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By Stephen Z. Starr
April 26, 1959
When I undertook the task of writing a paper on Cavalry Tactics in the Civil War, I assumed that my function would be to provide a nostalgic interlude in the midst of the professionally more meaningful papers of my colleagues. Although I had a fairly good general knowledge of Civil War Tactics, I thought that a paper on cavalry would deal mainly with moonlight and roses, and that it would fall to Messrs. Miller, Morrison and Reardon to give you the "thunder of the captains and the shouting." Not until I began an intensive course of reading and rereading in preparation for this paper did I come gradually to realize that I had drawn a prize assignment. 1 shall now try to demonstrate to you that of all the tactical and technical innovations in which the Civil War was so prolific, none was so meaningful for the future, and none so clearly foreshadowed a new era of tactics and indeed of strategy, as the tactics of the mounted arm. I am convinced that to whatever degree it may still be worth while to study tactics in terms of armed human beings watched in battle, it is the tactical and strategic employment of cavalry as developed in the Civil War, that is most deserving of your attention. These tactical innovations did not come about by accident. They were devised and put into practice by a small number of gifted soldiers - not one of whom, by the way, was a professional cavalryman - and if a major attribute of military greatness is the ability to think out and use new tactical devices to fit new conditions, then high places must be found in the Civil War Pantheon for such men as Sheridan, Wilson, Buford and Forrest.
From the time of its first era of glory under Alexander the Great until our Civil War, cavalry had survived many ups and downs. From being a numerically and tactically negligible auxiliary of the Roman legions,(1) it became the undisputed mistress of the battlefield in the Middle Ages, but with the advent of the long bow, the pike and the musket, cavalry entered a long period of eclipse, particularly after the beginning of the XVI Century. (2) In the XVIII Century, a tactical balance was struck; with the rediscovery of the doctrine, as old as Belisarius, that battles are won through the use of all arms in proper tactical combination, we find cavalry once more occupying a prominent place in battle On the theoretical side. Maurice de Saxe was not only a strong advocate of the use of cavalry, but also emphasized the difference between the tactical employment of light cavalry and of dragoons, to which we shall refer hereafter. Frederick the Great has the distinction of developing a new tactical synthesis in which he substituted for frontal attacks delivered by masses of infantry marching as on a parade ground, a much more flexible scheme, a true battle of maneuver, in which the artillery prepared the way for the infantry attack. Usually delivered upon one of the flanks of the enemy's line and intended at all events to fix him in position, while the cavalry moved toward the enemy's rear.(4)
Napoleon, although himself a gunner, had a very high opinion of cavalry, and improved upon Frederick's conception by using his cavalry in very large bodies. He gathered the French cavalry. previously used as regiments, into brigades and divisions made up of similarly-armed units, and eventually consolidated divisions into army corps which contained as many as 23,000 troopers in the Prussian campaign of 1805 and 38,000 in the Russian campaign of 1812.(5) Wile he used his light cavalry very effectively for screening and scouting, and built up a dragoon force of twenty-one regiments,(6) his chief reliance was on shock tactics, and it was therefore the cuirassier, employed in great masses and delivering charges with the sabre as his primary weapon, who was the backbone of the Napoleonic cavalry.
In the years of peace after Waterloo, major advances in weapons took place. In this period came the invention of the percussion cap, the rifled musket, the rifle, and the cylindro-conoidal bullet, usually called the Minie bullet after the name of the Frenchman who developed it to its final form. These inventions were to have a profound effect on warfare. The infantry musket became an all-weather weapon, almost unaffected by rain or dampness. Its effective range was tripled and its accuracy greatly improved.(7) In the long era of peace that followed the Napoleonic wars, these inventions could not be adequately combat-tested; it was obvious nevertheless that they ushered in a new era of tactics. Military theorists recognized that the new weapons in the hands of firm infantry made the massed cavalry charge impossible. The old shock tactics, highly effective against infantry armed with muskets whose range was only 200 to 300 yards, would be suicidal against unshaken troops whose firearms were deadly at 1,000 yards The opinion that the days of cavalry were numbered became general, and even in traditionally cavalry-minded countries like Russia and Austria, the mounted forces were greatly reduced in the 1850's(8). Among cavalrymen, however, the new ideas made no great impression and the opinion persisted that the tried and tested shock tactics could still drive any infantry from the field. The Crimean War, the only war of any consequence in this period, gave no opportunity for testing the validity of these theories, either old or net
It was the peculiar fortune of the United States that our Civil War should be the first major conflict in which these advances in weaponry could be tested. It was perhaps fateful that the testing should fall to a people essentially unhampered by military traditionalism, unfettered by any canon of military dogma, and conditioned by the frontier spirit to "try anything once", to improvise, to adapt old methods to new conditions, and to invent new methods when the old did not work. Moreover, the testing was done under physical and topographical conditions that would of themselves have dictated changes in the tactical ideas transplanted from Europe, even if the advances in weapons had not done so.
One must be careful not to exaggerate the absence of technical military lore in the United States before 1861. In 1839 Philip Kearny and two other cavalry officers were sent by Secretary of War Joel Poinsett on a mission to study the organization and tactics of the French cavalry; Kearny not only took the French cavalry officers' training course at Saumur, but also served with the French cavalry in Algeria.(10) The three officers completed their mission by writing, after their return to the United States, a System of Cavalry Tactics modeled on French practice, which Poinsett thought to be the best in Europe. The book was published by the War Department in 1841 under the name of the Poinsett Tactics; it remained the official cavalry manual for twenty years and served as the basis for the numerous new manuals which were published in 1861. In 1855, G. B. McClellan and Majors Delafield and Mordecai were sent by Secretary of War Davis on a mission to study "the practical working of the changes which have been introduced of late years into the military systems . . . of Europe", and McClellan's report was published by act of Congress in 1851.(11) However, in the absence of a professional military caste, the United States was quite backward, by European standards, in the theoretical study of strategy and tactics, although a translation of Jomini's Precis de 1'art de la guerre was published in New York in 1854,(12) and a surprising number of books dealing specifically with cavalry tactics came out in the years before the Civil War.(13) And, from 1837 on, the West Point cadets were taught a course in cavalry tactics.
There were, of course, cavalry units in the militia, chiefly in the southern and border states, but these were mostly of company strength and for the most part, more ornamental than useful. Wonderfully named and even more wonderfully accoutered in shabrack, sabre-tache and dolman, like Austrian hussars, these groups drilled and paraded in a state of happy innocence of tactical ideas.
We come now to the start of the Civil War. Two armies must be created, equipped, officered. and trained to fight. Nine hundred profession-ally-trained officers, half of whom had seen no fighting more serious than an Indian skirmish, must organize and train these armies, lead them in battles and campaigns, and learn to handle in large-scale combat, artillery, cavalry and infantry, singly and in combination. All this must be done with totally green, undisciplined troops, with a volunteer officer corps almost totally lacking in professional qualifications, and with very little time or opportunity for training except in actual combat.(20)
Before we begin to consider cavalry tactics proper, it will be enlightening, and also necessary for an understanding of tactical developments, to review the organization and equipment of mounted troops, both North and South, at the beginning of hostilities. In the North, cavalry began the War under a cloud of high-level of official disfavor. General Scott, (21) Secretary of War Cameron (22) and Congress were at one in discouraging any appreciable expansion of the Union cavalry. Scott conceived of cavalry in the European sense and knew that in Europe one to two years was considered to be the minimum time needed to train cavalrymen and cavalry horses. He held that the Civil War would be over before cavalry could be organized and properly trained for combat Hence officers of cavalry regiments by the states were refused and regular officers were discouraged from accepting commissions in the volunteer cavalry regiments. In the first military bill passed by Congress after the start of hostilities. it was provided that in the volunteer regiments accepted from the states, the proportion of cavalry regiments to infantry was not to exceed one to ten; in the same bill, the regular cavalry was increased by only one regiment.(23) It was only after Bull Run had been fought, and lost (24) that the Northern authorities began to look with favor on the expansion of cavalry, and in September and October, 1861, volunteer cavalry regiments were organized in considerable numbers and in great haste.
The volunteer cavalry units taken into the Federal service were organized into regiments identified by number and state of origin, for example, the Fourth Iowa Volunteer Cavalry. A regiment consisted of twelve companies, each nominally made up of 92 enlisted men and three officers. With the commanding officer and the commissioned and non-commissioned officers of the regimental and battalion staffs, the total strength of the unit came to 1,177. Within the regiment, two companies made up a squadron, two squadrons a battalion. and three battalions a regiment. (25) As we shall see later, the Union cavalry was not normally brigaded until 1863. (26) The battalion organization within the regiment was abolished by the act of July 17, 1862; the same bill also abolished the squadron as an organizational unit, and renamed the company as the "troop".
However close to, or even over, paper strength a regiment might be when organized, it needed only a few months of camp life and active duty, the attrition of illness, wounds, capture and discharge, the detailing of individual companies and squadrons for detached duty, to reduce the actual strength in the regiments present with the colors, to 300-400 men. Hence, although the Army of the Potomac had in 1863-4 forty regiments of cavalry with a paper strength of nearly 48,000, it did not at any time have more than 14-15,000 men available for active service. For the most part, newly recruited and drafted men were formed into new regiments with new officers, instead of being used to bring depleted regiments up to strength.
The volunteers, both officers and men, were of very uneven quality. Since the duration and caliber of training depended on the military needs of the moment and the whims of army commanders, rather than on any planned program or training doctrine, cavalry regiments, other than the regulars, were never brought up to any consistent minimum level of efficiency. (27) Civil War reminiscences are so replete with stories reflecting a lack of adequate training among officers and men alike that one is in danger of exaggeration, but one may safely generalize that the average Union cavalry regiment made up of volunteers and taking the field as late as the summer of 1862, was essentially untrained. (28) For example, the First Massachusetts was more fortunate than most regiments because its colonel was a regular who knew his business; he not only insisted on appointing the field officers, but also forced the resignation of the most incompetent of the elected captains and lieutenants. The regiment was mustered in at the beginning of September,1861. Horses ("nearly all the unruly beasts in New England") began to arrive later that month, and mounted drill began. However, the horses had to be ridden bareback and with watering bridles, because saddles and harness were not available until mid-December. Sabres were the only weapon the men had until the regiment took the field in early January.(29) The Fourth Iowa went into camp, building its own barracks, in October, 1861, received saddles and bridles in January, 1862, sabres later in the same month, and the rest of its weapons and gear not until it was actually on its way to the front, in March.(30)
The drill manual most commonly used in the North was General McClellan's Regulations and Instructions for the Field Service of the United States Cavalry in Time of War, published in 1861. However, there was no compulsory uniformity about this. Some units used General P. St. G. Cooke's Cavalry Tactics, others General Scott's Tactics, and still others added confusion to ignorance by changing from one to another.
The horses were, of course, as untrained as the men. Generally of poor quality, (31) unused to the saddle, bought under scandalously loose conditions, never given adequate training, badly looked after by troopers who were, for the most, part, very poor horsemen and (32) worse horsemasters, exposed to the most severe ill-usage, chronically overworked and underfed, they were a standing reproach to the army. Riding was not a common pastime in the North. even in the country, and in any case, about half the personnel of the typical Northern cavalry regiment was made up of city boys whose horsemanship left much to be desired.
Of the many irregularities in the War Department under the administration of Simon Cameron, the procurement of horses for the cavalry was one of the worst. Horses were usually bought through contractors. In October, 1861, a board of survey inspected one lot of 411 cavalry horses shipped to the army from St. Louis. They found five of the horses dead and 330 undersized, under- or over-aged, or suffering from a variety of diseases. Only 76 horses in the lot, were passed as fit for service, and the entire lot had been bought by the government at $11 a head over the regulation maximum price.(33) The Tables of Organization for cavalry did not provide for regimental veterinary surgeons until March, 1863, and even after that, they were a distinct rarity.
As late as September, 1864, when the 9th Ohio was remounted in Louisville, many of the horses issued to them turned out to be animals which had been rejected more than once and were then doped and doctored by the dealers until they passed muster. Many of these horses gave out before the regiment reached Nashville on its way back to Sherman's army. (34)
Once in the army, cavalry horses were treated with a callous brutality that is almost unbelievable. At the beginning of the war they were habitually overloaded. In addition to the rider, his weapons and ammunition, they had to carry two saddlebags filled with extra clothing, a nose-bag filled with corn, a heavy leather halter, an iron picket-pin with a long 1ariat, two horseshoes, a pair of blankets and a rubber poncho, currycomb, brush and gun tools, the whole equipage weighing as much as 70 pounds over and above the weight of the rider, saddle and harness. (35) It was obviously impossible for a man and horse so loaded to deliver a charge, and it is little wonder that the horses broke down under the burden.(36) As the men gained campaigning experience, getting down to the bare essentials of gear became a fine art. Toward the end, even saddle-skirts were discarded, and the carbine was usually the heaviest part of the load. But in the meantime, horses were lost by the tens of thousands from overwork, exposure, inadequate food and epidemics of disease. After Second Manassas, Generals Bayard and Buford reported that in the cavalry of the Army of Virginia, there were not five horses to the company that could be forced, into a trot; at one point in this campaign, the horses of the First Rhode Island "were not unsaddled for one hundred and four hours; were without food for sixty-four hours; without water thirty-seven hours..."(37) and in the winter of 1862-3, with a wide river separating the armies and the roads two feet deep in mud, slush and water, the horses of the First Massachusetts, then on picket duty, remained saddled for fifteen consecutive days and nights and died by dozens of exposure and starvation. (38) As a result of such conditions, it was not unusual for half or more of the men in a regiment to be dismounted at the same time. (39) McClellan (40) after Antietam and Thomas before the Battle of Nashville are only two of many examples of army commanders who were unable to move because their cavalry was immobilized. (41) It was not until the establishment of the Cavalry Bureau in the War Department in the summer of 1863 that a start was made toward the development of a workable remount program for getting dismounted men horsed and back to their units.
