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Unsung Hero of Gettysburg

The Story of Union General David McMurtrie Gregg

Edward G. Longacre

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: Potomac Books
Published: 05/2021
Pages: 350
Subject: Biography and Autobiography
eBook ISBN: 9781640124561


Gen. David McMurtrie Gregg (1833–1917) was one of the ablest and most successful commanders of cavalry in any Civil War army. Pennsylvania-born, West Point–educated, and deeply experienced in cavalry operations prior to the conflict, his career personified that of the typical cavalry officer in the mid-nineteenth-century American army. Gregg achieved distinction on many battlefields, including those during the Peninsula, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Bristoe, Overland, and Petersburg campaigns, ultimately gaining the rank of brevet major general as leader of the Second Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac. The highlight of his service occurred on July 3, 1863, the climactic third day at Gettysburg, when he led his own command as well as the brigade of Brig. Gen. George Armstrong Custer in repulsing an attempt by thousands of Confederate cavalry under the legendary J. E. B. Stuart in attacking the right flank and rear of the Union Army while Pickett's charge struck its front and center. Historians credit Gregg with helping preserve the security of his army at a critical point, making Union victory inevitable. Unlike glory-hunters such as Custer and Stuart, Gregg was a quietly competent veteran who never promoted himself or sought personal recognition for his service. Rarely has a military commander of such distinction been denied a biographer's tribute. Gregg's time is long overdue.  


Edward G. Longacre is a retired historian for the U.S. Department of Defense and the award-winning author of numerous books on the Civil War, including Fitz Lee: A Military Biography of Major General Fitzhugh Lee, C.S.A. (Bison Books, 2010), The Sharpshooters: A History of the Ninth New Jersey Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War (Potomac Books, 2017), and The Early Morning of War: Bull Run, 1861.  


"Historian Edward Longacre's biography of Gen. David McMurtrie Gregg—the ultimate Civil War cavalry commander—is well crafted, comprehensive, and definitive. It will stand the test of time."—Rod Gragg, author of Confederate Goliath: The Battle of Fort Fisher

"Gen. David McMurtrie Gregg, one of the pillars of the Union Army's cavalry force, has long remained a cypher, an unknown, to historians. Modest and reticent, Gregg shunned flashy uniforms and disdained the notoriety craved by others. . . . Ed Longacre has deftly removed Gregg's self-imposed shroud and presents the reader with a poignant, long-needed biography of a most deserving soldier."—Robert F. O'Neill, author of Chasing Jeb Stuart and John Mosby