18 May 2009 by Published in: Confederate Cavalry 13 comments

Yesterday, someone asked a question on one of the forum boards I frequent about the morale and condition of the Army of Northern Virginia’s Cavalry in 1864, particularly considering that it lost its commander, Jeb Stuart, in May. I spent some time cobbling together a responsive essay that I thought I would share with you here.

Here’s what I wrote:

The Confederate cavalry was in surprisingly good shape in 1864 for lots of reasons. First, and foremost, the command of the Union cavalry was in shambles as the year began. With Pleasonton relieved, Buford dead and Kilpatrick sent west, three of the four highest ranking officers in the AoP Cavalry Corps were out of the picture. Instead, you have Torbert, who’s an infantry officer, in command of the largest division, and Wilson, who’s never commanded anything bigger than a squad, in command of another. And you have Sheridan, with all of 60 days’ experience commanding cavalry and no real gift for it, in command.

Thus, the ANV Cavalry Corps opened the 1864 campaigning season at a real advantage in terms of leadership. Where it lacked was in horse flesh and technology. The Confederate system relied on cavalrymen supplying their own mounts until late 1864, so if a trooper lost his horse, he had to find a replacement. Many times, this meant having to take a furlough to return home to find another mount, which was a real drain on manpower. The Union, on the other hand, had instituted an effective and fairly efficient remount system in the form of the Cavalry Bureau, meaning that there was a real advantage for the AoP here.

Likewise, by the spring of 1864, nearly the entire AoP Cavalry Corps had been armed with Spencer repeating carbines, whereas the ANV Cavalry Corps still had either single-shot breechloaders or two-band muzzleloaders. This meant that the AoP had a major advantage in firepower and technology. This imbalance was never really corrected, and the imbalance really showed in the Shenandoah Valley in the fall of 1864, when the Valley cavalry was hopelessly outmatched by the powerful Cavalry Corps; Lunsford Lomax’s men had to use two-band muzzle loaders against an enemy armed with Spencers.

The morale of the ANV Cavalry Corps was high, and even with the loss of Stuart, its morale never really ebbed. Due to its success in the field–set forth in some detail below–its morale remained high until late fall, when it became obvious that the walls were beginning to close in at Petersburg.

As the spring campaigning season began, the inexperience of the Union commanders became obvious. Due to his inexperience, Wilson’s bungled in leading the way for the army (why the least experienced division commander was given the task of leading the way for the army’s advance is just one example of Sheridan’s poor performance as Cavalry Corps commander during the Overland Campaign), and his entire division got thrashed by Rosser’s Laurel Brigade at the outset of the Battle of the Wilderness. Wilson’s defeat meant that Meade entered the Wilderness with no cover for his flank and no cavalry leading the way to find the enemy. It’s no wonder that the 5th Corps stumbled into Ewell’s Confederates.

After the Wilderness, when Grant decided to move toward Spotsylvania Court House, the critical road junction along the way was where the Brock and Catharpin Roads meet. This was the site of a ramshackle tavern called Todd’s Tavern. On May 6, Sheridan had abandoned this position, allowing Fitz Lee’s division to occupy it, and the Virginians dug in. In one of the few good days Fitz had in the war, he held off most of the AoP for an entire day, before finally being driven off by Sheridan’s men in a fierce fight.

The next day, after telling George G. Meade to stuff it, Sheridan left on the Richmond Raid, leaving Grant without any cavalry to speak of for the better part of three weeks. The lack of a cavalry screen left him pretty much blind and nearly got his army caught in a massive trap at Ox Ford on the North Anna River.

Stuart died on May 12. Robert E. Lee had a dilemma on his hands: his nephew Fitz was Stuart’s hand-picked choice, but RE Lee was aware of his nephew’s limitations. He also knew that Wade Hampton technically outranked Fitz. So, he decided to avoid the problem and issued an order that indicated that now the three separate divisions would act as independent commands, with the division commanders reporting to him directly. This was a real recipe for disaster.