We now turn to the Confederate horse. In the East, the Confederacy started with a decided advantage over the Union horsemen. The typical middle-and upper class Southerner rode from childhood. The entire South was horse country; the roads were few and bad, and the normal way to get from one place to another was on horseback. Most Southerners owned a horse of some sort, frequently a very good one, and were completely at home in the saddle. Such people naturally gravitated toward the cavalry. To an even greater extent than in the North, mounted service had about it an aura of glamour. The mounted regiments were a corps d'elite, and as a matter of course, " the best blood of the South rode in the cavalry."
The Confederate government decided at the beginning of the war that it could not supply horses for the cavalry. Instead, it made a contract with each trooper whereby the latter brought his own horse into the army; the government paid 40c per day for the use of the horse and furnished forage, shoes and the services of a smith. If the horse was killed in battle, the government paid fcr him; if the horse was captured, died of disease or the effects of overwork, exposure and starvation, or broke dawn in service, the loss fell on the owner.(42) At the beginning of the war, this system supplied the Southern armies with incomparably better cavalry mounts than those of the Federals, but the long-term effect of the policy was little short of disastrous. When a Confederate cavalryman lost his horse, he had the choice of either finding a replacement by his own efforts, or, if unable to do so, of transferring to the artillery or the infantry. A dismounted trooper who could not remount himself on a captured animal was given a 30-day furlough to look for a remount at home. Men who could not find a horse within thirty days and overstayed their leave, or used the difficulty of finding a horse as a convenient excuse for doing so, were considered absent without leave. Absences due to this cause were serious enough in the case of the Virginia regiments, which made up the bulk of the Confederate cavalry in the East;(43) one can imagine the effect on the regiments from South Carolina, Georgia and other states even further removed from the theatre of operations. As early as the spring of 1863, men absent with or without leave on remount detail commonly represented more than half the strength of a regiment. Thus, Fitzhugh Lee's brigade, which, with deductions for the sick, wounded, and others legitimately absent, should have numbered 2,500 at the Kelly's Ford engagement, had only 800 present. (44) Nor was this the worst. Many Confederate cavalry officers thought that the increasing difficulty of finding remounts affected adversely the efficiency of the cavalry by making the men reluctant to expose their horses to injury in the melee of a charge; the men were not willing to run the risk of being transferred to the infantry if they lost their horses. (45) And Major Ewing reported to Richmond from the West in September, 1864, that cavalrymen were in the habit of selling their horses whenever they felt the urge to go home for thirty days. (46)
A Confederate cavalry regiment in the East had the same company, squadron and battalion organization as the Union regiments, but it was smaller, since the company was made up of 83 officers and men instead of 95, and there were only ten companies in the regiment instead of twelve. Thus, Confederate regiments had a paper strength of about 860. However, wastage was high, and as the war went on, regiments became steadily smaller. After 1863, they never numbered more than 350 sabres. At any time during the war, after an active campaign, it was not uncommon to find regiments down to 100 troopers present with the colors. (47) The amount of time devoted to drill and training in the South was generally even less than in the North; references to drill are noticeably less frequent in the reminiscences of Rebel cavalrymen than they are in the writings of their Northern opponents. The Confederate War Department did not issue an official drill manual for the cavalry; however, The Trooper's Manual, written (48) by J. Lucius Davis, former instructor in Cavalry Tactics at West Point and subsequently colonel of the 10th Virginia Cavalry, and General Joseph Wheeler's Cavalry Tactics, (49) were in general use.
Southern horse furniture was various and, as one might expect, much less elaborate than the equipment supplied to the Union troopers. At the beginning, the men furnished their own saddles and bridles, and the English round-tree hunting saddle was in common use. (50) Later, the government furnished an unsightly saddle which protected the back of the horse, but was very hard on the rider. From beginning to end, the great bulk of Confederate cavalry equipment came from the North by capture. When Harper's Ferry was taken by Jackson in September, 1862, the 8th Mew York Cavalry managed to escape, and it is entertaining, even after the lapse of a hundred years, to read of the disappointment of one of Stuart's staff officers: "To think of all the fine horses they carried off, the saddles, revolvers and carbines of the best kind, and the spurs...the very things we so much needed, was enough to vex a saint." (51) The most basic items, such as horseshoes, nails and forges were scarce from the start; "it was not an uncommon occurrence to see a cavalryman leading his limping horse along the road, while from his saddle dangled the hoofs of a dead horse, which he had cut off for the sake of the sound shoes nailed to them" (52)
From an organizational standpoint, the Confederate cavalry in the East, with a relatively high percentage of West Pointers in its corps of field officers, was a pattern of regularity compared with the cavalry in the West. In the latter, casualness to the verge of chaos was the rule. Officially, Joseph Wheeler was Chief of Cavalry of Bragg's and later of Johnston's army, but his control over his chief subordinates, Forrest and Morgan, was tenuous at best and more usually nonexistent. Many of the men were never formally mustered into the Confederate service. They were excellent fighters, but between fights, it was a hard task to keep them in camp.(53) The forms of regimental organization were of course observed, and the Eastern practice of forming the regiments into brigades and divisions, and using the cavalry in large units, was followed in the West also.
There was a fair degree of uniformity in the weapons issued to the Union cavalry, at least in the East, even at the beginning of the war. and the uniformity grew greater as the war went on. From the first, all cavalrymen were issued sabres and most troopers were armed with Colt's revolvers, and one of several patterns of carbines. The Colt was the 36-caliber, or the older 44-caliber six-shooter. It was well liked by the men, many of whom carried it in the right boot-leg, ready for immediate use, mounted or on foot. Remington made equally good revolvers, but could get War Department contracts for only 5,000 revolvers at $15 each, whereas Colt had contracts for 31,000 at $25 each, for the identical model that sold on the open market for $14.50. (54) This was in the palmy days of Secretary Cameron, but at least the men received a good revolver. The chief criticism of the sabre was that the metal scabbard and the metal rings attaching it to the belt made it too noisy. The problem was solved with Yankee ingenuity by fastening the scabbard to the saddle, nearly parallel to the horse's body. The sabre was then ready to be drawn when mounted and was left with the horse when dismounted action was called for. (55) Carbines were of many makes and patterns; the Smith. Joslyn, Union, Gallagher, Burnside and Hall, but the most common, and the best, was the single-shot Sharp's. All of these were superior to the infantry musket, in that they were breech loaders and light in weight, but ail of them except the Smith, which had other defects, shared the drawback of requiring the use of paper cartridges and percussion caps. The several makes were of different calibers and when, as was frequently the case" the same regiment had more than one type of carbine, the variety of ammunition needed caused a great deal of trouble. (56) The 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry was armed with lances, but this exotic weapon was quickly discarded.
Generally speaking, the mounted troops of the Western armies were the poor relations of the Northern cavalry. The sabres issued to the western regiments in 1861 were usually the heavy, four-foot dragoon sabres of antique pattern. For firearms, the men were given whatever was available: smooth-bore, single-barrel, muzzle-loading horse pistols left over from the Mexican War, unserviceable revolvers of various makes. and even the heavy infantry rifles discarded by the Austrian army and imported in large quantities at the start, of the war. (57) Normally, new or improved weapons came to the West only after the eastern cavalry was fully supplied with them; thus, the Fourth Iowa was not completely equipped with Sharp's carbines until January, 1864, by which time the eastern cavalry was being re-equipped with Spencers.
Meanwhile, the Southern cavalry made do with a fantastic variety of weapons, good, bad and indifferent. The Southern states and the Confederate government had great difficulty supplying even sabres in sufficient numbers. Several thousand were imported from Europe or purchased in the North; more were acquired by capture. After 1862, sabres of inferior quality were manufactured in the South. (58) For firearms, troopers had all kinds of single- and double-barreled shotguns, squirrel rifles and every other known variety of sporting gun flint-lock muskets, short, medium and long Enfields, Springfields and rifled muskets. Most men had pistols and revolvers, and the latter, particularly the Colt's captured from the Federals, became the preferred cavalry weapon. (59) Carbines were manufactured in the South, but never in adequate quantities; the Northern cavalry was a much more dependable source of supply than the Confederate government. In the East, the usual arrangement in the early months of the war was to have one or two squadrons in each regiment armed with carbines, the rest of the regiment carrying Enfield rifles; (60) alternatively, some regiments had sharpshooter companies armed with carbines or rifles, the other companies in the regiment being supplied with sabres and either pistols or revolvers.
In 1863, the Union cavalrymen began to receive a new gun, the seven-shot, breech-loading 5pencer carbine, firing a brass cartridge. The weapon was invented by C. M. Spencer of Massachusetts. He first developed it as a rifle for the infantry, but was unable to interest the War Department in his invention. The gentlemen in the Ordnance Bureau were of the opinion that there was too much waste of ammunition in the infantry even with the single-shot, muzzle loading musket, and that it would only add to the evil to give the infantry a weapon that could be fired four or five times as fast. (61) Spencer then converted the gun to a cavalry carbine. When he brought it back to the War Department, James H. Wilson was the Chief of the newly-established Cavalry Bureau. He was a "brilliant man intellectually", (62) and he had plans for the strategic use or cavalry which required a drastic increase in cavalry firepower. He tested the new weapon, and after satisfying himself that it was "by all odds the most effective firearm of the day," (63) had the gun adopted as the standard cavalry carbine. By the spring of 1864. the Third Cavalry Division of the Army of the Potomac, which Wilson himself was slated to command after completing his tour of duty in Washington, was completely re-equipped with Spencer carbines, which gave it a fire power of as many as fourteen shots per minute per man, with an effective range of 500 yards. By the spring of 1865, when Wilson, by then promoted to Chief of Cavalry of the Military Division of the Mississippi, started on his Selma campaign, every one of the 13,500 troopers making up his Cavalry Army carried a Spencer, which, according to the Confederates, the men loaded on Sundays and fired the rest of the week.
It cannot be said that any single Civil War weapon had a decisive influence on the outcome of the war, but the Spencer probably came close to it. (64) Furthermore, the tactical principle that the Spencer represented, namely the placing of tremendous fire power into the hands of the individual soldier, and the recognition that fire power, and not numbers, was the true standard of comparison between armies, carried with it implications of great significance for the future, especially because Wilson had the vision to add fire power to mobility.
It is important also to note the effect of this new weapon on the morale of the Northern cavalry. Up to the end of the war, only 100,000 Spencers (65) had been issued. and of course not all of them had gotten into the hands of combat units; yet, we have it on good authority that "to have a carbine of better range and of more certain shot than any other gun they knew...was of striking value in heightening the self-confidence and improving the morale of the cavalry. From that time on to the end of the war (the men) not only clearly won in every contest, but they expected to win, and even acquired a sort of habit of looking upon every approaching fight as a sure thing". (66)
Both the Union and the Confederate cavalry had light or "horse" artillery units attached to cavalry brigades, the Confederates from the beginning of the war, the Federals from 1863 on, coincidentally with the formation of permanent brigades of cavalry. The normal allotments of artillery, both North and South, was a battery of four light guns to the brigade. The preferred guns were the rifled 12-pounders and the 3" Parrots. Largely because of the exploits of such men as the gallant Pelham", the Southern horse artillery acquired an extra portion of romantic luster. However, the Northern horse artillery was as efficient as Union artillery generally.(67)
Having considered the organization, equipment, and arms of the cavalry, North and South, we must now examine the intangibles: the discipline and morale of the cavalry, and its stature in the two armies.
By modern standards, and even more by the standards of XIX century European armies, discipline was sadly lacking on both sides and in all arms of the service throughout the Civil War. Volunteers with a Democratic tradition of rugged independence were not amenable to discipline and the officers whom the men themselves had elected were unable to teach it and unwilling to enforce it. Everything that made for a lack of discipline in the infantry operated with special force in the "devil-may-care" cavalry. The employment of regiments in separate parts and the scattering broadcast of squadrons, companies and parts of companies on different details, was a universal practice in the Union armies until 1864, and prevented effective control of the men by the senior officers of the regiment. The conditions of cavalry service were such that the men were constantly exposed to extremes of physical and moral hardship; in addition to the risks and trials shared by the infantry and artillery, cavalry had the constant strain of severity in the depths of the Northern Virginia winters, while other troops were safely encamped for the season. (69) But there were two special deterrents to discipline peculiar to the cavalry. The first of these was the frequent necessity of living upon the country as the only alternative to starvation; this made pillaging a besetting sin of the cavalry. (70) The second was the demoralizing effect of long periods of idleness in camps for dismounted men - or, in Southern terminology, "Company Q" - awaiting remounts. Whatever we may think of the validity of these reasons, singly or together, there are few Civil War topics on which contemporary opinion is so nearly unanimous as it is on the absence of discipline in the cavalry. For the South, we are not surprised by the comment of one of Mosby's partisans that "The truth is, we were an undisciplined lot." (71) and we are not shocked by General Basil Duke's admission that among Morgan's men, "... there was, in the true sense of the word, no discipline...not only in the first year of the war, but at any other time..." (72) But it is a blow to our inherited ideas of the Southern chivalry to read the considered opinion of General D. H. Hill that; "My experience with the cavalry in the war has not been favorable... What we need is efficient cavalry, not immense bands of plunderers scattered over the country." (73) General Joseph Wheeler was removed from command of his cavalry corps because of his inability to enforce discipline. And when recommending Fitzhugh Lee and Wade Hampton for promotion in the spring of 1863, General Lee wrote: "I should admire both more if they were more rigid in their discipline, but I know how difficult it is to establish discipline in our armies, and therefore make allowances." (74) For the North, it is sufficient, to cite the opinion of the colonel of an excellent regiment, the Second Massachusetts: "... the Cavalry Corps is no place for a soldier or for anyone who keeps discipline..." (75) and to note that the letter from which this statement is quoted was written in the summer of 1864.
