Civil War historian Edward G. Longacre is an author and historian whose expertise lies in the military history of the Civil War and its participants. He has written and co-authored several books on the subject, including “Thus Did Their Name Live On”, “A Short History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Civil War”, and “Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage”.
Edward G. Longacre is one of the most well-known and respected historians of the Civil War. He is the author of over sixty books, his work has appeared in numerous publications, and he has traveled extensively to share his knowledge with the public.
Edward G. Longacre is the author of the book “Civil War In Color.” This book is much more than just a collection of many amazing photographs of the Civil War. The book covers the entire war in detailed chronological order, as well as describing how many of the soldiers and the battles were portrayed in the media. It also covers the tactics of the Civil War and the weapons of the Civil War.. Read more about confederate army and let us know what you think.
Edward G. Longacre is an award-winning historian who has written over 30 volumes on various Civil War topics. His work on Union cavalry operations and biographies of Union and Confederate cavalry commanders, such as Fitzhugh Lee, Wade Hampton, John Buford, and James H. Wilson, are among his most well-known works. He is currently working on the third and last installment of a trilogy about George Armstrong Custer’s life and legacy. He provides David McMurtrie Gregg, an outstanding but unappreciated cavalry officer, a biography befitting of a soldier who served his nation with unfailing dignity and unpretentiousness in Unsung Hero of Gettysburg (Potomac Books, 2023).
You worked for the Department of Defense as a historian. What piqued your interest in the American Civil War?
I spent 29 years in the Air Force, first at Headquarters Strategic Air Command and then at Headquarters Air Combat Command, as a historian. Writing Air Force history, much of it top secret, by day and Civil War history at night made for an unusual mix of subjects. My fascination with the Civil War began when I learned in high school that I had a great ancestor who served in the Union army. Since I was seven years old, I’ve wanted to be a writer, and in 11th grade, I discovered my passion.
You tend to be attracted to cavalrymen. Do you have a favorite among them?
I’m not sure if I have a favorite, but I’m drawn to George Armstrong Custer’s ability and demeanor. My fascination with cavalrymen is primarily personal. My great-grandfather served in the 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry, which was organized in Philadelphia in 1861. Other forebears, especially on the Confederate side, were also horse troopers. Five were in various Missouri regiments, and two were in J.E.B. Stuart’s 11th Virginia regiment. Another relative was a colonel in the 2nd Arkansas Mounted Rifles, and I must confess that yet another ancestor, Charles Longacre, was a founding member of Quantrill’s Raiders, albeit reluctantly.
Why did you chose David McMurtrie Gregg to write about?
Gregg has piqued my interest since I was a student in college and began investigating Union cavalry operations. Years later, while earning my doctorate in American history, I had the privilege of studying under the late Professor Russell F. Weigley, widely considered as one of America’s finest military historians. Gregg’s adoptive hometown of Reading, Pennsylvania, is where Russ grew up. He cut the grass at the local cemetery as a teenager, when he drew particular attention to the general’s grave and began researching his life. I overheard him mention that Gregg deserved a full-length biography on several occasions, and the proposal struck a chord with me.
You describe David Gregg as the ideal Civil War cavalryman. What factors contributed to his success as a cavalry commander?
First and foremost, Gregg possessed all of the necessary qualifications for success as a mounted officer, including a first-rate education at West Point, post-graduate training at the Cavalry School at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., and distinguished service against Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest. He was a consummate professional who never let vanity or ambition drive his decisions, and he had no grudges against colleagues of inferior skill who rose up the ranks through military or political connections. In contrast to such flamboyant self-promoters as George Custer, J.E.B. Stuart, and Judson Kilpatrick, his commitment to progress his career by achievement rather than personality stands out as perhaps his most prominent quality. He grew and improved professionally as the conflict continued, emphasizing dismounted fighting over saber charges, although not being a tactical innovator. He was using mixed formations heavily by late 1864, fighting his soldiers mounted and dismounted in fast succession. He also knew how to make use of the horse artillery units that were attached to his brigades and divisions. Throughout the battle, he had every superior’s faith and respect, as well as his troopers’ trust and affection. While their previous commander was known as “the most tenacious cavalry warrior of the war,” many of their companions thought that he was watching over them and that no life would be sacrificed needlessly, according to one soldier.
Describe Gregg and Custer’s relationship. Was he enraged or envious of Custer’s acclaim following the Union victory at East Cavalry Field on July 3, 1863?
