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Open Book / Open Mind: Howell Raines, “Silent Cavalry”

March 9 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm EST

Graphic for Silent Cavalry event

The event is free but registration is required. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. After the discussion, there will be a Q&A period and a book signing and sale with Watchung Booksellers.

Open Book / Open Mind is sponsored by Montclair Public Library Foundation, Watchung Booksellers, the New Jersey Council on Humanities, Rosemary Iversen and David and Mary Lee Jones. This event is sponsored by Jill and Alan Johnson. We are also grateful for the generous support of our in-kind sponsors, First Congregational Church of Montclair, The George, and Amanti Vino.


Before stepping down in 2003, Howell Raines was executive editor of The New York Times. He is the author of “Whiskey Man,” a novel, and “My Soul Is Rested,” an oral history of the Civil Rights movement. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 1992.


“Silent Cavalry: How Union Soldiers from Alabama Helped Sherman Burn Atlanta–and Then Got Written Out of History.”

We all know how the Civil War was won: Courageous Yankees triumphed over the South. But is there more to the story?

As Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Howell Raines shows, it was not only soldiers from northern states who helped General William Tecumseh Sherman burn Atlanta to the ground but also an unsung regiment of 2,066 Alabamian yeoman farmers—including at least one member of Raines’s own family.

Called the First Alabama Cavalry, U.S.A., this regiment of mountain Unionists, which included sixteen formerly enslaved Black men, was the point of the spear that Sherman drove through the heart of the Confederacy. The famed general hailed their skills and courage. So why don’t we know anything about them?” —Penguin Random House

“’Silent Cavalry’ marks another chapter in Raines’s storied career of giving voice to the voiceless, highlighting the men and women who, without proper credit, did their part to make America a better, more equitable place.”—Henry Louis Gates Jr.


Edward Ball is the author of six nonfiction books, including his first, “Slaves in the Family,” and “Life of a Klansman,” his most recent. “Slaves in the Family” (1998) is Edward’s account of his paternal family’s 170 years as slaveholders in South Carolina. It received the National Book Award for Nonfiction. “Life of a Klansman” (2020) tells the story of one of Edward’s maternal ancestors, a carpenter in Louisiana who took up the cause of fanatical racism to become a marauder in the Ku Klux Klan. Edward has taught at Yale University and has received fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard, as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship, in 2023.

Register on the Montclair Public Library website »


March 9
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm EST
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Montclair Public Library
(973) 744-0500
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Montclair Public Library, Main Library
50 South Fullerton Avenue
Montclair, NJ 07042 United States
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