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Gettysburg: SOW - Cavalry in the Trans Mississippi theatre

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Gettysburg: SOW - Cavalry in the Trans Mississippi theatre

Post  Martin on Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:46 pm

My reason for starting this thread is to explore a key role played by *some* cavalry in the ACW – that of mounted infantry. This was barely mentioned on the recent ‘Cavalry speed & fatigue’ thread, so hopefully this will increase awareness that there was such a role. A lot of this may be new to those who have dome most of their reading on the fighting in Virginia, and perhaps it was less of a feature in that geographically-constrained theatre?

Why is this important? Well it is to me because I want to play games set in Arkansas and Louisiana etc. Partly because those fronts most interest me. But I think scenarios set there also make for good games, as armies in the Trans-Mississippi were almost invariably of a nice corps-size, with an unusual mix of regiments. And the mounted infantry role gives commanders more options, which potentially makes for more interesting game situations.

Almost all of the Confederate mounted troops in the Trans-Mississippi were effectively mounted infantry, although most were designated cavalry. In his memoirs the Confederate commander in Louisiana, Richard Taylor, explicitly recognises this, and distinguishes these troops from ‘real’ cavalry. In this theatre at least, there were very few instances where cavalry fought as ‘cavalry’ in fact, being neither trained nor equipped to do so. Very few Confederate regiments were issued with sabres, and the South’s difficulty in procuring carbines mandated that their cavalry in this theatre operated with infantry weapons when they could get them.

During the course of the war, both sides additionally created numerous regiments of mounted infantry, normally by converting existing infantry regiments. In both armies, some of the regiments formed complete brigades (see comments re Wilder’s Union Brigade below), and others were in mixed brigades with cavalry regiments.

To give an idea of the scale of activity in the mounted infantry role, here is a chronological list of several battles and engagements where cavalry fought mainly or wholly as infantry, or otherwise acted in a mounted infantry role. These are drawn mainly from the Trans-Mississippi, which is where I’ve done most reading. Lest it be thought that I’m cherry-picking, the list includes all large engagements in that theatre from late 1862. I have also included some examples from the Western theatre (ie between the Alleghenies & the Mississippi), where the mounted infantry role also featured significantly.

Just to be clear. In all of the following examples, where the cavalry units fought, they did so on foot for most or all of the battle.

Prairie Grove, Arkansas. Dec 1862: Marmaduke’s Confederate Missouri cavalry move ahead of main army to secure & hold key ground. They defeat part of the Union cavalry, then assist in holding the key ridge later in day against infantry attack. A recently-dismounted brigade of Texas cavalry has severe disciplinary problems, and is largely kept out of the battle by the Confederates.

Galveston, Texas. Jan 1863: Elements of a Confederate Texas cavalry brigade recapture port from several hundred Union infantry, fortified on a wharf. They also capture a ship of Union blockading squadron by using boats to facilitate boarding.

Ft Bisland & Irish Bend, Louisiana. Apr 1863: Small confederate army (about half cavalry) fights delaying battles against much larger Union (mainly infantry) force. Results of both actions are tactical draws.

Brashear City, Louisiana. Jun 1863: Elements of a Confederate Texas cavalry brigade overwhelm much larger Union infantry garrison, using boats to land in enemy rear.

Tullahoma campaign, Tennessee. Jun/Jul 1863: Wilders’ Union ‘Lightning’ Brigade of mounted infantry used by Rosecrans during his advance on Chattanooga to seize and hold key ground, until slower-moving troops came up. Armed with early repeaters, it can more than hold its own against an equal force of Reb infantry.

Helena, Arkansas July 1863: Confederate army (4 infantry & 2 cavalry brigades) under Holmes assaults formidable Union fortifications, manned mainly by infantry. Assault fails with heavy casualties, particularly to the infantry.

Honey Springs, Indian Territory. July 1863: small ‘divisions’ of mixed infantry & cavalry under Cooper (Confederate) & Blunt (Union) fight a primarily infantry battle. Confederate defeat, partly (or mainly) due to poor quality of Reb ammunition.