Hampton made his debut at the May 28, 1864 Battle of Haw’s Shop. While Hampton was ultimately driven from the battlefield, his tenacious stand prevented Sheridan from accomplishing his mission, which was to locate the main body of the ANV. Sheridan never got close. There was more hard fighting on May 30 and 31 and Old Church and Totopotomoy Creek, and finally Cold Harbor began on June 1.

After being stymied at Cold Harbor, Grant realized that he was out of room to maneuver around Richmond, and instead decided to cross the James River and instead advance on the important railroad town of Petersburg, 25 miles south of Richmond. He who controlled Petersburg controlled Richmond; Lee would either have to come out and fight Grant on ground of Grant’s choosing, or Richmond would fall. Grant’s plan relied on stealth. He would send two of his four cavalry divisions (which counts August V. Kautz’s small division from the Army of the James) off on a raid on the Virginia Central Railroad in the hope that it would detract the attention of the Confederate cavalry and draw it off in pursuit, allowing Grant to cross the James undetected. It was a brilliant plan, and it worked like a charm.

The Trevilian Raid began on June 7 and culminated with the two-day battle of Trevilian Station on June 11-12. Two of the three ANV cavalry divisions (Hampton’s and Fitz Lee’s) pursued Sheridan, who had two divisions. Fought on heavily wooded ground that closely resembled the Wilderness, Hampton thrashed Sheridan after a very hard fight and where Sheridan outnumbered Hampton 9000 to 6300. Hampton prevented Sheridan from destroying the critical railroad junction at Gordonsville, and from linking up with David Hunter’s army.

Hampton pursued Sheridan across Virginia and again thrashed elements of his command at Samaria (St. Mary’s) Church, east of Richmond, on June 24. Sheridan then crossed the James River made his way back to the AoP, which was, by then, in the process of investing Petersburg.

On June 27, the Wilson-Kautz Raid began. Freed from having to chase Sheridan, Hampton,now joined by Rooney Lee’s division and the independent brigades of Martin W. Gary and James Dearing, turned on Wilson and Kautz. On June 30 and July 1, at Sappony Church and Reams Station, respectively, Hampton pounced on Wilson and Kautz, nearly destroying their commands. They lost 1500 of their 4500 men between the two battles, all of their wagons, and all of their horse artillery. And 1500 of Hampton’s men ended up with perfectly serviceable Spencer carbines in the process. Wilson and Kautz were lucky to escape with their commands intact. In recognition of Hampton’s superb performance and in a tacit acknowledgment that Fitz was not up to the job, Hampton was made permanent commander of the ANV Cavalry Corps on August 12, 1864.

On August 8, Sheridan was ordered to the Shenandoah Valley with most of the Cavalry Corps. Only David Gregg’s Second Division remained with the AoP, too small a force for the job at hand. This permitted Hampton to lead the famous Beefsteak Raid in September, where elements of his command rustled the entire cattle herd of the AoP, providing Lee’s army with much-needed food. They also captured much of the 1st District of Columbia Cavalry, meaning that elements of Hampton’s command–including Hampton himself–ended up with Henry rifles.

Not much happened for the rest of the year, and Hampton (and his old division, now commanded by Maj. Gen. Matthew C. Butler) was sent to South Carolina at his own request in an effort to resist the advance of Sherman’s armies. He was promoted to lieutenant general in February 1865. Fitzhugh Lee then assumed command of what was left of the ANV Cavalry Corps and remained in command of those troopers until the surrender at Appomattox.

So, the answer to the question is that in many ways, the loss of Stuart was not the crippling blow to the ANV Cavalry Corps that you might have expected. In many ways, the ANV Cavalry Corps got BETTER. It never lost a significant engagement (I consider Haw’s Shop a Confederate victory even though Sheridan held the field at the end of the fight because Hampton prevented Sheridan from accomplishing his mission) battle with Hampton in command, and, in some ways, the death of Stuart made it possible for the ANV Cavalry Corps to get serious about the work in front of it. Without Stuart’s silliness out of the way, these men went about their work with deadly earnestness, and it showed. I argue–and I believe I’m right–that Stuart needed to be removed from the equation for the ANV Cavalry Corps to take the next step, and the proof is in the pudding. Just look at what it accomplished with Wade Hampton in command.

