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 Post subject: Early Mounted Military 1832-1861
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2016 12:19 pm 
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I am searching the internet to find enough photos to be included in a historical discussion of the early horse mounted military from 1832-1861. Unfortunately my "Horse Soldiers" books by Randy Steffen are stuffed away deep in the bowels of my storage shed and will likely be there until we move to a larger place. This is a fascinating era of American history that gets little attention in living history, reenactments or historical forums...that last 30 years prior to the Civil War.

If anyone has "piggers" of '32 US Ranger Battalion, '33 1rst Dragoons, '36 2nd Dragoons, '46 US Mounted Rifles, 1850's Dragoons and 1850s 1rst and 2nd Cavalry, please let me know so we can coordinate or so you can add to the discussion. This is a historical discussion but can include all aspects of uniforms, weapons, horse equipment as well as military engagements and historical postings.....as well as actual living history aspects.
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 Post subject: Re: Early Mounted Military 1832-1861
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2016 9:07 pm 
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Interesting pic Mule......what group would this have been ?


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 Post subject: Re: Early Mounted Military 1832-1861
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 12:49 am 
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This is 1833 1rst Regt of Dragoons......merely a photo as an example.......I will begin with the 1832 U.S. Mounted Ranger Battalion......which was the first official US mounted unit since the "Light Dragoons" of the War of 1812 era.........so in effect there was no mounted service for 20 years.

It was during the advent of the Black Hawk War that the U.S. considered a mounted force to protect the frontier south and west of the Missouri River. Here's Quartermaster General Jesup's 1830 letter of recommendation for a mounted service.
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In June 1832, Congress authorized the organization of a Battalion of Mounted Rangers for defense of the frontier. Some 600 hardy frontiersmen were brought together."

"The Mounted Ranger Battalion was made up of young, hardy hunters, trappers, and other outdoorsmen, who were required to furnish their own horses and horse equipment, weapons, and dress. They were completely without uniforms or insignia of rank of any kind, although contemporary writings reveal they did have buglers. Recruiting rules specified that they be clothed in the "hunting dress of the day."

So imagine a mounted rough looking bunch, largely without discipline or military decorum. Militia Major Henry Dodge was promoted to Colonel of the new regiment with it's enlistment of one year. The painting Catlin did of Dodge is generally shown as he was thought to have looked as the commander of the rough and tumble "U.S. Mounted Ranger Battalion" due to his buckskin frock, top hat and plains style rifle but is actually his preferred campaign dress worn as the commander of the 1rst U.S. Dragoons two years later in 1834.
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 Post subject: Re: Early Mounted Military 1832-1861
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 4:32 pm 
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At the end of 1832, the Secretary of War, Lewis Cass, reported that it cost $150,000 more a year to maintain the Battalion of Mounted Rangers than it would for a full regiment of dragoons. The fate of the Rangers was sealed. By July of 1833, the men of the Ranger Battalion had served their 1-year's enlistment, and demanded their discharge. Earlier that year Congress had authorized The United States Regiment of Dragoons, on the 2nd. of March. This is the date used as the real birthday of the United States Cavalry.

It was believed that a disciplined, uniformed and weaponized mounted service was expected to deliver greater respect of the U.S. Military might than had the Ranger Battalion. The following years are often referred to as the "Golden Age of Militarism" in the United States. Much expense and concentration to detail of clothing...both campaign and dress uniforms......made the new "U.S. Regiment of Dragoons" the elite of the army. Later the Voltigeurs and Topographical Engineers would claim that distinction, but the dragoons would carry the weight of armed conflict until Dragoons and Mounted Riflemen were reorganized along with two regiments of cavalry in 1861.