Chickamauga, Tennessee. Sep 1863: Wilders’ Union Brigade of mounted infantry plays key role, protecting army’s open flank on day before battle, and launching successful counterattack against Reb infantry on second day. Manigault’s Confederate infantry brigade is unable to stand against volume of Wilder’s fire.

Okolona, Mississippi. Feb 1864: Forrest deploys his cavalry to cover multiple invasion routes, then uses their mobility to concentrate for battle, which is fought dismounted. He defeats Union cavalry force almost three times his own. Fighting takes place over more than 10 miles, but most of it is on foot (by both sides) as the Union cavalry fall back through a series of defensive positions.

Red River Campaign, Louisiana. April 1864: Union cavalry division (about half consisting on mounted infantry regts) moves ahead of Banks’ main army to secure Alexandria. Due to uncertainty as to whether Union would attack Texas or Louisiana, Green’s Confederate Texas cavalry division is held in readiness on Texas coast. When Banks’ intended advance up Red River is clear, it moves expeditiously to join Taylor in Louisiana. The Texas cavalry are reckoned to be the most reliable troops in Taylor’s Confederate army, many having fought with him in 1863.

Mansfield, Louisiana. April 1864: Before battle Reb cavalry is sent ahead to delay Union army, so Taylor can concentrate his forces at Sabine Crossroads, an important communications point. Union cavalry division has again been sent ahead of their army too. Whole Confederate army (5 infantry & 4 cavalry brigades) then advances on foot and overwhelms the 2 leading Union divisions (1 infantry, 1 cavalry). Victorious Confederate cavalry unable to pursue closely as their horses are too far to the rear. The Union cavalry and mounted infantry perform poorly.

Pleasant Hill, Louisiana. April 1864: Fought day following Mansfield. Both sides have been reinforced but Union holds the high ground. Whole Confederate army again attacks. On the Confederate left, cavalry is ordered to attack and then use their mobility to exploit to the rear and cut off the Union army from the Red River crossings. On this sector, a lone Reb cavalry regiment attempts to advance on horse-back but is driven back with loss. Overall, the Reb attacks are initially successful but are finally repulsed. Late in the battle, demoralised Missouri infantry on the Confederate right, seize the horses of dismounted Texas cavalry to aid their retreat. The cavalry itself continues fighting! Nevertheless, Union forces retreat after battle. A tactical defeat but major strategic victory for Confederates.

Blair’s Landing, Louisiana. April 1864: Green’s Texas cavalry division launches failed attack on infantry of Union XVII Corps, defending river transports as Banks’ Union army retreats. Union have gunboat support.

Poison Springs, Arkansas. April 1864: Confederate cavalry under Marmaduke & Maxey overwhelms smaller Union (mainly infantry) force, and captures supply train.

Mark’s Mill, Arkansas. April 1864: Fagan’s Confederate cavalry division, including Dockery’s brigade of mounted infantry, overwhelms a Union infantry force, perhaps of similar size, and captures supply train.

Jenkins’ Ferry, Arkansas. April 1864: Price’s Confederate army is pursuing Steele as he retreats from Camden to Little Rock. Marmaduke’s cavalry are sent ahead to skirmish with the enemy infantry rear-guard and fix them in position until the infantry came up. They do not participate in the main assault however, possibly due to constraints of ground, which limits attack frontage to one brigade at a time (NB this is the battle shown early in the recent ‘Lincoln’ movie).

Yellow Bayou, Louisiana. May 1864: Confederate infantry & cavalry engage Union infantry of XVI Corps in see-saw fight over several hours. Initial Union attack, then Rebs counter-attack but are finally repulsed.

Brice Cross Roads, Mississippi. Jun 1864: Again using mobility to concentrate widely-separated forces, Forrest attacks superior Union (mainly infantry) force and routs it.

