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In search of mobility - Mounted Rangers - Dragoons - Mounted Riflemen - Voltigeurs and Foot Riflemen - Cavalry

Most "traditional" ranger histories pay lip service - one or two sentences - to the Rangers of the War of 1812 period and the US Mounted Ranger Battalion of 1832 and sometimes not even that (probably in their rush to get to Confederate Mosby!). They read like this: "During the War of 1812, Congress called for the Rangers to serve on the frontier. The December 28, 1813, Army Register lists officers for 12 companies of Rangers." Another source adds a little more length, but also erroneous/incomplete information: "Several independent companies of United States Rangers were raised from among the frontier settlers as part of the regular army. Throughout the war, they patrolled the frontier from Ohio to Western Illinois on horseback and by boat. They participated in many skirmishes and battles with the British and their Indian allies. Several companies were also raised by frontier states (in the present Midwest)- sua"

A cursory search of documents from the national archives, now easily enabled via the web, yields sufficient  information and insight that should have been discerned by previous "historians." The American State papers, Army registers etc all paint the story of the formulation and transformation of a regular ranger and riflemen force, foot and mounted.
A search at American State Papers using the term "rangers" enables us to see in microcosm the macro and eternal military policy problems facing our (or any) new democratic republic, and the steps they took, best described as erratic and vacillating, to solve them within the cultural, social and political framework which shaped such military policy, or as Emory Upton* concluded - "the want of it." 

The "threat" environment on the frontier is easily grasped - a highly mobile, irregular foe nearby - masters of stealth, the ambush, the surprise raid, and generally elusive in all seasons of the year save winter:

"From the Representatives of the frontier counties of Virginia, to the President of the United States, Richmond, 12th December, 1789.
We further beg leave to suggest, that, whilst our operations were confined to a defensive plan only, we have ever found the greatest degree of safety to our country arising from keeping out scouts and rangers on our frontiers....,on whom our people could, with confidence, depend, as they are well acquainted with our woods, and with the paths the Indians use to come in upon our settlements. Whilst we were thus covered, we lived in perfect security, but as soon as they were withdrawn last spring, we immediately felt the effects of Indian cruelty..." pp. 85-86
- American State Papers: Indian Affairs Volume Four Part One

A search at American State Papers yielded direct evidence of two instances of a proposed (mounted) Ranger formation by the Secretary of War, Henry Knox, in 1790 and 1791 to meet and counter the "frontier" problem. Knox's 1790-1791 official correspondence included the proposal of a distinct "regiment of Rangers," complete with proposed manning and pay lists, as well as "The Plan" for the formation of one entire "regiment of riflemen," out of the five infantry regiments proposed:

- see google book:  American State Papers: Indian Affairs Volume Four Part One, specifically pp. 101-103, p. 107, p. 111, p. 113, p. 199 -
images also at graphic intensive (bandwidth limited viewing) US Army 1789-1820 documents

Though not actually formed, it is clear from these documents that significant deliberate consideration and planning was given by the Secretary of War, Henry Knox, to the use of federally organized Rangers in the protection of the western frontier. The protection of which, would increase in significance as the native Americans, urged on by their English suppliers, sought to fight for their ever-dwindling hunting grounds in the Old Northwest - one of the major contributing factors to the war of 1812.

Rangers in the War of 1812

"...Congress authorized the President to increase the size of the Regular Military Establishment, to accept and organize volunteers, to raise units of Rangers (as US Volunteers) and Sea Fencibles, and to create a Flotilla Service. The Ranger units were raised for the protection of the frontier along the Mississippi River and adjacent States. The Sea Fencibles was the first organization of the U. S. Army charged exclusively with coastal defense. With the Flotilla Service, the Sea Fencibles protected ports, habors and the coast. Many of the War of 1812 volunteer units were mustered into service for short periods (30, 60, 90, and 120 days, and 6, 9 and 12 months.) Consequently, many people served more than one enlistment. There may be two or more records for the same soldier." 
- War of 1812 Military Records at the National Archives

A cursory look into uniform and weaponry yielded:
"There was a Mounted Ranger Battalion of ten companies. They were equipped with plain green hunting smocks and trousers, a Tarleton helmet with a black roach, green turbaning and a green plumette on the left, and black crossbelts and leather equipment. They were issued rifles, and officers and NCO's wore sabres as well." - (lost web site) (RG - ten companies constituted a Regiment not a battalion)
"There were also several battalions of Rangers serving on foot. The main difference between their issue and that of the Mounted Rangers was that the dismounted Rangers wore wide brimmed hats and were issued muskets and bayonets."
"Typical Ranger accoutrements consisted of a rifle, knife and tomahawk and each man carried with him his own supply of provisions (Dillon)."
Having acknowledged the not unexpected basic "ranger" look, a harder search for organizational data is undertaken: War of 1812 histories are woefully inadequate when it comes to a study of Army organization, so, it is no wonder that Rangers are scarcely mentioned, let alone studied. 

