Discussion Cost of an infantry regiment compared to a cavalry regiment.

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Aug 25, 2012
Cavalry regiments had to have horses, saddles, and other items that infantry regiments did not require. So how much more did it cost to raise and outfit a cavalry regiment? There also was an extra cost to maintain cavalry regiment.


Jul 23, 2019
Rochester NY
I would imagine it would be exponentially more. Add in pistols, sabers, and more than likely a breech loading or repeating carbine too. I would think the people in charge obtaining ammo would have their hands full in a cavalry unit.


Jul 28, 2015
New York City
I don't have the cost figures, but a major reason that the United States was reluctant to raise and equip cavalry units at the start of the CW was the higher cost to outfit those units. (The fact that the leadership did not foresee a long war also played a role.)


Jan 21, 2015
It was not just the cost that discouraged raising cavalry regiments. It was calculated that it took 2 years to train cavalry. The planners figured that the war would not last that long.

Also, remember that unless well cared for, given adequate feed, and rest, horses would suffer high losses. Replacing horses was a challenge for both sides. Many CSA units became dismounted in the last year of the war for this reason.

If a horse was well treated, it did pretty well on a campaign. Grant and Lee both had horses that made it through long stretches of the war.

Rhea Cole

2nd Lieutenant
Nov 2, 2019
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Cavalry used up horses the same as infantry used up shoes. The Union army paid $130.00 per horse. Each horse consumed 26 pounds of fodder every day. Horses had to be shod on a regular basis. On campaign, each trooper would need two, three, four or more remounts. That is $520 per trooper; $20-30,000 in 2020 dollars(+/-).
A horse had to be five years old to withstand the rigors of military life. That means that every horse that came of useful age was the issue of a stallion that stood to a mare before 1859-60. From the first shot that was fired, horses were a diminishing asset. There was absolutely no mechanism for ramping up production for the war.
An excellent professional essay on the Union remount system is in the Ten Volume Photographic History of the Civil War, The Cavalry. It is available online. The photos & cost figures will answer your questions in detail.
When you consider that an infantryman was paid $156 per annum, a carpenter/skilled craftsman $300 per annum, the $130 cost of a single horse comes into perspective. In 2020 dollars, the 120 horses of an artillery battery were worth $750,000 (+/-). A mounted battery would more than double that figure.
To put the cost of feeding horses & mules into perspective, during the Tullahoma Campaign that began June 1863, the Nashville & Chattanooga RR was used exclusively to ship fodder southward. Food & ammo were carried on wagons.
The simple answer to the question is that a cavalry regiment cost many, many times that of an infantry regiment to raise & maintain.
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