I fully recognize that some of what I say is controversial–some of it intentionally so–but I do believe that the proof is in the pudding. The simple truth is that each and every time that Wade Hampton and Phil Sheridan met on the field of battle, Hampton outgeneralled him, often by a long shot. What does that tell you about the state of the Army of Northern Virginia’s Cavalry Corps after the loss of Stuart?

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Mon 18th May 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Eric, Interesting piece. I enjoyed it. But…would you possibly entertain the notion that Stuart’s flamboyance (you said ‘silliness’) was also a benefit at times during the war? I often think that his outlandish appearance and personality inspired his men to go the extra mile, and helped the Confederacy in rallying civilians to the cause. In other words, he was a public-relations director’s dream. I often think of successful southern commanders such as Jackson commanding a sense of awe based partially on fear, while Stuart appears to have cultivated a more dynamic reputation among the men. (Or is that just my own misinterpretation?)

  2. Jim Epperson
    Mon 18th May 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Do we know for a fact that it was Sheridan who gave Wilson the screening job going in to the Wilderness? The general operations order is from Meade’s HQ, and it specifies the cavalry tasks: Gregg to Aldrich’s, to protect the trains from Fitz Lee, Wilson to screen the front of the army (not the flank) and Torbert in reserve. As you probably know I’ve studied this a bit, and I am unaware of anyone taking credit (i.e., blame) for giving Wilson the task he had. Personally, I think it was Meade’s decision, and reflects his cautious approach to command: He was more worried about what Fitz Lee might do to the trains and Reserve Artillery, so he wanted the largest division w/ the most experienced commander given that task. He most certainly did not want a former infantry commander or a tyro in his first command assigned there. His concern is shown by the foolish order to send Torbert *through* the train to reinforce Gregg on May 6, effectively taking Torbert out of the battle.

  3. Teej Smith
    Mon 18th May 2009 at 3:39 pm

    I with Michael on this one. I think if there had been such a thing as recruiting billboards for the Confederate cavalry, Stuart would have been ideal for “poster child.” Despite what D.H. Hill, or whoever, said about “dead cavalrymen,” being in the cavalry was a dangerous job. It also was a monotonous one; long hours in the saddle, often with little to show for one’s efforts. Stuart knew how to keep morale high and how to play to the dash and danger. If one asked a young man of military age, “who would you rather be like, the daring Stuart or the stick-in-the-mud Hampton?” I think the answer would be obvious. Both men got their respective jobs done, but when it came to inspiring others, it was Stuart, hands down.

    Regards,
    Teej

  4. Tue 19th May 2009 at 1:59 am

    I’m not so sure that Stuart was not up to the new role of cavalry in the ANV, Eric. He had shown a grasp pf combat command at Chancellorsville in ’63, IMHO. also, I think he saw the writing on the wall after Brandy station. Flamboyant, yes. Outrageous, yes. Superbly competent, again, I think the answer is yes. But, we’ll never know, will we? I’m not knocking Hampton one bit, though. His was just a different leadership approach.

  5. Bobby Edwards
    Wed 20th May 2009 at 7:53 am

    Eric,

    You covered a lot of meat here, and the leadership of the Southern Cavalry Corps has a tremendous assistance of Tacticle Geography, which favored the Confederates during the Samaria [St. Mary's] engagement. I have driven the roads and realize what a difficult position the Federals were in with Hampton’s Cavalry blocking all the roads to Harrison’s landing and any resupply of ammunition, etc. The backroad to Charles City Courthouse may have been a lifesaver there.

    The issue of Wilson’s extended Cavalry Raid, starting June 22nd out of Petersburg, took on Geography that was farther than their capability of resupply or ammunition replenishment. A 300 Mile raid had telling effects on the horse flesh that was giving out well before the return through a “choke point” in geography at Stoney Creek / Sappony Church, and the Reams Station was predicted as a route by everyone who knew the Geography. Hampton was there waiting for Wilson’s troopers, many riding double saddle as the hard riding had taken a tremendous toll.

