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[374] felled timber, and the roads barricaded, and, for the greater part of the time, impassable, because of the almost unfathomable mud. There was no proper field for cavalry operations, and if there had been, nothing could have been done; for, while it was the fashion to sneer at the cavalry, there was a remarkable fondness displayed at corps, division, and brigade headquarters of infantry for the presence of numerous and well-mounted orderlies; details for this ornamental and often menial duty, and those for the most grossly absurd picket and escort duty, absorbed pretty much the entire cavalry.

Returning from the Peninsula, the cavalry disembarked at Alexandria, in condition very unfitted for the hard service that was expected of it in the Maryland campaign of the fall of 1862. But little improvement was made, and, with some noted exceptions, nothing strikingly brilliant was accomplished by it until General. Hooker took command of the Army of the Potomac. Then it was at last thought that the cavalry, properly organized and taken care of, and employed in legitimate duty, might become an important element of that grand army. The rebel cavalry under Stuart, and his lieutenants, the younger Lees, had from the onset been very efficient. It was composed of the best blood of the South-officers and enlisted men had been accustomed all their lives to the use of fire-arms, and were well practiced in horsemanship. Its strength had not been frittered away in petty details, but preserved for the heavy blows which it, from time to time, inflicted on our lines of communication, and means of transportation.

General Hooker organized his cavalry into a corps, commanded by General Stoneman, the division commanders being Generals Pleasonton, Buford, Averill, and D. McM. Gregg. Soon after this organization was made, the cavalry, save a part detained to take part in the battle of Chancellorsville (where it did distinguished service), left the lines of the army on what is known as the Stoneman raid. Without considering at all the material results of that raid, which, if not so great as expected, were lessened by the adverse issue of the battle in which our army engaged at Chancellorsville, its moral result was to convince the cavalry engaged in it of its ability to do whatever might thereafter be required when employed in its proper sphere. General Pleasonton now succeeded to the command of the corps, and the work of preparation for future campaigns went forward with the greatest enthusiasm and zeal. To this time, for the reasons heretofore given, the prestige of success had steadily remained with the rebel cavalry in its greater and more important undertakings, but the time was now at hand for its transfer to our side, there to

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Chancellorsville (Virginia, United States) (1)

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Alfred Pleasonton (2)
Old Joe Hooker (2)
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1862 AD (1)
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