war. The Western cavalry used the “‘41 Tactics” until late in the year 1864, and thereafter a system of drill formulated by General Philip St. George Cooke
, which was published in 1862 by the War Department and prescribed a single-rank formation for the cavalry.
After all the months of drill, how different were those days of actual service in the field — weary marches in mud, rain, and even snow; short rations for men and for horses when the trains were delayed or when there were no trains; bivouacs on the soggy ground with saddles for pillows; gruesome night rides when troopers threw reins on the necks of horses and slept in their saddles; nerve-racking picket duty in contact with the foe's lines, where the whinny of a horse meant the wicked “ping” of a hostile bullet.
Like all soldiers new to the rigors of actual service in war, the Union
volunteer cavalry, in those early days, loaded themselves and their horses with an amount of superfluous baggage which provoked sarcasm from the seasoned soldier and which later experience taught them wholly to discard.
Some articles were absolutely necessary; much was entirely useless and oftentimes unauthorized.
In addition to his arms, which weighed not a little, the volunteer cavalryman carried a huge box of cartridges and another of percussion caps
; from his shoulder depended a haversack filled with rations, and to which was often attached not only a tin cup but a coffee-pot
A canteen of water, a nose-bag of corn, a shelter tent, a lariat and picket pin, extra horseshoes and nails, a curry-comb and brush, a set of gun-tools and cleaning materials, and saddle-bags filled with extra clothing brought the weight of the trooper and his kit to a figure which was burdensome to an animal in even the best of condition.
When to these articles of equipment were added an overcoat, extra blankets, additional boots, and the odds and ends of luxuries, which the recruit is wont to stow away surreptitiously, the result was a lame and broken-down horse, hundreds of troopers