The horsemen

The american civil war was the last large conflict in world history in which soldiers on horseback played an important part. Cavalrymen scouted out the positions and movements of enemy armies. They made shock attacks — the famous cavalry charges that could break up infantry formations. If an enemy army retreated, cavalry troops were

_ expected to pursue and harass it. Additionally, horse soldiers were used as

Colt revolver

Colt revolver

18-gauge shotgun barrel

LeMat revolver

18-gauge shotgun barrel

LeMat revolver

CAVALRY REVOLVERS AND HOLSTER

The .44 caliber Colt revolver was one of the most common Civil War cavalry weapons. It was meant to be carried in a leather holster like the one shown here, on the left side of a trooper's belt. The LeMat revolver fired nine .40 caliber slugs. It also featured a short second barrel that fired an 18-gauge shotgun round. These pistols were made in France and imported by the Confederate government. Southern cavalry leader General J.E.B. Stuart carried a LeMat.

A MISSISSIPPI HORSE SOLDIER

Soldiers often tried to look serious or warlike in photographs. The Mississippi trooper in this image does that by showing the camera one of his cavalry weapons. He is holding a six-shot black powder revolver.

Leather and wire grip speedy messengers and as armed escorts for prisoners or traveling dignitaries. Within decades, the armies of the world gradually turned over these cavalry jobs to telephones, automobiles, tanks, and biplanes. But in the 1860s, the horse soldiers of the Union and Confederate armies saw themselves as mounted knights. Many Southern cavalrymen dressed in flashy uniforms, some wearing wide hats with large ostrich plumes. Both Northern and Southern horsemen wore tall leather boots and carried sabers as well as pistols and carbines.

SABERS OF THE NORTH AND SOUTH

The heavy, curved blade of a saber was the symbol of cavalry service around the world. The U.S. Army Model 1850 saber was carried by both Northern and Southern troopers during the Civil War. Because of its weight and length, professional soldiers called it the Old Wrist Breaker. Confederate factories produced thousands of copies of it for Southern horsemen to carrv into battle.

Old Wrist Breaker

Leather and wire grip

Confederate Cavalry Symbol

Steel trigger guard and loading lever, which pulls down to open the breech

Steel barrel

Steel trigger guard and loading lever, which pulls down to open the breech

Steel barrel

A SHARPS CARBINE

The .52 caliber Sharps carbine was a favorite of Union cavalrymen. It had a 22-inch barrel and was a single-shot weapon. It was not a muzzle loader. Its trigger guard was also a loading lever. When pulled down, the lever opened a slot near the hammer, where a paper or linen cartridge was inserted. This allowed soldiers to load and fire it about eight times a minute. After the war, the Sharps remained popular as a hunting weapon and was often called a buffalo gun.

Civil War Chain Shot

Stirrup cup

Chin strap positioned here when not needed

Cavalry gauntlet

Worsted wool pants

Cavalry saber and scabbard

Security chain

^^^r^mu: Weights, which flipped MZ—' against a horse's flanks ^ to keep it moving

SPURS

These Western-style spurs were worn by Confederate Captain E. M. Hudson.

Boot strap

CAVALRY BOOTS

Many horse soldiers wore high boots with leather flaps that covered everything on their legs up to the knees. When a cavalryman was on an assignment that took him through country that was covered with brush, his boots' leather covering protected his legs from scratches.

A WESTERN-STYLE HAT

This brushed felt hat was worn by Confederate 2nd Lieutenant John T. Purvis. Purvis served in the West, where the standard cavalry kepi was not popular. There a hat was expected to shelter a man from the sun.

A MOUNTED UNION CAVALRYMAN

A cavalryman carried with him everything that he needed to care for himself and his mount. This newspaper drawing of a mounted horse soldier was made three months after the Battle of Brandy Station, Virginia, in June, 1863. Until then, most soldiers believed Confederate troopers were superior to Northern cavalrymen. But the Union forces won at Brandy Station. This victory shook the confidence of Southern horse soldiers for the rest of the war.

A CAVALRYMAN'S SEAT The basic saddle used by both cavalries was designed before the war by George B. McClellan, a future Union general. The saddle shown here is made on that pattern.

Built-up sole

Carbine sling

Sword belt

Reins

Blanket roll

Stirrup cup

A UNION CAVALRY UNIFORM

Horse soldiers on both sides wore short jackets as part of their uniforms. Their cavalry branch was also represented by a yellow stripe down the outside seams of their pants. The Union uniform on this mannequin also features yellow piping on its tall collar. Troopers wore ankle-high boots as part of their formal uniform. Tall boots were reserved for field service.

