“Al Ovies combines an impressive array of source material and intricate analysis to craft a historical gem. This is a must-read for anyone interested in Civil War cavalry and later war actions in the Eastern Theater.” — Scott Patchan, author of The Last Battle of Winchester
The second installment of Al Ovies’s The Boy Generals trilogy encompasses a period jammed with tumultuous events for the cavalry on and off the battlefield and a significant change of command at the top.
Once below the Potomac River, the Union troopers raced down the east side of the Blue Ridge Mountains but were unable to prevent General Lee’s wounded Army of Northern Virginia from reaching Culpeper. The balance of 1863 was a series of maneuvers, raids, and fighting that witnessed the near-destruction of the Michigan Cavalry Brigade at Buckland Mills and the indecisive and frustrating efforts of the Bristoe Station and Mine Run campaigns. Alfred Pleasonton’s controversial command of the mounted arm ended abruptly, only to be replaced by the more controversial Philip H. Sheridan, whose combustible personality intensified the animosity burning between George Custer and Wesley Merritt.
Victory and glory followed the Cavalry Corps during the early days of the Overland Campaign, particularly at Yellow Tavern, where Rebel cavalier Jeb Stuart was mortally wounded. The spirited rivalry between Custer and Merritt took a turn for the worse and at Trevilian Station, the bitterness and rancor permeating their relationship broke into the open and made it into their official reports. Merritt’s elevation to temporary command of the 1st Cavalry Division cemented their rancor.
The worsening relationship coincided with the darkening of the war. As the sieges of Richmond and Petersburg ground on and Confederate partisan operations intensified, Gen. U. S. Grant demanded Sheridan seek retribution, which prompted the cavalry leader to deliver his infamous edict to “eat out Virginia clear and clean as far as they go, so that crows flying over it for the balance of the season will have to carry their provender with them.” Much of this gritty task fell on the shoulders of his “boy generals.”
This well-researched and meticulously detailed account of the increasingly dysfunctional relationship between Custer and Merritt follows the same entertaining style as Ovies’s first installment. The Boy Generals will change the way Civil War enthusiasts understand and judge the actions of the Union’s bold riders.
Adolfo Ovies migrated to the United States from Cuba in 1960, making his new home in Connecticut. With Gettysburg just a short distance away, ten-year-old Adolfo made his first trip to the battlefield. It turned out to be one of the most impactful moments of his young life, as the American Civil War bug bit him deeply. The Boy Generals: George Custer, Wesley Merritt, and the Cavalry of the Army of the Potomac trilogy springs from Ovies’s life-time passion for the Civil War and George Custer’s role in particular.
Ovies serves on the Advisory Board of America’s Civil War magazine, where his article on the battle of Yellow Tavern was recently published. Ovies is an active member of the Miami Civil War Round Table as well as the administrator of the group’s Facebook page.
Adolfo currently resides in Miami, Florida, with his wife Juliet.
“Al Ovies combines an impressive array of source material and intricate analysis to craft a historical gem. This is a must-read for anyone interested in Civil War cavalry and later war actions in the Eastern Theater.”
~Scott Patchan, author of The Last Battle of Winchester: Phil Sheridan, Jubal Early, and the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, August 7–September 19, 1864
“The second installment of Al Ovies’s gripping dual biography of George Custer and Wesley Merritt follows those two ambitious boy generals from Gettysburg’s controversial aftermath through U. S. Grant’s Overland Campaign and into the first month of Phil Sheridan’s effort to devastate the Shenandoah Valley. Success only intensified their rivalry, as each man strove to outdo the other.”
~Gregory J. W. Urwin, author of Custer Victorious: The Civil War Battles of General George Armstrong Custer
“Ovies’s deeply considered ground-breaking study of George Custer and Wesley Merritt continues through the period when grand cavalry charges gave way to the dismounted slugfests of the Overland Campaign and the vicious personal combat in the Shenandoah. The personal conflict sparked by this tactical evolution reveals even more about their personalities and leadership styles that fueled the rivalry between ‘the Boy Generals.’”
~Robert O’Neill, author of Small but Important Riots: The Cavalry Battles of Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville
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