Tupelo, Mississippi. Jul 1864: Again using mobility to concentrate widely-separated forces, Confederate cavalry under SD Lee & Forrest attacks entrenched superior Union (mainly infantry) force. They suffer tactical defeat with heavy losses, but Union retreats and Forrest pursues next day.

Price’s Missouri invasion 1864: Several new regiments of Confederate Arkansas mounted infantry are raised for the campaign. Price’s cavalry command is however lacking in numbers, and much of it is poorly trained, mounted and organised. It is also poorly-led by Price. After some success it is heavily defeated in a series of battles against mixed forces of Union infantry & cavalry.

Nashville, Tennessee. Dec 1864: Wilson’s Union cavalry corps is given the task of striking Hood’s fortified left flank, which it achieves very successfully on the first day of the battle. Most of the corps has recently been re-equipped with repeaters of various kinds, and for the first time this makes Union cavalry in the Western Theatre virtually unbeatable due to sheer volume of fire. The next day some brigades continue to push back the Confederate left, while others move to work to envelop their flank. Interestingly, even the latter move is made on foot.

Selma, Alabama. April 1865: Main battle of Wilson’s celebrated Alabama invasion. His corps is now entirely equipped with new 7-shot Spencer repeaters. One Union cavalry regiment attempts a mounted charge (led by Wilson himself), but this repulsed with loss. Meanwhile 2 Union divisions on foot successfully assault city fortifications, defended by inferior force of Reb cavalry and militia under Forrest.

Palmetto Ranch/Brownsville, Texas. May 1865: small Confederate cavalry force under ‘Rip’ Ford defeats superior Union (mainly infantry) force in last battle of ACW.


It can be seen from the above that there was enormous variation in troop quality & effectiveness. A couple of examples illustrate this:

(a) In the Confederate army at Prairie Grove (1862), the most effective troops were the Missouri infantry and cavalry. The least effective element was the recently-dismounted Texas cavalry of Roane’s Brigade. The poorest element of the Union army was the worn-out and badly-armed Union cavalry of Herron’s force, which had forced-march from Missouri. Other Union cavalry were more effective, attacking the Reb-held ridge during the afternoon alongside Kansas infantry.

(b) At Pleasant Hill (1864), Richard Taylor placed most reliance of Green’s Texas cavalry, which he knew well from the previous year’s campaign. The least steady troops turned-out to be the Confederate Missouri infantry division brought from Arkansas. A complete reversal of the situation at Prairie Grove.

To be effective in the mounted infantry role, troops needed both mobility and combat effectiveness, and I think the above list brings out that both attributes were frequently displayed. To generally characterise cavalry as useless on the battlefield seems wide of the mark, at least in the Trans Mississippi. If folks accept the broad argument, there is then the question of how to implement it in our games. I have some thoughts on that, but first I would like to see the reaction to this post. So all comments welcome.........particularly if supported by historical evidence/examples Very Happy

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Re: Gettysburg: SOW - Cavalry in the Trans Mississippi theatre

Post  Uncle Billy on Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:24 pm

That is a very nice synopsis of significant cavalry action in the west. It must have taken you some time to compile it.

I don't deny that they played a role in operations in the west, I just question the significance of their presence in any important battle. Prairie Grove and Nashville are the two exceptions. Although I would say Wilson's pursuit of Hood's routed army was more important than his attack during the battle. Mostly, confederate cavalry was a nuisance to the northern supply lines. In that regard, they did manage to tie a significant number of federal forces to garrison duty. Before Sherman began his stroll through Georgia, he wanted Forrest brought to heel no matter what. That never happened, but his actions in the last 6 months of the war became unimportant.

Theoretically it would be fine to have them in SOW scenarios. The problem is that cavalry behavior in the game is not very good. NSD did not want to take the time to do a credible job in this area so we are saddled, (small pun), with unrealistic performance. Since there are now a few KS players on the NSD team, they can lobby for improvements that will hopefully be given serious consideration.

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Nice WORK!

