[CAVALRY]. BRACKETT, Albert Gallatin. History of The United States Cavalry, From the Formation of the Federal Government to the 1st of June, 1863. To Which Is Added a List of All of the Cavalry Regiments, With the Names of Their Commanders, Which Have Been in the United States Service Since the Breaking Out of the Rebellion. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, Franklin Square, 1865. [i-vii] viii-xii,  14-337 [1, blank], -2 pp. (ads), 7 engraved text illustrations (all full-page, included in pagination). 12mo (19.5 x 13.5), original brown cloth, gilt sabers on upper cover, spine gilt lettered, bevelled edges. Minor wear at spine ends and corners; upper hinge weak. A few scattered spots, otherwise very fine.
First edition. Flake 787. Garrett & Goodwin, p. 110. Graff 381. Holliday Sale 119. Howes B692. Plains & Rockies IV:411. Rittenhouse 78. Sabin 7195. Tutorow 3308. This book is advertised in the ads on the last leaf as “Nearly Ready.”
This is the first general history of the U.S. Cavalry, covering that branch of the service from its formation in 1793 through the Civil War. Chapters 3-5 cover the Mexican-American War.
Brackett thoroughly covers all actions in which mounted troops were involved through the Civil War. He makes it clear that the Mexican-American War was a watershed in cavalry history: “But the storm now commenced gathering in the Far South, where the first real fame of the dragoons was to be won. It is true, they had done their whole duty in Florida, and on the wide plains which stretch from Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains, but they had yet to go through the baptism of blood. The fields were waiting for them, and the sabre, which for a long time had lain idle, was to be drawn, and sharpened ready for the foe” (p. 53). Counterpoised to that bit of purple prose is his description of the capture near Saltillo of Borland’s, Gaines’, and Heady’s cavalry forces, which were all disgracefully captured without bloodshed and sent to Mexico City (pp. 79-80). Those actions are described with the all the passion of an autopsy report. In somewhat more passionate style, he describes at the Battle of Monterrey the utter destruction of a cavalry force under Mexican Colonel Najira, who refused to surrender and was the last one standing when killed: “His behaviour in this fight elicited the admiration of every one” (p. 64).
Brackett (1829-1896), a career army officer, served with distinction in numerous assignments, including the Civil War and the West. At one time he commanded Fort Davis, Texas. During the Mexican-American War he served with an Indiana regiment.
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