non-commissioned staff, which included two regimental surgeons
, an adjutant, quartermaster
, commissary, and their subordinates.
Owing, however, to losses by reason of casualities in action, sickness, and detached service, and through the lack of an efficient system of recruiting, whereby losses could be promptly and automatically made good with trained men, the cavalry strength, in common with that of other arms, always showed an absurd and oftentimes alarming discrepancy between the troopers actually in ranks and the theoretical organization provided by the existing law. Again, the losses in horse-flesh were so tremendous in the first years of the war, and the channels for replacing those losses were so inadequate and unsystematized, that regiments oftentimes represented a mixed force of mounted and unmounted men. Although the value of the dismounted action of cavalry was one of the greatest developments of the war, its most valuable asset, mobility, was wholly lacking when its horses were dead or disabled.
Cavalry is a most difficult force to organize, arm, equip, and instruct at the outbreak of war. Not only must men be found who have some knowledge of the use and handling of horses, but the horses themselves must be selected, inspected, purchased, and assembled.
Then, after all the delays usually attending the organizing, arming, and equipping of a mounted force, many months of patient training, dismounted and mounted, are necessary before cavalry is qualified to take the field as an efficient arm. It is an invariable rule in militant Europe
to keep cavalry at all times at war strength, for it is the first force needed to invade or to repel invasion, and, except perhaps the light artillery, the slowest to “lick into shape” after war has begun.
In the regular cavalry service, it was a common statement that a cavalryman was of little real value until he had had two years of service.
It is, therefore, small wonder that during the first two years of the great struggle, the Federal
cavalry made only a