Capt. Samuel McKee, 1st U.S. Cavalry

As a follow on to my previous posts regarding leadership in the Cavalry Corps, I am going to focus this month on one officer who appeared repeatedly in early drafts of my new Small but Important Riots manuscript. Unfortunately, he always appeared on the periphery of the story, and wound up being excised from most…

A Case for a Defining Moment – Part 2

On February 21, three days after Major Chamberlain arrested Lieutenant Cranville, 16th Pennsylvania, and just one day after General Hooker dismissed the young officer, Capt. Richard Lord, 1st U.S. Cavalry, inspected the picket line near Hartwood Church. Approaching one of the outposts, Lord encountered four men from the 16th Pennsylvania. “I approached with my party…

A Case for a Defining Moment – Part 1

Guiding his horse through the deep snow in the nearly impenetrable forest along the Rappahannock River, Maj. Samuel Chamberlain may have reflected on the events of his youth. He had enlisted and seen the elephant during the war with Mexico. Rather than a spit and polish soldier, however, Chamberlain had been a bit of a…

Ignorance and carelessness waste our horses

  As I work on concluding a series of posts focused on the cavalry in the Second Manassas Campaign, I thought I would highlight two cavalry inspection reports. The first report, from mid-August, is from General Benjamin Roberts, Pope’s Chief of Cavalry, and pertains to General George Bayard’s brigade. I included part of the report,…

The horses…had been taxed to the utmost of their strength – Part 2

[The importance of logistics – the movement of supplies or materiel – remains sadly under-appreciated. In my opinion, available studies paint in broad strokes, a wise decision as most readers/students do not care to get bogged down in excessive numbers. The books sell, the author is happy and the reader leaves with a basic sense…

Silent Sentinels

I am, temporarily, breaking the thread of the series on the Union cavalry in the Second Manassas Campaign, in order to offer a Memorial Day post, similar to last year. I will return to the cavalry in June. Just after Gen. John Buford’s August 1 fight at Brandy Station, a Northern correspondent spent a night…

The horses…had been taxed to the utmost of their strength – Part 1

In looking for a title for this series of posts, I selected words penned by Col. John Beardsley in mid-September 1862. Beardsley, commanding the cavalry brigade attached to Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel’s First Corps, Army of Virginia, prefaced his campaign report by stating, on August 10, “my cavalry was sent out to patrol the different…

“Reconnaissances by our cavalry…without cessation” Part 3

On August 3, General Pope told Halleck, with his usual healthy confidence, that he expected to take possession of Gordonsville and Charlottesville within ten days. Possibly looking for advice as to the best point at which to cross the Rapidan, Pope queried Banks regarding Barnett’s and Somerville Fords. “[Respecting] the character of Barnett’s ford on…