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[52] cavalry, even when finally mounted and equipped, was so misused and mishandled by those in control of military operations, that it was almost always at a disadvantage.

One of the first efforts of the War Department looking to the organization of Federal cavalry, is seen in the following circular letter, addressed by the Secretary of War to the Governors of the States:

War Department, Washington, May 1, 1861.
To the Governors of the Several States, And All Whom it may Concern:
I have authorized Colonel Carl Schurz to raise and organize a volunteer regiment of cavalry. For the purpose of rendering it as efficient as possible, he is instructed to enlist principally such men as have served in the same arm before. The Government will provide the regiment with arms, but cannot provide the horses and equipments. For these necessaries we rely upon the patriotism of the States and the citizens, and for this purpose I take the liberty of requesting you to afford Colonel Schurz your aid in the execution of this plan.

(Signed)

Simon Cameron, Secretary of War.

 

Yet, in his report of preliminary operations in the first year of the war, General McClellan says:

Cavalry was absolutely refused, but the governors of the States complied with my request and organized a few companies, which were finally mustered into the United States service and proved very useful.

The armament of the volunteer cavalry regiments, organized with some show of interest after the battle of Bull Run, was along the same general lines as that of the regular regiments. Though suffering from a general deficiency in the number which could be purchased from private manufacturers — there being no reserve stock on hand — each trooper was armed with a saber and a revolver as soon as circumstances permitted. At least two squadrons (four troops) in each regiment

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