Interesting Description of a Confederate Cavalryman's Equipment

Championhilz

First Sergeant
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#1
I found the following in the Civil War memoir written by R.O.B. Morrow, Company L, 5th Alabama Cavalry. Morrow had a crippled leg as a result of a childhood illness, and thus did not join the army until 1864 when manpower was at a premium. Morrow wrote this description of his cavalry equipment:

"I rode a mule, a large gentle one, a good traveler and gentle. My bridle was made of home tanned fox or coon hides. The bit was made in a shop near by and was what was called a curb bit. The saddle, home made also, consisted of two pieces of poplar - shaped so it was supposed to fit the mule's back as they lay length - ways on her. They were fastened together in front by a piece of tough oak with rivets made of iron in the shops nearby, the back part was fastened the same way by tough oak out so as to resemble any ordinary saddle. This saddle had holes mortised, through which a leather strap fastened with a ring and this made the girth. The back had holes mortised by which to tie on the belongings of a soldier of the C.S.A. When this was covered with a heavy woolen blanket spun and woven at home by my mother and sister and colored with bark, the soldier, dressed in clothes made the same way by the same loving hands, was ready to mount and be off [for] the war. Neither the boy nor his equipment would make a formidable looking soldier or inspire terror, you will say. True! But the mule could travel and the boy could shoot, and either could very nearly find their own rations. These three formed the chief requisites for a soldier in Forrest's Cavalry."

- Mrs. Calvin S. Brown Papers, Z/0182.000, Mississippi Department of Archives & History
 

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diane

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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#7
Not my area of expertise, but how suitable is a mule as a cavalry mount?
I would think Forrest would get the mule swapped out for a horse asap. However, there is an account in Mathis of at least one of Forrest's men arriving on an ox! (Right thoughty of him, as far as Forrest was concerned - the ox became breakfast for the men and the trooper was on foot until he found a horse!)
 

DixieRifles

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#8
I saw a presentation in fall where someone said they made horse blankets out of woven Spanish Moss. He had an example of a carbine strap made from it. The moss has to be boiled and the hard shell removed and then spun and woven---a long process. But it is supposed to do a good job of keeping the horse dry.
 
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#11
Another mule-riding Reb, an indirect ancestor of mine;


Henry Clay Snodgrass joined Dibrell's Cavalry at Sparta, Tenn., on Sept 1, 1864.

Henry Clay Snodgrass. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6836117

In 1864, in White County, Tenn., he took his dad's mule and ran off to join Dibrell's Cavalry, at the time trying to join up with Wheeler, then raiding near Nashville. Henry was 14, and his description of his first brush with the Yankees undoubtedly refers to the Readyville Stampede, where Dibrell was attacked by Union cavalry. The recruits, most of whom were unarmed, were scattered in all directions. "Henry was riding his mule, spurring him all he could. The pursuing Yankee called out, 'surrender,' [and in response] Henry said, "Can't you see I can't hold this mule?" all the while spurring him on. Seeing Henry was just a boy, the Yankee hit him with his saber flat-sided and he [Henry] fell off. The Yankee kept on in pursuit of others. Along came a fine big horse of some Yankee officer, riderless. Henry grabbed [it] by the bits and swung on. John Farley, nearby, up a mountain side they went, the mule following and braying, fearing he would lose his young master. [The captured horse] was a fine horse with a fine saddle with holsters and two pistols in the holsters." Henry served with Dibrell until the surrender in Georgia in May 1865.
 

Custers Luck

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#12
I saw a presentation in fall where someone said they made horse blankets out of woven Spanish Moss. He had an example of a carbine strap made from it. The moss has to be boiled and the hard shell removed and then spun and woven---a long process. But it is supposed to do a good job of keeping the horse dry.
That would be something to see!! I like that its made out of... What!! when your looking at something its always a great surprise and a treasure to see the unexpected.
 