Chin strap positioned here when not needed

Yellow collar and jacket piping, signifying cavalry

Stiff, upright collar with decorative gold braid

Cavalry gauntlet

Worsted wool pants

Ankle-high brogan

Bass saxhorn

Fork Union Military UniformsConfederate Horsemen

OUTSIDE THE BARRACKS

In this 1861 photograph, Union troops pose in front of and on top of their barracks. Signs on the walls indicate the men belong to their regiment's Company I. The soldiers in front are playing cards with the company drummer.

Musician's

Sivord SET FOR DINNER

Tin plate

Wood slats covered with cloth

Machine-made paper

Combination fork, spoon, knife

Hardtack

I Pen nibs

Patriotic envelope

Opening slides over barrel_

Army camp life

Musician's

Sivord SET FOR DINNER

Both Union and Confederate troops ate off tin plates and drank from tin cups. The plate shown here comes with a unique folding fork, spoon, knife combination, an item guaranteed to take up little room in a soldier's crowded knapsack.

Tin plate

WINTER'S COLD

A Confederate soldier painted this scene of his army in "winter quarters," the time when troops built crude huts and cabins to stave off the cold. The painting shows that some men even installed chimneys, which allowed them to build warmth-giving fires inside.

Civil war soldiers spent almost all their time outdoors, in every season of the year. When traveling on campaigns, most men slept in bivouac, meaning they simply lay down on the ground and covered themselves with blankets. Troops assigned duty in and around cities sometimes lived in barracks, simple wood buildings. But when assigned to large camps, the troops slept in tents that held from four to eight men. They ate meals prepared by army cooks who worked out of large tent kitchens with portable ovens. The soldiers spent their days practicing drills, doing chores, and repairing worn equipment. In their limited free time, they wrote letters home, read, gambled, had their likenesses made by photographers, or enjoyed concerts by their units' marching bands. Fighting was not common in winter, and the men often built simple cabins to keep themselves warm at that cold time of year. In the spring, these huts became firewood.

OUTSIDE THE BARRACKS

In this 1861 photograph, Union troops pose in front of and on top of their barracks. Signs on the walls indicate the men belong to their regiment's Company I. The soldiers in front are playing cards with the company drummer.

Bass saxhorn

THE DEVIL'S PLAYTHINGS

Card playing became a huge camp fad in both armies, even when the men had nothing to bet with except uniform buttons. But many soldiers would throw away their cards before going into battle. If they were killed in the fight, they did not want their relatives to know they had been pursuing the "sin" of gambling.

MAKING MUSIC

These are members of a Union army marching band. Each man holds a marching band instrument now extinct, the saxhorn. Because the bell of the horn lay back across the musician's shoulder, the tune could be heard by the troops behind. The cover sheet is for a lively military number that was made popular by the Confederate army's Washington Artillery Band of New Orleans.

Combination fork, spoon, knife

Hardtack

I Pen nibs

Postmark

A MULTIFACETED BAYONET

This is a steel parade model of the most common bayonet that Civil War soldiers carried. Most were made of iron. The sides were not sharp, only the point. The men often used these bayonets as tent pegs. They also jammed them into tabletops or stumps and then used them as candlesticks. In a crisis, these bayonets also became handy digging tools.

WRITING HOME

In these years before electronic communication, a letter was the quickest way for a soldier to get a message home. Telegraphic messages were expensive and, during the war, controlled by the military. These are some writing implements of a Union soldier, as well as a letter, some patriotic stationery, and a rolled-up lap desk. The desk is made from small slats of wood. When it was unrolled, the desk provided a smooth writing surface for a soldier seated on the ground.

Wood slats covered with cloth

Machine-made paper

Three-sided spike_

Patriotic envelope

SOMEBODY'S DARLING

During the Civil War, soldiers started a practice that continues to this day: carrying photographs of their faraway wives and children with them. This photograph of a Southern soldier's little girl was carried in a hinged leather case and held in place with a brass frame.

Opening slides over barrel_

MOVING GUNS ACROSS THE WATER

The hardest part of moving an army across a river was transporting its cannons. If there was time, the guns were disassembled and the pieces were floated across on small boats. When the army was in retreat or in pursuit of the enemy, fully assembled cannons were floated on pontoon boats or vessels made of waterproof blankets such as those shown here.

