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"Are there any Accounts of mounted AWI militia in combat?" Topic

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Au pas de Charge13 Jun 2021 7:37 a.m. PST

Did they ever fight as a body mounted (even a smallish troop sized body)or did they only ride to the battle and then dismount?

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 10:42 a.m. PST

At Guilford?

Au pas de Charge13 Jun 2021 11:25 a.m. PST

At any battle. Did they ever mix with the regular dragoons? Or did the latter tell them to get mustered?

Also, were there any non-slave blacks in the regular dragoons?

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 11:55 a.m. PST

No, sorry, I was suggesting that there were militia dragoons at Guilford. And my GUESS would be there were at least a few blacks in the regular dragoons.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 11:57 a.m. PST

A number of them beefed up the Continental Dragoons at Cowpens. There's a description in Devil of a Whipping.

Muster rolls frequently didn't mention race, and our surviving muster rolls are fragmentary at best. If you feel like integrating a dragoon regiment, I wouldn't hesitate.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 12:00 p.m. PST

Yes, whoops, I meant Cowpens. Here's a summary from the wiki on the battle:

Babits's figures can be summarized as follows: 82 Continental light dragoons, 55 state dragoons, 45 militia dragoons, 300 Continental infantry, about 150 state infantry, and 1,2551,280 militia infantry, for a total of 1,8871,912 officers and men.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 12:03 p.m. PST

Free blacks were part of the Virginia militia but confined to unarmed roles as pioneers or musicians.

And volunteer cavalry, typically from the planter class, would have had body servants along. These kinds of units would have been confined to at-home reaction to British invasions.

I paint a few black faces in many AmerRev units.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 1:06 p.m. PST

Try researching Eutaw Springs. It's confusing enough a battle, and all grades of cavalry were present, on both sides.
In a game, I would hesitate to give them any kind of a melee bonus, except against skirmishers, flanks or rear, or disordered units. Of course if they win, they'll take all the credit.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 1:35 p.m. PST

The Perry brothers make some nice ones.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 1:53 p.m. PST

Yes. I have Perry, Fife and Drum, Minden and Old Glory 2nd Ct and Kentucky Rifles with head swaps from KMM. Obviously that's far too many, but that's what gamers do. grin

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 2:37 p.m. PST

Obviously that's far too many, but that's what gamers do. grin

Indeed we do! (says the man with half a dozen Mandalorian figures!)

dantheman Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 2:46 p.m. PST

They were quite a few skirmishes around New York with mounted militia. However, I believe they mainly fought on foot after arriving at the scene. I have to research more on this in that regard as little is written about them.

I have Kentucky rifles like OFM, but no head swaps. You would have to do that if you want more accurate from guess for the period. I am not that ambitious.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 3:20 p.m. PST

I have Perry and Fife and Drum. but do not mix them.

historygamer13 Jun 2021 5:45 p.m. PST

I believe either regulars or militia, they had to provide their own mounts. This was a big problem throughout the war, that and full dragoon and tack gear.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP14 Jun 2021 4:43 a.m. PST

There were militia/state mounted units.

These included:

-Richardson's Regiment, South Carolina Regiment of Militia Light Horse.

-Baltimore Troop of Light Dragoons, Maryland Volunteer Militia.

Some of the units of militia mounted troops can be found in this listing from the Company of Military Historians:





Regarding American Units with grenadier companies, the New York City Independent Militia, 1775-1776 had a grenadier company in miter caps.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP14 Jun 2021 10:52 a.m. PST

I have two plans for that massive amount of militia cavalry.
1. Kings Mountain. I want the OMM to be able to deploy after seeing the Loyalist setup. I'm thinking of how to do that fairly. But I'll have two bags of the Mad Anthony Wayne Kentucky Rifles in hunting shirts to play with, plus Perry and F&D in hunting shirts.

2. Concord campaign. Some Minutemen and militia showed up mounted, but dismounted. This will give them a few extra inches coming in on random side roads.

3. All those figures are so cool looking, it's a crime against collecting to not buy and paint them.

Phatt Rhatt15 Jun 2021 5:49 a.m. PST

The crackers and militia in these parts of America are all mounted on horseback, which renders it totally impossible to force them to an engagement with infantry only. When they choose to fight, they dismount and fasten their horses to the fences and rails but if not very confident in the superiority of their numbers, they remain on horseback, give their fire, and retreat, which renders it useless to attack them without cavalry: for though you repulse them and drive then from the field, you never can improve the advantage, or do them any material detriment.
- George Hanger, Britsh Legion, in his "An Address to the Army; in reply to Strictures, by Roderick McKenzie", page 82.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2021 7:48 a.m. PST

An Address to the Army by George Hanger:


Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2021 7:51 a.m. PST

During Jackson's attack on the British encampment on 23 December 1814, the secondary attack by Coffee's Mounted Riflemen moved to their attack position mounted, left their horses and then advanced on foot.

