"General Weather". That's hilarious Doyle, and you certainly have brought up an important additional element in the lack of forage in Arkansas in 1862-63.
And, you are so right about the countless examples of lack of forage in various sources.
We have agreed that forage [or lack thereof] was a primary reason for the need to reduce mounted troops, so there is no need to cite any of those many sources relating to that subject. And, thanks to Doyle, we also know that a severe drought had magnified the lack of forage in Arkansas in 1862-63.
In addition to lack of forage, I believe there were other compelling reasons to re-balance the armies in favor of the infantry. These include, but are not limited to, a notorious lack of discipline in mounted forces as compared to infantry. And, the corresponding increase in strength of the infantry could, by itself, be considered ample motivation to aggressively pursue the dismounting,
You will recall that our friend General Van Dorn, issued his special order #43 at Des Arc on April 8, 1862. This order dismounted virtually his entire force of mounted troops for the move from Arkansas to Mississippi. The order indicated that the army could not supply forage to such a large mounted force nor the necessary transportation. And this for an army that was leaving the drought stricken area of Arkansas that Doyle has described.
On June 18, 1862, General Hebert, commander of the Texas district, recommended to Gen R. E. Lee, the dismounting of nearly all the Trans Mississippi troops, stating “There is an excess of cavalry, badly mounted and worse armed. As infantry, if not more efficient, would at least be less expensive.”
And, on July 11, 1862, General Rust complained to Hindman that “The mounted men Texans and all are a nuisance. Dismount or disband all but a squadron or two. We are scattered everywhere herding or watering horses unable to bear their riders. I will have difficulty in getting water today.”....
That same day, Hindman told Rust...”In order to get the Infantry regiments and cavalry squadrons desired Hindman thinks it best if at all practicable to dismount cavalry regiments entire and make up the sqdrns from among the incomplete regiments and unattached cos of mounted men carefully selecting the best suited for cavalry...........................”
General McCulloch shows his appreciation of infantry versus cavalry as being “the chief reliance of all armies.”
Tyler, Texas, July 19, 1862. ..........Gen. McCulloch, realizing the imperious necessity which compels the dismounting of our troops, calls upon them, as Texians, to yield cheerful obedience to the necessities of our struggling country, as ordered by Maj.-Gen. Hindman. Cavalry cannot be supported in Arkansas. Upon infantry, the chief reliance of all armies, the country mostly depends. Mounted commands may retain their horses till they reach Red River, and then send them home as ordered by Gen. Hindman..............
One of the more succinct condemnations of mounted troops was made by General Mosby Parsons, as follows:
Oct 10, 1862
camp at Yellville
HQ Parsons Brigade
Major General Hindman cmdg. In the field
....................I recd a letter yesterday from Col Weldon one of my aids who was authorized to recruit infantry in Oregon and adjoining counties . He informs me that Col Burbridge or his partisan ranger regiment has 250 men, that Col Mitchell for his regiment of cavalry has 600 men, that the bidding for cavalry recruits is high thus making it difficult to get infantry from that section.
I respectfully request that the department commander refuse all further recruiting for cavalry at once. So long as it is permitted it will be impossible to raise an infantry force which is so much needed now and the present cavalry force is more than ample to eat out all the forage of the country
I should be pleased to have a cavalry regiment if it could be obtained but I have seen none throughout the war -I have not seen a cavalry officer who was a sufficient swordsmen to unfix a bayonet nor a single private who could go thru the manual of the saber nor have I seen on this side of the Mississippi 20 privates who were armed with the saber. Very few have carbines or saddle holsters for pistols and still less with the necessary dragoon equipments.
If the C.S.A. is unable to furnish cavalry armed educated and equipped as above I am strongly of the opinion that all with shotguns and rifles in their hands should be dismounted excepting enough for scout and picket duty and put the remainder in the line as infantry. ................
Supplies and food are scare here and the cavalry has eaten out the area. We cant stay here for long except on short rations...............................
Nov 1, 1862 Hindman wrote General Roane that “the four Texas regiments under Marmaduke are worthless a cavalry and I have ordered them dismounted the sooner the better..... horses to be sent home by detachments”
Polignac’s infantry brigade was largely formed from these dismounted Texans.
Hindman even wanted to dismount the Indians. His description of the mounted troops in the Indian Territory is not very complimentary.
Nov 3, 1862
camp on Mulberry
Hindman to General Holmes
my recent letters written hastily do not present as correct a view as desired..........................and since the Texans have behaved better than ever before but are worthless as cavalry and I have ordered them dismounted. The 4 regiments have about enough for 2 regiments of Infy. I ask leave to consolidate them
.................................................[note-these dismounted Texans were an integral part of what later became Polignac’s infantry brigade].
The only way we can have any order in the Indian Territory is to dismount the entire Indian force and most if not all the white force. All troops become worthless there, but cavalry much more so than infantry.
I would build fortifications for one good brigade of white infantry and one brigade Indian infantry and also defend the passes.... cavalry duty could be performed by the independent companies of the Provost Marshall just as well and cheaper than the worthless, marauding, eating hordes of cavalry wandering the area.
My views on this have changed completely since I first began to command east of the Miss when I then thought the force to be deployed among the Indians to be exclusively cavalry. My opinion now is precisely the reverse................................
The generals on the ground were pretty much in agreement that there was far too much cavalry, and that much of it should be converted to infantry, and there were several reasons supporting this belief.
The continued organization of more and more mounted units, and the retention of so many others, in the Trans Mississippi seems to defy prevailing military wisdom.