For example, Gilpin in "The War of 1812 in the Old Northwest" gives Rangers 2 brief comments - on page 34 he notes that 5 companies were raised of the 6 that were called for by Congress in January 1812. Elting in "Amateurs to Arms",sites the same 6 company call-up. Katcher in Osprey MAA The American War 1812-1814 fails to mention them..and Kochan in the follow up MAA 345 The United States Army 1812-1815 cites the 6 company formation (foot and mounted) and the 25 February 1813 call for 10 more Ranger companies. Neither mentions the 35th and it is absent from the table on page 16 in Kachan. Katcher's "Armies of the American Wars 1755-1815" mentions the President call-up of 17 ranger companies on p.115. (alibi- John Grenier's The First Way of War American War Making on the Frontier, 1607–1814, published after the above was written, provides a "reinterpretation of the pattern and relevance of early American military experience" - with rightful stress on the "ranger" concept, tactics, operations, albeit with little organizational discussion (not his purpose) beyond the colonial period.)

An official Army history pointedly assesses: "Early in 1814 four more infantry regiments and three more regiments of riflemen were constituted. Finally, therefore, forty-eight infantry regiments, numbered from the 1st to the 48th, came into being, plus four rifle regiments, the 1st through the 4th. This was the greatest number of infantry units included in the Regular Army until the world wars of the twentieth century. (my underline)" - Army Lineage Series Infantry Pt I

Note the distinction "Regular Army" and the absence of Rangers mention.

The "Curious" Listing:
Years ago, from Bryan Phillip's highly detailed SpecOps chronology now gone from the web
I noted this curious listing:

3.2. Col. Russell’s 17th U.S. Regiment of Rangers.

I should have investigated into this 17th regiment at that time.

After some research, I annotated the following from various sources, including Phil Katcher's Osprey book:
"By the end of War of 1812 period, the Regular army of the United States had a maximum strength of two regiments of dragoons, a regiment of mounted rangers, sixty battalions of line infantry, six battalions of light infantry, three battalions of Rangers, five battalions of rifles (formed into the 1st-34th, 36th -44th Infantry regiments, 35th Infantry {ranger} regiment, 45th - 48th Infantry {light} regiments, and 1st - 4th Rifle regiments), twelve battalions of the corps of artillery, each of four companies, and a ten-company regiment of light (horse) artillery."

Based on this, I revised Bryan Phillip's table as shown:

United States Army Rangers - War of 1812

1812-1815 - Separate Companies of Rangers (12)

1812-1815 - Regiment of Mounted Rangers (10 companies) - 17th U.S. Regiment of Rangers

1812-1815 - 35th Infantry Regiment - alleged Ranger designation

* That is unless we assume Washington's did not know what he meant when he dubbed the 
Corps of Rangers under Morgan, in June 1777, by such a title, and in February of that year even referred to them as a "Regiment of Rangers." For discussion See my post Revolutionary "Ranger" Riflemen

Since a normal regiment of the day was 10 companies, the above struck me by its potential size. Such numbers tantalizingly break out to, more or less, 32* line companies of US Rangers or slightly more than THREE FULL REGIMENTS OF RANGERS (two purportedly organized as such by name) or TWO plus REGIMENTS of today's RANGERS. Given that units throughout the war were manned somewhere between 1/3rd and 2/3rds full** - that still probably leaves it as the most sizable force of RANGERS ever planned for at one time and not until WWII even thought of!***

*WWII = 6 companies x 6 battalions = 36 Companies

Today's Ranger Regiment = 4 Ranger Companies x 3 Battalions - 12 companies

**WWII Ranger companies averaged 65 men. As early as 1811 and at least by 1813 the "western" states and territories (Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Missouri etc.) had each called into service companies of mounted rangers each consisting of about one hundred (100) men.