In spite of hardships and privations. Confederate cavalry, both East West, had excellent morale until almost the end of the war. The mud, the cold, the hunger, the wet bivouacs, the brutally long marches, (76) did not appear to detract from the glamour of the service. Morale grew and remained high for the best of reasons: unbroken and often spectacular success, brilliant leadership, and exploits that struck the imagination.
It was far otherwise with the unfortunate horsemen of the North. There is no record of a cavalry engagement above the level of a mere patrol skirmish in which, before the summer of 1863, the Union horsemen were not worsted. Any clash between the Confederate and Union cavalry usually ended with the latter "in a state of rapid ambulation from the enemy." (77) We shall see that this state of affairs was primarily the result of the manner in which Northern cavalry was used, or misused. It was apparent, to the men themse1ves that they were being wasted and frittered away by being employed in a manner that gave them no chance to perform creditably. The Union horse became "a scoff and a byword for the other branches of the service." (78) The expression "Who ever saw a dead cavalryman?", ascribed to General Hooker in the East, and General Logan (or Sherman) in the West, was heard with sufficient frequency to indicate the ill-repute into which the Union cavalry had fallen. Army slogans are not the best evidence, but there is also the unanimous testimony of contemporaries, pungently illustrated by Sherman's telegram to Grant in September, 1863: "I do want very much a good cavalry officer to command... My present cavalry need infantry guards and pickets, and is hard to get them within ten miles of the front." (79) and in his admonishment to his cavalry officers: "I do wish to inspire all cavalry with my conviction that caution and prudence should be but a small element in their characters."(80)
When we consider the tactical and strategic use of the cavalry on each side, we find that we are dealing with five distinct realms of ideas, each of which must be examined in some detail. The expression "realms of ideas", implying as it does a degree of conscious planning, is not too strong to fit the facts in four of our five categories. These four are the Confederate cavalry in the East under Stuart, the Confederate cavalry in the West under Morgan, Forrest and Wheeler, the Union cavalry in the East under Sheridan, and the Union cavalry in the West under Wilson. The fifth category, the Union cavalry prior to the advent of Sheridan and Wilson, is merely an example of futility and waste.
We have mentioned the well-attested fact that the Confederate cavalry in Virginia was from the start an elite organization. Made up of excellent material, it needed only active service to harden the men, (1) and the development of good leadership, to realize its full potential. It received both. J.E.B. Stuart, who had served as a lieutenant in the pre-war cavalry, distinguished himself at the Battle of Bull Run as Colonel of the First Virginia. He became a Brigadier-General at the age of 29, and after the Battle of Seven Pines, was given command of the cavalry of Lee's army. It is important to realize that all of Lee's cavalry came under the command of one man, in one full sense of the word "command", and not merely for administrative purposes. Stuart acted on the assumption that the entire body of cavalry was to serve as a unified whole under his direct leadership, as, in fact, an independent cavalry corps. This principle, in which Lee acquiesced, remained in force throughout the successive expansions of Stuart's command into a division in July, 1862, and a corps in August, 1863. Stuart refused to allow the "frittering away of the command into little detachments, on any of which the enemy could concentrate." (2) This use of the cavalry as a unit, and the cohesion and efficiency that grew from long association, contributed greatly to Confederate success. Until the Federals learned the value of concentration - and it took until 1863 for the lesson to sink in - their cavalry almost always fought with the advantage of numbers heavily in favor of the Confederates. Concentration was not the only reason for the Confederate success. There was also Stuart's own great ability, and the talents of several of his subordinates, notably, Wade Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee. Stuart himself was a brilliant leader of cavalry, but his methods were almost completely orthodox. Tactically, he added nothing to the doctrine he learned at West Point. He favored the mounted charge with pistol and sabre, and used it whenever circumstances and the nature of the ground permitted; (3) his favorite formation for the charge was a brigade in column of squadrons, a tremendously powerful disposition, because it brought to bear a solid block of horsemen two hundred yards across the front and a half-mile deep. (4) However, he fought dismounted; when he had to, (5) or combined the fire of dismounted skirmishers in front or on the flanks with the mounted charge; and in all cases, he used his horse artillery, invariably well led and well served. to prepare the way for the charge. The raids which made him famous: the ride around McClellan in June, i862, the Chambersburg raid in October, 1862, were tactically meaningless adventures, of very little value except for their effect on morale. Stuart became a shining legend in his own lifetime, but to a student of tactics, he is only the last brilliant representative of an age that had died long before he rode gaily to war, singing, "If you want to have a good time, join the cavalry." (6)
Across the Alleghenies, we enter a much more prosaic world, dominated by three men: Morgan, Forrest and Wheeler. Joseph Wheeler we can dismiss with a respectful salute to an able but uninspired cavalryman. The only one of the trio who was willing to work in harness, he was beset on one side by Braxton Bragg, a most difficult superior, and on the other, by as unruly a pair of subordinates as any commander ever had, namely Morgan and Forrest. Nevertheless. he did well within the framework of his own conception of the functions of cavalry, which was much more orthodox than the ideas of Morgan and Forrest. It must also be noted to Wheeler's credit that, in an effort to introduce some degree of uniformity into his command, he found time in the midst of his campaigns to write a manual of cavalry tactics; profiting from the experience of the first two years of the war, he advocated mounted infantry as the ideal "cavalry"; "...of great value in covering the retreat of an army, or in obstructing the advance of the enemy; and in broken and wooded countries...the mounted rifleman becomes indispensable to an army." (7)
John Hunt Morgan is one of the most enigmatic figures of the Civil War. Since our task lies in the special field of tactics, we must confine our attention to Morgan's notable contribution in this area, leaving the larger issues to his biographers.
Morgan came into the cavalry from civilian life, and it is therefore natural that his methods of organizing and using his troops did not follow the lines set down in the textbooks. The tactics he evolved had the twin virtues of simplicity and effectiveness. Morgan's fighting was almost always done in broken, hilly, heavily-wooded country, where cavalry charges in an extended line, a succession of lines, or in mass,. would have been impossible, even if the state of training of his men and horses had permitted such a maneuver. Also. it was basic doctrine that, to function successfully, cavalry needed the support of infantry, whereas Morgan's battles were almost without exception fought miles from any supporting infantry. He had to be his own infantry, just as he had to be his own artillery and cavalry. The logical and necessary conclusion these paths led to was the use of his troops not as cavalry but as mounted infantry. This was not a new departure. It was a revival, on a much larger scale and with better weapons, of the idea of the Kentucky Mounted Rifleman of the War of 1812, and an extension of the tactical doctrine of the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen (8) of the Regular Army. Morgan applied this idea with considerable consistency; except, on scouting expeditions, almost all his fighting was done on foot. His men did not use or even carry sabres, and for firearms used the medium Enfield, an infantry weapon, in preference to cavalry carbines. With minor variations, such as the practice of keeping a small group of mounted men in reserve to act on the flanks, cover a retreat, or press a victory, and the habit of delivering his attacks on the double or at a half-run, Morgan's tactics were essentially those of infantry. The difference is that his men rode to work. and were thus able to cover more ground and to do it faster. (9)
Morgan's second contribution was the long-range raid. The nuisance raid, to burn a bridge or to snap up a wagon train, a traditional cavalry function, was of course a routine Confederate cavalry operation from the start. Such expeditions, made in company or battalion strength and, as like as not, with the men wearing Union uniforms or overcoats, (10) were at first aimed at specific objectives in the neighborhood of the armies. (11) Morgan expanded this operation into a foray in force deep into enemy territory, with his mounted riflemen acting as a self-contained, independent, mobile army. The first such raid, in July, 1862, started from Knoxville and carried Morgan and his force of 867 officers and men to Cynthiana, for a round trip of 1,000 miles in 24 days. He remounted his entire command on blooded Kentucky horses, (12) armed all his men with good Federal equipment, (13) captured and paroled 1,200 Union troops, thoroughly demoralized the Federal forces and especially their commanders, destroyed Federal stores worth several millions of dollars, and revealed the weakness of Federal defenses in Kentucky, thus paving the way for Bragg's invasion of the state in the autumn. (14) In spite of its success, this raid in its inception had no strategic objective, but some of Morgan's later raids had definite and valid strategic goals; thus, the Christmas raid of 1862, lasting fourteen days and covering a distance of 500 miles, had as its objective the destruction of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad behind Rosecrans, in order to delay the latter's advance toward Murfreesboro by smashing his supply line. Morgan succeeded in severely damaging the railroad; (15) nonetheless, Rosecrans continued his advance, and fought and won the Battle of Murfreesboro, the outcome which might well have been different had Morgan's two thousand cavalry and Forrest's three thousand been present on the battlefield.(16)
It is very much open to question whether these far-flung raids, aimed at the Federal supply lines, were worth while. Sometimes they delayed or slowed down a Federal advance, and of course they were attended with a tremendous destruction on of Unison supplies. The mere threat of these raids served to prevent the maximum concentration of Union troops at the front by forcing the detachment of tens of thousands of men to guard strategic or vulnerable points, (17) to repair damage, and to chase the elusive raiders. The unbroken success of the raids and the sense of insecurity they created along the whole length of the lines of communication, had a notably depressing effect on Union army morale. And yet there was only one raid, or rather the twin raids of Forrest and of Van Dorn, which virtually destroyed the Mobile & Ohio between Jackson, Tenn., and Columbus, Ky., and captured and smashed the principal supply base of Grant's army at Holly Springs, that actually succeeded in stopping a Federal advance. (18) No raid ever forced a major Union army to give up a position. After 1863, Grant having shown in his Vicksburg campaign that an entire army could strike off into the blue, Federal commanders accepted cavalry raids on their lines of communication as just another calculable risk, or, like Sherman, ignored them altogether.(19) It is therefore doubtful on balance, these hit-and-run raids were ever worth the price the Confederates paid for them in dispersion of effort and in the absence, at critical times, of large bodies of cavalry from their proper place with the armies. (20) Perhaps the raids were an inevitable strategic device in the face of the overwhelming material and numerica1 superiority of the North, and a logical corollary of the essentially defensive strategy of the South, but in the long run, mere raids could not affect the outcome of the war. One is left with the distinct impression that in time, raids came to be made because they were spectacular, and not for the sake of any planned strategic purpose. (21) For example, it is difficult to imagine an operation, carried out, by the way, in direct violation of orders, (22) more vicious from a military point of view, than Morgan's which accomplished nothing, other than the virtual destruction of Morgan's command. Hence we are compelled to share the opinion of General Jacob Cox, that "the game was not worth the candle", (23) notwithstanding the high value placed upon the raids by a Civil War student of the stature of Colonel G. F. R. Henderson. (24)
You have doubtless noticed that in our discussion of Confederate cavalry operations in the West, references to Morgan have been more frequent than the references to Nathan Bedford Forrest. This apparent slighting of Forrest is not intended as a disparagement of one of the finest fighting men America has ever produced. Morgan and Forrest used very similar tactics, and their approach to their common military problem was practically identical. Yet Morgan must be awarded the priority in time for the introduction of the mounted rifleman concept and of the long-range cavalry raid, even if the mind behind these developments was that of his lieutenant, Basil Duke. Forrest's truly brilliant application of essentially the same tactics was an instinctive thing, and not a studied solution of the problem. Unquestionably, Forrest far surpassed Morgan and everyone else in the successful use of mounted infantry tactics. There is a brilliance about Forrest's operations, his disregard of odds, the use of surprise, single and double envelopments, the way in which he kept a firm grip on the development of his battles, his ability to use all arms in combination, the ruthless energy with which he pressed home an advantage, that mark him out as one of the greatest generals of the Civil War; he can therefore afford to yield to the rather tragic John Morgan the credit which we have awarded to him.