Post  WSH Baylor on Wed Feb 20, 2013 8:23 pm

Martin, having been a long-time mounted reenactor (I began in the early 1960s) I have always been interested in the cavalry and have several volumes in my personal library. One that jumped off the shelves while I was reading your post is Stephen B. Oates "Confederate Cavalry West of the River published in 1961. If you find a copy, you will not be disappointed! The Bibliography will well worth the investment and I suspect that there will be many more details that you can use to "flesh out" you posting.

There is Appendix A which includes most, if not all, of the Confederate Cavalry Regiments and Battalions from the Trans-Mississippi including both mounted and dismounted as well as CO name(s).

Best regads,

Jack
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Re: Gettysburg: SOW - Cavalry in the Trans Mississippi theatre

Post  Martin on Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:12 pm

WSH Baylor wrote:Martin, having been a long-time mounted reenactor (I began in the early 1960s) I have always been interested in the cavalry and have several volumes in my personal library. One that jumped off the shelves while I was reading your post is Stephen B. Oates "Confederate Cavalry West of the River published in 1961. If you find a copy, you will not be disappointed! The Bibliography will well worth the investment and I suspect that there will be many more details that you can use to "flesh out" you posting.

There is Appendix A which includes most, if not all, of the Confederate Cavalry Regiments and Battalions from the Trans-Mississippi including both mounted and dismounted as well as CO name(s).

Best regads,

Jack
Thanks Jack. This was actually the first book I ever read on the subject, and it is one of the sources I used for my list. My feeling is that some of the conclusions have been overtaken by more recent research, but I would still recommend it as a great primer, and it's still the only book on the Confederate cavalry as a whole in the Trans Mississippi.

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Re: Gettysburg: SOW - Cavalry in the Trans Mississippi theatre

Post  Martin on Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:58 pm

Uncle Billy wrote:That is a very nice synopsis of significant cavalry action in the west. It must have taken you some time to compile it.

I don't deny that they played a role in operations in the west, I just question the significance of their presence in any important battle. Prairie Grove and Nashville are the two exceptions. Although I would say Wilson's pursuit of Hood's routed army was more important than his attack during the battle. Mostly, confederate cavalry was a nuisance to the northern supply lines. In that regard, they did manage to tie a significant number of federal forces to garrison duty. Before Sherman began his stroll through Georgia, he wanted Forrest brought to heel no matter what. That never happened, but his actions in the last 6 months of the war became unimportant.
Thanks Kevin. It did take a while Very Happy

I agree re cavalry’s role in raiding, but disagree re its significance in important battles, at least in the Trans Mississippi. There were only 3 full-scale battles there between December 1862 and the end of the war (i.e. Prairie Grove, Mansfield & Pleasant Hill) and cavalry were a significant factor in all of them; partly because the the Rebs could only field armies of any size west of the river by including a large cavalry component. On one side or both, cavalry were also a significant factor in pretty well all of the smaller battles too, as my list indicates. I don’t *think* there is any engagement of any size that I left out.

I have not read as much about it, but my perception is that the the picture in the Western Theatre is more mixed. On the Confederate side, there were normally 2 major cavalry commands: under Wheeler and Forrest. From my reading, Wheeler’s corps never shone on the battlefield. Even Forrest’s Corps did not perform spectacularly at Chickamauga (see Dave Powell’s recent 'Failure in the Saddle'), but by early 1864 it would be hard to find a more aggressive & tactically effective command anywhere on either side. But I would not claim my treatment of this theatre is in any way comprehensive. What happened to Wilder’s formidable Union 'Lightning' Brigade after Chickamauga for example? Or all the other regiments of mounted infantry raised by both sides, and mainly used in this theatre?

Maybe we're closer than it appears. I’m not suggesting cavalry was a battle-winning weapon. But I think the evidence I have quoted shows that in the Trans-Mississippi it was a third battlefield arm. Similar to infantry but tactically more mobile. It gave commanders more options, which they used (or attempted to use) in each of the big battles, and many of the small ones. Sometimes the cavalry units were effective in combat, and sometimes not, as I tried to bring out in my list. But it was sufficiently useful that both sides repeatedly used it in battle, and the Confederates invariably did so. Overall, it was not as important as infantry, but then neither I guess was artillery.......