***the Ranger Force's 1st and 3rd Ranger Battalions ceased to exist after Cisterna in January 1944, the 4th Battalion was subsequently deactivated and merged into the 1st Special Service Force. The 2nd, 5th, and 6th fought through to VE/VJ day.

Now, thanks to the open web, search results for organizational and historical information on the Rangers during the War of 1812 period can provide results that are both illuminating and surprising. These "finds" indicate that these Rangers were central to the nation's response on the western frontier and deserve better understanding and inclusion (something many so-called ranger historians have been unwilling to do - probably in their "rush" to get to their "pet" hero Confederate Mosby - the famed rebel Partisan Ranger - notwithstanding his was not even a US unit!

In searching Congressional "Military" documents at the American State Papers 1789 to 1838, I found several pieces of "ranger" information and posted them to my website as War of 1812 - US Army Infantry, Rangers and Riflemen

Search Descriptive Information

House Journal --INDEX TO VOL. IX.
Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, 1813-1815

Browse House Journal
continuing act for raising certain companies of rangers ... 31, 44, 231, 232, 614
(See bills H. R. No. 26, 245)
explanatory of act raising 10 companies of rangers ... 121, 129, 297
(See bills H. R. No. 54, 120)
amend act to raise additional military force ... 45, 55
(See bills H. R. No. 28 and S. No. 11)
further provision for filling the ranks and to encourage the re enlistment
of soldiers ... 175, 206
(See bills H. R. No. 77)
further provision for filling the ranks of the ... 497, 526
(See bills H. R. No. 205 and S. No. 61)
proposition to class population and draft for filling the ranks ... 571
authorize the raising a corps of sea fencibles ... 55
(See bills S. No. 10)
raise three additional regiments of riflemen ... 206
(See bills H. R. No. 78)

Browse the Annals
House - 2nd Session -- November 2, 1812 to March 3, 1813
Senate - 2nd Session -- November 2, 1812 to March 3, 1813
Rangers, an act to raise ten additional companies of ... 1334



Rangers, to continue in force an act to raise ten additional companies of 1 r. 436, 2 r. 437, 439, 3 r. and p. 439, ex. and s. 444, pr. 445, ap. 446.
Browse the Annals
House - 2nd Session -- February 16, 1814 to April 18, 1814

 Corps of Rangers, an act to continue in force, for a limited time, certain acts authorizing ... 2723
note first continuance approval date was July 24, 1813

December 23, 1814 
Bills and Resolutions, House of Representatives, 13th Congress, 3rd Session Bill 39 of 90


American State Papers, Senate, 12th Congress, 1st Session

Report of the Secretary of War on the number and equipments of the military force of the U. States in 1812, ... 319


Journal of the executive proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America, 1805-1815

Browse Senate Journal
page 370


Rangers, to continue in force an act to raise ten additional companies of 1 r. 436, 2 r. 437, 439, 3 r. and p. 439, ex. and s. 444, pr. 445, ap. 446.

American State Papers, Senate, 13th Congress, 2nd Session - Military Affairs: Volume 1 


American State Papers, House of Representatives, 13th Congress, 3rd Session
Military Affairs: Volume 1  
1814-Regimental Recruiting - composite - pp512-513
1814 - Rangers - Old NW - strength
List of officers of the army of the United States from 1779 to 1900 William Henry Powell, 1900 
1814 - Ranger _ list of _ officers- Powell-p139
Report of the Secretary of War, with an army register for 1815 (actual page shows for year 1816),  ... 625
No listing of Rangers in

Alternate viewing source:

American State Papers: Documents, legislative and executive of the Congress of the United States ..., Part 5, Volume 1 (Google eBook), United States. Congress, Gales and Seaton, 1832 

Report of the Secretary of War on the number and equipments of the military force of the U. States in 1812, ... 319 

Register rules and regulations of the army for 1813 December 29 1813   384 

Documents showing the amount disbursed as bounties and premiums for recruits since January 27 1814 and the distribution of the same October 27 1814      511  - 512-513 table
Report of the strength and distribution of the army previous to July 1, 1814     535


Obviously, organizational schemes and numbers alone, do not tell us enough about this early Ranger "force" (all three Ranger organizations listed above). With some targeted cluster searching on Vivismo, and online book searches at Google books, as well as some leads from unexpected sources, a more complete picture can be set forth:

US Regiment of Mounted Rangers or 17th US Regiment

The Search:

I found a posting from Shawn Banks (a re-enactor in Co A, Ranger 17th Illinois Territory): 

"...(my unit) was created by an act of Congress in 1811 to deal with Indian attacks and English encroachment...Ten companies of mounted rangers were dispatched under the command of Col. William Russell. Six of the companies were garrisoned, the rest became roving bands, patrolling the territory. Our research concluded that the companies lasted about three years, disbanding because they had yet to be paid for their services rendered or the equpment & horses they provided....started as a "federal" regiment. By the time they got to the Illinois Territory, discipline had become somewhat lacks. Many had traded cloth pants for buckskin, because of brambles and underbrush. An observer wrote that they were rather rag-tag but that they "all had cocked hats made of wolf hair." Banks(a social studies teacher) later elaborates "The rangers were an idea of President Madison. Ninian Edwards had sent several dispatches to Madison and the Sec. of War, Wm. Eustis about the numerous indian attacks happening throughout southern Illinois territory. Edwards stated in one dispatch "No troops of any kind have yet to arrive in this territory, and I think you may count on hearing of a bloody stroke on us soon. I have been extremely reluctant to send my family away but, unless I hear shortly of more assistance than a few rangers, I shall bury my papers in the ground, send my family off, and stand my ground..." Aug 4, 1812. Madison had created the earlier mentioned 10 companies of rangers, i.e. mounted riflemen. The rangers would be like special forces, operating and patroling independenly of other federal troops. "The men would furnish their own equipment, horses, food and clothing. They would not be dependent on military stores in any way. The pay would be one dollar a day and the men would scout the frontier in Illinois and Indiana until the indian trouble came to a close." (Bonham, 411) They were to be commanded by Col. Wm. Russell of the 7th Regiment out of Kentucky. Russell to a fairly long time to organize and move into the territory. In their first engagements, they took the Indians by surprise, as they were not dressed as regulars, and they acted without commands. Each ranger had specific duties that were coordinated in advance as to not take the time during the battle. Their attack was swift and seemingly, to the indians, disorganized. The tribes became confused and were repelled on several occasions. This type of troop movement was effective however, it was not very reasonable in an accounting sense. You have guys roaming about the frontier, getting paid a dollar a day. They didn't have time clocks or a place to go that was keeping track of all their pay. So, the rangers began to realize that this was not working in their favor and many of the units collapsed."
In response, board moderator Robert Braun provided illuminating research conclusions on the 17th United States Regiment, displayed at the Blackhawk Message Board - 2005: As Braun reveals:
"I also consulted some of my sources. Rene Chartrand only has a brief mention (one paragraph) in his Uniforms and Equipment of United States Forces in the War of 1812. In Frontier Illinois, author James E. Davis did a little better. He devoted a couple of paragraphs to the Ranger unit on pp. 135-6, and mentioned Samuel Whitesides-- future Black Haw War militia general-- and militia private! Regarding the question of "militia' vs. "Regular," I might venture an assessment:

1. Sources agree that the "Rangers" were raised as the "17th United States Regiment" by an act of Congress, circa 1811. (This unit should not be confused with the 17th Regiment of U. S. Infantry, which served differently than the "Ranger" regiment);

2. They are officered by William Russell, a Revolutionary War officer, war hero, and a Regular Army colonel from Kentucky;

3. Pay was to be drawn from the Federal government;

4. The authorization to recruit and train additional companies came from the Federal government, not the territory-- regardless of Gov. Ninian Edwards' desire for protection in the territory.

While the regiment raised and trained additional companies from the territory, it is clear to me that this authority came from the federal government, with the full cooperation of the Edwards' territorial government. In short-- the 17th Regiment was and remained a Federal "Regular" regiment . It may have had territorial men in its ranks and had the full faith and confidence of Gov. Ninian Edwards, the regiment was beholded to the federal authorities as a Regular Regiment-- however tenuous that authority may have been in territorial Illinois... and however "irregularly" the companies of the regiment may have behaved and fought. This situation is VERY similar to the raising of the U. S. Ranger battalion under Colonel Henry Dodge in 1832. While this battalion raised and trained many territorial and state men in its companies (who were armed, equipped and horsed on their "own hook") the authority and pay came from the Federal Government.- Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois, Volume XI Illinois Militia, Rangers & Riflemen 1810-1813 Pg. 8-26:

"Although Governor EDWARDS had several times during the years of 1811 and 1812 recommended to the Secretary of War the enlistment of one or more companies of "Rangers," to protect the frontier, and Congress having, in 1811, passed an act authorizing the organization of ten companies of rangers, which were afterward organized as the 17th United States Regiment, under Colonel William RUSSELL, of Kentucky, an Indian fighter of bravery and experience, it does not appear that more than one Company was recruited in the Illinois Territory. DAVIDSON and STUVE say in their History, in reference to this force: "Four companies were allotted to the defense of Illinois, whose respective Captains were Samuel and William B. WHITESIDES, James B. MOORE and Jacob SHORT. Independent Cavalry Companies were also organized for the protection of the remote settlements in the lower Wabash country, of which Willis HARGRAVE, William MCHENRY, Nathaniel JOURNEY, Captain CRAIG, at Shawneetown, and William BOON, on Big Muddy, were respectively commanders, ready, on short notice of Indian outrages, to make pursuit of the deprecator. (D. and S. Hist. Ill., p. 249.) We are, however, of the opinion that there must have been some mistake about the fact alleged of four companies of the 17th Regiment being from Illinois, as, of the Captains mentioned, we have evidence that Samuel WHITESIDES, James B. MOORE and Jacob SHORT were commanding Companies of Militia at the time, in the service of the Governor of the Territory, all belonging to the Regiment which WILLIAM WHITESIDE, as Lieutenant Colonel, was then commanding (the 2nd Regiment Ter. Militia). The organization and size of this command appear from a regimental return, on file in this office, bearing date of September 16, 1812, which was no doubt made out at Camp Russell (note: a mile and a half northwest of the present town of Edwardsville, in Madison county, in honor of the Colonel, the commander of the Regiment of Rangers. (D. and S. Hist., pp. 249-250.), signed by Lieutenant Colonel William WHITESIDE, Commanding, and Elihu MATHER, Adjutant,:"

see also reference to Record of the service of the Illinois Militia, Rangers and Rifleman,in protection the Frontier from The Ravages of the Indians from 1810 to 1814 found at (JOHN WILKINSON HEWITT/HUITT, SR. FAMILY GENEALOGY and HISTORY DATABASE Donated by William D.Huitt)

"Colonel Russell, of the United States army, engaged in raising companies of rangers to co-operate with Governor Edwards. These forces concentrated at what was known as "Camp Russell," west of Cahokia. The little army when organized numbered about three hundred and fifty men, including United States rangers and mounted volunteers." 
also similar info at

"On October 18, 1812, territorial militiamen and U. S. Rangers left Fort Russell, near Edwardsville, under the personal direction of Governor Ninian Edwards and Colonel Russell, and marched north on the Elkhart Hill landmark.7 On Salt Creek near there they burned the Kickapoo Indian town as the tribe fled; following this, they burned another Indian village on the lower Mackinaw and moved northward into our Partridge Township. The war gave an excuse to destroy these Indian villages, although there was scant evidence the tribes were pro-British or pro-anything."
- The Centennial Book of El Paso, Illinois, First Published in 1954, and updated in 1979 -
"Captain Taylor used great exertions to forward despatches to General Harrison, but as every road was guarded by strong parties of Indians, his messengers were obliged to return. The following letter will convey some idea of the difficulties under which he labored...."

"Fort Harrison, Sept. 13th, 1812.

"DEAR SIR: — I wrote to you on the 10th instant, giving you an account of an attack on this place, as well as my situation, which account I attempted to send by water; but the two men whom I despatched in a canoe after night found the river so well guarded that they were obliged to return. The Indians had built a fire on the bank of the river a short distance below the garrison, which gave them an opportunity of seeing any craft that might attempt to pass, and were waiting with a canoe ready to intercept it. I expect the fort as well as the road to Vincennes is as well or better watched than the river. But my situation compels me to make one other attempt by land, and my orderly sergeant and one other man set out to-night, with strict orders to avoid the road in the day-time, and depend entirely on the woods, although neither of them have ever been in Vincennes by land, nor do they know any thing of the country; but I am in hopes that they will reach you in safety. I send them with great reluctance, from their ignorance of the woods. I think it very probable there is a large party of Indians waylaying the road between this and Vincennes, likely about the Narrows, for the purpose of intercepting any party that may be coming to this place, as the cattle they got here will supply them plentifully with provisions for some time to come. Please, &c.,
"His excellency, Governor Harrison."

At the time of the writing of this letter Colonel Russell was within fifteen miles of Fort Harrison, with a reinforcement of six hundred mounted rangers, and five hundred infantry. He arrived on the 16th, to the utter surprise of Captain Taylor, who had not heard of even his approach. Some time after the garrison was further reinforced by about 4000 men under Major General Hopkins.

 "In 1812 President Madison commissioned Judge Dunn a captain of rangers. He soon raised a company, among the members being two of his brothers and two of his brothers-in-law. On the 13th of April, 1813, the company was mustered into the service of the United States, at Madison, and at once entered upon active service. For some time it was employed in erecting block-houses in the counties of Switzerland, Jefferson and Scott, for the protection of the settlers.
In June, 1813, Captain Dunn and his company made a raid upon the Delaware towns on the west fork of White river, and next month, with three other companies, all under the command of Colonel Russell, marched against the Indian towns on the Wabash river, at the mouth of the Mississiniwa. During this expedition Captain Dunn's company encamped one night on the spot which is now known as Circle Park, Indianapolis. In September, 1813, Captain Dunn's rangers marched to Fort Harrison, near Terre Haute, to relieve Captain Zachary Taylor's company of United States regulars. Dr. David H. Maxwell, a brother-in-law of Captain Dunn, and a member of his company, in a petition to Congress asking compensation for medicine and medical services rendered the members of his company, gives this graphic description of the situation at Fort Harrison when Captain Dunn arrived:
"After this campaign (the Mississiniwa), and without a respite, Captain Dunn's company of rangers was ordered to Fort Harrison to relieve a company of United States infantry which had charge of that garrison.
"No language which your petitioner can command can adequately describe the situation of this infantry company when the Rangers took charge of the fort. Of the whole company four only were able to perform duty. The physician who was stationed at the fort had been sick and confined to his bed for weeks. At his request your petitioner attended upon the sick of his company until those who recovered (for some died) were able to leave the fort. Within the short space of three months after Captain Dunn's company of rangers was stationed at Fort Harrison there were eighty-five men out of one hundred and six who were sick and confined. Such was the rapid increase of disease that your petitioner was wholly unable to attend personally upon the sick, and he was obliged to apply to the officers to obtain the aid of three or four intelligent individuals to assist him in preparing and administering medicines, and to attend on the sick during their operation. Nearly all the sick were affected with remitting and intermitting fever, some few from dysentery or bloody flux. The rangers were continued at Fort Harrison for four months, and during that time, and, in fact, until the company was discharged, in March, 1814, the sick were often requiring additional medicines. Of the whole number of rangers at the fort, only one died during the service; but more than twenty never perfectly recovered, and died within eighteen months afterward."
- Williamson Dunn Biographical and Historical Sketches of Early Indiana by William Wesley Woollen. 1883

 "War Dept May 14. 1814 - your Excellency may have found it necessary to detail the 4th. Regt. and an order is inclosed for Col. Miller to suspend his march, until you may be satisfied that the rangers & regular troops under Colonel Russell and the recruits which are raising in the Territory for the additional army are equal to the protection of that frontier." -
-Eustis to Harrison

"William Kelley who was a private in the Company commanded by Captain Samuel Whitesides in the Regiment of Mounted Rangers commanded by Colonel William Russell in the war with the Indians in the year 1812 & 13, on the frontier of Illinois; that he enlisted at Russellville, Illinois as he believes, on or about the ____ day of May or April, A.D. 1813 for the term of twelve months, and continued in actual service in said war for the term of twelve months, and was honorably mustered out of service on the ____ day of April or May, A.D. 1814, on account of his term of service having expired. He makes this declaration for the purpose of obtaining the bounty land to which he may be entitled under the "act granting bounty land to certain officers and soldiers who have been engaged in the military service of the United States," passed September 28th, 1850. "I served twelve months in the Regiment of United States Mounted Rangers, the Regiment com'(d) by Col. William Russell & in the Company commanded by Samuel Whitesides."

