Would there be a need to count off by fours if the groups of fours were always the same members?
benteeneast: I agree with your thought that the numbers constantly changed in the field. Let me reiterate as Custer's men started down the Cedar Coulee, Pvt Peter Thompson said, "When we reached the top of the hill, we were ordered to form into sets of fours which would make us a more solid and compact body. Each was told to remember his number... In the morning before mounting the companies form in single lines. Each man, commencing at the head of the company calls out in turn his number....untill the company is all numbered into sets of fours."
Counting off by fours is only important due to the necessity for horse holders. It was always done first thing in the morning, before moving out from camp, and could be done during the march if officers or NCOs thought enough men were missing to require a new count.
"Fours" could be informally fixed simply by how you lined up, and pals would want to line up together. I think it probably varied how much NCOs told the men to line up...I'm not sure most units even lined up by platoons, although I've heard that sometimes happened. Usually I just read that the company makes one big line and counts off by fours without regard to any platoon organization.
Two ways to count off by fours I've seen...the normal way, to line up, usually dismounted by your horse's head, but can be done mounted, and you count down the line. Another way I've read done while on the march is to simply tell a disorganized group to form column of fours and then every man on the far left is the "four."
BTW, I think "four" is the only number that matters...nobody cares if you are 1-3. <g>
That's just my experience...some historical sleuths should have more info on this technique or procedure. It's not an American procedure, btw...it comes from pre-Napoleonic Europe.
Yeah...but we are not talking about "technical manuals" here...ask him the reason carbine tactics weren't addressed in Cooke's manual. The U.S. Cavalry had carbines all the way back to our revolution, and used them extensively in the Mexican and Indian Wars prior to the Civil War.
So there should be no excuse as to why carbine TACTICS weren't addressed in Cooke's manual...would be interested to see what the MAJ thinks on this ommission...
The following is the Major's response to Clair's query:
This is difficult to answer for two reasons. I don’t know exactly what CPT Conzelman means by ‘tactics’, and the lack of a paper trail from Col. Cooke.
I realize that everyone should know what ‘tactics’ means, but I suspect that he has something(s) specific in mind. The carbine was intended to be a dismounted weapon. Cooke’s manual DOES describe the procedures for dismounting to fight on foot. It clearly tells how to form the squads, and the School of the Soldier, Dismounted covers how to march. It also describes how to re-form for mounting, and the actions of the horse holders.
Jim Hatzell’s note that individual marksmanship was not valued, and that massed fires were the norm certainly applies here. Therefore, the manual is pretty complete as it is. What IS missing is how to handle, load, and fire the piece. I have already given at least one reason why that is omitted. For what it is worth, Cooke’s description of loading a pistol is just as sketchy.
I do not recall Poinsette’s Tactics (the precursor to Cooke’s) having any more detail, except it does describe how to handle the weapon. Note that Poinsette’s is almost a direct translation from the French cavalry manual of the time. I think that Cooke borrowed heavily from a French manual as well. It even uses the French line drawings, with a few changes to make it look like an American uniform. It is possible that the French manual did not include much in the way of carbine ‘tactics.’
Cooke joined the Dragoons in 1833. Therefore he was one of the most senior Cavalry officers in the Army when he ‘wrote’ his tactics. He had more experience on horseback than almost all of the other officers. Admittedly, most of it was on the Prairies, but it was more than others had. He should have known what was required.
I recall reading that Cooke had been working for some time (years) on the manual before it was published. Perhaps, with war clouds looming, he was pushed to get it done before he was satisfied. I know from my experience that I have been working on a document, and been told by the commander, “Never mind that, I need it NOW.” There is also the possibility that items were deleted by higher authority before it was published. This is not meant to be an apologia for Cooke. The only way to know for sure is if correspondence could be found on the subject, and I doubt such exists.
I am aware of what I consider to be one ‘disconnect.’ McClellan’s equipment was issued for trial in 1857 (I think Cooke was on the board). Both the trial and M-1859 equipment included a snap link. However, Cooke’s still uses the old Poinsett verbiage about tying the reins to the next horse’s bit when forming to fight on foot. I would have thought that Cooke would have included a change in his manual to cover snap links before it was published. But then, I have no idea how far in advance it was sent for publication.
