previous next

[26] surrounded by office-seekers — especially those claiming high military command as a reward for political services. It is true that the Federal Government possessed a small, well-trained army, with a large proportion of the officers and nearly all of the enlisted men loyal to their colors, which, together with a few thousand organized militia, would have formed a valuable nucleus for war had it been properly utilized at the start. From its ranks some were selected who achieved distinction as leaders when not hampered by association with incompetent “generals.” For at least one year, the inexhaustible resources of the North were wasted for want of competent military direction and training.

If these field conditions marked the genesis of the Civil War in all arms of service, they were especially true of the mounted troops. In 1860, the “athletic wave” had not made its appearance in the United States, and out-of-door amusements had not become popular above the Mason and Dixon line. In the more thickly settled North, the young men of cities and towns took rather to commercial and indoor pursuits; in the South, the sports of a country life appealed to young and middle-aged alike, and the rifle and the saddle furnished particular attractions to a large majority. So it happened that the Confederates (their President an erstwhile dragoon) had only to mobilize the cavalry companies of the militia scattered through the seceding States, and muster, arm, and equip the thousands of young horsemen, each bringing his own horse and eager to serve the Confederacy.

The trials of many of the newly recruited organizations, until the beginning of the third year of the war, are illustrated in the following extract from a typical regimental history:1 Captain Vanderbilt describes in graphic terms his first experience in escort duty (December 10, 1862):

Please remember that my company had been mustered into the service only about six weeks before, and had received horses less than a

1 “History of the Tenth New York cavalry.” (Preston, N. Y.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Vanderbilt (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
December 10th, 1862 AD (1)
1860 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: