Yet they were good soldiers.
They simply “took a panic.”
Only one man was killed, and he from the fall of his horse.
panic was equally ridiculous, some of Ledbetter
's men on that occasion actually crowding one another off the bridge into the river in their fright.
Had the Federal
commander ran his cannon around to the hill on the upper side of the bridge, and which fully commanded it, he could have bagged the whole lot. The nearest approach to a panic I ever saw among the Union
troops was in October, 1863, when Wheeler
's cavalry got in behind the lines and burned a train of five hundred loaded wagons at Anderson
's, in Seynatchie valley.
Yet the panic was among the teamsters, and this was perhaps justifiable.
The squads of Federal cavalry from all directions started right out after the enemy instead of away from them.
The Federal cavalry made the best appearance, owing to their uniform, better equipment, and better fed horses; but at first, certainly the Southerners were altogether the best riders.
I have seen some of the Texas
cavalry perform feats almost incredible, such as riding at full gallop, leaning over toward the ground, picking up a stone and throwing it, and dropping hats on the ground and coming back at full gallop and picking them up without the least abatement in speed.
Inspired by such as this, and the consciousness of perfect horsemanship, the Southerners at first underrated the Northern
cavalry, but soon after learned to respect this branch of the service.
I remember reading in a Southern paper a ridiculous account of what was to be expected from “Yankee tailors and shoemakers on horse.”
The sequel was not quite so cheerful.
At the beginning the Southern
cavalry was no doubt superior; but toward the close it is a question if the superiority did not shift to the other side, mainly owing to the excellent equipments of this branch of the Union
The superiority of Federal cavalry equipment has been more fully mentioned in another place.
Gradually their skill in horsemanship equaled their equipment, and then the Union
cavalry became of extraordinary efficiency.
For about a year and a half, one end of the Nashville
road was in possession of one army, and the other end held by the other.
They “see-sawed” up and down its line, raided upon it, and fought over every inch of it. So far as each side could hold possession, they erected “stockades” at the important stations and bridges to protect them from raids.
These stockades were usually made of oak logs, set endwise in the ground, covered with like heavy timber, and with loop-holes for defense.