    Kudos should be given to Wilson for two very important extractions of Grant’s Army from Ox Ford on the North Anna, where Wilson’s “Rouse” and Deceptive moves on Lee’s Left Flanks – Testing and Pointing to a Move across the Little River by the AoP, Paused Lee’s Army long enough to allow Grant to extract himself in a very dangerous position, having to cross Pontoons on Swollen Rivers. If Lee had Pushed Grant Immediately on his Withdrawal from the North Anna, Lee could have Cornered Grant’s Army in a very Vulnerable Position.

    Crossing the Pamunkey, early in the morning of May 27th Sheridan’s Cavalry caught the Confederates unprepared with an appropriate sized matching Cavalry Units to meet them. Wilson had done his job. At Nelson’s Crossing, lightly defended by newly arriving members of the 3rd North Carolina, who were fresh up from duty in Carolina, got swept up in their pickets being easily captured. Pontoons were lowered on the Pamunkey at Nelsons and Hanovertown, where Cavalry and Infantry quickly poured across. As Michigan and New York Cavalry engaged Carolina and MD troops on the Hanover Road and easily pushed the small Squadrons passed their enforcements at Crumps Creek, a sense of bravado returned to the Federal Cavalry from their Richmond Raid and Yellow Tavern. No doubt Custer’s Michigan troops meeting smaller units got their courage up very quickly. Lee not knowing where Grant’s Army was going were guaring the approaches to the South Anna, and most of the Cavalry were located there. Credit Wilson for the easy movement of Grant Away from the North Anna and the Crossing of the Pamunkey.

    Federal Cavalry in an engagement with Gen Hoke, secured an advantageous position at Cold Harbor June 1st, however Grant waited for Baldy Smith’s Corps to arrive at White House Landing from being shuttled from Bermuda Hundred, and to march to Cold Harbor. In that time frame, Grant allowed the Confederates to Dig and Dig and Dig their Defenses into all kinds of entrapments and enfilade fields of fire. The Attacks of June 3rd were against fortifications equal to those that Lee had on the North Anna.

    Wilson’s Cavalry Regiments did Yeoman’s Work at Hanover Court House, Destroying Railroad Bridges above Ashland, and Engaging Hampton’s Troops inside of Ashland. My 3rd NC Cavalry boys ran out of Ammunition in Ashland and were fighting the 1st Vermont house to house, taking a lot of casualties. Hampton had to bring in several Regiments from Atlee’s Station area into Ashland to chase the Federals out of Ashland. The Vermonters being saved by McCormick’s troops who had been burning bridges, arrived in Ashland in time to generate a “Hot Enough Fight” to allow escape. At the end of the Day, Hampton’s Cavalry were on the Defense, without enough forces at the right places: at the Pamunkey Crossing, at Hanover C.H., at Cold Harbor, at Ashland.
    Credit a Very Agressive Sheridan with a Very Good Plan of Attack on Key Positions around Richmond. Grant’s Failure – Bringing up Smith, and Allowing the Confederates to Dig.

    As Grant Suffered the Results of the Frontal Attacks of June 3rd and being Locked in Position in a No-Win Sniper’s War, he knew that he had to Extricate himself and move on to a Target that was under high consideration for some time – Petersburg. But, just like the North Anna, getting away from Lee’s Army – locked in position, just hundreds of yards apart, was a very risky situation. Here’s where Wilson’s Cavalry turned in another Yeoman’s Performance.

