavalrymen stood on the north bank of the Tennessee River mounted, armed, and ready to cut a path of destruction through the heart of Alabama and Georgia. If the rain would only stop, the troopers could cross the river, but day after day it fell in sheets. It was March 1865 and Maj. Gen. James Harrison Wilson ached to hear his buglers blare “Boots and Saddles” through the camps. If the horsemen did not ride soon, Nathan Bedford Forrest might organize an effective Confederate force out of the stragglers, deserters,...

  5. CHAPTER II ‟Prepare to Mount”
    (pp. 30-55)

    Peach and plum blossoms waved beneath warm, sunny skies as Wilson’s three divisions jogged in a southeasterly direction down parallel roads. McCook’s First Division rode on the army’s right, Long’s Second was in the center, and Emory Upton’s Fourth Division took the left. Each of Wilson’s divisions was divided into two brigades. A total of twenty-three regiments, one battalion, three artillery batteries, and Wilson’s escort rode into Alabama.

    McCook’s First Division numbered 4,069 men. The division’s First Brigade was commanded by Brig. Gen. John T. Croxton of Kentucky. Croxton, a lawyer and Republican politician, was an abolitionist and a Yale...

  6. CHAPTER III Getting the Bulge on Forrest
    (pp. 56-74)

    The terrain south of Jasper was not as rugged as that traversed since the twenty-second, but flooded streams still made advance arduous. This was especially true of the Mulberry and Locust Forks of the Black Warrior. Lead units struck the Mulberry Fork on the twenty-seventh and discovered a wide, rapid stream flowing down a gorge with five-hundred-foot banks in some places.¹ The men had to swim their horses across just above an area of rapids. The bottom was rocky, and as soon as a horse lost its footing the water’s force swept its legs from under the animal. The men...

  7. CHAPTER IV Wilson’s Invincibles
    (pp. 75-102)

    Bedford Forrest was a resourceful commander used to “getting the bulge” on his enemies, but on the morning of April 2 all the momentum of the Civil War’s last campaign in Alabama lay with James H. Wilson. It was a weak and disorganized Confederate force that had fled battlefields from Elyton to Plantersville and by the second it was inside Selma’s defenses. This rebel force and its legendary leader needed time to gather reinforcements and position them inside the city’s parapets, but there would be no Union delay. At 6 a.m. on the second, flags unfurled and bugles sounding, the...

  8. CHAPTER V Rocking the Cradle
    (pp. 103-125)

    Brig. Gen. Edward McCook’s corps had drawn rugged duty with little chance for glory through much of the march to Selma. His First Brigade, under Croxton, wandered somewhere to the north, and the men of Col. Oscar LaGrange’s Second Brigade had burned the bridge at Centerville and rounded up the wagon train while their comrades defeated Forrest at Ebenezer Church and Selma. Perhaps that was why LaGrange’s troopers were given the lead as the corps rode toward Montgomery on April 10. Wilson glowed with pride as his horsemen, fresh from a rapid series of victories, passed by in their advance...

  9. CHAPTER VI ‟A Most Gallant Night Attack”
    (pp. 126-144)

    Newspapers were among the most prized possessions of Civil War armies. Papers from home bolstered morale and told of loved ones, but enemy journals may have been even more highly coveted. The rebel press was often the intelligence service of Union armies, giving troop movements and a gauge of popular feeling, so it was with great interest that Union troopers read Columbus papers on April 15. The journals were only one day old, and Wilson’s men were informed that rebels in Columbus were “determined to give battle.”¹

    At daybreak on the sixteenth “Boots and Saddles” sounded, and the line of...

  10. CHAPTER VII The Lost Brigade
    (pp. 145-159)

    As Wilson pushed Forrest back at Ebenezer Church, took Selma, and moved eastward, miles to the west the Lost Brigade fought its own campaign. Brig. Gen. John T. Croxton, the Yale-educated abolitionist, spent a hectic April 1. His brigade, fifteen hundred strong, ordered by Wilson to leave the corps and ride to Tuscaloosa to destroy “whatever … may be of benefit to the rebel cause,” had run into an aggressive rebel.¹ “Red” Jackson on his way to seize and secure the bridge over the Cahaba at Centerville had discovered Croxton near Trion. The forces clashed on the morning of the...

  11. CHAPTER VIII Macon, Davis, and Peace
    (pp. 160-189)

    Destroying the Confederacy’s ability to rally around Jefferson Davis and fight on was on Wilson’s mind as the corps left Columbus. The Union horsemen had already smashed most of the facilities a reeling Confederate government needed to continue the fight, but they were not yet through “breaking things.”¹ It was only a little less than one hundred miles from Columbus to Macon, but the route chosen by the major general would not be the most direct one. It would be the route along which lay the largest number of textile factories and railroads.

    The Union line of march bent northeastward...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 190-222)
  13. Critical Essay on Sources
    (pp. 223-231)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 232-242)
  15. Index
    (pp. 243-256)