One should not attempt to compare Cooke’s and Upton’s. Cooke’s only has a few bugle calls; Upton’s has one for everything except taking a piss off the back of one’s horse. He was the Army’s premier strategist at the time; that is why he got the job to re-write the manuals (infantry AND cavalry). Also, with the universal adoption of metallic cartridges, the weaponry changed. Capabilities changed. This could account for significant changes between Cooke’s and Upton’s tactics. But, if a subject were left out in Upton’s, I would have to opine that either (A) it wasn’t really needed, or (B) it was common knowledge of the time, and considered redundant.
"The more I see of movement here (Little Big Horn Battlefield), the more I have admiration for Custer, and I am satisfied his like will not be found very soon again.”
~ Gen. Nelson Miles, Commanding General of the Army ------
"With our cherished ones deliverance within our grasp we waited breathless two hours, for the order that never came."
Yeah...good post from the MAJ, but doesn't satisfy my intuition about this matter.
Cooke's neglect to address carbines really stands out, I think, and I'm sure all the officers of that day realized this. Dismounted formations and orders using carbines is very different from using pistols dismounted, although I will allow that perhaps Cooke said "pistols" when he realized all along that this "tactic" was intended to be used with carbines...he just couldn't use that word.
Have you all decided on what tactics manuals that the 7th Cavalry was using at the LBH? If it's Upton's then all of this patter about Cooke's and Poinsett's is moot.
If it's about the American Civil War, and how did cavalry troops learn to fight dismounted then you've run into one of the great conundrums of ACW reenacting for cavalry. Unfortunately for those looking for an answer in a written book/drill manual somehow tens of thousands of ACW cavalrymen learned to fight dismounted whether they were armed with rifles, rifle muskets, muskets, shotguns, pistols, sabers, and / or a carbine.
So clair, oral instruction is always a good place to start....somehow the men learned how to load their pieces, maintain them, carry them, ride with them, etc.....osmosis, an infantry manual, Patten's, Posinsett's, Cooke's or a combination of all of the above with qualified instructor's is a plausible basis for being able to assault infantry breastworks at Selma using Spencer repeaters and dismounted cavalary. A breach loading Carbine is certainly a lot easier to load than a load in 9 times (or 10 if you're using Scott's) rifle muskets.....with the number of models out there, one can almost see Cooke, Patten, et al throwing their hands up in the air and deciding not to write down how to load a Gallagher, Starr, Colt, Burnside, Sharps, Spencer, Henry, et al carbine...
We know that a trained cavalry trooper could fire up to 5 rounds per minute dismounted. So no need to advance with a loaded weapon while your file partner (from Poinsett's double ranked mounted formation) covered you as they did in the infantry. No 'rolling blocks'.
Single rank, open order (see Poinsett's), intervals determined by NCO's/Officer's on site. Senior bugler with the Captain, mounted, 50-100 yards behind the line. Lt. and junior trumpeter dismounted, controlling the skirmish line....4's with the led horses getting out of LOF/LOW. They knew how to use link straps or reins to bring 1-3's mounts under control. dismounted horse holders are in for a world of hurt....if they had 8 horses to control.....well a fool and their led horses are soon parted.
They knew how to seek cover, the Sergeant's controlled the firings, the men knew how to load and discharge their pieces. The bugler's echoed their officer's or superior buglers verbal commands and most of the NCO's knew the basic calls.
So despite the lack of a formal manual (and your inquire as to where one exeist)...somehow 10's of thousand's of dismounted cavalry or mounted rifles coming off of a horse or mule or nothing at all (I had a Great Great Uncle shot at Petersburg in a horseless cavalry regiment (27th NY Cavalry) fought in a skirmish line at varying intervals and moved across great expanses of open or closed terrain forward or backyards at speeds varying from a crawl to an outright panicked run.
As to your assertion that panicked cavalry troopers ended up fighting shoulder to shoulder? don't think so. Your period citation of such behavior as documentation would be most welcome. Infantry was trained to fight in double ranks with a light touch of the elbow, not so cavalry....later on during the ACW infantry tended to spread out more, seek cover, go prone, act more like skirmishers....without orders. New recruits\units and early war battles continued to advance in rigid Napoleonic line formations and were slaughtered (Cold Harbor, Petersburg, 1st Fredericksburg)....later on in the war not necessarily true.
