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[359]

The Confederate cavalry.


Its wants, trials, and heroism.

An Address by Hon. John Lamb, late Captain of cavalry, C. S. Army.


[This graphic presentation has several times been delivered before appreciative audiences of veterans, orally, and from the fullness of his heart, by our faithful representative in Congress of the first Virginia District. It is now printed, from the first ‘committal to paper in full,’ made at the request of the Editor.]

In order to form a proper estimate of the services rendered by the Confederate cavalry during the war between the States, we must consider the difficulties under which they labored. The Confederate government was unable to supply horses for all the men who volunteered in this service. The government entered into a contract with the soldier to take his horse at a fair valuation, and furnish food and keep him shod and pay a per diem of forty cents for his use. If the horse was killed, the owner received the muster valuation, but should the horse be captured or worn out in the service, the loss fell on the owner, and he was compelled to furnish another, or be transferred to some other arm of the service. The adoption of such a policy was a misfortune, and resulted in weakening this important branch of the service. The losses and hardships thus imposed on these patriotic men was keenly felt by them and their company officers. At first, all acquiesced cheerfully. Virginia was full of fine horses, and her gallant sons were ready to give up every species of property in aid of the government. But as the war progressed, at some periods half of the command were away at one time on horse details, as they were called; and many noble fellows were reported ‘absent without leave’ because they were unable to purchase a horse and return to their commands within the time prescribed. To punish them would have been an act of injustice, so this led to relaxation of discipline and the cavalry became too much a volunteer association. The men who composed it, particularly during the first two years of the war, were well-to-do farmers and planters, more accustomed to commanding than obeying, and they chafed under military discipline. They criticised freely every officer from the General down, but when the

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