Uncle Billy wrote:Theoretically it would be fine to have them in SOW scenarios. The problem is that cavalry behavior in the game is not very good. NSD did not want to take the time to do a credible job in this area so we are saddled, (small pun), with unrealistic performance. Since there are now a few KS players on the NSD team, they can lobby for improvements that will hopefully be given serious consideration.
It seems to me there are two questions here:

(a) Were cavalry/mounted infantry effective in battles (at least sometimes)?

(b) If they were, how do we represent this in the game?

I felt that in the earlier discussion, all of us were often flitting between the two questions. IMHO the result was that the discussion lacked focus.

We have to look at both, but I would rather concentrate on the first, just for a wee while. If we can agree what cavalry ‘type’ (or types) we are trying to represent, then it may focus our minds on how best to do it.

I do agree there are problems with cavalry’s treatment in the game, although I think there are ways that some can be overcome, even within the current constraints. Good point re KS players on the NSD team, and that is one of the reasons I’ve raised this now.

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Re: Gettysburg: SOW - Cavalry in the Trans Mississippi theatre

Post  Martin on Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:25 pm

After my last post things have gone quiet. This could be because because everyone was really impressed with my arguments & eloquence. Consultation with wife & children reveals that is by far the least likely explanation, and that you are all more likely bored, apathetic, or sullenly resentful and plotting revenge affraid

Well, we know how to deal with that..........more argument & eloquence!

I have previously given a fair amount of detail on the effective use of Confederate cavalry as mounted infantry at Prairie Grove, Arkansas, in December 1862. Several of us refought this battle a few months ago. Kevin raised an issue about whether cavalry had a significant role in any other important battles. It was a fair question, and on reflection I don’t feel that I answered it in sufficient detail.

So I thought I would give a brief analysis of the next major battle in the Trans Mississippi theatre. Large battles were rare on this front, and so we move on almost 18 months to the Battle of Mansfield (or Sabine Crossroads), Louisiana in April 1864.


Background - The Red River Campaign
-------------------------------------------------
In the spring of 1864, the Union Army in Louisiana under Nathanial Banks was ordered to move through NW Louisiana up the Red River to take Shreveport. This previously insignificant place, was by now HQ for the entire Confederate Trans Mississippi Department, and had developed into a major manufacturing and logistics centre. Banks was to be supported by a subsidiary thrust by the Union forces in Arkansas, under Frederick Steele, moving SW from Little Rock. This was the largest operation W of the Mississippi during the war. In total at least 40,000 Union troops would converge on Shreveport, and then advance into Texas. The Confederates were outnumbered on both the Louisiana and Arkansas fronts.

The campaign began well for Banks. He had the support of a Union fleet as he advanced up the Red River, and the Confederates were not well-deployed to meet his invasion, being also concerned that he might instead land on the Texas coast. They desperately draw reinforcements from Texas, notably Greene's division of Texas cavalry.

As he drew near to Shreveport, Banks felt constrained to take a road which led away from the Red River. This not only deprived him of the support of the fleet, but led his army through a heavily wooded stretch of country, with only one good road. In the event, Banks was to be heavily defeated at Mansfield, just short of his goal.

In planning their campaign, both Banks and his Confederate opposite number, Richard Taylor, set specific tasks for their cavalry. But we normally fight battles, rather than campaigns, so I will focus of the tactical level. What follows is not a complete description of the battle of Mansfield, but focuses on the cavalry involvement. I think the cavalry made a significant contribution in the following areas:


(a) Where the battle was fought
----------------------------------------------
Both commanders sent their available cavalry ahead to secure Sabine Crossroads, just S of the small town of Mansfield. This was particularly important for the Confederates, as it was a key communication point, and their forces were still somewhat dispersed, partly for logistical reasons. Fodder for the horses was a particularly problem in this sparsely-settled area, and was one downside of having so much cavalry. Had the Union seized the crossroads, it seems unlikely that Taylor could have concentrated his army in time to defend Shreveport.