    The night of June 12th, Grant’s Army began the withdrawal from the Trenches of Cold Harbor. Sheridan’s Cavalry had departed earlier, and Wilson’s Cavalry Corps were given the task of Screening the Withdrawal of Grant’s Army. Just as the departure of the AoP from the North Anna posed all kinds of Possibilites to Lee, the same set of Circumstances presented Lee with Uncertainity. W.H.F. Lee’s Division of the 9th, 10th, 13th Virginia and 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th North Carolina were left behind to defend Richmond and Patrol the areas. As Grant’s Army followed the Old Church road to the Chickahominy, the Patrols of Gen Barringer’s Brigade met the Advance elements of Wilson’s Cavalry, who crossed the Chickahominy and pushed Barringer back to Glendale and Riddell’s Shop, where Lee sent Reinforcements thinking that Grant would attack Richmond from the South. All of the meetings of Wilson’s Cavalry and Barringer’s Brigade at Riddells, Rocks, Crenshaws, Haxall’s Sawmill, and Herring Creek were an Exercise of Running up and Down Remote Virginia Roads, Keeping the Cavalry off of Grant’s Army on the Move. On the Day of the 17th, as Wilson’s Cavalry were finishing their James River Crossing’s at Wilcox on Ferry’s from New York, and Flowerdew Hundred on Pontoons – the Crossing had finally been reported to Lee. Grant’s Advance Elements were already in Petersburg and Attacking, and Lee was Scrambling to cross the James at Chaffin’s Bluff.

    General Wilson, Although New in His Command had Twice Allowed the AoP to Extricate Itself from Dangerous Positions at the North Anna and at Cold Harbor. A Considerable Accomplishment in the Back Yard of the Capitol of the Confederacy.

    A Major Failure of a Federal Cavalry Commander was that of General Kautz – June 9th as Gen Butler’s Plan of Attack on Petersburg Failed, because of Delay of Kautz and the Failure of Gen Quincy Gillmore Simply to Attack the Very Lightly Defended Dimmock Line. Gilmore hearing a Band [A Black Petersburg Band Playing Dixie] made Gillmore believe that the Dimmock Line was Too Formidable, and Failed to Attack. He was later sanctioned for the failure. General Kautz attacked a lightly defended position of Old Men and Young Boys at Rives Salient June 9th, and in receiving some artillery and accurate fire on his attacking troops, dismounted and took too long in the engagement. Kautz, instead of pushing on took more time in the questioning process of these old men and young boys, allowing Graham’s Battery of Petersburg to arrive south of the City by Blandford Church. There with released Prisoners and Hospital Patients, the Defenders of the City discouraged Kautz from easily entering the City. If Kautz had Blown through the Lightly Defended Position at Rives Salient, and Entered the City – Petersburg would have Fallen. A Missed Opportunity of Substantial Measures.

    1864 Was a Year of Survival for the Confederate Cavalry, and Luck and Geography May have Accounted for that Survival as Much as Leadership. Most Surely Attrition of Men and Horses were Wearing away a Once Proud Unit into a Mear Shell by the Beginnings of 1865. But, the Determination of Sheridan, his Pit Bull Methods, and the Success of Wilson in Extricating Grants Army at the North Anna and Cold Harbor, should not be Underestimated.

  6. David Corbett
    Wed 20th May 2009 at 8:18 am

    Dear Sir,
    I quite enjoyed your monograph on the 1864 Confederate cavalry. While I do not totally agree with opinion of Stuart your discription of Hampton’s actions make for dandy reading.
    cordially,
    David Corbett

  7. Valerie Protopapas
    Thu 21st May 2009 at 9:04 pm

    I thought that you might enjoy and appreciate these words of tribute delivered at Stuart’s grave by his great-grandson, Col. J.E.B. Stuart IV, U.S.A (Ret) during the Stuart-Mosby Historical Society’s birthday tribute to Stuart.

    “As the great grandson of General J.E.B. Stuart, I have often been asked for an opinion of this great man’s legacy to the nation, and how he should be remembered. Although my answer has changed, as I have grown older, one central theme has endured through time. He was a man who fought for a cause that he deeply believed in with a tenacity and a steadfast commitment that is remarkable by any standard. Two excerpts from a letter that he wrote his wife Flora in 1862 speaks volumes in explaining this dedication and commitment: “I, for one, though I stood alone in the Confederacy, without countenance or aid, would uphold the banner of Southern Independence as long as I had a hand left to grasp the staff, and then die before submitting…” “Tell my boy when I am gone how I felt and wrote and tell him…never to forget the principles for which his father struggled.”

