Why Federal cavalry history began late: cavalry with infantry on provost-guard duty.
These four Federal troopers holding their horses, side by side with an equal number of infantry, are typical of the small detachments that split up the cavalry into units of little value during the first two years of the war. The cavalry also furnished guides, orderlies, and grooms for staff officers.
The authorities divided it up so minutely among corps, division, and brigade commanders as completely to subvert its true value.
It was assigned to accompany the slow-moving wagon-trains, which could have been equally well guarded by an infantry detail, and was practically never used as a coherent whole.
“Detachments from its strength were constantly increased, and it was hampered by instructions which crippled it for all useful purposes.”
This photograph was taken in February, 1865, after the cavalry had proved itself.
The companies attached at that time to the provost-guard were Company K of the First Indiana Cavalry, Companies C and D of the First Massachusetts Cavalry, and the Third Pennsylvania Cavalry.
The officer is inspecting the arms of the Zouaves at the right, and the troopers with their white gauntlets are much more spick and span than if they were assigned to the long rides and open air life of active campaigning. |