M E Wolf

Colonel
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#15
I saw a presentation in fall where someone said they made horse blankets out of woven Spanish Moss. He had an example of a carbine strap made from it. The moss has to be boiled and the hard shell removed and then spun and woven---a long process. But it is supposed to do a good job of keeping the horse dry.
http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/she-spins-spanish-moss-into-beautiful-blankets/968162
-------
http://www.confederatesaddles.com/spanish_moss.html

[Has photographs and footnotes with references]

-----------
  • Spanish MossUses - LiveSpanish Moss
    floridaspanishmoss.com/mossuses.html

    The ropes were used to lash together the poles thatcomposedthe framework of...The use of wovenspanish moss blanketsandsaddlepads was adopted by ...
M. E. Wolf
 

M E Wolf

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#16
Another mule-riding Reb, an indirect ancestor of mine;


Henry Clay Snodgrass joined Dibrell's Cavalry at Sparta, Tenn., on Sept 1, 1864.

Henry Clay Snodgrass. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6836117

In 1864, in White County, Tenn., he took his dad's mule and ran off to join Dibrell's Cavalry, at the time trying to join up with Wheeler, then raiding near Nashville. Henry was 14, and his description of his first brush with the Yankees undoubtedly refers to the Readyville Stampede, where Dibrell was attacked by Union cavalry. The recruits, most of whom were unarmed, were scattered in all directions. "Henry was riding his mule, spurring him all he could. The pursuing Yankee called out, 'surrender,' [and in response] Henry said, "Can't you see I can't hold this mule?" all the while spurring him on. Seeing Henry was just a boy, the Yankee hit him with his saber flat-sided and he [Henry] fell off. The Yankee kept on in pursuit of others. Along came a fine big horse of some Yankee officer, riderless. Henry grabbed [it] by the bits and swung on. John Farley, nearby, up a mountain side they went, the mule following and braying, fearing he would lose his young master. [The captured horse] was a fine horse with a fine saddle with holsters and two pistols in the holsters." Henry served with Dibrell until the surrender in Georgia in May 1865.
I saw in the narrative that grabbed [it] by the bits and swung on --means the horse was in a double bridle (snaffle and curb separate and hung from separate bit hangers). Definitely, a horseman with excellent hands to use double bridle and further confirmed by the saddle description. I'm surprised though that the name of the rider wasn't marked on the saddle somewhere -- something that is leftover in the English riding 'accessories' are the name/owner plate screwed into the back of the saddle as to be put on a saddle rack and identified as to which horse and/or owner of the saddle.

Thanks for sharing.

M. E. Wolf
 
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#17
I saw in the narrative that grabbed [it] by the bits and swung on --means the horse was in a double bridle (snaffle and curb separate and hung from separate bit hangers). Definitely, a horseman with excellent hands to use double bridle and further confirmed by the saddle description. I'm surprised though that the name of the rider wasn't marked on the saddle somewhere -- something that is leftover in the English riding 'accessories' are the name/owner plate screwed into the back of the saddle as to be put on a saddle rack and identified as to which horse and/or owner of the saddle.

Thanks for sharing.

M. E. Wolf
I believe I have the regiment which attacked Dibrell with sabers that day and possibly some of the casualties. I'll see what I can find. It took place early in September 1864 near Readyville, Tenn.
 
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#18
I saw in the narrative that grabbed [it] by the bits and swung on --means the horse was in a double bridle (snaffle and curb separate and hung from separate bit hangers). Definitely, a horseman with excellent hands to use double bridle and further confirmed by the saddle description. I'm surprised though that the name of the rider wasn't marked on the saddle somewhere -- something that is leftover in the English riding 'accessories' are the name/owner plate screwed into the back of the saddle as to be put on a saddle rack and identified as to which horse and/or owner of the saddle.

Thanks for sharing.

M. E. Wolf
The unit was 9th Penn Cav under Thomas Jordan. He only reported one killed a few wounded.
Major D.H. Kimmel led the saber charge. 294 prisoners were taken, most of them wounded by saber cuts.

I also find it interesting that this was the first action young Henry saw, having joined (officially) less than a week earlier. Though he remembered being 14 at the time, going by his tombstone, he was 16. That's much easier for me to believe.

Best guess for the man who lost his horse is 1st Sgt James C. Shields, buried at the National Cemetery at Stones River. http://www.pa-roots.com/pacw/cavalry/9thcav/9thcavcoi.html
 
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