Monday, February 15, 2010

U.S. Cavalry.

This is coolbert:

Upon completing a world tour [1870's], the English Field Marshal, Lord Wolseley concluded that the American army fighting the Indians of the Great Plains was the best army in the world.

Those U.S. Army soldiers, engaged in warfare on the Great Plains of North America, encountering and fighting the mounted light cavalry of the American Indian, were the BEST troops in the world. So said Lord Wolseley. Men-a-horse, the cavalry, not men-a-foot, the infantry. Nonetheless, U.S. Army soldiers.

BEST of course being a very subjective judgement. BEST as defined in what manner I cannot exactly say. Some reader to the blog can define with preciseness this conclusion of Wolseley?

Here are three battles indicative of the type of warfare as fought between the U.S. Army and the American Indian on the Great Plains:

1. Beecher Island.

"The Battle of Beecher Island (September 17–19, 1868), also known as the Battle of Arikaree Fork, was an armed conflict between elements of the United States Army and several of the Plains Indian tribes."

2. Adobe Walls One.

"The First Battle of Adobe Walls, was one of the largest ever battles between U.S. soldiers and Indians. The Kiowa and Comanche tribes and their allies drove from the battlefield a U.S. Expeditionary Force that was reacting to attacks on white settlers moving into the Southwest"

3. Adobe Walls Two.

"The Second Battle of Adobe Walls was fought on June 27, 1874 between Comanche forces and a group of twenty-eight U.S. bison hunters defending the settlement of Adobe Walls"

These three "encounters" I have chosen all occurring on what is best referred to as the southern Plains. That area generally speaking, to include all of Kansas, south through Oklahoma and Texas.

In each and everyone of the three "encounters", U.S. Army cavalry units fought outnumbered [at Adobe Walls One grotesquely so], not necessarily out-gunning the opposition, and generally speaking walking into an ambush, either hasty or carefully planned . Merely surviving and walking off the battlefield itself was a major accomplishment in all three cases, the consequences of defeat being too terrible to contemplate [death by slow torture, mutilation, etc!]!

U.S. Army cavalry units of the era were the "best" in that they had to work with little, had to be autonomous, to a large-degree self-sufficient, having to fight a skillful and dangerous foe on enemy ground, commanded by junior officers who had to exercise a lot of discretion and initiative, independent of re-supply and reinforcement!



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