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"Question about Confederate cavalry operating as infantry" Topic

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American Civil War

491 hits since 10 Jun 2018
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Battle Phlox11 Jun 2018 3:57 p.m. PST

So during the war a few CS cavalry regiments such as the 10th, 14th, and 32nd Texas Cavalry regiments were used as infantry. Did the units still use pistols and carbines or convert their weapons and pick up longer rifles? Did they still have a significant amount of horses?

Thank you for any replies and help.

Personal logo Buckeye AKA Darryl Supporting Member of TMP11 Jun 2018 4:16 p.m. PST

Typically mounted infantry, which is what most western theater Confederate cavalry functioned as, would prefer the two band Enfield and a Colt pistol or two. In this way they could fend off Federal infantry at longer ranges if need be.

Of course, units were restricted by what they could get their hands on.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP11 Jun 2018 4:32 p.m. PST

Phlox, are you talking about cavalry units which dismounted to fight, designated "Mounted Infantry" regiments, or units which had formally been converted so that the name would be "Umpteenth Franklin Cavalry (Dismounted)"? Making some allowance for the Confederacy's supply problems, designated "Mounted Infantry" or "Cavalry" which primarily fought dismounted (a) have horses, and (b) need rifles, though some will have to settle for carbines and shotguns. Units which are titled "Dismounted" are infantry except--perhaps--for uniform purposes.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP11 Jun 2018 5:17 p.m. PST


I think that the units to which you are referring used long rifles as they functioned entirely as infantry. They would be the ones in infantry brigades of infantry divisions.

Here is an example:

Cleburne's Division, Granburry's Texas Brigade had the 17th/18th/24th/25th Texas Cavalry [combined] (dismounted cavalry) during the Chickamauga/Chattanooga campaigns.

But even mounted Confederate cavalry units had a large portion of long rifles. An example from the Army of Tennessee:

1st Cavalry Division, 2nd Cavalry Brigade (BG Davidson)
1st Tenn Cavalry had 88 Enfield rifles, 13 Springfield rifles, and 72 carbines
2nd Tenn Cavalry had 35 Enfield rifles, 10 Springfield rifles, and 14 carbines
4th Tenn Cavalry had 75 Enfield rifles, 23 Springfield rifles, and 101 carbines
5th Tenn Cavalry had 110 Enfield rifles, 29 Springfield rifles, and 27 carbines
[from return dated Dec. 20, 1863 in the collection of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History]

By Mar 4, 1864 the same four regiments had:
1st Tenn -- 116 Enfield, 3 Austrian, 4 Springfield, and 1 Belgian rifles plus 127 carbines and 82 pistols
2nd Tenn -- 5 Enfield and 176 Austrian rifles plus 4 carbines and 42 pistols
4th Tenn -- 173 Enfield, 19 Springfield, and 18 Austrian rifles plus 69 carbines, 1 shotgun, and 198 pistols
5th Tenn -- 151 Enfield, 2 Austrian, and 13 Springfield rifles plus 69 pistols
[from return dated Mar 4, 1864 in the collection of MDAH]

Hopes this helps,


79thPA Supporting Member of TMP11 Jun 2018 5:24 p.m. PST

The dismounted cavalry regiments did not maintain a compliment of horses. They would retain their cavalry designation and pay. I assume they retained their uniform designations as matter of pride but, for all ppractica purposes they were infantrymen. I assume they were armed and equipped as such. All of the above is my understanding.

Major Mike12 Jun 2018 7:44 a.m. PST

Some times the issue is available mounts. As with Wilders mounted infantry, they rode mules. Mules are too smart to stand around and get shot.

donlowry12 Jun 2018 8:24 a.m. PST

When did Wilder's brigade ride mules? Are you confusing it with Streight's brigade?

I would assume dismounted cavalry were armed as infantry. However, Confederate cavalry in the West were often issued Enfield rifles, which were shorter than rifle muskets and came with sword bayonets. If they had these, there would have been no point in making them swap them for rifle muskets -- especially since good weapons were usually in short supply.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP12 Jun 2018 8:45 a.m. PST

I've run across a number of reenactment units who pretend to portray "Dismounted Confederate Cavalry" they are typically equipped with a carbine and 4 LeMat revolvers each. This compares to regular, mounted, Confederate cavalry who are normally only armed with 4 LeMat revolvers each.

Note, there are "hardcore" Confederate reenactor who do a good job on authenticity. None of these units does dismounted cavalry to my knowledge.

Old Wolfman12 Jun 2018 11:07 a.m. PST

Seen some of that,myself,even among Yankee reenactors too. One bunch portrayed some Kansas "Redlegs". My old outfit(9th KY) refused flank on them during one battle at Sharon Woods Heritage Village back in 2012,while we had flank on the Union position(we were doing Shiloh that year,and the main scenario was the Hornet's Nest).

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP12 Jun 2018 10:31 p.m. PST

Battle Phlox,

There are several reasons why a designated Confederate Cavalry regiment served as an infantry regiment.

1. There weren't enough horses. As the war progressed the Confederates were running out of everything including horses.

2. As a recruiting tool. In states like Texas, so many recruits wanted to be in the cavalry that it would be too difficult for the state to fill it's infantry quota. So you recruited the regiment as cavalry. Telling the recruits they had to wait for horses that never would come. They stubbornly held on to the cavalry name.

3. Some units just ran out of horses. When a trooper lost his horse, he was responsible to find a replacement or it was off to the infantry. You might have a regiment with more riders than horses.

Many CS Cavalry units, especially in the west, carried muskets instead of carbines. So it wouldn't be unusual for a would be cavalry recruit to be issued a musket instead of a carbine. The deal with CS cav. units is that they could be armed with just about anything, shotguns, pistols, carbines, smoothbore or rifled-muskets.

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