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Re: [civilwarwest] Cavalry in the West

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  • Gerald Hodge
    Dear Ms. Heatherington, Do you truly know what the missions of a cavalry force are to a commander (from the Civil War: Corps to Army)? The cavalry was and is
    Message 1 of 6 , Aug 6, 2000
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      Dear Ms. Heatherington,

      Do you truly know what the missions of a cavalry force are to a
      commander (from the Civil War: Corps to Army)? The cavalry was and is more
      than just a strategic raid or strike force. As a matter of fact they did
      more damage to themselves in this role than to the enemy. Two examples of
      this would be Wheeler's Raid from the Sequatchie Valley into Middle
      Tennessee during October 1863 and Streight's Raid into Alabama in April-May
      1863. The main role of a cavalry force is to provide reconnaissance,
      security, and a rapid maneuver element to the commander. This allows the
      commander time and space to react or cause the enemy to react to friendly
      maneuvering. The Western Theater is full of examples on how not to use
      cavalry, especially during the commander of Braxton Bragg. The only
      effective leadership of independent cavalry was that of Nathan Bedford
      Forrest. Wheeler was to much of a "yes" man. John Hunt Morgan should have
      been relieved for his raid into Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana. A bullet took
      care of Van Dorn's lax command in another man's bedroom.

      That "scattered attachment" is the whole task/purpose for the cavalry.

      Civil War cavalry on either side in either the Theaters had no
      coordination of effort. No cross talk, sharing of lessons learned. Also
      remember that the Western Theater had a much larger area to be responsible
      for causing logistical and communications problems. Think about how much
      area and difficult terrain that Bragg was attempting (rather weakly) to
      cover during the Tullahoma and the Chickamauga Campaigns with just basic
      security. This was basic linear security with no depth. A very wrong
      answer in the Recon and Security world then and now.

      I think your "nested" question is more of a baited question.

      Respectfully,

      Gerald D. Hodge, Jr.
      Captain, U.S. Army, Armor/Cavalry
      War Between the States Historian


      >From: "M. E. Heatherington" <meheatherington@...>
      >Reply-To: civilwarwest@egroups.com
      >To: civilwarwest@egroups.com
      >Subject: [civilwarwest] Cavalry in the West
      >Date: Sun, 06 Aug 2000 18:25:33 EDT
      >
      >Dear Group:
      >
      >A "nested" question for you: When, and for what reasons,
      >and driven or guided by whom, would you say that the
      >use of cavalry in the West began to change from decorative
      >to functional?
      >
      >Put another way, when, why, and pushed by whom did the
      >western cavalry come to be used as a raiding and strike-
      >force unit, on its own, rather than as a scattered
      >attachment to the infantry?
      >
      >Also, was there any significant connection between
      >Eastern- and Western-theater uses, and changes
      >therein, of cavalry, or did the two broad theaters
      >operate more or less independently re: the horsemen?
      >
      >Am fascinated by your recent discussions of Western
      >issues -- more, please; more!
      >
      >Yours....
      >Madelon Heatherington
      >(North Carolina Unionist)
      >
      >
      >________________________________________________________________________
      >Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com
      >

      ________________________________________________________________________
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    • D. Andrew Burden, Ph.D.
      Another interesting example of the evolution of cavalry is that of Wilder s Lightning Brigade, which truly was mounted infantry (i.e. they sort of arrived at
      Message 2 of 6 , Aug 7, 2000
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        Another interesting example of the evolution of "cavalry" is that of
        Wilder's Lightning Brigade, which truly was mounted infantry (i.e. they
        sort of arrived at Forrest's philosophy from the opposite direction).
        In addition to the mobility of cavalry, they were armed with Spencer
        repeating rifles, giving them the firepower of more like a division than
        a brigade. As I understand it, their attack on the Confederates at
        Hoover's Gap in the Tullahoma campaign was the first large-scale use of
        repeating rifles in the history of warfare, and allowed them to defeat a
        much larger force (see Michael R. Bradley's recently published book on
        the Tullahoma campaign, the precise title of which escapes me).
        Andy

