The pre-war Old Army was always a pitifully small organization and with a strength of about 16,000 men in 1860, it was hardly larger than it had been thirty years before. Only a handful of infantry, cavalry, and artillery units made up its ranks, but one of the newer regiments was the 1st Dragoons, created in 1834 as the Regiment of Mounted Dragoons -one of its officers was the young Jefferson Davis, later President of the Confederated States. The dragoons had been popular in European armies in the 18th century, when they were employed as troops whose usual role was to ride into battle but then to fight dismounted.
As the 1st Dragoons, the regiment served on until the outbreak of war, being employed as a normal cavalry regiment and, based in California, it saw constant action against Indians in the Far West. This captain wears the typical dragoon officer's uniform of dark blue blouse, sky blue trousers, and the so-called "Jeff Davis" or Hardee hat. A heavy .44 caliber Colt pistol and a heavy dragoon saber complete his arms. The old regiment soon disappeared as newer cavalry tactics of fighting dismounted essentially pre-empted the dragoon's role.
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