Herein, for the first time, is revealed the impact and scope of the basic repeating rifle in the Civil War. Well documented, and supported by exciting on-the-spot reports, the author presents convincing evidence that the Spencer seven-shooter was a major factor—possibly the major factor in winding up the war which cost far more American lives than World War II.
Christopher Spencer, the inventor and manufacturer, personally demonstrated the arm to President Lincoln on the White House lawn. Lincoln himself did considerable shooting with it, and he was so impressed by the performance of the seven-shooter that he directed procurement by the Ordnance Department.
Lee is shown losing at Gettysburg, largely through the multiple-firepower of some 3,500 seven-shooters in the hands of the reorganized Federal cavalry. Seven Spencer-armed regiments are described as blasting a path for Grant out of the Wilderness, and a handful of seven-shooting regiments win Cold Harbor for him in a five-minute charge. Much of Sheridan’s glory in the Shenandoah Valley and Appomattox campaigns is herein transferred to Spencer’s gun and the men who fought with it in the front lines.
Sherman, herein the hero of Atlanta and villain of the march to the sea, is taken to task for his inadequate use of the precious gift from the gods of war. The obscure Wilson is brought into the limelight for doing more damage with Sherman’s seven-shooting cavalry in two weeks than Sherman accomplished in four months.
Withal, this is compact, hard-hitting, easy-to-read history of the five main Union campaigns of 1864 and 1865, well-seasoned with the incidents of soldier life which lend a quaint flavor to a fascinating phase of American history.
J. O. Buckeridge of Birmingham, Michigan, was an author, historian, Civil War authority.