The Confederate cavalry were successful in delaying the Union advance through the woods, giving time for Taylor to concentrate his army for battle. This in turn held up the rest of the long Union column, meaning that the Rebels would only fight a proportion of the Union army.


(b) How the battle was fought
---------------------------------------
Securing the crossroads gave the Confederates a further advantage. As the surrounding area was relatively open, it facilitated the deployment of their army, so their divisions and brigades could be properly aligned. The leading Union divisions, on the other hand, were poorly deployed and uncoordinated in the wooded ground, and this was one reason why the Rebel line overlapped theirs.

Looking for every possible edge, Taylor had hoped to fight a defensive battle as the Union troops emerged in column from the woods. They would have been hit by converging cannon-fire, followed by counter-attack. The Union commanders did not oblige him, at least in part because their own troops were in disarray, and with most still to arrive. So the Rebs were forced to attack. Nevertheless, their good deployment, extended line, and initial advance across open ground meant that they had all the advantages. Later in the battle, as they pursued the collapsed Union first line further into the woods, the advancing Confederates were to experience many of the same problems as had earlier beset Banks’ men.


(c) Numbers
----------------
Cavalry represented perhaps 40% of the Rebel army at Mansfield. The Union cavalry were actually a considerably smaller proportion of the total strength of the Banks’ Union army, but for reasons already mentioned, much of the Union infantry was miles to the rear and could not be brought into action on the day of battle. So cavalry probably represented over 30% of the Union forces engaged.

From a campaign perspective, Taylor was initially outnumbered by over 3 to 1 in infantry in Louisiana. Without his cavalry, he could not have fielded an army worthy of the name at Mansfield at all.

If one looks as the overall forces available to the Confederates to defend against both Banks and Steele, the Rebel’s reliance on mounted troops was even more extreme. On the Arkansas front, around 60% of Price’s Confederate force was cavalry or mounted infantry. There were just not enough Confederate infantry in the theatre. After Greene’s Texas cavalry division marched from Texas to join Taylor, there remained only one disposable brigade in the whole Trans Mississippi Department. This was (of course) of cavalry.


(d) Battlefield effectiveness
------------------------------------
The Union cavalry had performed quite well in the campaign thus far, albeit against outnumbered Rebel cavalry. It did not do well at Mansfield however. It was unable to push back the enemy cavalry which covered the Confederate concentration, and some regiments collapsed in the face of the subsequent Rebel ground assault. But then so did several Union infantry regiments. The Union failure at Mansfield was partly due to errors made by the high command, which committed itself to an advance in a long column, accompanied by hundreds of wagons, through poor terrain. The Union mounted troops were additionally hindered by the fact that the cavalry division was newly-formed, and included several recently-raised regiments.

The majority of the Rebel horsemen were considerably more experienced. Greene’s two brigades of Texas cavalry in particular were well-known to Taylor, having fought with him the previous year. Indeed, prior to the battle he considered them his most reliable troops. One brigade had fought under Sibley in the 1862 invasion of Arizona & New Mexico, and later distinguished itself at Galveston & in Louisiana in 1863. The other had won a stunning victory against Union infantry at Brashear City, Louisiana, also in 1863. By contrast, some of the Confederate infantry had a troubled past, although they were to fight effectively in this battle.

The Rebel cavalry did well in the battle. After their early skirmishing, they attacked on foot alongside the Texas & Louisiana infantry brigades in the main battle line. This attack was one of the most successful in any large battle of the ACW, and led to the rout of the two leading Union divisions, and the retreat of the remaining Union forces to Pleasant Hill, where the Confederates were to attack them again the following day.

