Silent Cavalry: How Union Soldiers from Alabama Helped Sherman Burn Atlanta—and Then Got Written Out of History

Books on Tape. Dec. 2023. 19:59 hrs. ISBN 9780593668115. $95. HIST
Former executive editor of the New York Times, Raines (The One That Got Away: A Memoir) presents the little-known story of white Alabama volunteers who fought for the Union during the Civil War. The First Alabama Cavalry consisted of 2,066 white Alabamian farmers, including Raines’s great-great-grandfather, who fought for the Union, assisting General William Tecumseh Sherman during the fall of Vicksburg and the burning of Atlanta. Raines’s crucial contribution to Civil War scholarship focuses on how the history of the Alabama Unionists was purposefully buried by Southern “lost cause” revisionists, inspired by Columbia University historian William Archibald Dunning, who promoted white-supremacist historiography. Raines’s work makes it clear that the only sure way to overcome partisan bias in written accounts is to compare sources and mine libraries of information. With superb pacing and well-modulated tones, award-winning narrator Mark Bramhall gravely emphasizes the significance of Raines’s findings and keeps listeners engaged as he explores the fallacies of the lost-cause myth.
VERDICT This compellingly narrated contribution to U.S. Civil War historiography, made personal by Raines’s family history, is illuminating and thought-provoking. An important update to Margaret M. Storey’s Loyalty and Loss: Alabama’s Unionists in the Civil War and Reconstruction and an excellent addition to any audio history collection.
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