We must now return to Virginia, and enter upon a study of muddle and futility. From the beginning of the war until the spring of 1863, and in some essential respects until the spring of 1864, the Union horsemen in this theatre were hag-ridden by a set of tactical concepts that would have ruined the best cavalry in the world. To begin with, every commander of the Army of the Potomac before Hooker followed the practice of assigning a regiment of cavalry to each of his divisions of infantry. (25) One company or squadron was then selected as the escort of the divisional commander, and as his dispatch-riders and orderlies. (26) The rest of the regiment furnished details in company or squadron strength to guard the divisional wagon train and artillery, to act as advance scouts and flank guards for the division on the march, and as patrols behind -t. (27) Hence, as we have seen, in any collision with the Rebel horse, the latter could almost always count on having the advantage of numbers. (28) There are only a very few instances before 1863, of the use of Union cavalry in larger groups, one being the employment of a temporary brigade of three regiments of cavalry and four batteries of artillery under the command of General Stoneman, to lead McClellan's advance up the Peninsula in 1862. (29)
When scouting for, or the screening of, the entire army was called for, the task was ordinarily assigned to a single regiment, but since it was usually impossible to assemble all the scattered bits and pieces of the regiment on short notice, it was common practice to place under command an odd battalion or two, snatched from other regiments. (30) The handicap of working with strange troops and under strange leadership was thereby added to the already excessive burdens of the poor troopers.
When the infantry was resting quietly in winter quarters, the real agony of the Union horse began; immediately a chain of cavalry videttes was thrown around the entire army. (31) We have already noted the crippling effects of this duty. It remains only to add that while this more than normally severe service during periods that should have been devoted to recuperation and training, was sapping the strength of the Federal cavalry, (32) the Confederate cavalry lay quietly and sensibly in camp, only a few frequently-relieved squadrons or regiments guarding a minimum number of strategically vital points in the immediate neighborhood of the army. Hence, when the campaigning season began, the well-rested Confederates were ready for service, whereas the Federals were well-nigh unable to function. When General J. H. Wilson assumed command of the 3rd Cavalry Division early in the spring of 1864, a year after Hooker's reforms had been instituted, the seven regiments of his two brigades had a theoretical strength of 7,500, but there were present for duty only 3,436, of whom 2,692, an unusually high proportion, were mounted, but 378 of these had horses which had been condemned as unserviceable. The greater part of the division was on picket duty, covering an unbroken line 28 miles long, and when Wilson had the division turned out for drill on the day after taking command, only 615 men responded. (34)
During these years of frustration, each army and department had its Chief of Cavalry, but the title was an honorific, and the existence of the position did not imply that there were cavalry officers with the vision to realize that cavalry could be used to better advantage, and with the authority to act upon their ideas. The Chiefs of Cavalry were nothing more than ornamental staff officers, with some degree of administrative responsibility for the troops they in theory led in combat. They were usually selected for their cavalry experience in the pre-war army, and were then left to define their own duties. The majority were cavalrymen with orthodox ideas on the uses of cavalry, no combat experience except with small units, (35) and they worked under army commanders whose ideas on the proper functions of cavalry were as limited as their own. They therefore followed the one tactical rule that has never changed since armies and rank first came into being; they did no more than was expected of them - they played it safe.
The first change for the better came when Joseph Hooker was given command of the beaten and demoralized Army of the Potomac in January, 1863. As part of the general reorganization of the army, the cavalry was consolidated into one corps under General George Stoneman, all of the cavalry regiments being grouped into four divisions under Pleasonton, Averell, Gregg and Buford. (36) By administrative changes, the weeding out of incompetent officers, the establishment of schools of instruction, by steps deliberately taken to foster morale, (38) by admonishment and exhortation, (39) Hooker - or Daniel Butterfield, his very able Chief of Staff - sought to raise the efficiency and tone of the cavalry service. As soon as the state of the ground and the rivers permitted, expeditions in brigade strength were sent against Confederate advanced posts, to accustom the men and officers to working in large groups and to create a feeling of confidence by letting them win a series of minor successes. All this was done without the benefit of motivation research, but it worked wonders. This was the start of a new era for the Union cavalry. It began to prove itself, and in a succession of engagements, Kelly's Ford, Brandy Station, Buford's fight on the first day at Gettysburg and Gregg's on the third day, it gave as good as it got. There were failures still, failures of leadership for the most part. There was Averell's somewhat excusable failure of nerve at Kelly's Ford, and the double fiasco of Stoneman's raid, (40) but no longer did the Confederates automatically have "the bulge" on the Federals. (41) There was a new spirit in the air, and both the Confederate and the Union cavalry knew it.
Kelly's Ford was a minor engagement, Averell's brigade of 3,000 against Fitzhugh Lee's badly depleted brigade of 800, but it was the first large-scale fight for the Federals, the first time so large a force of Union cavalry had been concentrated in one command, and the first time the Federals went looking for a fight with no infantry to fall back on. Kelly's Ford was, in fact, the first battle between Confederate and Union cavalry. Averell's leadership was weak and unduly cautious, and some of his troops behaved badly, (42) but the Federals executed at least one well-delivered charge, (43) and at the end of the fight, recrossed the Rappahannock without molestation and without disgrace. The field of battle being quite open, the Confederates fought entirely on horseback; (44) the Federals combined mounted charges with the carbine fire of dismounted regiments.
Brandy Station, or Fleetwood Heights, fought on June 9, 1863, was a rather chaotic affair, mismanaged by both commanders. Stuart, with nearly ten thousand cavalry, (45) allowed himself to be surprised by the determined advance across the Rappahannock of 8,000 Federal cavalry and two small infantry brigades under Alfred Pleasonton, who had replaced Stoneman in command of the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac. Pleasonton's attack took the form of a wide envelopment. His forces, divided almost equally, crossed the river by two fords about four miles apart. Stuart recovered quickly, and his reaction took full advantage of his central position; on the other hand, the direction of ten thousand men in two widely separated wings was beyond Pleasonton's limited capacity. The result was an uncoordinated fight and a drawn battle. Except for the initial advance of Buford's brigade of Regulars, the fighting was entirely on horseback, brigades and regiments charging and countercharging in the dust and powder-smoke. Although this was the greatest cavalry battle of the war, (46) its military results were nil; the fight did not even delay the execution of Lee's plans for the invasion of Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, Brandy Station marks an important change in the relative positions of the Northern and Southern horse. For the first time, the North held its own in a purely cavalry battle, with the numbers almost equal. The North not only provoked the battle, but it fought the hitherto invincible Stuart to a draw. And the battle had a vitally important, although unintended aftermath. Newspaper comment (47) on the battle stung Stuart to the quick, and the explanation for his absence from Lee's army in the Gettysburg campaign is, in my opinion, to be sought in his desire to show up his critics by the performance of a spectacular feat of arms.
Stuart met the Federal cavalry again on July 3, northeast of Gettysburg. In this fight, his objective was to reach the rear of the Federal infantry on Cemetery Hill. Again he was fought to a standstill, this time by Gregg's cavalry division, and was prevented from accomplishing his mission. However, the most important contribution of the Union cavalry at Gettysburg was made on the first day, by two brigades of Buford's (48) First Cavalry Division. Fighting dismounted and without support, depending on the fire power of their carbines, Buford's regulars held off the attacks of four strong brigades of Heth's division of infantry, backed by some of the best artillery of Lee's army under Pegram, for the two hours needed by Reynolds' I Corps to reach the field. This too was a novel accomplishment for the erstwhile pariahs of the Union army: the ability to stand up to the attacks of good Confederate infantry.
When Meade replaced Hooker, he retained the existing cavalry organization with Pleasonton in command, but when the Mine Run campaign ended operations for the year and winter camps were set up, he gave the cavalry its old assignment of establishing a picket line almost completely encircling the army. (49) Kilpatrick's Richmond raid at the end of February, 1864, was the only event of importance of the winter, and that only because it led to the sensational incident of the "Dahlgren Papers." (50)
In March, 1864, Grant was given command of all the Union armies. In one of his first interviews with the President after his appointment, Grant expressed his "dissatisfaction with the little that had been accomplished by the cavalry so far in the war, and the belief that it was capable of accomplishing much more...if under a thorough leader." (51) Halleck suggested that Sheridan be given command of the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac, a remarkable, and rather unexpected, piece of insight on his part; (52) his suggestion was immediately accepted. Sheridan's appointment to this post marks a turning point not merely in the history of the Union cavalry, but also of the Civil War and, indeed, in the history of tactics as well; for Sheridan's innovations not only revolutionized the accepted concepts of the proper employment of cavalry, but established a new tactical pattern which, by a process of logical and conscious growth, led eventually to the tank tactics of Guderian, Rommel and Patton.
We cite Sheridan as the author of these changes. Actually, great as he was (53) - and we use the word advisedly - he deserves only the credit of being the first to use, and to use with consummate skill, ideas which came from the brain of one of the ablest soldiers this country has ever produced, General James H. Wilson. We here state a conclusion based on probability, for there is no single document, or series of documents, to provide direct evidence of authorship. In any case, such ideas are "in the air", as it were, for months or years before someone comes along with a synthesis in which this inchoate and incomplete material is organized into a logical, coherent, and perhaps even obvious whole. So it was in this case. Sheridan himself contributed a great deal. So did the Confederates. So did John Buford before he died in the winter of 1863. So did many others; and some portions of the whole went back to the War of 1812 and to European practice before that. But the man who "saw it whole" was James Wilson.
Wilson graduated from West Point in the Class of 1860. Upon graduation, he was assigned to duty with the Engineers in Oregon, where he spent his leisure time in professional studies. His reading gave him several noteworthy ideas, one of them being the establishment in each division of a special reconnaissance battalion to obtain and digest combat intelligence. (54) This was a revolutionary idea for the times; when McClellan became Commanding General of the Union armies a year later, the best he could do was to use Pinkerton detectives for that purpose - and a very poor alternative it turned out to be.
When war broke out, Wilson was ordered East, and after a brief tour of duty building fortifications, became a member of Grant's staff. There, his principal assignments were intelligence and what we would now call Combat Engineering, but in that non-specialized age, Wilson was permitted and even encouraged to interpret his duties very broadly. His fertile mind and his ability to present his ideas in a logical, forceful way, gave him in a few months an influence over Grant second only to that of the Chief of Staff, John Rawlins. As testimony to his abilities, we have not only Grant's reliance upon his judgment, but the high praise given him by Assistant Secretary of War Dana in a secret report to Secretary Stanton that Wilson had "...remarkable talents and uncommon executive powers, and will be heard from hereafter." (55) That Wilson possessed military judgment of the highest order is borne out by the fact that the final, successful campaign against Vicksburg was, in the main, his conception. (56)
Through the combined influence of Grant and Dana, Wilson was promoted to Brigadier-General - three years after graduation from West Point - and placed in charge of the Cavalry Bureau in the summer of 1863, with the understanding that after a short tour of duty in that position, he was to be given a field command with the cavalry. It is quite likely that he solicited these appointments. Doubtless ambition and a desire to distinguish himself were a part of Wilson's motivation, but his personality and his whole course of conduct then and later, indicate strongly that his basic motive was something much more objective. He tells us that he "...had already reached certain conclusions, not only from the study of military history, but from observation in the field, as to the proper function of cavalry and the necessity of handling it in masses against the enemy's front, flanks and communications..." (57) With complete self-assurance, he knew that his theories were sound, and he therefore saw to it that he was given the opportunity to put them into practice. We have previously mentioned that his first step was the adoption of the Spencer carbine as the standard cavalry firearm. However, when he took over as commander of the 3rd Cavalry Division of the Army of the Potomac, he was much too junior to be able fully to exploit his ideas. For that, he needed a sympathetic commanding officer with adequate rank. Wilson remained in constant touch with Grant through Rawlins even after he left Grant's staff, and the conclusion seems inescapable that it was from Wilson in Washington and in no other way that Grant obtained the information about the state of the cavalry and of the cavalry command of the Army of the Potomac which led to Grant's comments, already quoted, on that subject to President Lincoln. It appears equally evident that Grant's request that a new Chief of Cavalry be appointed for the Army of the Potomac is directly traceable to Wilson's influence and perhaps pressure. (58) Thus, Wilson was at least indirectly responsible for Sheridan's appointment In Sheridan, Wilson obtained a superior who, to a great extent, shared his ideas, whether or not he had ever formulated them as explicitly as Wilson had done. Sheridan also had the force of character to stand up for his convictions, whatever their source may have been, against Meade, and when necessary, against Grant himself, and he had sufficient rank and prestige to give his opinions a great deal of added force. And he had ample military skill to make these ideas work spectacularly well in practice.
There was an incident in Sheridan's earlier career that was certain to predispose him in favor of Wilson's ideas. This was the action at Booneville, Miss., on July 1, 1862. Sheridan, still a colonel of cavalry at the time, was at Booneville with two cavalry regiments totaling 827 officers and men. He was attacked by a Confederate cavalry division of between five and six thousand, under General James Chalmers. Sheridan had the advantage of an excellent position, and most of his men had Colt's revolvers and Colt's revolving rifles. Dismounting his force, Sheridan accepted battle, with the numerical odds heavily against him. The fight lasted from early morning until late afternoon, with Sheridan repelling one Confederate attack after another. Then, with an all-out frontal attack of his own, coordinated with a noisy mounted diversion by 90 of his men in the Confederate rear, he not merely defeated, but actually routed, the enemy. (59) Two points in this minor affray are notable; first that, except for the diversionary attack at the end, Sheridan fought dismounted, and second, that Chalmers was persuaded by the volume of fire facing him, that he was fighting an infantry division. (60) Sheridan was not the man for abstract reasoning, but, he had a sure eye for anything that worked. One would not expect him to construct a system of tactics on the basis of his Booneville fight, but he was just the man to adopt without reservations and to exploit with outstanding success tactical ideas propounded by Wilson that meshed so well with his own experience.