Hopefully the above will help to convince any remaining doubters that cavalry could be effective in infantry combat. As stated in my original post, I think scenarios set in the Trans Mississippi will make for good games, with unusual armies. The mounted infantry role, which gives commanders more options, potentially makes for more interesting game situations. Of course they were not always effective, as the Union cavalry at Mansfield demonstrated. It all depended on circumstances.


I’ll wait for a while to see if this generates a response. Then I would like to move the discussion on to how we can use the game to simulate at least some of this.

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Re: Gettysburg: SOW - Cavalry in the Trans Mississippi theatre

Post  Uncle Billy on Fri Mar 08, 2013 8:31 pm

I would think that the Greater Mansfield Sewing Circle would be able to defeat Commissary Banks in a fair fight. But as I recall, the fight wasn't very fair. If memory serves, the union boys were outnumbered nearly 2:1 for most of it. Even Jackson was able to beat him and he wasn't exactly a master tactician.

Still, the new patch is suppose to make dismounted cavalry stick around longer in a fight. So maybe they'll be somewhat useful in a battle. We should give them another chance.

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Re: Gettysburg: SOW - Cavalry in the Trans Mississippi theatre

Post  Leffe7 on Fri Mar 08, 2013 8:44 pm

All I can say is, that I am looking forward to play with your Trans-Mississippi OOB Wink
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Re: Gettysburg: SOW - Cavalry in the Trans Mississippi theatre

Post  Martin on Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:34 pm

Uncle Billy wrote:I would think that the Greater Mansfield Sewing Circle would be able to defeat Commissary Banks in a fair fight. But as I recall, the fight wasn't very fair. If memory serves, the union boys were outnumbered nearly 2:1 for most of it. Even Jackson was able to beat him and he wasn't exactly a master tactician.
Banks wasn’t the greatest, although in fairness he did actually win the next day’s battle at Pleasant Hill. So it would be going too far to assume that an army commanded by him would inevitably suffer defeat.

As far as the odds are concerned it’s difficult to be certain, as Confederate strength returns for the period are missing from the Official Records. Over the battle as a whole however, modern historians have estimated Union numbers *engaged* as somewhat higher than Confederate. And in infantry *engaged* the Union had a clear numerical superiority. That said, I would agree that Taylor achieved a considerable superiority in the initial phase – perhaps 3:2. But if the numerous Confederate cavalry were not effective in combat, having even 2:1 wouldn’t have helped him very much Very Happy

My sole purpose in generating this debate is to argue that some ACW cavalry performed effectively as mounted infantry, at least in the Trans Mississippi. In this battle I think that I’ve demonstrated that they did, and in various ways. I have already made many of the same arguments for Prairie Grove, and could do the same for Pleasant Hill, and numerous smaller engagements.

More broadly, if we limit our analysis to battles where the armies were commanded by generals of equal skill – or fair fights - it’s going to be an exceedingly short list. Zero in fact for the Trans Mississippi post Dec 1862, as we must then exclude Prairie Grove & Pleasant Hill, on both criteria. But we should certainly take account of the special factors of each battle, which is why I’m against blanket statements about the battlefield effectiveness or ineffectiveness of ACW cavalry. It all just depended on the cavalry concerned and particular circumstances.

Martin (J)


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Re: Gettysburg: SOW - Cavalry in the Trans Mississippi theatre

Post  Uncle Billy on Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:01 pm

True, I take the simplistic view. If the battle took place in Banks' theater of operations, how important can it be. However, I look forward to a scenario based on these operations. You get to be Banks. Very Happy

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Re: Gettysburg: SOW - Cavalry in the Trans Mississippi theatre

Post  Martin on Sun Mar 10, 2013 9:53 am

Tee hee. Maybe I can con the FG into playing him...........

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Re: Gettysburg: SOW - Cavalry in the Trans Mississippi theatre

Post  Mr. Digby on Thu Mar 14, 2013 11:19 pm

Given that it seems all the cavalry fought dismounted at almost every battle but were used as a fast movement force on the strategic level it seems to me to be best to just use infantry units to represent them?

SoW already does this with a good few cav units.

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