Skip to comments.Vanity: Need help from a Civil War fans
Posted on 09/29/2012 4:43:22 PM PDT by Kolath
I have a few questions about Civil War Cavalry
1. What makes a cavalry sword different from a regular sword?
2. How big was a typical cavalry regiment?
3. What was the preferred horse rifle?
4. Did any units use lances?
5. What were the differences between light and heavy cavalry?
6. Most notable cavalry officers (North and South)?
I am definitely wanting to hear the answers to these questions.
I wonder if there are any CW re-enactors on FR?
Sorry, I am a World War I fan, the massacres were fabulous.
Are you referring to the War of Northern Aggression?
North - Joseph Hooker
South - J.E.B. Stuart
One of my great-grandfathers was in a cavalry unit of the Confederate 36th Virginia Inf. All I know from info from the Nat’l Archives is that he was captured by Union troops with a saber and a double barrel shotgun.
As for #3, I don’t think the horses were smart enough, plus there is the lack of thumbs.
I’m not an authority on Civil War Cavalry, but they used sabers or sabres. They had a curved blade so you could deliver a good whack to the head of anybody you were riding by. You had a height advantage by sitting on a horse. There are some real Civil War experts here on Free Republic so be patient and keep posting.
1. Most swords/sabers in both infantry (officers) and cavalry were the same general design (slightly curved) although made by different manufacturers.
2. Cavalry preferred a carbine, a shorter-barreled rolling-breach weapon. It had shorter range, faster reload, a rifled barrel, and was lighter than the Springfield musket. But it was expensive and so were its cartridges. 3. A cavalry regiment was the same as an infantry regiment, 1200 men, consisting of two brigades (600 men) of six companies each, with a brigade under the command of a colonel and a regiment under command of a brigadier general.
4. The U.S. did not have “heavy” cavalry. This was European and featured larger horses and men wearing metal helmets and metal breastplates. All American cavalry was “light.”
5. No American units of which I am aware ever used lances.
6. Wade Hampton and JEB Stuart for the South, Alfred Pleasanton and John Buford for the North.
South - John Wayne
. What makes a cavalry sword different from a regular sword? More curve to the blade.
2. How big was a typical cavalry regiment? varied widely due to manpower availability. Figure 750, though, as an average.
3. What was the preferred horse rifle? Carbine.
4. Did any units use lances? No.
5. What were the differences between light and heavy cavalry? Light cavalry were self-sufficient (i.e., they carried all their weaponry on their horses and on their persons; Heavy cavalry contained units of horse-drawn weapnry such as cannon, gatling guns, etc.
6. Most notable cavalry officers (North and South)? Jeb Stuart and Nathan Bedford Forrest for the Confederacy; Phil Sheridan and John Buford for the Yankees (custer ws part of Sheridan’s command, but he was over-rated).
Yeah, you’re probably right. I’m sure troopers had normal Wal-Mart sabers :)
“North - John Wayne
South - John Wayne”
Were there lances with the Color Guard or standard bearers? Or was it just a stick with the company banner on it?
The favorite weapon of the Reb Cavalrymen was the double barrel shotgun, when he could get one.
"stick" = Guidon
“Were there lances with the Color Guard or standard bearers? Or was it just a stick with the company banner on it?”
Guidon staffs and such were not lances, though in a pinch one could be used as a weapon, just as a tree branch can be used as a weapon. But the US cavalry did not employ lances.
When the Confederacy was threatened with invasion by Federal forces in 1861 so many Volunteers flocked to her standard that many were turned away for lack of arms. The different state governments scoured the countryside in search of sporting rifles, old flintlock pistols and shotguns; any weapon that could aid in arming their Volunteers.
In a short and to the point note dated May 18th, 1861 Confederate Secretary of War wrote to Mississippi Governor Pettus, Can you give me two regiments for twelve months, armed with heavy double barrel shotguns?
A few days later Virginia Quartermaster M. O. Harmon wrote to Virginia Governor Letcher The Greenbrier Cavalry, a fine body of men arrived today, and I send W. H. Peyton, esq., down to get army pistols, double barrel shotguns, or single barrel shotguns
Virginia Colonel (at this time) Jubal A. Early writes to Virginias Adjutant General, There are now eight companies of cavalry here, well mounted and in fine condition, but for the arms necessary for them, which are mostly wanting. Two companies are armed with double barreled shotguns, and two more will soon have them. In a following letter Colonel Early writes I have directed them to get all the double barrel shotguns they could.