After taking up his new post and reviewing his command, Sheridan, never one to mince words to hide his light under a bushel, had an interview with Meade, which he reported in the following words:
"I...gave him my idea as to what the cavalry should do, the main purport of which was that it, ought to be kept concentrated to fight the enemy's cavalry...my proposition seemed to stagger General Meade not a little. I knew that it would be difficult to overcome the recognized custom of using the cavalry for the protection of trains and the establishment of cordons around the infantry corps, and so far subordinating its operations to the movements of the main army that, in name only was it a corps at all...At first General Meade would hardly listen to my pro-position...(he) wanted to know what would protect the transportation trains and artillery reserve, cover the front of moving infantry columns, and secure his flanks from intrusions if my policy were pursued. I told him that if he would let me use the cavalry as I contemplated... I could make it so lively for the enemy's cavalry that, so far as attacks from it were concerned, the flanks and rear of the Army of the Potomac would require little or no defense, and claimed, further, that moving columns of infantry should take care of their own fronts..." (61)
There was much more discussion along the same lines. Meade was not at all convinced, but he knew that Sheridan had the backing of Grant and of the government. He therefore yielded to the extent of relieving the cavalry of the greater part of the picket duty it was then performing, thus giving Sheridan two weeks in which to get his horses up to par and his command into some sort of shape before the start of Grant's Wilderness Campaign. When the campaign began in the early hours of May 4, 1864, Sheridan had under his command a Cavalry Corps of three divisions, totaling 12,424 officers and men "present for duty equipped".(62)
In the discussions with Meade, the question of the exercise of command remained unsettled. Meade's idea of the function of the Chief of Cavalry was that the latter should be primarily a staff officer, through whom, or even around whom, Meade would issue such detailed orders as in his opinion, the occasion required. This was quite contrary to Sheridan's conception of his responsibilities, especially because of his awareness of the fundamental disagreement between Meade and himself on the question of how the cavalry was to operate. After Spottsylvania, the question of command was brought into the open through a typical Sheridan outburst, which must be quoted in his own words as an example for you to follow in dealing with superior rank:
"...I told (Meade) that he had broken up my combinations, exposed Wilson's division to disaster, and had kept Gregg unnecessarily idle, and...that such disjointed operations as he had been requiring of the cavalry...would render the corps inefficient and useless before long. Meade was very much irritated and I was none the less so. One word brought on another until, finally, I told him that I could whip Stuart if he (Meade) would only let me, but since he insisted on giving the cavalry directions without consulting or even notifying me, he could henceforth command the Cavalry Corps himself - that I would not give it another order." (63)
Grant settled the argument without really settling the problem; in effect, he gave Sheridan a semi-independent command. Sheridan was ordered to cut loose from the Army of the Potomac, and to proceed against the Confederate cavalry. (64) Lest there be any misunderstanding about his intentions and wishes, Sheridan thereupon announced to his division commanders that "We are going out to fight Stuart's cavalry in consequence of a suggestion from me...and in view of my recent representations to General Meade, I shall expect nothing but success." (65) The means he chose to accomplish this objective was a raid deep behind Lee's army, and aimed ostensibly at Richmond. (66) He thus forced Stuart to come after him, and so managed the affair that when the two cavalry corps met at Yellow Tavern on May 11, the Federals were concentrated, rested and fit, and the Confederates divided and exhausted by the effort of catching up with the Federals, to interpose between them and Richmond. (67) After facing the revitalized Union cavalry for a week in the Wilderness, Stuart knew that he had a hard fight ahead of him, (68) but having lost the initiative to Sheridan, he had to accept battle on the latter's terms. Stuart was attacked by the dismounted troopers of two of Sheridan's divisions and was driven from the field by a smashing mounted charge of Custer's brigade of Michigan cavalry. Stuart himself was mortally wounded by one of Custer's men, and when he died a day later, the legend of the "invincible Southern cavaliers" died with him. (69)
For the next three months, Sheridan's corps was constantly on the go, sometimes leading Grant's advance, more often operating independently of the main army in raids against Lee's communications. As engagements succeeded each other, Sheridan's tactics showed an increasing assurance. More and more, as he observed the effect of his great preponderance in fire power over that of the enemy, he tended to fight dismounted, (70) holding in reserve one brigade, ordinarily Custer's, led by that flamboyant 24 year old Brigadier-General with flowing hair, wide-brimmed hat, Navy shirt and velvet jacket, for the mounted charge that was usually decisive. The outnumbered and outgunned Confederate cavalry performed wonders, and Hampton, (71) Fitzhugh Lee and Rosser led their men with all of Stuart's gallantry and much of his skill. As Wilson learned on his raid to break up the Danville and Southside Railroads below Petersburg, and as Sheridan himself found out at Trevilian's Station, (72) the Confederates, even without Stuart, and in spite of the increasingly preponderant material advantage enjoyed by the North, were far from being a force to he trifled with. It was not until 1864 was drawing to a close, and the cumulative effect of six months of almost continuous fighting was making itself felt, that the Confederate cavalry lost much of its fighting power.
Sheridan thus made good on his promise to Meade and Grant. In the process, his tactics developed to the point where the cavalry became the "mechanized striking force" of the Union army. He is open to the criticism that many of his operations were tangential, and he was prone to operate with one or two of his divisions instead of using all three. Tactically, however, he had a sure grasp, employing a combination of infantry tactics, fire power and mounted tactics with equal skill to fight the enemy cavalry or infantry on better than even terms. The horses supplied the element of mobility only, and pure shock tactics became a thing of the past.
At the beginning of August, 1864, Sheridan was given command of all the Union troops in the Shenandoah Valley, to meet the threat to Washington posed by the Confederate army under Jubal Early. Sheridan was shortly followed to the Valley by two of his cavalry divisions. It is significant that the Valley command was given to an officer who was now identified with the cavalry, and it is a striking feature of Sheridan's operations in this theatre that when he completed the organization of his Army of the Shenandoah, it had a cavalry-to-infantry ratio of one to four, the highest proportion of cavalry of any army in the Civil War. This was a far cry indeed from the days when one cavalry regiment to ten regiments of infantry was considered quite adequate. Moreover, Sheridan kept the cavalry in the forefront of the fighting throughout the campaign; it played a major role in the three full-dress battles he fought, and had twenty-six other engagements of its own in a period of less than two and a half months, losing over 3,700 killed, wounded and prisoners in the process. (73) The Valley being relatively open, with much cleared land, the cavalry was able to fight on horseback to a greater extent than had been possible east of the Blue Ridge, but by this time, the Union horse fought equally well on foot or on horseback, and in either case, was almost invariably successful.
The outstanding feature of the Valley Campaign was, however, Sheridan's generalship. Exercising independent command for the first time, (74) he displayed qualities of leadership and a degree of skill which justify completely Grant's opinion, previously quoted, that Sheridan was the ablest general of the war on either side. The campaign is from beginning to end a model of generalship. It is a spectacular achievement, (75) and a wonderful demonstration of Sheridan's ability to commit al1 his forces, to use all arms in judicious combination, to modify battle plans on the spur of the moment, to seize the decisive instant in battle, and to plan each step of a campaign to take maximum advantage of the total strategic situation.
In the Battle of the Opequon, (76) on September 19, 1864, Sheridan fought the tactical masterpiece of our entire military history, a battle far more deserving of detailed study, even in terms of (or especially in terms of) the combined tactics of World War II, than the much more dramatic, but tactically sterile, Battle of Gettysburg. Only Second Bull Run approaches it in brilliance, and Lee's tactical show-piece suffers by comparison, to the degree that John Pope was below Jubal Early in ability.
It was not in Sheridan's nature merely to fight Early; he intended and planned to bag Early's entire army, or at least a major part of it. (77) The nature of the terrain around Winchester favored such an enterprise. The Confederates occupied a plateau east of the town; their position faced east, the town lying approximately a mile to their rear. The Valley Turnpike, running roughly north and south, bisected the town. The countryside being quite open, the Confederate position could be bypassed on either flank, and the Turnpike reached above or below the town. Sheridan's battle plan called for Wilson's cavalry division to lead the infantry into position opposite the center of Early's line, and then to work around Early's right flank to reach the Turnpike south of Winchester, thus cutting Early's only line of retreat. An entire Union infantry division was to support Wilson in this turning operation. Meanwhile, Merritt's and Averell's divisions of cavalry, having crossed Opequon Creek about five miles north of Winchester, were to advance eastward to the Turnpike, and were then to drive to the south, enveloping the Confederate left-rear, unhinging the entire Confederate position, and forcing the rebels to retreat into the waiting arms of Wilson and his infantry support. The plan, therefore, called for a classical double envelopment on a grand scale. In keeping with the textbook maxim that "combinations rarely work", the operation did not accomplish all that Sheridan intended. Early's army was not bagged; the bulk of it managed to get away after a bad mauling in which it lost a quarter of its total strength. However, the fault did not lie with the cavalry. Mad aware of the threat to his left, Early sent a division of infantry and Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry to stop Merritt and Averell, but Merritt attacked with such momentum that these units were unable to contain him. Averell's division, echeloned to the right of Merritt, passed behind the Confederate left and center, whereupon Early's entire line gave way in considerable disorder. Meanwhile. Wilson had completed his wide circuit around Early's right and was approaching the Turnpike, forcing Early to detach a part of Fitzhugn Lee's cavalry to protect his only possible line of retreat, at a time when Lee already had more than he could handle in trying to stop the Union cavalry attack from the North; this unit did, however, manage to keep Wilson away from the Turnpike long enough to allow Early to make good his retreat.
The Opequon was a serious defeat for Early. Sheridan gave him no time to recover, but defeated him again three days later at Fisher's Hill, in a battle in which Early was driven out of an "impregnable" position, losing another 1,300 men whom he could neither spare nor replace. At the Battle of Cedar Creek, a month later, Early's army was completely routed, losing 3,000 more men and almost all of its trains and artillery, and its days as an effective fighting force were ended. (78) Ten days earlier, Early's cavalry, under General Lomax, had met the Union cavalry under Torbert, Merritt and Custer (79) at Tom's Brook, and in this fight, known also as the "Woodstock Races", was irretrievably beaten, losing everything it possessed on wheels - artillery, transports and ambulances - except for one gun. (80) The subsequent devastation of the Valley, which Sheridan carried out as thoroughly as he did everything else, effectively ended all possibility of further Confederate operations in what had been the arena of Stonewall Jackson's glory.
At the beginning of March, 1865, Sheridan marched his cavalry from the Shenandoah Valley. Almost incidentally, at Waynesboro, he destroyed the remnant of what had once been a fine Confederate army; "All Early's supplies, all transportation, all the guns, ammunition and flags, and most of the officers and men of the army were captured and sent to the rear." (81) Breaking up the Virginia Central Railroad and the James River Canal on the way, Sheridan rejoined Meade in front of Richmond, his command consisting at this time of "...two superb divisions...which had been recruited and remounted during the winter.." (82) His arrival in the lines of investment around Petersburg and Richmond coincided with the coming of campaigning weather, and Sheridan's role in the operations which began only two days after he rejoined the Army of the Potomac was to exercise a controlling influence on the outcome of the war. (81) Grant now had the strategic mobility he needed to pry Lee loose from his entrenchments, and the man with the imagination and the drive to get the job done. The first move in the final campaign against Lee was a sweep by Sheridan's 13,000-man Cavalry Corps, (84) every man armed with a repeating rifle or repeating carbine, and with two corps of infantry in support, out beyond the flank of the Union army and toward the right flank and rear of Lee's trench system. The goal of the operation was to reach, or at least to menace, the only two remaining railroad lines supplying Richmond from the south, and thus to pose a threat that Lee would be compelled to meet, being thereby forced to deplete still further the already too thinly-stretched forces manning his trenches. Beyond a statement of the general objectives, Grant's directions to Sheridan, who was to be in overall command, were wholly discretionary. (85) With a full realization of the probable consequences, Lee had to react to Sheridan's move in the only way open to him. Holding 27-1/2 miles of trenches with but 31,500 men, Lee thinned out his lines still further and scraped together 6,400 infantry and 4,200 cavalry under Pickett (86) and Fitzhugh Lee respectively, and sent them off to his far right, with orders to stop Sheridan by attacking him on the move, if possible.(87)
Sheridan moved off on March 29, after a downpour lasting several days had turned the heavily-wooded, low-lying countryside into a huge swamp. (88) The first day's fighting, on the 31st, ended with the Confederates holding an illusory advantage; Pickett met the advance of Sheridan's troopers, checked it, and in a bushwhacking action, pressed Sheridan back to Dinwiddie Court House, where the Federals rallied and held. Pickett was now in a fatally isolated position, with Sheridan in his front and to his right, and Warren's V Corps of Union infantry a few miles to his left and well behind him. This created an opening which Sheridan was not slow to exploit. During the night, he arranged for an attack on Pickett's left and rear by Warren's infantry, to coincide with a frontal attack by two divisions of the cavalry. The combination did not come off, and (89) Pickett, attacked only in front, made good his retreat to Five Forks where he occupied an L-shaped line of old trenches which his men hastily improved. However, he was still isolated, and, the Union infantry having reached the field, Sheridan was able to stage an attack based on his original plan. The fight ended in a victory that would have satisfied anyone but Sheridan. Pickett's force was all but wiped out, the Federals capturing six guns, thirteen battle flags and nearly 6,000 prisoners. (90)
The disastrous defeat at Five Forks ended any hope Lee may still have entertained of holding out in the Richmond-Petersburg defenses. When the Federa1s, capitalizing quickly on Sheridan's victory, broke into Lee's attenuated lines on the morning of April 2, Lee was forced to give up the defense of the Confederate capital. That night, Richmond was evacuated, and what was left of the Army of Northern Virginia began its trek (91) toward the mountains and a junction with Johnston's army in the Carolinas. That, was the plan, or the forlorn hope, but it was frustrated by Sheridan and the cavalry. Intercepting the supplies Lee was counting on to feed his starving troops, harassing his retreat without respite, capturing at Sayler's Creek between 7,000 and 8,000 men, a third of Lee's remaining force, (92) the Union cavalry was everywhere at once. There remained merely the formality of killing off the exhausted, starving wreckage of an army that had nothing left but its courage. The Union infantry behind him, Sheridan's cavalry attacking almost incessantly from the left and ultimately forcing its way across the head of his column, Lee had no option but to surrender, and the long war in the east came to an end at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.
