The One Greatest Ride of the Civil War...!

The Greatest Ride of the Civil War.....!!

  • CS J.E.B. Stuart: Ride around the AOP, 1862

    Votes: 42 30.0%
  • US Ben Grierson: Ride through Mississippi, 1863

    Votes: 37 26.4%
  • CS Jo Shelby: Ride through Missiouri. 1863

    Votes: 7 5.0%
  • CS Nathan Forrest: Ride through Tennessee, 1863

    Votes: 19 13.6%
  • CS John Mosby: Greenback Raid, 1863

    Votes: 6 4.3%
  • CS John Morgan: Ride to Ohio, 1863

    Votes: 16 11.4%
  • US James Wilson: Ride through Alabama, 1865

    Votes: 3 2.1%
  • US Phil Sheridan: Richmond Raid, 1864

    Votes: 3 2.1%
  • US A.D. Straight: Mule ride to Georgia. !863

    Votes: 2 1.4%
  • Another: I know I missed some....

    Votes: 5 3.6%

  • Total voters
    140

5fish

Captain
Joined
Aug 26, 2007
Location
Central Florida
Jo Shelby the best in a union cavalry commanders opinion...

Alfred Pleasanton, who once commanded the cavalry corps of the Union Army of the Potomac, where he battled the more famous General J.E.B. Stuart, judged Shelby to be best of all Confederate cavalry commanders. When the war started, the 30-year-old Shelby owned a hemp plantation near Kansas City; earlier he had been a border ruffian during the Bleeding Kansas era. During the Civil War he was in every major battle in Arkansas and Missouri, though by the end he was fighting in Texas.

https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/05/14/the-confederate-diaspora/
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
Jo Shelby the best in a union cavalry commanders opinion...

Alfred Pleasanton, who once commanded the cavalry corps of the Union Army of the Potomac, where he battled the more famous General J.E.B. Stuart, judged Shelby to be best of all Confederate cavalry commanders. When the war started, the 30-year-old Shelby owned a hemp plantation near Kansas City; earlier he had been a border ruffian during the Bleeding Kansas era. During the Civil War he was in every major battle in Arkansas and Missouri, though by the end he was fighting in Texas.

ttps://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/05/14/the-confederate-diaspora/
Shelby, over 1500 miles in 41 days......the rest were just jaunts

even if left out the battles, foraging and destroying property, don't think my butt could take averaging 36.5 miles a day for 41 days in the saddle
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
While not expecting the same magnitude, curious if any of the cavalry experts have spent multiple days in the saddle on extended rides to experience something similar?
 

diane

Retired User
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
While not expecting the same magnitude, curious if any of the cavalry experts have spent multiple days in the saddle on extended rides to experience something similar?

That's one of those things hardly anybody thinks about! I don't believe there is anybody left with that distinctive 'cowboy roll' when they walk. Sometimes it's a good idea to take a look at how these cavalrymen were built, the kind of muscle comes from living in your saddle.
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
That's one of those things hardly anybody thinks about! I don't believe there is anybody left with that distinctive 'cowboy roll' when they walk. Sometimes it's a good idea to take a look at how these cavalrymen were built, the kind of muscle comes from living in your saddle.
I've always thought that when I think of reenacting, while I know not feasible or affordable for many reenactors, always have wondered if any have spent a couple day/nights in the saddle as they would have back then. That's what I'd want to do.......well maybe would have wanted to do when a bit younger and in bit better shape. Imagine one day and night anymore, I couldn't walk to start a second..........
 
Last edited:

Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
I've come to the thread late and I voted for Shelby, simply because he is a local legend in central Missouri. For me, it was a popularity contest. However, I imagine Grierson's raid was much more significant. I believe it was a big help to Grant. (Also, I just watched "The Horse Soldiers" this week.) Shelby's raid was long, bold, and successful. A fair number of Yankee soldiers were tied up chasing him around, too. Even though he captured or destroyed a lot of Union supplies, I think the value of his raid was mostly psychological. I'm less familiar with Morgan's raid, but I expect his raid was mostly of psychological value, too.
 

Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
It's said of Shelby that his cavalry actions were particularly hard on his men. In addition to those lost in battles and skirmishes, many of his men were reportedly worn down and broken to the point that they never fully recovered. I can't vouch for the accuracy of that, but I have no trouble accepting it. It's worth remembering, too, that Shelby was engaged in two major raids.

