Post by Jerry Todd on Jan 24, 2006 18:49:03 GMT -5
One thing that jumped out at me was none of what's described is under fire. No one rode up to the enemy, dismounted there, and fought on foot with the horses and holders in the line of fire. These fellas dismounted and went up to the fight.
I could see riding up and bumping into your foe. Leaving a company or two of skirmishers for cover, falling back, dismounting, then moving the dismounted line up to relieve the skirmish companies - who now rally and become the reserve.
Now there's something you don't see at reenactments.
Last Edit: Jan 25, 2006 9:25:47 GMT -5 by Jerry Todd
Post by AndyGerman on Jan 25, 2006 19:18:10 GMT -5
That's true, Jerry. It would be great to have a large enough force to do it properly like that. On a smaller scale, the mounted skirmish line we put out at Burkittsville felt like a lesson in Poinsett's.
Regarding links, the ordnance reports indicate that they were pretty rare in the field. Only a handful were reported in the 1st Maine, and most companies never had any. Lariats and picket pins were almost as scarce, and sabre knots were only slightly more common. So most of us are far better equipped than those we claim to represent. At least the 1st Maine had a full complement of cartridge boxes, unlike some units.
Regarding sabres in the 1st Maine, nine companies had "heavy" 1840 sabres and three had "light" 1860s. and to challenge the quartermaster, most companies had a mix of Sharps and Burnside carbines (with a few Henrys later), and eventually both Colt and Remington revolvers.
Indeed, the 1st Maine regimental is probably the best for detail and description, and for some good mounted photos (wish I knew where all of those photos have gone).
Post by Whirlygigger on Mar 20, 2006 23:34:49 GMT -5
Federal army enlisted signallists too were trained in mounted service and when ordered to the field were issued a pistol sabre and carbine (Sharps and later Spencers). It is recorded that oftimes the sabre, carbine, pistol and saddle would have been turned in if a flagman became attached to a semi-permanent station. I must think that a small group of horses were kept in reserve in makeshift stables or nearby civilian facilities for scout missions.
This is a very interesting thread, and answers some questions I've been mulling over recently. In addition, here's a few tidbits I'd like to add:
1. Most of the accounts of troopers mounting their sabers to the saddle date from late '63 or even later. Besides the quotes already mentioned, there's a good quote in the 10th NY regimental's supplementary volume about how a veteran trooper suggested to his pard that he attach his saber to the saddle to speed up mounting when in no-man's land. This vignette occurred in 1864. At any rate, it does appear to have been a later-war thing.
2. Although the men clearly disliked wearing their sabers on the skirmish line, they clearly did so and suffered the consequences. Again, the 10th NY regimental has a couple of good quotes on this one, including one account of a retreating trooper at G-burg who got hung up by his saber while crossing a fence.
3. I've been puzzled by accounts which suggest that cavalrymen could detach their sabers quickly from their belts, since the double-headed studs can be a bear to manipulate, particularly in nice dense pit-tanned leather hangers. A collector/dealer friend of mine named Stephen Rogers began to point out the large number of photographs and original artifacts which show the snap hooks from linkstraps added to the saber belt hangers. One of these photographs (showing a musician) was sold at the last Louisville show (maybe some of you saw it), and I was allowed to examine a complete 7th PA cav set that showed this modification. In other words, the trooper who modified his belt in this manner would not have to attach his saber to the saddle to be rid of it when on foot. He could just unclip it, and temporarily attach it to the saddle. When looking at returns for US cav outfits, I've always wondered where all the linkstraps went! :-)
This has been a most interesting and practical thread. I ve a number of known established references to view cavalry equipment to set up my stuff and it was cumbersome to fight with at best. Reloading my carbine was a mess. In just a few minutes I was able to make enough small adjustments to FEEL better walking, let alone fighting. Scabbord on or off didn't matter much and I have a found an almost immediate way to attach it to my saddle and if given a few moments more, can attach it more securely by using the front saber hanger through the saddle loop and few wraps around the scabbord. I'm rather new to the mounted cavalry so this was a very big help. Thanks!
Rereading this old thread I'm guessing that among today's recreated cavalry units, that participated in this thread, most carry sabres. And when fighting dismounted the practice among those units seems to be that "if you've got 'em, you wear 'em."