        tsalagibra@... wrote:
        >
        > Dear Ms. Heatherington,
        > Captain Dodge provided a textbook answer to your question, however, the
        > tone of his note is indicative of the decline within our military services of
        > the "officer and gentleman" tradition.
        > He described the functions of the cavalry as they existed at the
        > beginning of the war. It has long been a maxim of the military bureaucracy
        > that every standing army is led, equipped, and trained to fight the last war.
        > To this end, Napoleonic tactics were taught at West Point and the generals
        > clung tenaciously to those doctrines in spite of overwhelming evidence that
        > modern warfare, with rifled muskets and cannons, had rendered those
        > principles obsolete. As an aside, it has been my experience that nothing
        > within Nature is slower to accept change than an officer's mindset,
        > therefore; they may be forgiven for the useless slaughters which ensued.
        > Within these tactical teachings was the long held thought that the purpose of
        > the cavalry was to provide security and reconnaissance to the army. But as
        > the infantry tactics gradually changed late in the war, so too did the
        > function and operations of the cavalry.
        > This new scope of cavalry functions was shown with repeated success by
        > General Nathan B. Forrest. He used the cavalry more as dragoons or mounted
        > infantry rather than merely to "shoot and scoot". He saw the cavalryman as
        > an infantry soldier and the horse as a vehicle to quickly deliver the
        > infantryman to the front lines where he would dismount and fight on the
        > ground. The soundness of these tactics was proven throughout Tennessee and
        > shown to an exacting degree at Brice's Crossroads. Forrest, without the
        > benefit of formal military schooling, was able to think around the problem
        > and use his forces in a manner which would best insure success. In fact,
        > after the WBTS this same tactical use of the cavalry can be seen in the US
        > cavalry operations during the Indian Wars whereby the mounted soldiers were
        > quickly dismounted, horse holders to the rear, and skirmish lines established
        > as a perimeter for the coming fight. And even to the present day where
        > cavalry can be seen as an effective striking element and not used solely for
        > security or reconnaissance.
        > The answer to your question, "When, and for what reasons, and driven or
        > guided by whom, would you say that the use of cavalry in the West began to
        > change from decorative to functional?"
        > When would have been June 10, 1864 at the Battle of Brice's Crossroads.
        > Driven, articulated, conducted, and guided by Nathan Bedford Forrest. The
        > reason was because General Forrest was not constrained in his thought
        > processes nor inhibited in the tactical deployment of his command by the
        > teachings of an old school.
        > Your other question, "...was there any significant connection between
        > Eastern- and Western-theater uses, and changes therein, of cavalry, or did
        > the two broad theaters operate more or less independently re: the horsemen?"
        > As Captain Dodge stated, sadly, there was no exchange of information or
        > "lessons learned" between the two theaters or, even for that matter, between
        > the cavalry commands operating in the West. Forrest was disillusioned, to
        > say the least, with Joe Wheeler's tactics and use of his forces at
        > Chickamaugua to the extent that he refused to serve alongside of "Fighting
        > Joe". But if you look to the East you can see other commanders who also used
        > the cavalry in ways not consistent with traditional thinking. For example,
        > John Mosby was an excellent cavalry commander and pretty much had his way in
        > his area of operations. Again, for the same reasons, he thought around the
        > problem.
        > And John Morgan? Well, Morgan was more along the lines of a raider and
        > "shook troops" type commander but his operations in Tennessee and Kentucky
        > did keep the Yankees on their toes. His crossing into Ohio could be seen in
        > today's viewpoint as similar to the Doolittle Raid over Japan - not very
        > effective but certainly a morale booster.
        >
        > Your Obedient Servant,
        >
        > Steve
        > (Cavalry adds charm, dash, and color to what would otherwise be a barroom
        > brawl)
        >
        >
        >
        >
      • D. Andrew Burden, Ph.D.
        Another interesting example of the evolution of cavalry is that of Wilder s Lightning Brigade, which truly was mounted infantry (i.e. they sort of arrived at
        Message 3 of 6 , Aug 7, 2000
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          Another interesting example of the evolution of "cavalry" is that of
          Wilder's Lightning Brigade, which truly was mounted infantry (i.e. they
          sort of arrived at Forrest's philosophy from the opposite direction).
          In addition to the mobility of cavalry, they were armed with Spencer
          repeating rifles, giving them the firepower of more like a division than
          a brigade. As I understand it, their attack on the Confederates at
          Hoover's Gap in the Tullahoma campaign was the first large-scale use of
          repeating rifles in the history of warfare, and allowed them to defeat a
          much larger force (see Michael R. Bradley's recently published book on
          the Tullahoma campaign, the precise title of which escapes me).
          Andy

