William Washington, American Light Dragoon: A Continental Cavalry Leader


February 6, 2015
by Hugh T. Harrington Also by this Author


Journal of the American Revolution is the leading source of knowledge about the American Revolution and Founding Era. We feature smart, groundbreaking research and well-written narratives from expert writers. Our work has been featured by the New York Times, TIME magazine, History Channel, Discovery Channel, Smithsonian, Mental Floss, NPR, and more. Journal of the American Revolution also produces annual hardcover volumes, a branded book series, and the podcast, Dispatches

Book review: William Washington, American Light Dragoon: A Continental Cavalry Leader in the War of Independence by Daniel Murphy (Westholme Publishing, 2014).

William Washington, the Revolutionary War cavalry commander, is relatively unknown. However, he played an important role in the War especially in the South, and should be recognized for his skills and accomplishments.

Virtually every written account of the military career of William Washington has been consulted in creating this book. However, what makes this book unique is “the view from the saddle.” Daniel Murphy is an experienced horseman with extensive knowledge of 18th century cavalry. The book shines when tactics and such details as the complications involved in changing a charge in column of fours to line abreast are discussed. Facts such as the distance covered per second by a charging horseman gives the reader an insight into combat found nowhere else.

It is insights such as these that encourage the reader rethink just what takes place when cavalry are involved in combat. The advantages, limitations, capabilities and various uses, and misuses, of cavalry are discussed which may alter the dismounted historian’s views and understanding of mounted combat.

Murphy speaks from a position of knowledge and practical experience that is refreshing. This book should find a welcome place on anyone’s shelf.

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