This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 common that it found expression in the old song, ‘If you want to have a good time join the cavalry.’ But I know from experience that this idea is entirely without foundation in fact. I express my true sentiments, when I tell you that the hardships of the cavalry were as great, yes, at times, even greater than those of the other arms of the service. The cavalrymen on those long forced marches which they so frequently took as often longed for a walk as did the marching foot soldier long for a ride. In addition to his own physical fatigue he suffered the mental pain of knowing that his noble steed on which he so much relied was suffering from the pangs of hunger and thirst and fatigue. And when the cavalryman halts for a few hours of needed rest, he cannot, like his brother of the infantry, at once throw his blanket around, fall upon the ground and embrace that sweet and restful sleep, whose wooings have well nigh overcome him, but he must first, and frequently at great trouble, lookout for the comfort of his horse. The cavalryman but seldom enjoyed the comparative ease and comfort of winter quarters. Summer and spring, winter and autumn were all the same to him. He must be upon that all important outpost, watching or fighting the enemy, whether the summer's sun be shining or the winter's blast be blowing. When you see that solitary cavalryman riding from the front to the rear, he is not always in search of butter-milk, nor is he turning his back upon the foe, because he fears to face him or to fight: him, but oftener than otherwise he is bearing some message to the rear which is to save the army from surprise or the loved cause from disaster. One of the principal duties of the cavalry is to watch and inform and, if needs be, to hold in check the advancing enemy until preparations are made to receive him. That the cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia was fully up to its duty in this respect is evidenced by the fact that there is not one single instance during the whole war where any portion of the army to which it belonged was surprised because of the failure of its cavalry to perform its duty either as watchers or as fighters. It is true that the cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia did not so often as did its infantry meet the enemy in the shock of great battles. Its duties were of a different kind, but of such a kind and so gallantly and nobly done that the performance of them contributed much to ensuring victory to our army in some of those great
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.