"NAPOLEON"'

The most common cannon on the Civil War battlefield was the Model 1857 gun-howitzer. Soldiers called this smoothbore bronze gun a Napoleon. It was named after Louis-Napoléon, the emperor of France at the time. That ruler had sponsored the development of this gun and many other weapons.

Cannon Prolonge

Prolonge, a thick rope

Bubble level

Field artillery

Cannons were the deadliest weapons in any Civil War fight. Most were made of bronze or steel and were loaded at the muzzle. Some were rifled. This means the insides of their barrels were cut with grooves that helped the cannonballs fly on long, straight paths. But the majority of the cannons were smoothbores. This means the insides of their barrels were smooth and had no grooves. This type of cannon could fire a wide variety of ammunition, but it was not as accurate as a rifled gun. To load one, a crew member wiped out the inside of the barrel with a wet sponge to put out any Telescope sparks from an earlier shot. Next a bag of gunpowder was stuffed into the barrel and pushed down to the bottom with a long pole called a rammer. Then a cannonball was placed in the barrel and pushed down. A crew member then jammed a long wire needle called a pick into a hole drilled into the barrel's base. The pick made a hole in the gunpowder bag. Next a fuse was placed into the hole at the barrel's base, and a long string was attached to a pin set into the top of the fuse. When the string was pulled, the pin popped out of the fuse, making a spark. The spark shot down into the barrel and hit the hole in the gunpowder bag made by the pick. At that point, the gunpowder exploded and sent the cannonball shooting out of the gun's mouth.

TRAVELING THROUGH MUD

There were few paved roads in Civil War-era America. In rainy or snowy weather, thousands of marching soldiers and horses turned routes into muddy bogs. Artillerymen often had to dismount and help their huge draft horses pull heavy guns through the muck to reach the scene of the fighting. The soldiers were not always successful, and the unpassable roads sometimes saved armies from attack by opposing forces.

GUN LEVEL

This brass pendulum device is called a hausse. It was set at the base of the cannon barrel and told gunners if their weapon was level. It was necessary to level a gun to aim it.

Sight blade

Elevation gauge

Pendulum weight

Bubble level

GUN SIGHT

To aim a gun, a crewman set a portable sight on a weapon's base and lined it up with a simple blade sight that screwed into a spot on top of the muzzle. Some skilled cannoneers fashioned sights out of straight notched twigs.

Prolonge, a thick rope

Bormann Fuse

Fuse hole

CASE SHOT

The load shown here is a hollow iron shot filled with slugs and gunpowder. It is called case shot. A time fuse was screwed into the round opening in the ball. Case shot exploded in midair over the heads of attacking troops, jagged fragments of the shell and its load of slugs rained down, killing or injuring the enemy.

CANISTER ROUND

Smoothbore cannons could be used like large shotguns. As attacking troops i raced toward an army's guns, artillerymen fired canister rounds at them. These were thin tin cans filled with heavy lead slugs and sawdust. They came apart at the cannon's \ Lead slugs mouth and sprayed deadly lead balls into enemy formations.

Quarter-second marks

EXPLOSION TIMER

A simple pewter cap was screwed into case shot rounds. This one has three-, six-, and nine-second times stamped onto its face. It was invented by a Belgian army officer named Bormann and was called a Bormann fuse. Gunners punched a hole in the fuse face on the spot that indicated the number of seconds thev wanted the fuse to burn.

Fuse hole

GUNNER'S THUMB STALL

Before a cannon was reloaded, it was sponged out to kill any sparks inside. A gun crew member slipped this leather protective cover over his thumb and held it on top of the roasting-hot fuse hole at the cannon's base while the sponging continued. His thumb cut off the air supply to any burning debris in the gun.

Cast-bronze tube

Strapping

Solid iron ball

Leather vent cover to keep rainwater out of the tube

Strapping

SOLID SHOT AND SABOT

Solid iron cannonballs and hollow iron balls were strapped to a round piece of wood called a sabot. Sabot is the French word for "shoe." The wood piece kept the balls from rolling around in the ammunition chest and allowed them to sit well on top of a gunpowder bag inside a cannon barrel. The sabot and straps disintegrated when the cannon fired.

Detachable blade sight

Cascabel, used to maneuver the gun

Leather vent cover to keep rainwater out of the tube

Detachable blade sight

Cascabel, used to maneuver the gun

Sword Maneuver Cards
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Responses

  • chris
    How to fix bent soles civil war brogans?
    6 years ago
  • WENDY
    How did they put grooves in cannon barrels in 1860's?
    4 years ago

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