Cavalry

Musket tools. Top row, from left, O'58-calibre worm, sight wrench with screwdriver blades, 0'6g-calibre worm. Bottom row, tumbler punches, spring vice, nipple wrench with screwdriver blades. (Author's collection)

Cavalry was at first thought to be the best of the Southern troops. Men in it brought their own horses horses they had spent long years riding before the war. Added to their years of handling weapons while hunting, it was thought they would be magnificent cavalrymen.

A pro-Union observer in 1862 noted: 'So far as my observation extended, the Southern cavalry are superior to the loyal, for the kind of service expected of them. They arc not relied upon for heavy charges against large bodies of infantry

Musket tools. Top row, from left, O'58-calibre worm, sight wrench with screwdriver blades, 0'6g-calibre worm. Bottom row, tumbler punches, spring vice, nipple wrench with screwdriver blades. (Author's collection)

closely massed, as in some of the wars of the Old World during the close of the last century and the first part of this; but for scouting, foraging, and sudden dashes against outposts and unguarded companies of their enemies. In this service, fleet-ness, perfect docility, and endurance for a few hours a day, arc requisite in the make-up of the horses used. . . . And, then, with the exception of some of the Western troopers fof the U.S. Army], the Southerners are more perfect horsemen than our loyal cavalry. They have been on horseback, many of them, from youth, and are trained to the perfect control of themselves and their steeds in difficult circumstances. T11 addition to these causes of superiority, they have a basic advantage over the Federal troops in the present contest from twocauses: Itishard to overestimate the advantage they find in a knowledge of the ground, the roads, the ravines, the hiding-places, the marshes, the fords, the forests, etc. But even more important than this is the sympathy they have from the inhabitants, almost universally, who give them information by every method, of the approach, strength, and plans of their enemies.'

Cavalrymen were armed with sabres, again often crude copies of the U.S.-issue cavalry sabres, pistols and carbines. The pistols were generally Confederate-made copies of the Colt 0 36-calibre,

aiming, reaching for a cartridge, and biting off the paper

1st Florida CavalryHelmets For Level Hazmat

1 Private, 23rd Virginia Regiment, 1861

2 Cannoneer, Richmond Howitzers, 1861

3 Private, 1st Virginia Cavalry, 1861

First Florida Confederate Cavalry

CAVALRY

Ist Cavalry

First Lieutenant, ist Texas Regiment, 1862 Private, ist Florida Cavalry, 1862 Sergeant, 3rd South Carolina Regiment, 1862

1 Musician, 5th North Carolina Cavalry, 1862

2 Captain, Washington Artillery, 1862

3 Private, 8th Louisiana Regiment, 1862

Cavalry Musician

1 Musician, 5th North Carolina Cavalry, 1862

2 Captain, Washington Artillery, 1862

3 Private, 8th Louisiana Regiment, 1862

Military And WeaponsLouisiana Regiment UniformNorman Rockwell Men Trumpet1st Florida Cavalry

six-shot revolver. Most of them were made with brass frames, instead of iron, and other cheaper materials were used where possible. They were, none the less, well-made weapons. Many cavalrymen carried two revolvers, if possible. Colonel Mosby's cavalrymen carried two revolvers on their waist-belts and two more in saddle holsters, with no sabres at all.

Men bringing weapons from home, instead of carbines, brought shotguns, and an amazing number of these saw use throughout the war. These were good enough for man-to-man engagements, but in a general mix-up the scattering shot was apt to hit friend and foe alike. Therefore, single-shot carbines were preferred.

The typical Confederate carbine was actually a muzzle-loading short version of the rifled musket, either a short Richmond or a copy of an Enfield. Such a weapon - loaded by tearing open a paper cartridge, pouring powder and ball down its muzzle, pulling out the ramrod and ramming the shot down, half cocking, flipping off the old cap and putting on a new one, and, finally, cocking to fire - was obviously inferior to U.S.-issue breechloaders. Therefore the Richmond Armoury by-spring 1863 began making copies oftheo-54-calibre Sharps breech-loading carbine.

