Eric J. Wittenberg
Nationally renowned Civil War historian and author Eric J. Wittenberg will bring to life the dramatic story of the Battle of Brandy Station at this month’s meeting. His extensive research of this epic cavalry engagement led to his book The Battle of Brandy Station: North America's Largest Cavalry Battle (History Press: 2010).
The Battle of Brandy Station, June 9, 1863, marked a significant step in the evolution of the Union cavalry into a formidable tactical force in its own right during the war. Following his brilliant victory at Chancellorsville in May 1863, General Lee and his Confederate lieutenants planned the next daring phase which would culminate at Gettysburg in July. Disguising his force’s location and preparations, Lee sought to completely surprise his adversary for as long as possible. Instead the chance encounter by General Alfred Pleasonton’s Union cavalry caught the Confederates unawares. The desperate eleven-hour cavalry struggle that followed became the largest cavalry action ever fought in North America. The battle would prove the Yankee horsemen to be equals of the vaunted Confederate cavaliers.
Eric’s presentation coincides with the recent important preservation successes by the Civil War Trust, preserving Fleetwood Hill at the heart of the Brandy Station field for future generations. The ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating this success at Fleetwood Hill was held on October 26, 2015.
His special expertise as the leading authority on the cavalry in the Eastern Theatre, particularly of the Army of the Potomac, has led Eric, a native of the Keystone State, to write extensively on the cavalry at Gettysburg. He was the winner of the Bachelder Coddington Literary Award in 1998 for his book Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions. His other works on the Gettysburg topic include Plenty of blame to go around: Jeb Stuart’s controversial ride to Gettysburg; Protecting the flank at Gettysburg; One continuous fight: the retreat from Gettysburg; and The Devil’s to Pay: John Buford at Gettysburg.
A prolific author, he has most recently had published At Custer’s Side: The Civil War Writings of James Harvey Kidd (Kent State University Press: 2013). His other Civil War titles are: The Union Cavalry Comes of Age: Hartwood Church to Brandy Station; Little Phil; With Sheridan in the Final Campaign Against Lee; Under Custer’s Command; Glory Enough for All; We Have It Damn Hard Out Here, and Like a Meteor Blazing Brightly: Life of Colonel Ulric Dahlgren.
Eric also has a web site and a separate blog (Rantings of a Civil War Historian) which are a treasure trove of Civil War history. They are located at www.ericwittenberg.com and http://civilwarcavalry.com. Be sure to order his books through the Round Table’s Amazon link now to have it in time for the meeting and to help the Table with your purchase.
He obtained his undergraduate degree at Dickinson College, adjacent to the historic Carlisle Barracks and received his legal education at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. When he is not writing books, leading Civil War tours or preserving battlefields, Eric practices law in Columbus Ohio where he resides with his wife Susan.