By Christopher Miskimon
General David McMurtrie Gregg, born in Pennsylvania and educated at West Point, became one of the most capable and successful cavalry officers on either side during the American Civil War. Before the conflict began much of his field experience had been in cavalry operations and he took to them naturally. He served with distinction during the Peninsula, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Bristoe, Overland and Petersburg campaigns. Gregg rose to command the Second Division of the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Corps. The most important action of his career came at Gettysburg, however, when he led his own brigade and that of George A. Custer’s to defeat an attempt by the Confederate Cavalry under J.E.B. Stuart to flank right and attack the rear of the Union Army as it faced Pickett’s Charge on the last day of the battle. Unlike glory seekers such as Custer and Stuart, Gregg did his job effectively and without the need for personal recognition.
This biography does justice to one of the lesser-known cavalry officers of the Civil War, one who deserves more appreciation than he ever got. The author succeeds in removing the cloak of anonymity which Gregg pulled over himself to show who he was and how he served his country and cause so effectively. The book is both detailed and well researched.
Unsung Hero of Gettysburg: The Story of Union General David McMurtrie Gregg (Edward G. Longacre, Potomac Books/University of Nebraska Press, 2023, 316 pp., maps, photographs, notes, bibliography, index, $34.95, hardcover)