31 January 2007 by Published in: General musings 2 comments

While working on the Kelly’s Ford article, I re-discovered a couple of fabulous, parallel quotes that describe some of the mounted charges and countercharges that took place during the Battle of Kelly’s Ford. What’s particularly interesting about them is that one is by a Yankee trooper and one is by a Confederate trooper, but the similarity is really striking. Have a look:

“A cavalry charge is a terrible thing. Almost before you can think, the shock of horse against horse, the clash of steel against steel, crack of pistols, yells of some poor lost one, as he lost his seat and went down under those iron shod hoofs that knew no mercy, or the shriek of some horse overturned and cut to pieces by his own kind,” recalled Pvt. William Henry Ware of the 3rd Virginia Cavalry. “It is Hell while it lasts, but when man meets his fellow man, face to face, foot to foot, knee to knee, and looks him in the eye, the rich red blood flows through his veins like liquid lightning. There is blood in his eye, Hell in his heart, and he is a different man from what he is in the time of peace.”

“It was like the coming together of two mighty railroad trains at full speed. The yelling of men, the clashing of sabers, a few empty saddles, a few wounded and dying, and the charge is over. One side or the other is victorious, perhaps, only for a few minutes, and then the contest is renewed,” observed Sgt. George Reeve of the 6th Ohio Cavalry. “A charge of this kind is over almost before one has time to think of the danger he is in.”

I’ve often said that if I could turn back the hands of time and witness a single event of the Civil War, it would have been the grand, five brigade front charge by the Union cavalry that won the Third Battle of Winchester on September 19, 1864. The charging Union line was fully two miles long, and the accounts of the veterans indicate that the ground trembled like an earthquake as those 9,000 troopers came pounding down on Jubal Early’s Confederate infantry at Fort Collier. The Thur de Thulstrup illustration that you see here is a depiction of that magnificent charge.

Is it any wonder that I find cavalry operations so fascinating?

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Comments

  1. Thu 01st Feb 2007 at 12:43 pm

    None at all.

  2. Dave Kelly
    Sat 03rd Feb 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Yea, as a boy I was a Napoleonic Cavalry freak….

    The riot of uniforms, the Grande Charge (which usually produced nothing more than prodigious amounts of dog food) and the music. Somewhere I managed to get a recording by the french police band of Napoleonic marches and anthems. I was delighted to find out that the olympic opening music used for years by ABC television was/is in reality the french Napoleonic cavalry call, Salut des Coleurs, used in parade when the banners of the regiments are massed and presented to the commander of troops.

    As long as I’m just gumming up your blog. Talking about cavalry thunder…
    As a youth I always wondered how horses could cope with the ultimate armored knights of the late middle ages. These guys were encased in steel equal to or more than their own weight. Somewhere I finally read that knights weren’t riding quarter horses; they were mounted on Percherons!!! Those humongous BIG black horses that always get outvoted by Clydesdales at horse shows (even though they can eat clydesdales).

    Now imagine 5000 knights in a charge mounted on those houses, er horses …. sounds a lot worse than Waste Management blowing you out of bed at 4:30 on a May morning I can tell ya….

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