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[322]

The mounting and remounting of the Federal cavalry

Charles D. Rhodes, Captain, General Staff, United States Army
As has been indicated in a preceding chapter, the result of organizing a great mass of untrained cavalry and putting it into the field without adequate instruction, resulted in a tremendous loss in horse-flesh to the Federal armies. During the first two years of the war, two hundred and eighty-four thousand horses were furnished the cavalry, when the maximum number of cavalrymen in the field at any one time did not exceed sixty thousand men. In February, 1865, General Halleck stated that the expenditure of cavalry horses during the preceding year had been somewhat less than one hundred and eighty thousand, while the expense of the cavalry in horses, pay, forage, rations, clothing, ordnance, equipments, and transportation, was quoted by him as having reached the enormous sum of one hundred and twenty-five million dollars for the single year alone.

The great number of casualties among the horses was due to many causes, the least of which, it may be said, was through death in battle. Ignorance of inspecting and purchasing officers, poor horsemanship by untrained men, control of tactical operations of cavalry by officers ignorant of its limit of endurance, the hardships inseparable from the great raids of the war, and last but not least, the oftentimes gross inefficiency and ignorance on the part of responsible officers as to the care of horses in sickness and in health-all cooperated toward immense financial loss and temporary military inefficiency.

As late as April, 1864, Sheridan reported the horses of

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Philip Henry Sheridan (1)
Charles D. Rhodes (1)
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