You cite that Upton's manual had lots more bugle calls than Cooke's manual. You failed to cite that Upton's 67 call list was a consolidation of Poinsett's\Cooke's 37 calls, Hunt's 39 calls, and Casey's 49 calls from the ACW. Cooke's added three calls to Poinsett's, borrowing from the Infantry Manuals: Wheel Left and Right (Change of Direction), and the Recall (Artillery Recall being the same tune as Charge as Foragers). You also failed to cite that the lower number of calls available was a problem.....there isn't that much of an indication that the lack of "Mount" or "Dismount" from the ACW manuals was a problem (do you really want to let your opponents know what you are doing tactically?)....we don't have any issues with this in reenacting today for example. True, not under combat conditions....but we face wind, terrain, distance, noise, and unruly horses just like the 21 buglers at the LBH did and don't have a lot of problems communicating by bugle.
BTW, Upton's was all about 4's.....abandoning 6 gun batteries, and comrades-at-arms from the infantry. the men didn't line up by buddies/comrades, they lined up by height, added corporals and Sergeants at the proper breaks.....and then numbered off. In the middle of the battle you can quickly renumber....or if the number 1 and 3 are MIA then the 2 simply hands his reins to the number 4 and off you go.
When Cooke was writing his manual we had cavalry and dragoon regiments with different carbines and the Regiment of Mounted Rifles apparently still had Kentucky Rifles. It may be for this reason no carbine manual os arms was included by Cooke.
Cooke took his tactics up to fighting on foot but didn't discribe the tactics for it. Perhaps it was assumed that dismounted cavalry would use skirmishing tactics from the current infantry manuals.
I don't have Poinsett's or Upton's manuals. Cooke's is much easier to come by. A large part of these manuals was taken from previous manuals so Cooke's is useful.
Re: 27th NY Cav
Dyer's "Compendium" does not list a 27th NY Cav. Could this be the 2nd NY Mounted Rifles which was also called the 7th NY Cav? That regiment served at Petersburg. Capt Owen Hale of Co K, 7th Cav serves in that regiment. The 24th NY Cav also served dismounted in the Petersburg lines. W. W. Cooke served in that regiment.
I think rjsamp has it right that the cavalry used infantry manual skirmisher tactics, so that covered what needed to be done there.
Most Regular officers, then as today, were trained as infantry officers first, at West Point, and learned cavalry later. So they would know all the infantry drills, and could readily teach skirmisher tactics to Volunteer regiments in the CW without a manual, or using the infantry manual if they needed some written material.
Many officers come into the Regular Army from civilian life and had no training in any branch. This was particularly true of the officers commissioned in the new 1861 regiments.
To be sure, but these guys learned from the "Old Army" hands, or new West Pointers.
Every Civil War regiment had to have a small group of trainers...none of them learned the ways of military life by themselves, or from books. Books helped, but no regiment went to war by book learning.
They learned their craft, such as it was, verbally and by example...this is how 95% of Civil War regimental training was done. All that "studying the books at night" by the newbie officers did occur, but it only supplemented their training, and didn't really give them what they needed to know. Most of what they needed they got from Regular Army Soldiers, NCOs and officers either currently active or now civilians but with prior service. Luckily we had quite a few of them still around, from '48 and after.
The Army of Northern Virginia had a special bonus...besides the veterans and West Pointers who returned to Virginia, they had graduates and current Cadets at VMI that greatly enhanced the initial training of the ANV regiments. This gave that army a significant advantage in the battles from '61 through '63.
By the way, this seems like the next logical area of progression here... educational background.
George Custer, USMA Marcus Reno, USMA Tom Weir, University of Michigan Tom McDougall, St Mary’s Academy (Baltimore) + military school Ed Godfrey, EM in CW; then USMA Algernon Smith, Hamilton College Jim Calhoun, Mount Pleasant Academy, NY James Porter, USMA Benny Hodgson, USMA Win Edgerly, USMA Henry Moore Harrington, USMA Charles Varnum, USMA "Nick" Wallace, USMA Luke Hare, USMA James Garland Sturgis, USMA William Van Wyke Reily, Georgetown University and US Naval Academy Jack Crittenden, USMA (flunked out after junior year)
Surgeons: Dr. Lord, Bowdoin College; Chicago Medical School (now Northwestern University) Dr. Porter, Georgetown University, School of Medicine Dr. DeWolf, Harvard University School of Medicine
Not a bad group, I'll tell you.... This and a bunch of mustangs.