The term "dragoon" had been in use for centuries, particularly as long as muskets/carbines had been fired from horseback. America tended to confuse the original European definitions of "dragoon and cavalry". Dragoon coming from the original word "dragon" relating to mounted muskets being fired from horseback billowing fire and smoke. However dragoon tended to refer to mounted infantry or riflemen or musketeers being transported to the battle scene, then dismounting to fight on foot. In addition to muskets, heavy swords and later pistols became the armament of the dragoon, where the cavalryman usually only carried saber/sword and later pistols fighting primarily on horseback. Technically then, the U.S. army actually had dragoons throughout the long 110 years of horse mounted soldiering......with the only exception I'm aware of in the 1850's where the 1855 Springfield Percussion Carbine Pistol with detachable shoulder stock was issued to some/all? companies in one of the two new regiments of 1850's cavalry......hopefully I'll have more specific information on that when I get to the 1rst and 2nd Cavalry Regts.

So in effect the dragoons were mounted infantrymen with cavalry sabers and pistols expected to fight either on horseback "cavalry" or dismounted as infantry. This would be the standard for mounted troops whether named dragoons, mounted rifles or cavalry until "cavalry" became mechanized in the early 20th century.

The new Dragoon regiment was issued the the 1833 Dragoon saber which was modeled after the 1822 British saber. Slightly curved steel blade, brass hilt and eel? or sharkskin wire wrapped handle.
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Considered the secondary weapon dragoons were issued one or a "brace of flintlock pistols, either the Harpers Ferry 1807 or "possibly" the 1816 North martial pistol....perhaps Mick could nail in down because honestly I have never been able to determine what was issued or how many to each trooper. Randy Steffen always showed the HF model in his drawings as you will note in his sketch below.

The new regiment would get the first percussion martial firearm ever issued in the 1833 model Hall carbine. Shown below is actually the '36 model carbine, which is essentially the same except the placement of the carbine ring and the ramrod bayonet on the '36 model. I chose this one to give better angles of the carbine.
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The firing breech mechanism is actually a "front loading breech"....powder went in first like a muzzleloader, followed by buck and ball and finally paper wad. Removal of a screw would allow the breech to be removed and easily conceal in a trooper's pocket.....not regulation.

Uniform would be a dark blue wool shell jacket and lighter Kersy wool blue trousers with yellow trim...which would be standard until the late Indian Wars/Spanish American War. There would be later provision for white canvas jacket and trousers for the hotter climates. Black leather Jefferson Shoes/bootees for footwear. White Buff saber belt and carbine sling, Black leather cartridge box. Black leather folding forage cap.
Horse equipment I have discussed elsewhere...but there does seem to be confusion as to the exact nature of the saddle and quite possibly there was for a short period both a black leather English style saddle as well as an improved Mexican tree saddle. Here again is the sketch of a Dragoon Sargent on horse back. He has two yellow stripes down his trouser leg as opposed to enlisted men who only had a single stripe.
Image
This was truly the Fur Trade mounted soldier!

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"Nope!....If I gotta choose.....I'll ride the mule and pack the horse!" WD Bennett


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 Post subject: Re: Early Mounted Military 1832-1861
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:36 pm 
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Josh has a saber....( 1832 Ames....???) that looks just like the one above.


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 Post subject: Re: Early Mounted Military 1832-1861
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:53 pm 
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Yep....that would be it.....called '33 Dragoon saber" when issued to the newly raised regt. and was produced by Ames.....very cool he has an original! :D

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"Nope!....If I gotta choose.....I'll ride the mule and pack the horse!" WD Bennett


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 Post subject: Re: Early Mounted Military 1832-1861
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2016 2:41 pm 
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Ill try to dig it out and get a picture :-)

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 Post subject: Re: Early Mounted Military 1832-1861
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2016 7:05 pm 
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That would be great Josh!