We must now retrace our steps, and once again cross the Alleghenies. Sherman had captured Atlanta on August 30, 1864, and in September and October, was maturing his plans for his march through Georgia. Realizing the impossibility of maintaining a supply line running from Atlanta back to Chattanooga, (1) he determined to cut loose from it altogether, leaving General Thomas at Nashville to deal with Hood and his army of 40,000 veteran infantry and Forrest's 10,000 cavalry. In the course of reorganizing his forces in preparation for the new campaign, Sherman had acceded to Grant's suggestion (2) that he place all of the cavalry of his armies under a single command, (3) and accepted Grant's recommendation that Wilson be appointed to the job. Notifying Sherman of Wilson's assignment, Grant said that "I believe that Wilson will add fifty per cent. to the effectiveness of your cavalry." (4)
Wilson had arrived at Sherman's headquarters on October 22, and came to an immediate understanding with his skeptical but cordial chief. Leaving undecided for the time being the question of where and when the cavalry would eventually be used, the two men agreed that Wilson should collect the cavalry of the Military Division of the Mississippi, organize all of it into brigades and divisions, rearm the men with magazine rifles and carbines, and remount all the dismounted men. Orders were issued on October 24 placing Wilson in command of the cavalry and abolishing the posts of the chiefs of cavalry of the individual armies in the military division. All of the cavalry in Sherman's command was made directly subordinate to Wilson, (5) who was now enabled to proceed with his plans to make of it an effective fighting force.
The task Wilson undertook would have daunted anyone but a 27 year-old Major-General. There were nominally 82 regiments of mounted troops under his command. (6) Regiments, brigades and divisions were scattered from Central Georgia to the Missouri River, and there were dismounted men and convalescents by the thousands at "every hospital, depot and camp from Chicago and St. Paul on the north to Vicksburg and Atlanta on the south." (7) Every senior officer of sufficient rank and influence had a cavalry escort, (8) the Civil War equivalent of the private airplane of World War II. When Wilson attempted to find out just how many men he had in his command, he met a blank wall. The chiefs of cavalry could not tell him how many men they had, how many were dismounted, what arms the men had, what arms and equipment were needed and where such material was to be found; his inquiries were met with the statement that the cavalry was hardly ever in camp long enough to make strength returns, nor to make requisitions for the arms and equipment they required. Eventually Wilson learned that, as against a paper strength of about 70,000, he had approximately 30,000 troopers present with the colors. Of these, fewer than 10,000 were mounted. As to the state of discipline of his new command, an inspection report on the Second Illinois in September, 1864, illustrates a state of affairs that was only too prevalent in the western armies, although we must charitably assume that this is an extreme case: "Nothing good can be said about them. Take officers and men and they are the worst looking military organization I ever saw. The only clean and respectable place I saw in camp was that occupied by their animals." And the morale of the cavalry was just what one might expect of troops that had absorbed one disgraceful drubbing after another, over a span of three years.
The fact that such conditions were allowed to exist as late as the autumn of 1864, and that no real effort had been made to correct them until Wilson took the job in hand, is almost unbelievable. Wilson was to demonstrate that the situation was anything but hopeless. In little more than two months after his arrival, the fighting qualities of the despised cavalry were on a par with those of the infantry, and in less than six months altogether, Wilson had turned a demoralized, undisciplined, disorganized mob into a first-class army that, for its size, had no equal in drive and striking power until Patton's Third Army chased the Germans across France eighty years later. The conditions Wilson found can be explained only on the assumption that the Union commanders in the west, from Halleck to Sherman, finding it impossible to use cavalry in the way they had been taught to do at West Point and lacking the vision to realize that by departing from dogma they could convert their mounted troops into an essentially new weapon of war, paid their cavalry as little attention as possible. And this notwithstanding the daily demonstrations of the capabilities of cavalry that every Union commander in the West received at the hands of Forrest, Wheeler, Morgan, Van Dorn and the rest. The low estate of the Union cavalry in this theatre was therefore the result of the same causes that operated in the east to produce the same effect.
Wilson set himself as his most urgent tasks the concentration of his badly scattered units, the appointment to brigade and divisional command of men of his own stamp, the correction of deficiencies of materiel, especially horses, and training. (10) Before everything else, however, Hood had to be beaten. This was accomplished in two steps. In the Battle of Franklin, Hood beat himself. He directed one frontal assault after another across open ground, against Schofield's XXIII Army Corps, fighting behind the protection of hastily-dug entrenchments, and in so doing, sustained a crippling loss of 6,252 out of an army of 40,000, against Schofield's loss of but 2,326. (11) Hood practically assured his own defeat by turning down Forrest's suggestion that he be allowed to flank Schofield out of his strong, but dangerously exposed, position; (12) Wilson, dismounting the 4,000 cavalry he had present, was able to drive back into the Harpeth River the one division of Forrest's cavalry that was permitted by Hood to make the attempt. (13)
The Battle of Nashville was the second step in Hood's road to ruin. In spite of the severe check he sustained at Franklin, Hood advanced to Nashville, where he dug in to await an attack by Thomas a leaf taken out of Longstreet's book and, in the circumstances, a piece of strategic stupidity unequalled in the Civil War. Once again Hood invited disaster; this time he depleted his already outnumbered forces by sending Forrest with most of his cavalry and a division of infantry on a futile expedition against Murfreesboro. Thomas was in no hurry to attack. He needed time to collect horses for a sufficient number of Wilson's men to make sure that when he defeated Hood, which he was certain he could do, he would have enough cavalry available for the pursuit to turn Hood's retreat into a smashing, final rout. (15) A further delay ensued when a three-day storm turned the roads and fields around Nashville into a glare of ice, making all movement impossible. (16) The weather began to moderate on December 13, and the next day, Thomas' attack got under way. Hood had three corps, dug in on a range of hills southeast of Nashville. Opposite Hood's right, Thomas deployed a "provisional corps" made up of tag-ends of green troops under Steedman, with orders to pin down the rebel right with demonstrations, while three more corps of Union infantry, lined up opposite Hood's center and left, were to execute a gigantic pivot behind the spearhead of Wilson's 12,000 cavalry, to envelope the Confederate left. The holding attacks on Hood's right were delivered with such dash by Steedman's quartermaster's clerks and Negro troops that Hood was forced to hold his center corps in position also, and could not use it to support his left. This placed upon the single corps on the left, the burden of repelling the flank attack led by Wilson and backed by the full power of three corps of veteran infantry. This was an impossible assignment; when Wilson's attack developed, the left caved in and was swept off the field. Darkness came an in time to save the rest of Hood's army, and he retreated to another line of hills two miles to the rear.
The key to Hood's new position was a hastily-fortified salient called Shy's Hill. In his attack the next day, (17) Thomas adhered to the same basic plan that had worked so well an the first day, but he had the additional advantage which the exposed position of Shy's Hill gave him. Thomas concentrated the enfilading fire of the artillery of two of his corps on the salient, which was then rushed from the rear by Wilson's entire cavalry corps. At the same time, the Union infantry delivered an all-out frontal attack along the full length of Hood's position, and the entire Confederate army collapsed and dissolved. Thousands surrendered - five thousand in one hour - rather than run the gauntlet of fire of Wilson's 12,000 repeating carbines behind them. In the ten-day pursuit which followed, the cavalry took 8.000 more prisoners. (18) Thomas won the most complete single victory of the war, one which has been rightly called "...the most decisive victory gained by either side. . and one of the most brilliant."(19)
With the danger to Tennessee and Kentucky averted, Wilson could now concentrate on completing the organization of his command. A camp was formed at Gravelly Springs, on the Tennessee River, and for three months, it was a hive of activity. Thirty thousand cavalrymen were collected from every part of the Military Division. Remount depots, scattered camps and stations were emptied. The shortage of horses was almost made good. Worn-out equipment and clothing was replaced. Obsolete weapons of all kinds were turned in, and the men were rearmed. All privates and corporals were given Spencer carbines; henceforth only sergeants and officers were armed with revolvers. (20) All ranks received a new, comparatively light and manageable sabre. Every possible moment, regardless of the weather, was devoted to drill. Instruction was constant, and for the first time in the history of the western cavalry, the closest attention was given to the care of the horses, camps and arms. Above all, discipline was enforced with a firm hand. (21) The men chosen by Wilson to command his divisions and brigades, Generals Edward McCook, John Croxton, Edward Winslow, Emory Upton and others, were men as young as himself or younger - Upton received his star at 24, for conspicuous gallantry in the fighting at Spottsylvania in May, 1864 - full of energy and free from text-book preconceptions about the functions of cavalry. (22) They seconded Wilson's efforts with enthusiasm and ability. (23) By March, Wilson had an army of 27,000 men organized into six divisions, well equipped, well armed, well officered, well disciplined, with excellent morale, (24) trained to fulfill the traditional screening and scouting duties of the cavalry, capable of fighting on horseback, but trained also - and especially - to fight dismounted, to take maximum advantage of the fire power of their carbines.
While the work of creating the new cavalry went forward, Wilson was in correspondence with Grant, to obtain the latter's consent to employ the cavalry as Wilson thought it should be used. He had in mind a new element in war; an independent, self-sufficient army of cavalry - nominally so, inasmuch as the men traveled on horseback - but actually something more than a "fast motorized column of infantry, with the difference that the transport ran on oats instead of gasoline" (25) as one writer has called it. The "something more" was a new factor, which Wilson had the wit to recognize - a factor which Forrest, Morgan and Stuart never had, which Sheridan did have but failed to assess at its true importance - namely, fire power. Wilson's cavalry army had it, to a degree that enabled it to hold its own against anything the Confederacy was able to muster to oppose it. This was not merely a difference in degree from, and beyond, the strategic capabilities of Forrest's and Morgan's cavalry, but, in a very real sense, a difference in kind, and of sufficient importance to bear emphasis. One of Forrest's expeditions, even when made in strong force, and with Forrest's great skill to raise to a higher power the mere numerical strength of his command, was nevertheless only a raid and nothing more: advance, destroy and retreat to base. Wilson's idea was something far more basic, and as much of an advance over a Morgan or Forrest raid as it was over a Sheridan cavalry operation. Wilson's horses were to enable him to "get thar fustest"; his relative fire power was so great that, it not only gave him "the mostest" in a sense far beyond Forrest's ken, but - and this is the crucial point - it made it possible for him to stay wherever he chose to go. This was more than Fletcher Pratt's motorized infantry. It was the prototype of the tank army of World War II, but without the disadvantage of a logistical rope tying it to a base. Except for increased speed and fire power and the addition of mechanical and electronic frills, the strategic effect of cavalry used as Wilson intended to use it and of a World War II tank army, was precisely the same. And we repeat that, this was not an accidental development, or a theory propounded to explain pre-existing facts, but a design consciously planned by Wilson as a new pattern of tactics and strategy.
The virtual destruction of Hood's army at Nashville ended any possibility of offensive operations on the part of the Confederates, but there was still a nucleus of Confederate strength in the Gulf states under the departmental command of Richard Taylor. Forrest, belatedly made a Lieutenant-General on February 28, 1865, (26) was in direct command of the troops, mostly cavalry, in this area, and was hard at work raising, organizing and arming additional forces to meet the storm that he and Taylor knew would break in the spring. Wilson proposed to Rawlins, for Grant's approval, that his cavalry army be "...(hurled) into the bowels of the Confederacy in such masses that the enemy could not drive them back..." (27) It is a good indication of contemporary military thought, and of the novelty of Wilson's ideas, that even at this late date in the war, Grant, who had been very thoroughly exposed to Wilson's powers of persuasion, directed him merely to "...fit out an expedition of five or six thousand cavalry for the purpose of making a demonstration upon Tuscaloosa and Selma in favor of General Canby's operations against Mobile and Central Alabama." (28) Fortunately, however, Wilson was given the widest discretion in the planning and execution of the operation, and he took full advantage of it to perform a "demonstration" that was a far cry indeed from what Grant had in mind.