Upton's Infantry Tactics were adopted in 1867 so West Point classes from 1868 on would have a foundation in Upton. According to Heitman there were from 1868 to 1875 about 370 graduates of which about 150 were commissioned in the cavalry and 110 in the infantry.
I was writing of the regular regiments authorized in 1861. At that time Capts came into the Army without prior experience. They were trained in the branches they were in: there was no basic infantry training. They training of officers was up to the commander of the regiment or post or company.
Yes, I fully agree...normally about one-third to a half of the new LTs in any Regular regiment entered without prior service before the Civil War.
Half or more had either U.S., or other, military academy training (VMI, Citadel, Norwich, Sandhurst) or had European officer or enlisted experience.
The new guys simply learned from the other officers as "3rd" or "2nd" LTs, and also from their experienced NCOs.
It is not SO different from today. All that "school training" officers get before becoming 2nd LTs, and then their basic training, is important, but the most important things they need to learn to become effective combat officers they learn after they get to their units.
BTW, in today's Army, about one third of the new combat arms LTs entering the service each year come from West Point, and most of the rest are from ROTC programs at schools around the country (including the private and state military academies). A few are also from the enlisted ranks.
Cooke's "Tactics" and from what I understand Upton's "Tactics" place the guidon at the center of a company on line.
There are a number of photographs that show the guidon at the center or at least toward the center of the company line into the 1890s.
Company I, 2nd Cav about 1863 in a column of twos. "Photographs of Civil War Cavalry," Andrews, Nelson, Pohanka, and Roach, p. 4- 5. Stars and Stripes guidon.
From Erwin's The United States Cavalry; An Illustrated History:'"
p. 136 - 137 - Unknown company of the 9th Cav at Ft Davis, Texas, 1875. Stars and Stripes guidon. p. 156 - 157 - Companies B, E, F, A, and I, 2nd Cav at Ft Walla Walla Washington, 1887. The companies are dismounted in column and the right files are alligned. Because the companies vary in strength the guidons are in different files. The guidons appear to be red and white.
From "Longknives," Cox and Langellier:
p. 31 - Unknown company, 9th Cav, Ft Davis, Texas, after 1872. Stars and Stripes guidon. p. 47 - Two unknown companies of the 10th Cav facing each other, one a gray horse company, probably 1880's. Red and white guidons.
Unknown company, probably of the 1st Cav, in column of 4's, Ft Maginnis, Montana. Red and white guidon. The guidon bearer is a number 4. "Old Forts of the Northwest," Hart, p. 176.
From "Scalp Dance; The Edgerly Papers on the the Battle of the Little Big Horn," Clark.
p. 50 - Four unknown companies of the 7th Cav in column of companies. Inspecting officer and staff passing between regiment standard and color company. 2nd company in the column is a gray horse company. New design standard, probably yellow. p. 51 - The same four companies in line abreats. Enlisted men saluting with sabers; company and platoon commnaders have brought their sabers down. Red and white guidons in both photos.
"Custer's 7th Cavalry Comes to Dakota," Darling, followin p. 134. Cavalry passing in review. The caption indicates that it is the 7th Cav in1877. The unit appears to be in column of companies, companies in column of platoons. No guidons visible on the right, however there are three guidons faintly visible towards what might be the center of some company lines. The guidons appear to be red and white. This would mean that the photo would have been taken after the guidons were changed in the 1880s. Also I'm not sure that the technology of 1877 could capture moving lines of cavalry as well as the camera does on this occasion.
Company C, 7th Cav apparently moving at a rapid gait, at SanCarlos Indian Agency, 1896. Red and white guidon. From the regimental history, "Of Garyowen in Glory," Chandler p. 90.
There is a photo taken at Ft Riley probably in the 1890's showing 4 companies abreast, companies in column of platoons. The guidons of the two right flank companies are placed to the left of the companies' front rank, and the guidons of the two left flank companies are placed to the right of the companies' front rank. This may explain the placement of the guidons in the Rough Riders film. This photo appears on p. 32 of Langellier's "Sound the Charge."
There are many photos where no guidons are visible and at least one where the placement can't be determined. The earliest photo I can find where the guidons of companies are uniformly to the right is in "Old Forts of the Northwest" mentioned about. On p. 167. This shows 6 companies passing in review at Ft Custer, Montana. All guidons are to the right and are red and white. The post was abandoned about 1897.