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"Nope!....If I gotta choose.....I'll ride the mule and pack the horse!" WD Bennett


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 Post subject: Re: Early Mounted Military 1832-1861
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2016 10:12 pm 
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In 1836 due to the "2nd Seminole War" a 2nd Regt. of Dragoons was organized and sent to Florida. However the nature of the guerilla warfare in the swamps required the "mounted infantry" nature of the Dragoons to fight dismounted. Uniformed and equipped the same as the original regiment. In March 1838, the Regiment took delivery from Samuel Colt of 50 Patterson Patent revolving carbine. The Second Colonel of the Regiment Col. William Selby Harney had fifty selected troopers equipped with this new carbine and formed a Regimental corps of sharpshooters. Some say that the sharpshooters were so successful that Harney bought 50 more carbines in 1839.
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Additionally both Regts also carried a brace of one of the following depending on the era.
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Image

The 2nd Regt also carried the 1833 model saber until it was replaced by the 1840 Heavy Dragoon Saber.

As the "2nd War with the Seminoles" began to wind down, the Regiment was repositioned in Louisiana, which formed part of the eastern frontier of the Louisiana Purchase. This was the Regiment‟s first posting in the state of Louisiana. In October 1842, Companies A, D, E, F, and G were ordered to move to Fort Jessup, Louisiana, and Fort Towson, Arkansas. The remaining
companies worked to improve their positions and to scout for the last band of hostile Indians in
Florida. Upon completion of their tasks in Florida, these companies went to Louisiana, where
the entire Regiment assembled. Headquarters were at Fort Jessup and additional postings were to the Arkansas Territory and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

In August 1842 Congress passed a resolution to dismount the Regiment as a cost saving
measure, and it was reconstituted as a Regiment of Riflemen. The Secretary of War noted in his
report of 1842 that dismounting the Regiment saved very little money. It was also pointed out
that the distances along the frontier and the mounted Indian tribes of the area necessitated more
mounted formations. In March of 1843 the Regiment was remounted and again designated as the Second Dragoons.


The 2nd Dragoons were highly decorated during the War with Mexico from 1846 to 1846 and then served throughout the western frontier until the War Between the States broke out. There is quite a bit more history of both the 1rst and 2nd Regiments to discover but too much to mention here.

2nd Dragoon enlisted man with Infantry officer in Mexico
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"Nope!....If I gotta choose.....I'll ride the mule and pack the horse!" WD Bennett


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 Post subject: Re: Early Mounted Military 1832-1861
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2016 4:59 pm 
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With the imminent breakout of war with Mexico.....a third mounted regiment was organized in 1846 called the "U.S. Mounted Rifle Regt". Equipped almost exactly as the new '39 pattern clothing for dragoons except for dark blue trousers with a black strip running down the leg with yellow piping. Horse equipments essentially the same with the exception of the 1846 Grimsley saddle and equipment (I am not sure whether the Grimsley equipment was issued at beginning of war or afterword. Another difference was that the Mounted Rifles received through the efforts of one of it's company commanders and former Texas Ranger "Samuel Walker" in collaboration with Sam Colt, a pair of the newly invented "Walker Revolvers". Walker improved on the Colt Patterson design making the revolver bigger and heavier to deliver near .44 caliber rifle power from the big 6 shot revolvers. The most powerful revolvers until Smith and Wesson's .44 magnum. But the most important difference was that each trooper was issued the new 1841 percussion model rifle or what would be nicked named the "Mississippi Rifle". Acting again on the concept of a "mounted infantry" or more precisely a "mounted rifleman". the new regiment would gain distinction in the War with Mexico. Another equipment distinction was that the riflemen were to receive a "rifleman's knife" rather than the 1840 Dragoon saber. However they were not able to receive their knives before going south to Mexico so they carried the dragoon saber. After the war and on the frontier they would be issued the knife and carried it rather than a saber.
Mounted Riflemen they would appear in Mexico campaign.
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U.S. Mounted Rifleman's knife
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Model 1841 Percussion rifle
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1847 Grimsley horse equipment..Image

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"Nope!....If I gotta choose.....I'll ride the mule and pack the horse!" WD Bennett


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