In July of 1861 Kentuckian Wm. T. Withers wrote to the Confederate Secretary of War, Many Companies of cavalry have tendered their services, who propose to arm themselves with shotguns and revolvers.
On July 2, 1861, the Governor of Tennessee tendered the provisional Army of Tennessee to the Confederate President. Offering twenty-two regiments of infantry, two regiments of cavalry . part of the cavalry armed with revolvers and sabers, the balance with double barrel shotguns.
In January of 1862, Col. W. H. Jenifer, commanding five hundred men of the 8th Virginia Cavalry reported that his men were armed with mostly old shotguns, bowie knives, and a few long range rifles.
The Confederate Cavalrys extensive use of shotguns is frequently attributed to the Confederacys severe shortage of firearms early in the war. However, this is not the only reason. As early as August of 1861 the shotguns long term use was foreseen; Captain of Ordnance Wm. R. Hunt wrote to the Secretary of War from Memphis, recommending that contracts be let for 10,000 sword bayonets for double barreled shotguns. Nearly a year later Hunt wrote to Secretary of War J. P. Benjamin, Colonel Forrest, the most efficient cavalry officer in this department, informs me that the double barrel shotgun is the best gun with which the cavalry can be armed. A more qualified endorsement of the shotguns use could not be desired; it was the most efficient short range arm used during the war. As late as July 24, 1863, South Carolina Governor Milledge Bonham opines to Confederate Secretary of War Seddon that South Carolina had turned over all of her shotguns to the Confederacy.
The Confederate Cavalry continued to employ the shotgun for the remainder of the war though with less frequency. The attrition of close-in combat took its toll; cavalrymen began to skirmish at longer ranges and eventually to fight primarily as mounted infantry.
Where are all those shotguns? I suspect that there arent many surviving that had been converted for military use because a sawed off shotgun was of little value after the War. One could hunt game with a rifle or musket, or even a full length shotgun but, a sawed off shotgun is only good for one thing, killing men.
The only reason this one survives is because it was picked up as a souvenir of the skirmish between Kilpatricks Cavalrymen and Confederate Cavalry under Grumble Jones and Beverly Robertson in Monterey pass after the battle of Gettysburg.
The shotgun in its original configuration is of British manufacture. It has been shortened to a carbine length. A sling swivel similar to the one found on Richmond two band Carbines screws into the butt stock; another is attached to the upper ramrod channel. The sling is original to the shotgun. Half of a period silver quarter serves as a front sight blade. Its original wooden ramrod has a ball puller permanently affixed to one end and a forged iron ferule reinforcing the opposite, swelled end.
I think he means The War for Southern Independence.
4. I’m sure I’ve seen mentioned that one Northern unit used them for a short time (perhaps never in actual battle). But lances were more a curiousity than a weapon of war in the US civil war.
(I’m not going through a few thousand pages for documentation unless it’s important)
This may be off topic, but Civil War “fans”? I think you mean Civil War buffs. No sane person could be a war “fan”, e3ven if the war is justified.
I am a fan of the republic, states rights and the constitution. I am a “fan” of Civil War if it can return us to that state of affairs.
I don’t have any answers for you, but I have an observation of my own regarding Civil War Cavalry.
In the little town of Dillsburg, PA there is a historical marker to the July 1863 “visit” of J.E.B. Stuart and 6000 Confederate Cavalry.
Some of my daily hikes around town take me past that marker and I still cannot help shaking my head at the mental image of the amount of “fertilizer” that many horses would have left in the streets when they left to meet up with Lee in Gettysburg.
Though the light cavalry sword of 1960 was supposed to supplant the European make heavy cavalry sword of 1840, the earlier sword was much preferred through the war and for some time after.
The difference between light and heavy cavalry was mostly in application. Light cavalry was for reconnaissance, screening maneuvers, raids, pursuits and that sort of thing. Heavy cavalry was used for front breakthroughs and flank attacks to roll up an enemy front.
In many ways they functioned like chess pieces, and Napoleon and his generals brilliantly used them as such.
