1862-63, and Stoneman
had commanded the greater part of it as a unit in the field during his celebrated but entirely fruitless raid in the Chancellorsville campaign
; but there had been no fighting-simply long marches in rain and mud, and much loss of sleep.
, naturally of an anxious habit of mind, was unfitted by temperament, as well as by bodily suffering, for independent operations remote from the main army.
After the return from the raid he was unjustly held to blame for a share in the Chancellorsville
failure, and General Pleasonton
succeeded to the command of the cavalry corps.
Since the opening of the war there had been more or less fighting, scouting and picketing, by our cavalry, in which the men had borne themselves well, although, acting as they did for the most part in small detachments, no material results were impressed on the public mind; but the good effects of the experience already had by the regiments in their isolated service were at once apparent when the corps was called together.
, and then General Pleasonton
, on assuming command of the whole, found an efficient body of troops ready to hand, and not a mass of crude material to be moulded into form before it should be fit for the field.
, nor Sheridan
, is entitled to a very large share of credit for the excellent material which the cavalry corps afforded and the excellent work it was able to do. No one man can fairly lay claim to a chief share in its development; it was self-developed, in a difficult country of woods, marshes and stone walls, where each regiment's daily experience was a daily lesson learned and improved, and to name all who contributed to the efficiency of the corps would be to name not only all those from time to time in high command, but also many brave and intelligent regimental field officers, company commanders and enlisted men. “Sheridan
's cavalry,” which broke on the world with the results of the final campaign against Lee
, was just as good cavalry before Sheridan
became connected with it. To give no other example, when the service rendered by General Buford
on the first day of Gettysburg
comes to be understood and appreciated, it will be seen that he and his command had then but little to learn of skill, courage and adaptability; and all the earlier operations of the Gettysburg campaign
, beginning, as I have said, with the battle of Beverly Ford
, and continuing along the east flank of the Blue Ridge
to the Potomac
, were quite as creditable to the spirit and capacity of our cavalry as the world-famous campaign from Petersburg
through Dinwiddie Court-House, Five Forks
and Sailors' Creek
The success of Sheridan
's cavalry in the latter campaign