Initial testing by the 4th Virginia Cavalry was unfavourable. According to a lieutenant in the regiment: 'Forty new Sharps rifles with Richmond stamp on them were handed yesterday to my company. The men were ordered to test them. Nine were fired, and seven of the nine burst.' Lee, himself, got into the act when he wrote Gorgas that the Richmond Sharps were '. . . so defective as to be demoralizing to our men'.

Actually, the Chief of Ordnance of the Cavalry Division reported the carbine to be '. . . an excellent weapon, but not perfectly put together'. However, the bad reputation had preceded the carbines, and unless they could obtain captured U.S. carbines, cavalrymen relied on the single-shot muzzle-loader throughout the war.

It was, too, that weapon the cavalrymen put their chief trust in. Wrote McCarthy: 'The cavalrymen found sabers very tiresome when hung to the belt, and adopted the plan of fastening them to the saddle on the left side, with the hilt in front and in reach of the hand. Finally sabers got very

The Confederates imported some 37,000 o'54-calibre Austrian rifled muskets. The lockplate on this one is dated 1861. (Author's collection)

scarce even among the cavalrymen, who relied more and more on their short rifles.'

Colonel Fremantlewassurprised by Confederate cavalry being so unlike Regular cavalry: 'I remarked that it would be a good thing for them if on this occasion [at Gettysburg] they had cavalry to follow up the broken infantry in the event of their succeeding in beating them. But to my surprise they all spoke of their cavalry as not efficient for that purpose. In fact, Stuart's men, though excellent at making raids, capturing waggons and stores, and cutting off communications, seem to have no idea of charging infantry under any circumstances. Unlike the cavalry with Bragg's army, they wear swords, but seem to have little idea of using them they hanker after their carbines and revolvers. They constantly ride with their swords between their left leg and the saddle, which has a very funny appearance; but their horses are generally good, and they ride well. The infantry and artillery of this army don't seem to respect the cavalry very much, and often jeer at them.'

There was, indeed, little respect for the cavalry from the other branches. General D. H. Hill was even said to offer a reward to anyone who could produce a dead cavalryman, killed in action with his spurs on. At this same Gettysburg campaign, an artillery colonel complained: 'Our cavalry did not give us the timely information, or the time to get ready, which was their chief duty. If Stuart, instead of being miles away, had been in position, guarding our advance, giving our infantry warning, engaging the enemy and masking our troops

A Confederate battery at Gettysburg is made up of a Napoleon, foreground, and three-inch rifles, behind until they all got together, there is every reason to think that we might have crushed the enemy in detail.'

Fremantle, as the rest of the army, was less than impressed on the whole with the cavalry. '. . . These cavalry fights arc miserable affairs. Neither party has any idea of serious charging with the sabre. They approach one another with considerable boldness, until they get to within about forty yards, and then, at the very moment when a dash is necessary, and the sword alone should be used, they hesitate, halt, and commence a desultory fire with carbines and revolvers.

'An Englishman named Winthrop, a captain in the Confederate Army, and formerly an officer in H.M.'s 22nd regiment, although not in the cavalry himself, seized the colours of one of the fcavalryj regiments, and rode straight at the Yankees in the most gallant manner, shouting to the men to follow him. He continued to distinguish himself by leading charges until his horse was unfortunately killed. I heard his conduct on this occasion highly spoken of by all. Stuart's cavalry can hardly be 1 called cavalry in the European sense of the word; but, on the other hand, the country in which they are accustomed to operate is not adapted for cavalry.'

In fact, one real factor which discouraged cavalrymen from charging too gallantly was that if their horses were killed, they became infantrymen. An officer of Stuart's staff wrote: 'We now felt the bad effect of our system of requiring men to furnish their own horses. The most dashing trooper was the one whose horse was the most apt to get shot, and when this man was unable to remount himself he had to go to the infantry service and was lost to the cavalry. Such a penalty for gallantry was terribly demoralizing.'

Those remaining were in regiments composed of ten companies or squadrons of sixty to eighty privates, with a captain, a first lieutenant, two second lieutenants, five sergeants, four corporals, a farrier and a blacksmith. The regiment also included a colonel, a lieutenant-colonel, a major, an adj utan t, a sergeant-major and a q uartermaster-sergeant. Two to six regiments made up a brigade, and as many as six brigades made up a division.

Horse artillery, ammunition and supply wagons and even rolling forges made up the rest of the Cavalry Corps.

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