In this sense, light cavalry were used like bishops and heavy cavalry like knights. (Engineers were the rooks, still their symbol, Infantry was the Queen (”of battle”) and Artillery the King (”of battle”).
When looking at the US Civil War, it is important to examine the Napoleonic Wars as well as the Mexican American War. All the US and Confederate officers had studied the Napoleonic Wars, and many of them had participated in the Mexican American War.
Ironically, at about the same time as the US Civil War, and lasting much longer, was the enormous Taiping Rebellion in China, which is perhaps the second bloodiest war in human history, and dwarfed the US Civil War in many ways.
Rommel,Patton and Norman schwarzkopf studied Jeb Stuart
the south’s greatest cav officer
North had a few but the most famous would prob be Custer
(NOT EVEN IN THE SAME BALL PARK AS STUART!)
I would say Nat Forrest was a close second to JEB Stuart.
"Forrest ... used his horsemen as a modern general would use motorized infantry. He liked horses because he liked fast movement, and his mounted men could get from here to there much faster than any infantry could; but when they reached the field they usually tied their horses to trees and fought on foot, and they were as good as the very best infantry. Not for nothing did Forrest say the essence of strategy was 'to git thar fust with the most men'."
Philip Sheridan and his mount, Rienzi. "Come on back, boys!Give 'em hell, God damn 'em! We'll make coffee out of Cedar Creek tonight!"
HEY!!! Yes, there were Lanacers in the Civil War. “Rush’s Lancers” aka the 6th Pennsylvania cavalry did carry the long steel tipped spears.
Ca.., ca.., can’t we all get along?
There are but I can’t recall names at present. I believe one goes by a variation of the moniker “Stonewall Jackson” (could be mistaken on that).
Mexican cavalry used lances effectively against American troops at the Battle of San Pascual in 1847, but I am unaware that Americans ever used these weapons.
There are plenty of civil war fans, not mere buffs. You'll find them in the Civil War threads on this board, where the smoke never clears.
South--Errol Flynn (as Jeb Stuart in Santa Fe Trail)
***5. No American units of which I am aware ever used lances.***
I have read somewhere that lances were used by one unit. They were practically laughed off the field of combat.
According to PBS the Civil War was sponsored by Exxxonn.
Did John Wayne ever play a Confederate?
James Ewell Brown
Soldiers: The old campaign is ended, and your Commanding General deems this an appropriate occasion to speak of the steadiness, self-denial and patriotism with which you have borne the hardships of the past year. The marches and labors you have performed during that period will find no parallel in the history of this war.
On the 24th day of December, there were three thousand of you, unorganized and undisciplined, at Jackson, Tennessee, only four hundred of whom were armed. You were surrounded by fifteen thousand of the enemy, who were congratulating themselves on your certain capture. You started out with your artillery, wagon trains, and a large number of cattle, which you succeeded in bringing through, since which time you have fought and won the following battles -- battles which will enshrine your names in the hearts of your countrymen, and live in history, an imperishable monument to your prowess:
Jack's Creek, Estinaula, Summerville, Okalona, Union City, Paducah, Fort Pillow, Bolivar, Tishomingo Creek, Harrisburg, Hurricane Creek, Memphis, Athens, Sulphur Creek, Pulaski, Carter's Creek, Columbia, and Jacksonville are the fields on which you won fadeless immortality.
For twenty-six days from the time you left Florence, on the twenty-first of November, to the twenty-sixth of December, you were constantly engaged with the enemy, and endured the hunger, cold and labor incident to that arduous campaign without a murmur.
To sum up, in brief, your triumphs during the past year, you have fought fifty battles, killed and captured sixteen thousand of the enemy, captured two thousand horses and mules, sixty-seven pieces of artillery, four gunboats, fourteen transports, twenty barges, three hundred wagons, fifty ambulances, ten thousand stand of small arms, forty blockhouses, destroyed thirty-six railroad bridges, two hundred miles of railroad, six engines, one hundred cars, and fifteen millions dollars worth of property.
In the accomplishment of this great work, you were occasionally sustained by other troops, who joined you in the fight, but your regular number never exceeded five thousand, two thousand of whom have been killed or wounded, while in prisoners you have lost about two hundred.
Source: The Galveston Daily News, March 15, 1865
Yes, in "The Searchers." He was a Confederate officer coming home after the war. My favorite John Wayne movie.
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