          tsalagibra@... wrote:
          >
          > Dear Ms. Heatherington,
          > Captain Dodge provided a textbook answer to your question, however, the
          > tone of his note is indicative of the decline within our military services of
          > the "officer and gentleman" tradition.
          > He described the functions of the cavalry as they existed at the
          > beginning of the war. It has long been a maxim of the military bureaucracy
          > that every standing army is led, equipped, and trained to fight the last war.
          > To this end, Napoleonic tactics were taught at West Point and the generals
          > clung tenaciously to those doctrines in spite of overwhelming evidence that
          > modern warfare, with rifled muskets and cannons, had rendered those
          > principles obsolete. As an aside, it has been my experience that nothing
          > within Nature is slower to accept change than an officer's mindset,
          > therefore; they may be forgiven for the useless slaughters which ensued.
          > Within these tactical teachings was the long held thought that the purpose of
          > the cavalry was to provide security and reconnaissance to the army. But as
          > the infantry tactics gradually changed late in the war, so too did the
          > function and operations of the cavalry.
          > This new scope of cavalry functions was shown with repeated success by
          > General Nathan B. Forrest. He used the cavalry more as dragoons or mounted
          > infantry rather than merely to "shoot and scoot". He saw the cavalryman as
          > an infantry soldier and the horse as a vehicle to quickly deliver the
          > infantryman to the front lines where he would dismount and fight on the
          > ground. The soundness of these tactics was proven throughout Tennessee and
          > shown to an exacting degree at Brice's Crossroads. Forrest, without the
          > benefit of formal military schooling, was able to think around the problem
          > and use his forces in a manner which would best insure success. In fact,
          > after the WBTS this same tactical use of the cavalry can be seen in the US
          > cavalry operations during the Indian Wars whereby the mounted soldiers were
          > quickly dismounted, horse holders to the rear, and skirmish lines established
          > as a perimeter for the coming fight. And even to the present day where
          > cavalry can be seen as an effective striking element and not used solely for
          > security or reconnaissance.
          > The answer to your question, "When, and for what reasons, and driven or
          > guided by whom, would you say that the use of cavalry in the West began to
          > change from decorative to functional?"
          > When would have been June 10, 1864 at the Battle of Brice's Crossroads.
          > Driven, articulated, conducted, and guided by Nathan Bedford Forrest. The
          > reason was because General Forrest was not constrained in his thought
          > processes nor inhibited in the tactical deployment of his command by the
          > teachings of an old school.
          > Your other question, "...was there any significant connection between
          > Eastern- and Western-theater uses, and changes therein, of cavalry, or did
          > the two broad theaters operate more or less independently re: the horsemen?"
          > As Captain Dodge stated, sadly, there was no exchange of information or
          > "lessons learned" between the two theaters or, even for that matter, between
          > the cavalry commands operating in the West. Forrest was disillusioned, to
          > say the least, with Joe Wheeler's tactics and use of his forces at
          > Chickamaugua to the extent that he refused to serve alongside of "Fighting
          > Joe". But if you look to the East you can see other commanders who also used
          > the cavalry in ways not consistent with traditional thinking. For example,
          > John Mosby was an excellent cavalry commander and pretty much had his way in
          > his area of operations. Again, for the same reasons, he thought around the
          > problem.
          > And John Morgan? Well, Morgan was more along the lines of a raider and
          > "shook troops" type commander but his operations in Tennessee and Kentucky
          > did keep the Yankees on their toes. His crossing into Ohio could be seen in
          > today's viewpoint as similar to the Doolittle Raid over Japan - not very
          > effective but certainly a morale booster.
          >
          > Your Obedient Servant,
          >
          > Steve
          > (Cavalry adds charm, dash, and color to what would otherwise be a barroom
          > brawl)
          >
          >
          >
          >
        • tsalagibra@aol.com
          Andy, I agree with you completely on the aspect of the use of the Spencer rifle. In fact, it reminds me of a saying my grandfather always had: If we d had
          Message 4 of 6 , Aug 7, 2000
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            Andy,
            I agree with you completely on the aspect of the use of the Spencer
            rifle. In fact, it reminds me of a saying my grandfather always had: "If
            we'd had another biscuit and another gun - we'd have won that war!"

            Steve
          • tsalagibra@aol.com
            Andy, I agree with you completely on the aspect of the use of the Spencer rifle. In fact, it reminds me of a saying my grandfather always had: If we d had
            Message 5 of 6 , Aug 7, 2000
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              Andy,
              I agree with you completely on the aspect of the use of the Spencer
              rifle. In fact, it reminds me of a saying my grandfather always had: "If
              we'd had another biscuit and another gun - we'd have won that war!"

              Steve
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