    Another element of the Stuart legacy became evident to me only after I had served a good portion of a twenty seven year career in the United States Army. It was not until then that I began to realize and appreciate his accomplishments as a professional soldier – accomplishments made possible by four personal characteristics which seem to me as essential to success in military life today as they were in Jeb Stuart’s time.

    First of all, Stuart knew how to organize and lead men in combat; his situational assessment skills were truly second to none; he had no equal in technical proficiency in the deployment and use of cavalry, and he continually demonstrated that he was capable of leading larger units with expanded missions and responsibilities. The last characteristic is the distinguishing hallmark of soldiers destined for high command.

    Along with these essential personal characteristics, Stuart possessed the true “Warrior Spirit”, combined a love of horse and horsemanship. As a young West Point cadet he wrote to a friend: “…so far I know no other profession so desirable than that of a soldier, indeed, everything connected with the military has far surpassed my most sanguine expectations.” Horse soldiering was to be his vocation – his trade, craft, and art rolled into one.
    Before the American Civil War Stuart’s military skills were sharply honed during seven years as a lieutenant on the western frontier, most of it in cavalry service. On the frontier his professional proficiency was acknowledged by man, including Major John Sedgwick who served with him from 1855 to 1860 in the U.S. 1st Cavalry Regiment. Later on, as a Union general, Sedgewick would pay Stuart the supreme compliment, referring to him as “the finest Cavalry Officer ever foaled in America.”

    During the Civil War Stuart received rapid promotion, passing fro Lieutenant Colonel to Brigadier General at age 28; to Major General at age 29, the rank he held when mortally wounded at 31. More important than his rise in rank was the role he played in the evolution of cavalry doctrine. (You) should understand that General Stuart came on the scene when the mission of cavalry was in a difficult transitional phase. The U.S. Army Cavalry manual of the time – written by General Philip St. George Cooke, Stuart’s father-in-law – spoke of the “Charge” as being the most decisive element in cavalry tactics. Was this really the case, or was cavalry moving in a different direction prompted by development of the cone shaped bullet, the rifling concept and rapid fire weapons? I think the latter.

    General Stuart quickly became an agent for change. Confederate forces under his guidance established early a centralized command for cavalry operations which stressed five basic functions: (1) Reconnaissance (2) Counter Reconnaissance or Denial Operations (3) Screening (4) Security (5) Reconnaissance in Force. These new functions represented revolutionary change in cavalry operational concepts. I contend that if you were to visit an Armored Cavalry Regiment today and ask the Commanding Officer to describe the unit’s mission he would describe it in terms very similar to those which evolved during the Civil War.

    To my mind, General Stuart played a major role in developing the doctrines that have shaped the mobile warfare of today. I believe that this contribution deserves wider recognition than it has received, and is the often overlooked legacy of this great American soldier.*

    (*the address was taken from the Afterword of Patrick Brennan’s biography of General Stuart written by Col. Stuart)

  8. Larry Freiheit
    Fri 22nd May 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Eric,

    I ran across some interesting comments by a Virginia cavalryman in CWTI, June 1970.

    Allen C. Redwood agreed that the lack of horses was critical but also opined that around the time of the Dahlgren Raid “It was the beginning of the period in which the prestige of the Southern horse steadily waned. The old spirit flared up now and then, as will the embers of an old fire but only to grow more and more dull as the material failed. With the death of Stuart a few days later, as with that of Jackson a year before, the inspiration was lost just when most needed….The gallant rider who had ‘followed Stuart’s feather’ had fallen in many a hot encounter; the mettlesome chargers which bore them had left their bones all along the roads from Chickahominy to Chambersburg; and the gaps in the ranks were not being adequately filled.”

    “The campaign was not wanting in some brilliant, old-time cavalry work on the part of the Confederates, sporadic indeed, and of little over-all effect on the war. But it was ‘the song of the swan,’ perhaps. Hampton’s ‘beef -raid,’ Rosser’s fight with Custer at Trevilian’s, and Wickham’s splendid charge against Merritt at Winchester–futile as it proved–were all in the best traditions of the corps, and as creditable as any. And in many minor affairs, during the Valley Campaign of that year, the Southern troopers more than held their won. But there were not more ‘Buckland Races,’ no more rich captures of much-needed wagon trains and other spoils of war, which had served to supply so many original deficiencies. It was sordid, dead-in-earnest, sure-enough war now, with all the gloss worn off.”

