may be imagined. I was wondering what in the mischief I should say to the general when we halted and none of the company there but me. He was the first real live general I had seen who was going out to fight. Talk about the Flying Dutchman! Blankets slipped from under saddles and hung from one corner; saddles slipped back until they were on the rumps of horses; others turned and were on the under side of the animals; horses running and kicking; tin pans, mess-kettles, patent sheet-iron stoves the boys had seen advertised in the illustrated papers and sold by the sutlers of Alexandria — about as useful as a piano or folding bed — flying through the air; and all I could do was to give a hasty glance to the rear and sing out at the top of my voice, “C-l-o-s-e u-p!” But they couldn't “close.” Poor boys! Their eyes stuck out like those of maniacs. We went only a few miles, but the boys didn't all get up till noon.It was not until May, 1861, that the War Department at Washington reluctantly authorized the organization of a regiment of volunteer cavalry from New York with the proviso that the men furnish the horses, an allowance being made for use and maintenance. This system applied in the South, but was soon abandoned in the North. The door once open, other regiments were speedily formed, containing at least the crude elements of efficient cavalry. As a rule, the men regarded the horses with mingled curiosity and respect, and passed through a purgatory of training--“breaking in,” it was some-times called — before they had acquired the requisite confidence in themselves, plus horses and arms. All too soon they were “pitchforked” into the field, often to fall victims to some roving body of Confederates who were eager to appropriate the superior arms and equipment of the Federals. Within a year in the rough school of war, these same helpless recruits became fairly efficient cavalry, at home in the saddle, able to deliver telling blows with the saber, and to ride boot-to-boot in battle charges. During the first two years of the war the Confederate cavalry exercised a tremendous moral effect. Beginning with the cry of “The Black Horse ”
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
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.