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Characterized by precision of statement and clarity of detail, W.W. Blackford's memoir of his service in the Civil War is one of the most valuable to come out of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. It also provides a critically important perspective on one of the best-known Confederate cavalrymen, Major General J.E.B. Stuart.
Blackford was thirty years old when the war began, and he served from June 1861, until January, 1864, as Stuart's adjutant, developing a close relationship with Lee's cavalry commander. He subsequently was a chief engineer and a member of the staff at the cavalry headquarters. Because Stuart was mortally wounded in 1864, he did not leave a personal account of his career. Blackford's memoir, therefore, is a vital supplement to Stuart's wartime correspondence and reports.
In a vivid style, Blackford describes the life among the cavalrymen, including scenes of everyday camp life and portraits of fellow soldiers both famous and obscure. He presents firsthand accounts of, among others, the battles of First Bull Run, the Peninsular campaign, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, and Cold Harbor, and describes his feelings at witnessing the surrender at Appomattox.
It is not certain precisely when Blackford penned his memoir, but evidence suggests it was before 1896. The book was originally published in 1945, four decades after his death, but until now has never been reprinted.