    But Redwood wrote that “this starving, sorely depleted cavalry persisted in maintaining what front it could, and came back at its antagonists whenever there seemed to be a fighting chance.”

    Lack of horses plus less able recruits according to Redwood along with fewer captures of equipment hurt the Rebel troopers and he obviously missed Stuart.

    I’m not sure how reliable his memoirs are, however, but his opinions seem honestly presented albeit with the usual hyperbole.

    Larry

  9. Valerie Protopapas
    Sat 23rd May 2009 at 10:46 pm

    It is interesting to note that “regular” cavalry commanders like Fitzhugh Lee and Thomas Rosser had nothing good to say about partisans groups all of which were cavalry. Rosser wrote to Lee (Robert Edward) demanding that partisan commands be brought into the regular army or disbanded ane he especially mentioned Mosby’s 43rd Battalion operating in the counties of Fauquier, Loudoun and Fairfax and beyond (“Mosby’s Confederacy” was not his theater of action, but an area to which his men were limited when not on raids). Nonetheless, these same “regulars” were more than willing to use the mules and especially the horses that Mosby was able to procure from the Union.

    Neither was every Southern general enamored of cavalry. Gen. Jubal Early had no use at all for that service, regular or partisan. Nonetheless, at the end of the war, Early lamented the lack of intelligence when he ran his campaign in the Shenandoah and blamed the only cavalry extant in the region – Mosby’s partisan command – for not giving him what he required. But Mosby made every effort to help Early including sending men to Early letting him know that he and his command were prepared to follow any instructions that Early wished to give and told the General that he had already hit the Union forces at Point of Rocks. The only instruction that Early gave was that Mosby should hit the Union forces at Point of Rocks – which was nonsense. Other than that, Early never again communicated with the Ranger chief or any of his officers.

    Thus the only real “cavalry” that the Army of Northern Virginia had available to help Early was effectively kept out of the campaign not by lack of horses or men or equipment or leadership, but by the General commanding the campaign.

  10. Jeff Mancini
    Fri 12th Jun 2009 at 12:02 am

    I totally agree with Eric’s conclusion that the ANV Cavalry Corps was tacttically a much more cohesive and efficient entity after the death of Gen JEB Stuart. Stuart from a tactical standpoint was mediocre: He was marginal under pressure, prone to underestimating his opponents and not a particularly skilled planner. I compare him to NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer: A superb motivator, capable of getting the most and best from his men and quite succesful. But with the chips on the line I’ll take a more skilled tactician to seize the day. Stuart got caught with his shorts down at Brandy Station, he failed to ascertain the importance of his role at Gettysburg, he repeatedly squandered tactical advantages throughout the war choosing to operate independantly of the core ANV. Once deceased Hampton acted more as a team player and his successes against greater numbers supports that conclusion. Splendid research with good support Eric. Thank you for that essay. I enjoyed it immensely.

  11. Mark Ploskunak
    Thu 25th Mar 2010 at 10:01 am

    I wrote a review for your book on Trevilians some time ago, because somebody finally pointed out that the Confederate Cavalry didn’t die at Yellow Tavern and maybe Phil Sheidan’s was not all he was cracked up to be. Personally, considering the mission after 1863 for the cavalry, I think Hampton was the superior officer for the role.

    I have all your books.

  12. Col Greg Eanes, USAFR
    Fri 30th Mar 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Excellent analysis!

  13. laurel thompson
    Tue 15th May 2012 at 8:35 pm

    I have two receipts, one for corn and one for hay. One signed by a McNeely, agent for Early and the other I can’t decipher (maybe C. B. Gevashmey) Maj…division q.m.
    Rossen or Russel Cav. Division.

    Any info would be appreciated.

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