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[99] in the cavalry. I believe the first regularly organized battalion of this character in the Army of Northern Virginia was the one attached to the Virginia Brigade commanded by General William Mahone, and it is of service in this command that this paper will treat.

Zzzbattalion of selected men.

Whilst in winter quarters at Madison Run Station, on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, near Gordonsville, Va., in the winter of 1864, General Mahone conceived the idea of forming a battalion of selected men from the brigade, who should be required to do all advanced duty during the campaign, and, after consultation with a few of the line officers in whom he had confidence, he issued an order to his regimental commander to organize, in each of their respective regiments, a company consisting of two commissioned officers, two sergeants, two corporals, thirty privates and two men for ambulance corps duty. The officers and men were to be detailed from their regular companies for this permanent organization, and to be selected with a view of their special fitness for such service, the qualifications being that the men should be veterans of established reputation for faithful and reliable dependence while in action; capable of enduring the extra hardships expected to be entailed, and also a proper use of the rifle; the officers to be of experience and ability, and having the implicit confidence of their men.

The battalion was thus formed by special companies of equal numbers from the Sixth, Twelfth, Sixteenth, Forty-first and Sixtyfirst Virginia Regiments, composing the brigade. It was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel E. M. Field, of the Twelfth Regiment, and First Lieutenant John E. Laughton, Jr., of the same regiment, was assigned as its adjutant in addition to his company duties.

The organization thus completed consisted of five companies, with eleven officers and 180 enlisted men, and served as a separate corps during the remainder of the war, being subject to the same regulations as the regiments of the brigade, except that they drew their rations and commutation from their original companies.

The battalion was armed with long-range, small-bore Enfield rifles, and used a long English-made cartridge. We never used any ammunition made by the Confederate Government. There were, besides, two globe-sighted rifles for use on special occasions, which were valuable additions to our armament. I have frequently fired these with entirely satisfactory results.

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Gordonsville (Virginia, United States) (1)

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William Mahone (2)
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1864 AD (1)
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