THE SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
VOL. LXIII APRIL, 1960 No. 4
the 1liated States Cavalry and the
HENRY W. BARTON
WHEN JEFFERSON DAVIS, secretary of war, began assigning
officers to the two cavalry regiments which Congress
had authorized by its act of March 3, 1855, he was
bringing into being an arm which this country seemingly had
feared and distrusted most in its general abhorrence of armies as
tools of oppression. There had been mounted units during the
two wars with England, but never before had there been cavalry
units as a normal part of the regular army, standing alongside
infantry and artillery.
The need for mounted troops had been brought to the atten-
tion of the government earlier, and steps had been taken to
satisfy the need, but the attitude of the legislative branch is made
sufficiently clear by implication in a portion of the annual report
of General Alexander Macomb to the secretary of war in 1828:
The infantry forms a very efficient corps in its present organization,
armament, and equipment; still it has suggested itself, by the nature
of the country which opens upon the plains towards the Mexican
frontier and towards the Rocky Mountains, that the efficiency of
such of the regiments which occupy the posts which have reference
to that frontier could be greatly augmented by providing the means
of mounting the light companies, and giving them the character
and effect of rangers or mounted chasseurs. ... it is believed that
a very small addition to the appropriation for the Quartermaster's
department would enable the mounting and support of one or two
companies, which would be a very useful experiment; ... It is not
proposed to have a costly cavalry, but merely to procure such horses
which the frontier affords, where they can be had at a low rate.'
'American State Papers, Military Affairs (7 vols.; Washington, 1838-1861), IV, 5-6.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101186/. Accessed September 1, 2014.