The Belle Plain cavalry: a closer view.
This photograph brings the eye a little nearer to the cavalry at Belle Plain landing than the picture preceding.
One can see the horses grazing by the side of the beautiful river.
A group of cavalrymen have ridden their mounts into the water.
The test of the efficient trooper was his skill in caring for his horse.
Under ordinary circumstances, in a quiet Camp like the above, it might be safe to turn horses out to graze and let them drink their fill at the river.
But when on the march a staggering animal with parched throat and fast-glazing eyes whinnied eagerly at the smell of water, it was the trooper who had to judge its proper allowance.
One swallow too many for a heated horse on a long march, multiplied by the number of troopers still ignorant of horsemanship, meant millions of dollars loss to the Union Government in the early stages of the war. Comparatively few horses were destroyed by wounds on the battlefield as compared with those lost through the ignorance of the troopers as to the proper methods of resting a horse, and as to the science of how, when, and what to feed him, and when to allow him to drink his fill.
The Southern horsemen, as a rule more experienced, needed no such training, and their superior knowledge enabled the Confederate cavalry, with little “organization” in the strict sense of the word, to prove nevertheless a mighty weapon for their cause. |