Having been forced to transfer to other armies three of his newly organized divisions, and lacking sufficient horses for all the men in the three divisions remaining to him, Wilson decided to proceed with a total force of only 13,500 men. From the standpoint of meticulous planning, organization and staff work, the expedition stood head and shoulders above even the remarkably high standards that prevailed in the Union armies in the last year of the war. The route of each division as far as Selma was worked out in detail, timetables were established, and the degree of discretion allowed to each divisional commander was clearly spelled out. (29) Logistics were equally precise. Each of the 12,000 mounted troopers was to carry five days' light rations in haversacks, a pair of extra horseshoes and one hundred rounds of ammunition. Pack mules were loaded with five days' rations of hard bread and a ten-day supply of sugar and salt; the train of 250 wagons carried 1,500 dismounted men (whom it was intended to mount on captured horses), forty-five days' supply of coffee, twenty days' sugar, fifteen days' salt and eighty rounds of ammunition per man. There were, in addition, a canvas pontoon train of thirty boats and three batteries of artillery. (30) The first objective was the town of Selma, about 150 miles distant, the one arsenal remaining to the Confederacy in the Gulf states. Wilson's "demonstration" was to begin with the capture of this city and the destruction of Forrest's command of 10,000 cavalry and attached troops, consisting of small bodies of Confederate infantry and local militia.(31)
On March 22, 1865, the Cavalry Army, formerly known as the "futile and discredited" cavalry service, (32) but now a body of men "...in magnificent condition, well armed, splendidly mounted, perfectly clad and equipped..." (33) left its encampments under the command of Wilson, who, at 27 was and still remains the youngest army commander in American history. His opening moves were carefully planned to befuddle Forrest about his real intentions and objectives and caused that master of the art of confusing others to scatter his forces, as he had many times caused his Union opponents to scatter theirs. (34) The initial contact was made on March 31 at Montevallo, 50 miles north of Selma. During the next two days, in an almost uninterrupted running fight, Forrest was swept back as by a tidal wave. "Wilson's men went at their work with a dash and a power that knew no stopping"; (35)years later, when Wilson wrote his reminiscences, he was still gleeful about the way his men turned Forrest's own rules of war against him. (36) Selma is located on the north bank of the Alabama River. Because of the importance of the ordnance works located there, it had been well fortified. The fortifications consisted of a continuous system of earthworks running for a distance of about three miles in the shape of a "V" pointing north, from river above the city to the river below it. The ramparts were from eight to twelve feet high, protected on the outside by deep and wide ditches partly filled with water, and by palisades of sharpened stakes. Twenty-four mutually-supporting bastions, mounting one to three guns each, were sited at intervals along the perimeter. Midway between this line of works and the northernmost streets, there were four large redoubts, so placed as to cover with their artillery all the main roads into town. The outer face of the earthworks on the east (the Confederate right) was protected by swamps, and the west face by an almost impassable creek which ran into the river above the town. (37) The garrison consisted of between 6,000 and 7,000 men, mostly veterans, with Forrest in command.
At four o'clock in the afternoon of April 2, the same day that saw Lee evacuating the Richmond - Petersburg defenses, Wilson with two of his divisions, (38) about 8,000 men with eight guns, arrived in front of Selma. Having previously obtained a fairly accurate description of the defenses, Wilson made his approach march in such a way that his troops reached the fortification at the points where he wanted them for the assault. Long's division was opposite the western face of the defenses near the apex of the "V" and Upton's on the extreme (Union) left, behind the swamp. Upton was to make the principal attack where, because of the protection thought to be afforded by the swamps, the defenses were the weakest. Long was to attack as soon as Upton had breached the defenses on his side.
Within an hour after their arrival the men were in position, the reconnaisances had been made, and everything was ready for the assault, when chance intervened. Chalmers' division of Forrest's cavalry arrived on the scene and launched an attack against the regiment protecting the rear of Longs' division. Most commanders in Long's position, in the Civil War or in any other war, would have given up all thought of proceeding with their own attack and would have faced about to defend themselves against the threat from the rear. (39) But not Long. He detached a second regiment to help stop Chalmers, and then, without waiting for Upton's attack, led the rest of his men, 1,550 dismounted troopers, in a headlong rush across the 600 yards of open ground in front of the works, in the teeth of the artillery and muskets of 1,500 men of Forrest's best brigade. Upton advanced as soon as he heard Long's guns, and the two divisions almost simultaneously breached the defenses in front of them. The inner redoubts, with Forrest personally in command, held up the Union drive, but only momentarily. Led by Wilson himself, four regiments, the Fourth Ohio and the Seventeenth Indiana among them, smashed their way through, and the Confederates became a mob, pursued through the town and captured in droves by the one Union regiment whose horses were near enough for immediate use. Forrest himself, some of his generals and a fraction of his force managed to escape in the darkness, but 2,700 officers and men, 31 field guns and immense quantities of stores were captured, at a cost to the Union of only 40 killed and 260 wounded. (40) Strong fortifications, adequately manned by good troops, had been carried by cavalry alone in a single assault lasting barely an hour. The assault succeeded because of the rate of fire of three or four thousand Spencer carbines in the hands of men who were not to be stopped by anything.
With the dispersal of Forest command, Wilson's campaign was to all interests and purposes finished. (41) General Canby was already besieging Mobile and had ample forces at his disposal; there was no need for Wilson's cavalry army there. Not knowing that Lee, in Virginia, was already at his last gasp, Wilson decided to march his command to join Grant, doing the Confederacy as much damage as possible on the way. (42) After destroying the mills, factories and "public property" at Selma, Wilson captured Montgomery, the first capital of the Confederacy, then Columbus, Ga., and had just taken Macon when, on April 21, he received orders from Sherman to suspend hostilities. The last service rendered by his command to the cause of the Union was the capture of Jefferson Davis on May 10 by a detachment of the Fourth Michigan Cavalry, one of the regiments which had made the assault on the inner redoubts at Selma. It was entirely fitting that this final, symbolic act of the Civil War should have been performed by a cavalry unit - and a volunteer cavalry unit that.
After traveling a long road, sometimes grim, sometimes depressing, sometimes inspiring, we too have come to the end of our campaign. In our own limited field, we have seen a meeting of a romantic, glamorous past with an ominously material future. We have witnessed a long step forward in the replacement of human muscle by the machine, of the sabre by the repeating carbine, as a determinant in war, but we have also seen that human courage and the human brain are rare important than either.
(1) F. E. Adcock: The Roman Art of War under the Republic; p. 25
(2) Thus, two-thirds of the French army in 1494 consisted of cavalry; by 1528, the proportion had been reduced to one-eleventh. J. F. C. Fuller: Armament and History; p. 86; cf. C. Oman: A History of the Art of War in the Sixteenth Century; pp. 30-9; 223-228; however, in the English Civil Wars, cavalry was of decisive importance.
(3) Maurice de Saxe: Reveries on the Art of War; pp. 55-70
(4) J. F. C. Fuller: The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant; p. 49; cf E.M. Earle, Ed.: Makers of Modern Strategy; p.57: "Frederick set a great value on cavalry, which constituted a fourth of his army, but he used it in general only for shock action in solid tactical units."
(5) G. T. Denison: A History of Cavalry; p 296
(6) On the use of dismounted dragoons against the Spanish guerillas, cf. Ibid, p. 298
(7) J. F. C. Fuller: Armament and History; pp. 110-1
(8) G. T. Denison: A History of Cavalry; p. 353
(9) G. F. R. Henderson: The Science of War; p.53
(10) T. Kearny: General Philip Kearny; pp. 49-66
(11) W. S. Myers: General George Brinton McClellan; pp. 86-101. McClellan was so impressed with the utility of the Cossacks as irregular light horse that he advocated the formation of partisan troops made up of frontier Indians. Cf. G. B. McClellan: European Cavalry; p. 115
(12) "...a model of what a translation ought not to be. American soldiers who had read it must often have wondered what language they were reading." E. M. Earle, Ed.: Makers of Modern Strategy; p 84.
(13) There were publications by private individuals and by the War Department, of books on Cavalry Tactics in 1801, 1809, 1822, 1834, 184l and 1857 (See Bibliography)
(14) "...the cavalry...was little used during most of the battles in the Valley of Mexico. This fact may account for the awkwardness that some critics thought they observed in Lee's handling of that arm in 1862." D.S. Freeman: R.E. Lee, v. I. p. 295
(15) T. F. Rodenbough: From Everglade to Canon with the Second Dragoons; p. 237
(16) The roster of the original group of officers of these two regiments reads like a Roll of Honor of the Civil War; five, including Lee, J. E. Johnston and A. S Johnston, became full Generals in the Confederate Army; McClellan and Thomas became Union army commanders, and over thirty altogether became corps, division or brigade commanders in the two armies.
(17) "Out of 198 companies in the service (in 1860), 183 were strewn over 79 posts of the frontier. . .The other 15 manned the Atlantic Coast, 23 arsenals and the Canadian frontier." W. A. Ganoe: The History of the United States Army; p. 244.
(18) Richard Taylor: Destruction and Reconstruction; p. 37
(19) W. A. Ganoe: The History of the United. States Army; p. 250. "Of the total officer corps of about 900, 295 went with the South."
(20) W. F. Scott: The Story of a Cavalry Regiment; p. 374. Anyone inclined to minimize the value of the time we were given by the Allies in 1917, and by the British in 1941, to train our armies, is urged to become a student of the Civil War.
(21) J. H. Wilson: Under the Old Flag; v. II, p. 8
(22) Cameron was doubtful of the value of cavalry in wooded country and considered cavalry regiments, which cost $300,000 to equip, too expensive. W. A. Ganoe: op. cit.; p. 250; cf. F. C. Adams: The Story of a Trooper; pp. 212
(23) By act of Congress of August 3, 1861, the entire mounted force of six regular regiments was consolidated into one corps; the distinction between dragoons, mounted riflemen and "cavalry" was abolished, and the six regiments, numbered in the order of creation, were redesignated as regiments of United States Cavalry. T. F. Rodenbough: From Everglade to Canon with the Second Dragoons; p. 237
(24) At Bull Run, McDowell had seven companies of cavalry, all regulars, In his entire army. Ibid; pp. 232-3
(25) F. A. Shannon: The Organization and Administration of the Union Army; v. II, p. 270
(26) Brigades of cavalry were formed in the East on the Peninsula and during the Antietam campaign, but, they were temporary; permanent brigades, each made up of three or four regiments, were not formed until the spring of 1863. In the West, brigades were formed, mainly for administrative purposes. as early as January, 1862.
(27) "I knew a retired merchant of New York... who spent twenty thousand dollars to raise a regiment of cavalry which he was, of course, commissioned colonel. His camp was near us; he was never there. . . he displayed his uniform . . . on the sidewalks of Pennsylvania Avenue and in the barrooms of the great hotels ... (He was) radically incapable of commanding his regiment, much less of leading it into battle . . ." R. DeTrobriand: Four Years with the Army of the Potomac; p. 89 cf C.F. Adams: The Story of a Trooper: pp. 28-30
(28) When DeTrobriand's regiment mounted guard in camp outside Washington in September, 1861, one of his officers, making the rounds during the night, entered the camps of twelve regiments without being challenged. He found seven sentries of the 62nd New York rolled up in their blankets, asleep. R. DeTrobriand, op. cit.: p. 89
(29) B.A Crowninshield: A History of the First Regiment of Massachusetts Cavalry Volunteers; pp. 42-51
(30) W.F. Scott: The Story of a Cavalry Regiment; pp. 23-5. Probably the all-time speed record for the transition from civilian life to active service was made by the Philadelphia company of the 1st New York Cavalry. This company was mustered in July 19, 1861, proceeded to Washington on July 22, and on August 1 was on scouting duty in Virginia. F.C. Adams: The Story of a Trooper; p. 119
(31) A few exceptionally fortunate regiments, e.g., the Fourth Iowa, were authorized to purchase their own horses at the place of rendezvous. This was pork-barrel politics pure and simple, but it did give these regiments far better horses than those supplied by the government through normal channels. W.F. Scott: op. cit.; p. 22
(32) "Many will remember the laughable mishaps connected with the breaking and training of green and vicious horses by some green and unphilosophical men. A beast, sharply touched by the spurs, would dash from the ranks, with his rider holding by both hands to the reins, or mane or neck, and clasping more tightly with his limbs, till his spurs added more jump and speed to his military departure." F. Denison: Sabres and Spurs; p. 55
(33) F. A. Shannon: The Organization and Administration of the Union Army; v. I, pp. 233-4
(34) W. D. Hamilton: Recollections of a Cavalryman; p. 146
(35) B. W. Crowninshield: A History of he First Regiment of Massachusetts Cavalry Volunteers; p. 11
(36) "Strapped and strung over his clothes, (the cavalryman) carried a big sabre and a metal scabbard four feet long, an Austrian rifle or a heavy revolver, a box of cartridges, a box of percussion caps, a tin canteen for water, a haversack containing rations, a tin coffee cup, and such other devices and traps as were recommended to his fancy as useful and beautiful... When he was on foot, he moved with a great clapping and clanking of his arms and accoutrements, and so constrained by the many bands crossing his body that any rapid motion was absurdly impossible... When the rider was in the saddle, begirt with all his magazine, it was easy to imagine him protected from all ordinary assault. His properties rose before and behind him like fortifications, and those strung over his shoulders covered well his flanks. To the uninitiated it was a mystery how the rider got into the saddle." W. F. Scott: The Story of a Cavalry Regiment; pp. 26-7
(37) F. Denison: Sabres and Spurs; pp. 150-2
(38) B. W. Crowninshield: A History of the First Regiment of Massachusetts Cavalry Volunteers; pp. 33-4
(39) Ibid., p. 83
(40) McClellan blamed the condition of his cavalry on a faulty remount service. Actually, he was getting 2,000 horses each week; his men ruined their horses faster than they could be replaced. J. W. Thomason, Jr.: Jeb Stuart; p. 318
(41) R. O'Connor: Thomas: Rock of Chickamauga; p. 307
(42) H B. McClellan: The Life and Campaigns of Major-General J. E. B. Stuart; p. 256
(43) Virginia raised forty regiments of Confederate cavalry.
