Dragoon or mounted infantry?

major bill

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The term dragoon refers to mounted infantry. The original concept was that while a cavalryman fought on horseback, a dragoon used the horse for mobility but fought on foot. The name can from the fact they often carried a dragon which was a type of blunderbuss pistol that could be shot while on horseback. Strange name for them because dragoons were expected to fight on foot.

By time of the Civil War some European armies dragoons have evolved in to cavalry that mostly fought mounted but could also fight on foot. At the start of the Civil War many mounted companies in the South, and some in the North, called themselves dragoons but considered themselves cavalrymen. By the middle of the Civil War both sides expected their cavalrymen to fight both on foot and mounted. Still there were 'mounted infantry' units that functioned like original dragoons and fought on foot, only using their horses for transportation. Then there were dismounted cavalry units that did not even have horses.
 
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The term dragoon refers to mounted infantry. The original concept was that while a cavalryman fought on horseback, a dragoon used the horse for mobility but fought on foot. The name can from the fact they often carried a dragon which was a type of blunderbuss pistol that could be shot while on horseback. Strange name for them because dragoons were expected to fight on foot.

By time of the Civil War some European armies dragoons have evolved in to cavalry that mostly fought mounted but could also fight on foot. At the start of the Civil War many mounted companies in the South, and some in the North, called themselves dragoons but considered themselves cavalrymen. By the middle of the Civil War both sides expected their cavalrymen to fight both on foot and mounted. Still there were 'mounted infantry' units that functioned like original dragoons and fought on foot, only using their horses for transportation. Then there were dismounted cavalry units that did not even have horses.
Thanks for the summary Major Bill. It’s all very confusing.
You’ve given me a lot of information that I didn’t know. It almost sounds like many called themselves what they wanted or kept the term they were misted in with.
I know the union dragoons had their own destructive coat button with a D in the eagle shield. Do you know if the confederate side had a block D? I don’t think they did but not sure.
Thanks again
 

major bill

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Before the Civil War the U.S. Army had three types of mounted troops, 2 regiments of dragoons, 2 regiments of cavalry, and 1 regiment of mounted riflemen (armed with rifles). Dragoons wore orange trim, cavalry wore yellow trim, and mounted riflemen wore green trim. A few volunteer units early in the Civil War wore orange dragoon trim instead of yellow cavalry trim, As far as I know the orange trimmed volunteer mounted men performed exactly like yellow trimmed cavalry men.

In August of 1861 the last of the U.S. Army dragoons were re-designated as cavalry. The move was not popular with the regular army dragoons and many of the men continued to wear orange dragoon trim as long as they could. A few early war cavalry regiments also wore orange trim but I am not sure they considered themselves dragoons. A few early Civil War volunteers wore the insignia of the mounted riflemen but I believe most were infantry armed with rifles and not mounted. Some "rifle" regiments did wear green trim but most did not have horses and were really infantry regiments armed with rifles and in some cases they could not get rifles and carried smooth-bore muskets.
 

mofederal

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In 1861, the original mounted forces underwent the following changes. 1st Dragoons became the 1st Cavalry, the 2nd Dragoons became the 2nd Cavalry, the US Mounted Rifles became the 3rd Cavalry. The 1st Cavalry became the 4th Cavalry and the 2nd Cavalry became the 5th Cavalry. The 6th Cavalry was recruited, and this finished out the reorganization of the US Regular mounted troops in the Civil War. Mounted Infantry was used at the State Volunteer forces level, but any state forces calling themselves "Dragoons' were just Cavalry, using the name Dragoon.
 

TnFed

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Had an ancestor in the 1st TN Infantry USA. For a year they were mounted as the 1st East TN Mounted Infantry USA.
 
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Very interesting. I had a 3rd and 4th great grandfathers in the 53rd and 55th KY Mounted Infantry (US),

So I’m curious and anxious to learn more about this subject.
Thanks for your interest Kyle. I still intend to post more on this subject in this coming year. But for now, I am having a great deal of difficulty reading and writing - which hopefully will be corrected in May with my scheduled cataract surgery.
Stay tuned.
 

Waterloo50

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The term dragoon refers to mounted infantry. The original concept was that while a cavalryman fought on horseback, a dragoon used the horse for mobility but fought on foot. The name can from the fact they often carried a dragon which was a type of blunderbuss pistol that could be shot while on horseback. Strange name for them because dragoons were expected to fight on foot.

By time of the Civil War some European armies dragoons have evolved in to cavalry that mostly fought mounted but could also fight on foot. At the start of the Civil War many mounted companies in the South, and some in the North, called themselves dragoons but considered themselves cavalrymen. By the middle of the Civil War both sides expected their cavalrymen to fight both on foot and mounted. Still there were 'mounted infantry' units that functioned like original dragoons and fought on foot, only using their horses for transportation. Then there were dismounted cavalry units that did not even have horses.
It sounds like dragoons were the elite troops in that they could fight mounted or on foot. Is it correct to claim that the difference between mounted riflemen and dragoons was in their weaponry. Dragoons were armed with carbines, sabers, and pistols. Mounted riflemen had no sabers and had, as the name implied, rifles?
 

James N.

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In 1861, the original mounted forces underwent the following changes. 1st Dragoons became the 1st Cavalry, the 2nd Dragoons became the 2nd Cavalry, the US Mounted Rifles became the 3rd Cavalry. The 1st Cavalry became the 4th Cavalry and the 2nd Cavalry became the 5th Cavalry. The 6th Cavalry was recruited, and this finished out the reorganization of the US Regular mounted troops in the Civil War. Mounted Infantry was used at the State Volunteer forces level, but any state forces calling themselves "Dragoons' were just Cavalry, using the name Dragoon.
Some dragoons kept their orange trim until late 1863 early 1864 since the depot for the dragoons still had plenty of orange trim for jackets. It was of saying "we are the senior regiments" of cavalry.
The only thing I would like to add is to point out that the renumbering, which was what members of the units found most objectionable, was intended to reflect that seniority among the mounted units. Although it was a nuisance to be sure to bump the 1st and 2d Cavalry to the 4th and 5th Cavalry slots instead of simply retaining them as the 1st and 2d, it was necessary to reflect their correct order-of-creation. For more about these wartime changes:

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/texas-forts-trail.123153/post-1309023

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