Gregg, as far as I know, never showed any resentment toward Custer. On the contrary, he praised Custer’s role in slowing Stuart’s advance into the Union right and rear on the third day of the battle of Gettysburg. Custer, like many of his troops, continually praised Gregg’s leadership abilities. Stuart’s magnificent plan to turn the Union flank and strike from behind was defeated, and Gregg, more than any other man on the field, including Custer, was responsible for it. Gregg owed Custer a debt of gratitude for his essential help during the seven-hour Haw’s Shop combat on May 28, 1864, which prevented Gregg’s outmanned and overworked command from being driven off the battlefield. Haw’s Shop, by the way, has its own place in history. It was the war’s largest and most bitterly fought dismounted cavalry engagement.
What happened to Gregg soon after the Battle of Gettysburg?
No one knows for sure, is the best answer. He was virtually completely absent from the official record for about a week after the combat. Even Gregg’s own campaign after-action report fails to mention his situation during this time. In order to pursue the retreating Confederates, his division was split into three pieces that were removed from him and assigned to different commanders, including infantry generals. These occurrences do not appear to represent punishment. In fact, his superiors praised him rather than criticizing him for his actions on July 2-3, including Meade’s chief of staff, Daniel Butterfield. Perhaps Gregg’s absence was due to his occasionally precarious health, which included undetected fainting spells and incapacitating fevers and required him to take sick leave during the conflict. However, there is no evidence that he took medical leave during this time.
Do you believe Gregg’s charges that he made tactical errors at Bristoe Station were true?
Yes, I do. Gregg was ordered by army headquarters to notify any Confederate attempt to turn the Union right flank and seize its rear, therefore interposing itself between Federal forces and Washington, DC, as soon as possible on October 12, 1863. General Lee sought to achieve this goal. Gregg’s division monopolized Gregg’s attention when intense fighting broke out near Sulphur Springs, Virginia, that morning, and he didn’t get a report to headquarters until nearly 10 hours later. The Union Army could have been doomed as a result of the delay. Only at the eleventh hour did General Meade manage to draw The Army of the Potomac out of danger. While it’s natural that Gregg’s attention was drawn to the severe battle on his front, where his command suffered heavy losses and was on the verge of being overwhelmed, he should have followed his orders. Gregg’s lapse was made worse by the fact that Meade’s headquarters were only 10 miles away at the time. Meade’s chief of staff at the time, Major General Andrew A. Humphreys, was furious with Gregg’s performance. Gregg should be tried by drum head court-martial and shot for his dereliction, according to Humphries’ son, who wrote over 40 years after the war. Of course, this was an exaggeration, but concerns and tensions were running high that day.
Was there genuine enmity between General Philip Sheridan and Gregg?
Not that I’m aware of. The two officers allegedly battled in a way that prohibited their pleasant cooperation, despite the fact that they were undoubtedly very different in temperament and leadership style. Gregg resigned from the army on the eve of the Appomattox Campaign, according to some historians, because he did not want to serve under Sheridan again, who was about to return to the Petersburg front after six months of battle in the Shenandoah Valley. David M. Gregg, Jr., the author of an unpublished memoir of his father’s military service, disputed that his father had any reservations about serving under Sheridan. Gregg was highly lauded by Sheridan in his own published memoirs. Gregg wrote army headquarters in August 1864, volunteering his division as part of Little Phil’s command, as Sheridan prepared to proceed to the Valley. He’d been working under Sheridan for four months at this point, long enough to know if he could have kept the relationship going without losing his honor or self-respect.
Do you think Gregg tried to rebuild his reputation after the war, or did he just let his record speak for itself?
While Gregg made no overt attempts to solidify or bolster his reputation—he wrote no book of his service, and the few public speeches he gave focused on the troops he led rather than on himself—he did endeavor to reclaim his place in the ranks. When the postwar Army was expanded, he eagerly sought the colonelcy of one of the new cavalry regiments, but the appointment went to his cousin and wartime subordinate, J. Irvin Gregg, probably due to his early retirement from the war. In some ways, his postwar existence was a study in rootlessness. He, his wife, and their two sons never had their own home; instead, they lived in a series of rented houses, hotel rooms, and resort cottages. He only had paying jobs on rare occasions and for short periods of time. President Grant appointed him U.S. consul in Prague in 1874, but he resigned after less than five months because his wife was homesick. In 1891, he was elected to a four-year term as Pennsylvania’s auditor general, his lone political appointment. His postwar finances must have been a constant source of worry, especially when two attempts in Congress to award him with a pension failed. After reading my manuscript, a fellow cavalry historian concluded that Gregg’s postwar years must have been lonely. That never occurred to me, but I believe he is correct.
Privacy settings,How Search works,confederate army