Only Terry's 9th NY (Dismounted) admits to not wearing sabres regularly when engaged.
The impression I have of how Federal cavalry dealt with sabres is that since they fought in the saddle as much as on foot, many units simply wore their sabres. Given a chance, ie time, notice; they would leave them on the horse. It takes just a few seconds to undo a sabre from the belt. This is the SOP 1st Maine has adopted.
For reenactors, mounted folks seldom dismount and when they do they seldom go far from the mounts. Reenactors dismount AT the firing line and keep the mounts much too close to the firing line for walking with sabre to really be a problem.
Dismounted folks walk everywhere, so sabres would obviously be a problem for them.
What's right? Well, I think the first paragraph is the best middle ground. Since dismounted folks have no horse to leave the sabres on, it's probably best, for their own safety, to leave them in the "A-frames."
I think y'all need to take a look at the picture/illustration above and let me know where the sabers are for the boys ON the firing line...notwithstanding the 'farby'/unsafe practice of having the number 4's Stand with the led horses in the picute (and the saber on the trooper in the foregound)......
Over 50 cavalry regiments in the West: Federal Volunteer Cavalry.....fought mostly dismounted and with out their sabers attached....using Cooke's manual and fighting from single ranks mounted and dismounted. The 4 Michigan Cavalry regiments that went East used Cooke's as well until Winter 1864. And two of the regiments dismounted 80% of the time (the 5th and 6th MI with Sharps RIFLES)...and the other two designated Saber Regiments (1st and 7th MI) stayed mounted 80% + of the time. When they learned Poinsett's double ranks.....the 5th Michigan went back to Cooke's the first time they got in a pickle.....Trevillian's Station the first day. They formed an outward facing oval around the captured wagons.....single rank. Old Habits die hard.
In the west, with the exception of Minty's Brigade (4th US Regular Cavalry), invariably they fought using Cooke's single rank tactics both mounted and dismounted. Many regiments dropped their revolvers Winter 1863 in favor of the Sharps Carbine.....which doubled as a revolver. The weight saved by giving up the revolver/cartridges was replaced with more carbine ammo/tubes.
Many western cavalry charges, even after Poinsett's was adopted in MARCH 1865 (that's right the war ended soon after!) under Wilson's/Upton's tutellage, were made in a Column (4's by the Right Flank). Running down a road, farm lane, trail, crossing a bridge or ford. This has nothing to do with single or double rank tactics. Dozens of documented 'column' charges were made......shotguns, revolvers, and carbines blazing away....and sabers flashing.
The classic for me is at the BattleS near Kansas City MO. Big Blue River features several spirited attempts in 4's to charge across Byram's Ford. The confederates charged in 4's down a farm lane at Mockbee Farm against a bunch of Kansas Farmers..... this is over by Tower Park on Holmes and about 92nd Street. (the charge was down Holmes). And over at Loos Park/Brush Creek their is a marker tablet where two columns of 4's met head to head near the present day pond.
The 8th ILL cavalry fought dismounted for much of Brandy Station and 1st day of Gettysburg.....their sabers were NOT carried by the troopers.
These guys were smart, tough troopers gentlemen....they brought their carbines to bear quickly and efficiently.....without carbines clanking around their legs/feet. 2nd day at Trevillian's featured dismounted cavalry assaults by Federal Troopers.....no sabers. The Regular Cavalry assaulted across the fields on July 3rd 1863..with no sabers. Your darn right they get in the way crossing creeks, fences, lying prone, and moving for a couple of days.
I don't have my book in front of me.....but didn't the 10th NY Cavalry at Gettysburg Brinkerhoff Ridge July 2nd 1863 (vs the veteran Stonewall Brigade's Infantry Regiments) go in by squadron Without Sabers???
I'm sure there were times that they didn't have a few moments to hang them off the cantle, strap them to a pommel, or 'semi-permanently' secure the scabbard under the quarter straps and above the blankets along the near side.....and they ran into dismounted combat with their sabers..... think of a fighting retreat, say after Brice's Cross roads) where you dismount ON the firing line, and then the horses are led 100-200 yards down the road out of sight....you fire a few rounds at a choke point, and then retreat by bounds. I definitely could see you with a saber on your belt..... but how many of the enemy had sabers to begin with? If you weren't attacking/charging and were fighting defensively against saber toothless troopers wouldn't a carbine or pistol be your first choice?