Phatt Rhatt15 Jun 2021 10:03 a.m. PST

Colonel Sumter proposed that the detachments should approach in their divisions, march directly to the centre encampemnts, then dismount and each divisions attack its camp. This plan was approved by all the officers but Major Davie, who insisted on leaving the horses at this place and marching to the attack on foot, urging the confusion always consequent on dismounting under a fire and the certainty of losing the effect of a sudden and vigorous attack. This objection was, however, overruled.
- Battle of Hanging Rock

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2021 12:02 p.m. PST

George Hanger, Britsh Legion, in his "An Address to the Army; in reply to Strictures, by Roderick McKenzie", page 82.


Au pas de Charge15 Jun 2021 1:33 p.m. PST

Other than Eutaw Springs and Cowpens, there arent any possible accounts of mounted militia fighting while mounted?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2021 2:04 p.m. PST

There were mounted militiamen attached to William Washington's Continental Light Dragoons from the 1st and 3d Regiments of that arm at Guilford Courthouse in March 1781. The militia cavalrymen were Captain Thomas Watkins' troop from Prince Edward Country Virginia and a North Carolina cavalry company commanded by the Marquis de Bretgny.

Washington's regulars numbered 84 all ranks; Watkins troops had 30 all ranks, and de Bretigny between 30 and 40 all ranks.

See Long, Obstinate, and Bloody by Laurence Babits and Joshua Howard, 64.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2021 2:18 p.m. PST

Worth repeating the distinction Au pas: there are a number of militia dragoon units and a few state line dragoons. I think it was the North Carolina Dragoons who were at different times state line, Continental line and a sort of headquarters element for called up militia dragoons. Are we talking about that sort of militia? I thought we were discussing the run of southern militia infantry who might be supposed to fight on foot, but insisted on riding to the battlefield.

Au pas de Charge15 Jun 2021 2:31 p.m. PST

My mistake. I realize that there were many mounted loyalist organizations which were absorbed into Tarleton's legion etc. or might've remained independent and had uniforms and fought.

Although i dont mind knowing about those smaller loyalist militia cavalry units' battle records either, my question was more for the continentals. Thus, outside of the continental dragoons, and the legions like Pulaskis, Lees etc were there the equivalent of mounted minutemen who also fought mounted and have records of that combat?

Phatt Rhatt16 Jun 2021 7:15 a.m. PST

Battle of Blackstock's
Col. Lacey being posted in a thick woody ground gave him a great advantage. When the British made an attempt to attack the front Lacey firing on them then jumping on their horses ride out of sight loaded mounted their horses road in gun shot discharging in like manner and so off again in this way he kept the enemy at bay for at least two Hours tho they had in the meantime mad several attempts to dislodge the front which was immediately under the command of Sumter.
- Richard Winn, pension account

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2021 8:09 p.m. PST

McCall's Light Horse at Cowpens

My Flickr link to my McCall's Light Horse.




TMP link


Bill N17 Jun 2021 6:40 a.m. PST

Nice looking figures.

historygamer17 Jun 2021 9:06 a.m. PST

Very nice indeed. A game worth looing at. Well done.

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2021 11:54 a.m. PST

Thanks, I guess I should post the whole game. As happens on occasion especially at conventions, the game didn't play out historically. But the Americans did win the game.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2021 12:07 p.m. PST

I would be disappointed if a game did play out historically. The game should not be a moving diorama, but a series of decisions and … bad die rolls.

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2021 12:25 p.m. PST

The charge of the Militia Cav. at the 71st Highlanders did not go well for the cavalry. They lost big time and they were destroyed as a fighting force. The American player was in a tough situation. He felt he had to keep something there to hold the line but the Highlanders just stood there and fired at them.

They took out a base. If he did nothing the Highlanders would just continue to fire. So he felt he had no alternative but to charge them. They are not built to charge British Regulars in line muskets at the ready. He could have just fallen back out of range. Firing back at them while mounted didn't cause any damage.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP18 Jun 2021 8:41 a.m. PST

I've mentioned this before, but it seems relevant here. Gregory Urwin, THE UNITED STATES CAVALRY: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY, plate 4,1781, shows "private, corps of Virginia light horse." The note reads: "A Virginia physician wrote of this motley outfit in his diary: "Most of our horse are Volunteers, in small bodies, & chiefly Gentlemen, most of them exceedingly well mounted, but some of them badly armed, & all under little disciplne, and hard to govern." The private is in white stable dress with accourtrememnts issued from the Virginia state store (and intended for the Continental dragoons) wearing a jockey cap.

Doc adds: there is mention scattered through the Virginia state papers, especially during the British invasions, of counties mustering small troops of such cavalry. They didn't like to do it because the men were of the planter class and not cannon fodder. (And in some cases would have been militia officers, drawn away from their companies.) The planters would have had a body servant along, often enough, mounted on the SECOND best horse in the stable, so he could keep up with his master.

I recall reading at least one mention, can't find it now, of some of such cavalry carrying spears and pistols, because they lacked sabers.

These types of volunteer troops would probably be useless on a battlefield, but very useful for reconnaisance.

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