(44) H. B. McClellan: The Life and Campaigns of Major-General J. E. B. Stuart; pp. 258-9
(45) W. W. Blackford: War Years with Jeb Stuart: p. 98
(46) L. Lewis: Sherman - Fighting Prophet; p. 341
(47) J. N. Thomason, Jr.: Jeb Stuart; p. 79
(48) It was actually an adaptation of the "Poinsett Tactics"
(49) J. P. Dyer: Fightin' Joe Wheeler; pp. 101-2
(50) H. B. McClellan: The Life and Campaigns of Major-General J. E. B. Stuart; p. 260
(51) W. W. Blackford: War Years with Jeb Stuart; p. 146. In December, 1864, Forrest issued an order that the Union overcoats and clothing owned by his officers and men would be confiscated if not dyed Confederate gray by the 20th of the month. B. I. Wiley: The Life of Johnny Reb; pp. 115-6
(52) H. B. McClellan: op cit.; p. 261
(53) "Camp-guards were regularly posted to keep the men in camp; and as staying in camp closely was something they particularly disliked, the guard had to be doubled, until finally nearly one half of the regiment had to be put on to watch the rest." B. W. Duke: History of Morgan's Cavalry; p. 208
(54) F. A. Shannon: The Organization and Administration of the Union Army; v. I. p. 69
(55) B. W. Crowninshield: A History of the First Regiment of Massachusetts Cavalry Volunteers; pp. 294-5
(56) B. W. Crowninshield: A History of the First Regiment of Massachusetts Cavalry Volunteers; pp. 294-5
(57) W. F. Scott: The Story of a Cavalry Regiment; p. 183
(58) "At Nashville, a farm implement concern reversed the Biblical command and turned plowshares into swords; the brass guards of these high-class weapons bore the appropriate markings 'CSA' and 'Nashville Plow Works'". B. I. Wiley: The Life of Johnny Reb; p. 295
(59) G. T. Denison: A History of Cavalry; p. 424; quoting General Stephen D. Lee
(60) H. B. McClellan: The Life and Campaigns of Major-General J. E. B. Stuart; pp. 260-1
(61) F. A. Shannon: The Organization and Administration of the Union Army; v. I, p. 132
(62) C. A. Dana: Recollections of the Civil War; p. 62
(63) J. H. Wilson: Under the Old Flag; v. I, p. 331
(64) "I never knew a well-directed assault by troops armed with Spencers to fail..." General J. H. Wilson, quoted in J. F. C. Fuller: The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant; p. 370
(65) F. A. Shannon: The Organization and Administration of the Union Army; v. I. p. 141
(66) W. F. Scott: The Story of a Cavalry Regiment; p. 283
(67) W. W. Blackford: War Years with Jeb Stuart; p.221
(68) Kilpatrick's raid to the outskirts of Richmond, Feb. 28-March 3, 1864, covered a distance of 300 miles in five days. J. Moore: Kilpatrick and our Cavalry; p. 52. It is no wonder that he was called "Kill Cavalry" by his men.
(69) B. W. Crowninshield: A History of the First Regiment of Massachusetts Cavalry Volunteers; pp.32-4; cf. F. Denison: Sabres and Spurs; p. 182 and W. Hyndman: History of a Cavalry Company; p. 79
(70) A typical account deals with Sheridan's Trevilian Station raid in June, 1864: "Our rations having been entirely exhausted, foraging parties were now sent out on the flanks of the column, who literally 'cleaned out' the section of everything edible for man and beast... There were rather rough deeds perpetrated by us in Virginia at this time...The people... were now made entirely destitute...We came upon them like swarms of locusts, eating up the very seed for their next harvest." W. Hyndman: op. cit., p. 203. There is, unfortunately, only too much evidence of pillage and destruction for no reason whatever, even under McClellan, who at least tried to prevent these outrages (C. F. Adams: The Story of a Trooper; pp. 200-1; 289). Other commanders did not even try. As for the South, complaints of the depredations suffered at the hands of Confederate cavalry poured into Richmond from all sides. Governor Vance of Georgia [this should have been "North Carolina"] wrote to Secretary Seddon on Dec. 1, 1863: "If God Almighty had yet in store another plague for the Egyptians worse than all the others, I am sure it must have been a regiment or so of half-armed, half-disciplined Confederate cavalry." (L. Lewis: Sherman - Fighting Prophet: p. 340) And Robert Toombs wrote to Vice President Stephens: "...(Wheeler) has been gone (to Tennessee) for three weeks. I cannot say he has done no good, for he has relieved the poor people of this part of the country temporarily from his plundering marauding band of cowardly robbers...I hope to God he will never get back to Georgia." (J. P. Dyer: "Fightin' Joe" Wheeler; pp. 210-1)
(71) J. H. Alexander: Mosby's Men; p. 19
(72) B. W. Duke: History of Morgan's Cavalry; p. 83
(73) Quoted in L. Lewis: Sherman - Fighting Prophet; p. 340
(74) D. S. Freeman: Lee's Lieutenants; v. III, pp. 209-10
(75) B. Perry: Life and Letters of Henry Lee Higginson; p 231. But the picture was not all black. The First Rhode Island, under Colonel Duffie, was a model regiment, well led, well trained and well disciplined. "When I visited Colonel Duffie, I found him in his tent, surrounded by his officers, to whom he was himself giving a lesson in tactics...(In his camp) everything breathed an air of order and cleanliness, and a care for the least details of the service..." R. deTrobriand: Four Years with the Army of the Potomac; p. 338
(76) On the return from the Chambersburg raid. Stuart's 1800 troopers covered 90 miles in 27 hours, with a single halt lasting 1/2 hour. W. Blackford: War Years with Jeb Stuart; p. 170
(77) W. Hyndman: History of a Cavalry Company; p. 96
(78) J. H. Wilson: Under the Old Flag; v. II, p. 28
(79) Ibid, pp. 2-3
(80) L. Lewis: Sherman - Fighting Prophet; p. 339
(1) And to get rid of luxuries. "The Natchez troop from Mississippi... joined the regiment...and a fine company it was, I remember, though we were all amazed at their bringing two wagonloads of trunks, and this after having left most of their baggage behind in Richmond." W. W. Blackford: War Years with Jeb Stuart; p. 50
(2) Quoted in J. W. Thomason, Jr.: Jeb Stuart; p. 215
(3) As at Brandy Station on June 9, 1863, and at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863; J. E. Cooke: The Wearing of the Gray; p. 33
(4) J. W. Thomason, Jr.: Jeb Stuart; p. 80
(5) We have already noted that it was Stuart's practice to arm one or two squadrons in each regiment with carbines or rifles.
(6) In a conversation with Wade Hampton in 1868, General Lee remarked: "General Stuart was my ideal of a soldier." - as fine an accolade as any soldier could desire. D. S. Freeman: R. E. Lee; v. IV. p. 367 (7) J. B. Dyer: "Fightin' Joe" Wheeler; pp. 101-2
(8) Established in 1846; cf. T. F. Rodenbough: From Everglade to Canon with the Second Dragoons; p. 237
(9) For a full description of Morgan's methods, cf. B. W. Duke: History of Morgan's Cavalry; pp. 172-6
(10) C. F. Holland: Morgan and his Raiders; pp. 51-2
(11) There is a we11-founded doubt, as to whether the idea of the long-distance raid originated with Morgan or with his brother-in-law, General (then Colonel) Basil Duke. General Duke never claimed credit for the idea, hence, to avoid a controversial problem, we shall leave Morgan with the honors of the invention. Cf. C. F. Holland: op. cit.; p. 116
(12) It will not be inappropriate to quote General Jacob Cox's poem, inspired by Morgan's "remounting" activities:
"John Morgan's foot is on thy shore
(Quoted in C. F. Holland: op. cit., p. 121)
(l) W. T. Sherman: Memoirs; v. II, p. 152: "It will be a physical impossibility to protect the roads now that Hood, Forrest, Wheeler and the whole batch of devils, are turned loose without home or habitation...By attempting to hold the roads, we will lose a thousand men each month, and will gain no result. I can make this march, and make Georgia howl!" (Sherman to Grant, Oct. 9, 1864)
(2) J. H. Wilson: Under the Old Flag; v. II, p. 2: "I will have to send a cavalry commander to Sherman... At present, and to this time, there has not been an officer with the cavalry in the west whom it was safe to trust without infantry to guard them from danger." (Grant to Meade, Sept. 25, 1864)
(3) Each of the formerly separate armies under Sherman's command, the Army of the Ohio, the Army of the Cumberland, etc., had its own chief of cavalry. These posts were usually a refuge for men like Stoneman and Pleasonton, who had failed in high cavalry commands in the east. All of them were now relieved. Their removal not only cleared up an impossible command situation, but relieved Wilson of the embarrassment of having to deal with subordinates who outranked him and could be counted on to guard jealously the prerogatives of superior rank.
(4) Despatch of Oct. 4, 1864; Quoted in J. H. Wilson, Op. Cit.; v. II, p. 3
(5) J. H. Wilson: Op. Cit.; v. II, pp. 16-20; these orders also provided that Wilson was to report directly to Sherman.
(6) P. S. Michie: The Life and Letters of Emory Upton; p. 132. However, Wilson states (Op. Cit.; v. II, p. 21) that there were 72 mounted infantry and cavalry regiments in the military division, 61 of which were incorporated in his Cavalry Corps.
(7) Ibid; v. II, p. 21
(8) "...a certain famous old division and corps general quarreled with Wilson, because that able cavalryman refused to break up one of his brigades to supply the usual escorts to brigadiers." W. F. Scott: The Story of a Cavalry Regiment; p. XVII
(9) Quoted in B. I. Wiley: The Life of Billy Yank; p. 221
(10) When it was decided that Kilpatrick's cavalry division was to accompany Sherman on his march from Atlanta to Savannah, Wilson practically immobilized the rest of his command by giving 5,000 of his best horses to Kilpatrick; at Franklin three weeks after Sherman's departure, Wilson could only put 4,300 mounted men in the field.
(11) B & L; v. IV, pp. 257-8; for detailed descriptions of the battle, in some respects a preview of World War I, Cf. Ibid; v. IV, pp. 440-54; R. O'Connor: Thomas: Rock of Chickamauga; pp. 302-4; S. F. Horn: The Army of Tennessee; pp. 394-404.
(12) R. S. Henry: "First with the Most" Forrest; p. 397
(13) B & L; v. IV; p. 466
(14) "...Hood knew that the careful Thomas would never come out till he felt reasonably sure he could crush him. All that could be accomplished by...taking a stand.. (at Nashville} was to give Thomas the comfortable assurance that Hood would be conveniently at hand when he was ready to smash him." S. F. Horn: The Army of Tennessee; p. 406
(15) Wilson's and Thomas' request for horses led to angry protests from Halleck and Quartermaster-General Meigs, who were certain that these insatiable demands for more and more horses would bankrupt the government. Wilson finally appealed directly to Secretary Stanton, from whom he obtained authority to impress all the horses he could find south of the Ohio River. Within a week after receiving Stanton's go-ahead, Wilson's men had rounded up 7,000 horses; street-car, 1ivery-stable, private carriage-and saddle-horses and farm horses were seized indiscriminately. A circus that had the misfortune to be in Nashville lost everything except its ponies and Wilson personally seized the carriage-horses of Vice President-elect Andrew Johnson, As a result, Wilson was able to increase his mounted force to 12,000; he organized as infantry the 3,000 additional men he had for whom he had been unable to find mounts. cf. J. D. Cox: Military Reminiscences of the Civil War; v. II, p. 353; J. H. Wilson: Under the Old Flag; v. II, pp. 33-4
(16) Grant's harassment of Thomas during this period of less than two weeks, (Grant himself had been sitting before Richmond for almost six months, and was to be there for three months longer) and his insistence, from a thousand miles array, that Thomas attack before he was, or could be, ready, make a disgraceful episode. Grant revealed a side of his character that does him as little credit as the relieving of Warren at, Five Forks does Sheridan. Cf. R. O'Connor: Thomas: Rock of Chickamauga; pp. 304-15
(17) For the Battle of Nashville, Cf. S. F. Horn: The Army of Tennessee; pp. 404-18; R. O'Connor: Thomas: Rock of Chickamauga; pp. 315-28; J. Fiske: The Mississippi Valley in the Civil War; pp. 344-59; B & L; v. IV, pp. 454-64
(18) On the retreat, Hood's men fitted new words to the tune of The Yellow Rose of Texas:
"So now I'm marching southward;
S. F. Horn: The Army of Tennessee; p. 418)
Adams, F. Colburn: The Story of a Trooper; New York, 1865
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