Your quote of the day for Federal Western Volunteer Cavalry: Most of the fighing was done dismounted using Cooke's single rank tactics, even after we had relearned the two rank system of Scott's. (you got the quote right, they called 'Poinsett's' Scott's in Winslow's Brigade, later part of Wilson's Cavalry Corps).
Does everyone own "The Story of a Cavalry Regiment" by William Forse Scott? and that Michigan Cavalry book by KYD? If not let's all get them and find out what it was like. It wasn't all "Minty of the Cavalry" (Minty's Brigade made over 100 documented saber charges out West using Poinsett's two rank evolutions.....).
Post by Dan Chmelar on Aug 20, 2007 13:11:59 GMT -5
(the 5th and 6th MI with Sharps RIFLES)...
Not to be nit picky, but the 5th MI was issued SPENCER rifles in 1862 when they were formed at Camp Banks and did not recieve Spencer Carbines until 1864. There is a journal written by Sergeant James Avery in the 5th Michigan, Co. I named Under Custers Command. It is an excellent book. Mr. Avery goes into great detail about the common day as a trooper. The 5th Michigan is the impression we in the Horse Hair Mess are doing at Lee's Final Retreat at Old World Wisconsin this Labor Day.
Dan Chmelar Horse Hair Mess
Dan Chmelar -ONV -WIG -Ol' Sipley Mess -Horse Hair Mess
when i dismount i do not have my sword on me so i can move fast and to be safe at the same time and that in the later in the war the sword was done away with in the fighting and used more of the pistols and muskets more and more.
Lt. paul kepper Know as LT Hell 1st Louisiana Jayhawkers scounts co I and 1st Tennessee Partisan Rangers co H
Post by Dave Myrick on May 5, 2008 21:28:53 GMT -5
Paul, It takes some practice to be sure but you can move quickly wearing a saber, not as fast as without and there are other hazards as well. I would be curious to know the sources behind your assertion that the saber was done away with and fighting was done with pistols and muskets. This is contradictory to others research.
The Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry's favorite formation when facing the enemy was to charge in a column of four, that is four men abreast or the whole regiment in a column, thus presenting a front of four men. When the enemy line was reached the units would open out like a fan. With sabres held high until contact was made. They would meet the enemy at a gallop and run over or through cutting and slashing as they went. The Seventh ground their sabres as did the Fourth United States Cavalry, also in their brigade. This caused some furor among the Commanders of the Rebel Army but a general order authorized their use and the Confederates were notified that any execution of prisoners because of the sharpened sabre would be met by retaliation in kind. At a later date the Seventh met a Georgia Cavalry who bragged about their newly ground sabres.
The time this is talking about happened in April - September 1864.
Also on the topic of sabres same unit. (Feb. - Mar. 1864)
The Regiment was stationed at Columbia, Tenn. where it was ordered to drill and make preparations for the opening of the Spring campaign. Colonel Sipes drew the new Spencer carbines, improved sabres and new horse equipment for the entire regiment. The Seventh was known to have used their sabres in almost every engagement throughout most of the war. This is from Mansfield Men in the Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry.
I do Fed and Corn Fed MTD Reenacting. If I'm Fed its on me. When I do Corn Fed its on me. Except after Shiloh because Forrest told his men to send them home for they were of no use for what he wanted to do. ( ONLY FORREST ) Doing Forrest's Cavalry would be mainly the only time (post Shiloh) in the broad scheme of reenacting that a Cavalryman shouldn't wear his sabre or even have one.
As men have said earlier we are trying to portray what a common regular soldier would have looked like. If we are not going to do that then let's get some "Butterflies Lancers" uniforms or some Jaguar butt-less Chaps and just get it over with.
If it is a safety issue then don't get hurt. It does look better if every one is uniformed. I do think more often than not they were worn.
Last Edit: May 12, 2008 2:03:09 GMT -5 by kingphilip
- We had that confidence in him which I imagine the Old Guard had in Napoleon. -