His own Great Raid of 1863 covered about 1,600 miles through Arkansas and Missouri. He killed and wounded six hundred Federals, captured and paroled another 600. He captured ten union forts, seized $800,000 in military supplies, including 600 rifles, 399 wagons, and 6,000 horses and mules. He destroyed another million dollars in enemy supplies. He lost about one man in six on the raid (source: Wiki). He was not really defeated on this raid, but he was turned back south at Marshall, Missouri, just short of his goal of Waverly. He had reached the Missouri River at Boonville and captured the town just prior to being turned south at Marshall. He was promoted to Brigadier General as a result of this raid.

Shelby was along with Price during his ponderous expedition of 1864. Shelby's men fought in the advance on the way into the state, again capturing Boonville in the center of the state. He fought the rear guard on the way out, protecting Price during the retreat.

Shelby would be a lot more famous if he had done these things east of the Mississippi. Because his exploits were in Arkansas and Missouri, he is often overlooked. Shelby will always be highly respected by people like Booner, Borderruffian, Archieclements and me.
 

diane

Retired User
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
I like JO Shelby, too, Patrick. He went to Mexico rather than surrender, which is one of the reasons Confederate politicians wanted Forrest to go either there or to the Trans-Mississippi. Forrest and Shelby with their hard core veterans - that was a dream team, a viable ticket. Except...Forrest punched it! I'm-a goin' home...
 

Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
I like JO Shelby, too, Patrick. He went to Mexico rather than surrender, which is one of the reasons Confederate politicians wanted Forrest to go either there or to the Trans-Mississippi. Forrest and Shelby with their hard core veterans - that was a dream team, a viable ticket. Except...Forrest punched it! I'm-a goin' home...
Thank you, Diane. I knew there would be others out here who admire the military success of Joseph Orville Shelby.

I can see only two facts about Shelby which blemish his reputation in my mind:

First, he was a border ruffian. That should be no feather in anyone's cap. He later admitted he was wrong about that, and I give him credit for his honest appraisal of his earlier behavior. Of course, there is no way he could ever really atone for his behavior as a border ruffian. In the book "Quantrill and the Border Wars", William Elsey Connelley describes befriending and often interviewing Shelby while Shelby was a U. S. Marshall in Kansas City, Missouri. Shelby admits to Connelley that he was wrong to go to Kansas in those early years.

Second, he made a lot of money on the backs of his slaves. Obviously, he was not unique in having committed that sin. He grew and processed hemp in Waverly, Missouri, and we can be confident in the supposition that Gen. Shelby used a lot of slave labor in that process.

All of that notwithstanding, he seemed to be a great leader and recruiter of men. He proved himself as a cavalry leader, beyond a doubt. As far as I know, he was turned aside and forced to change directions more than once, but I'm not sure he was ever officially defeated. I guess it depends on who is telling the story. Price got whipped for sure in 1864, but he escaped, didn't he? Shelby covered his hind end while Price retreated. I don't know how things might have been at Westport, had Shelby been there without having to protect Price. The details might have changed. Ultimately, I think Shelby would have been turned south once again.

I know for darned certain that Shelby never surrendered.

Like all of us, he was a flawed person, but I maintain he was ONE HECK OF AN OFFICER!

If Forrest had a change of heart, I believe Shelby did, too. I am a Union man, but I will revere and honor Gen. Shelby as a great soldier--equal to all my other heroes of the era.

As Forrest Gump said: "That's about all I have to say about that...."
 
Last edited:

Carronade

Captain
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Location
Pennsylvania
Sheridan's ride to and past Richmond would be a strong contender - unless we insist that the raid must have benefitted one's own side :wink:
 
  • Like
Reactions: Lee

DixieRifles

Captain
Member of the Year
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Location
Collierville, TN
CS. Nathan Forrest: Ride through Tennessee, 1863
I presume this is Forrest’s “Cattle Raid” to collect men and food.
I think it is a toss-up between that raid and his 1864 Johnsonville Raid which destroyed a lot of Union supplies.
 

Lee

Colonel
Joined
Mar 25, 2012
I presume this is Forrest’s “Cattle Raid” to collect men and food.
I think it is a toss-up between that raid and his 1864 Johnsonville Raid which destroyed a lot of Union supplies.
Oh how I love reading about that Johnsonville Raid and the steam driven vessels NBF fought, captured ,and destroyed! My favorite was when he was shelling the Federals across the River. NBF was a brilliant but less than a formally educated fighter and he kept ordering others to "elevate" the artillery lower. Bless his primary pump the man got the job done and let few things stop him.
 
Top