As part of researching my Western novel, I spent a lot of time looking into the activities of the US Army on the post-Civil-War frontier. It features in my first book in that genre, and will play a larger one in subsequent volumes, if I’m spared to write them.
I thought you might like to learn something about the US Cavalry on the plains. This short video documentary doesn’t go into a lot of detail, but it’s pretty accurate.
Under the circumstances, it’s astonishing that the cavalry achieved so much!
Here's a book that reinforces some commonly held views (such as the high proportion of Irishmen in the post-Civil War cavalry) and threatens others: Would the Comanche have more respect for cavalry or wagon-transport infantry?
Five Years a Cavalryman: Sketches of Regular Army Life on the Texas Frontier, 1866-1871
For a detailed look at army life and campaigns in the frontiers, I recommend "On The Border With Crook" by John Bourke.
"Forty Miles a Day on Beans and Hay" is utterly fascinating.
What? You mean the Rin-Tin-Tin TV show from the '50s wasn't a documentary?
"Blogger Mack Culverhouse said…
"Forty Miles a Day on Beans and Hay" is utterly fascinating."
The comment about saddle sores in the video sure rang true. My grandmother used to have an old McClellan saddle in the barn. Any trooper who survived that rig was a certified hard ass.
Side note, a lot of the tack she had was old surplus cav stuff who knows how old. Wore like iron. We had things like saddle bags, pack saddles, you name it. All in use. It was all stolen back in the 70's. Probably ended up with collectors eventually.
Two bits of trivia: My uncle (father's brother) was assigned to the last cavalry unit still using horses, during WWII, and I, personally, own one of the last US Cavalry portable coal forges, used for hot-shoeing their horses.
I recommend this book (it's a little later time period, early 1900s pre WWI) if you haven't seen it:
Judging from uniforms and carbines, those still pictures spanned from the 1850's into post 1900. Very interesting.
If you pay attention, John Ford got a lot right in his cavalry trilogy. Not the pretty uniforms…but the life of the troopers in the background behind the big stars.
"Good trooper. You'll make corporal in 5 or 6 years!" This to a wounded man who looks to be in his 40's.