"After the formation of the United States, the first Army Rangers were created by act of Congress in 1811, just before the outbreak of the War of 1812. The organization of 10 Companies of mounted Rangers were under command of Colonel William Russell with 4 of these Companies detailed to patrol and protect the Illinois Territory from the English and Indians." - 17th Reg. of Illinois Territorial Rangers this re-enactor group portrays this unit but does not use the original title the unit was formed under - 17th United States Regiment
For more on Col William Russell, read the interesting article
KENTUCKY "REGULARS" IN THE WAR OF 1812. By A. C. Quisenberry.

Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society, Frankfort, Kentucky January 1914


"Congress, in 1811, passed an act authorizing the organization of ten companies of rangers which afterward formed a regiment, known as the 17th U. S. Infantry, placed under the command of Col. Wm. Russell of Kentucky, a renowned Indian fighter. Of these companies four were raised in Illinois Territory, those commanded respectively by Captains Samuel Whiteside, Wm. Whiteside, James B. Moore, and Jacob Short.—J. H." - footnote p.338 - "Camp Russell was erected about a mile and a-half northwest of the present town of Edwardsville, and was called for William Russell, who was colonel of a regiment of ten ranging companies." p.405

- The Pioneer History of Illinois

"An act of Congress followed, authorizing the enlistment of ten companies of mounted rangers, to be styled the 17th regiment, of which Col. William Russell, of Kentucky, was given command, and over each of which companies a captain was elected by the men. Four of those companies, recruited from Illinois, were assigned to the defense of Illinois, towit: The companies of Capt. William B. Whiteside, Capt. Samuel Whiteside, Capt James B. Moore and Capt. Jacob Short. Four of them were assigned to Indiana and two to Missouri. Over toward the Wabash five companies of mounted rangers were organized, to-wit: The companies of Capt. Willis Hargrave,§ Capt. William McHenry,§ Capt. Nathaniel Journey, Capt. Thomas E. Craig (of Shawneetown) and Capt. William Boone of the Big Muddy. Forts, block houses and stockades were erected over the State wherever settlements were to be found...(p.71)...On the llth day of September, Colonel Russell, who had been ordered, from near Vincennes, promptly left that point with two small companies of United States rangers, commanded by Captains Perry and Modrell* to join Governor Edwards and move up the Illinois to make a demonstration before the hostile Indians (there concentrated) of a character to cower them, which if ineffectual was to be followed by chastisement and destruction of their villages; likewise to recover the property and murderers sought by Captain Levering, to suffer no possible miscarriage. Gen. Samuel Hopkins commander of the Kentucky troops raised for the occasion, some 2,000 in number, was ordered to move up the Wabash to Ft. Harrison, destroy the villages in his coarse near the Wabash; march across the prairies of Illinois by way of the headwaters of the Sangamon and Vermillion rivers; form a junction with Edwards and Russell and together sweep all the villages along the Illinois river. General Hopkins' Kentuckians, undisciplined, and hopelessly insubordinate, after crossing into the Illinois prairies, became reckless and disorderly. It was known among them that the success of the expedition depended entirely on their activity and secrecy. Yet they loitered and shot game along the way and otherwise disobeyed the positive commands of the veteran general and his aids to such a shameful extent that the Indians in all the territory desired to be covered, learned the object of the movement and fled north to safety,just as had been feared when orders for secrecy and haste had been given. The season was rainy and the roads naturally slow; competent guides were lacking and on the fourth day out from Ft Harrison, the army lost its course in the vast prairies and returned disgraced, to the Wabash....The part assigned to Governor Edwards and Colonel Russell, more hazardous, was executed with precision and despatch, though fraught with nothing brilliant. Happily Governor Reynolds, in whose debt the State of Illinois must always remain, was a member of that expedition, as sergeant in the company of William B Whitesides, and has left us the following faithful account of it: "
Towards the last of September, 1812, all the forces of the United States rangers and mounted volunteers, to the number of 350, were assembled at Camp Russell and duly organized, preparatory to marching against the Indians, and join the army under General Hopkins. Camp Russell was one mile and a half north of Edwardsville, and then on the frontier. " Colonel Russell commanded the United States rangers; Colonels Stephenson and Charles Rector were in command of the volunteers; Major John Mordock, Colonel — Desha, United States army, and several others (names not recollected) were field officers; Captains William B. Whiteside, James B. Moore, Jacob Short, Samuel Whiteside, Willis Hargrave (William McHenry, Janny and Lieutenant Roakscn, with a small independent company of spies, consisting of 21 men,) commanded companies. " Colonel Jacob Judy was the captain of a small corps of spies, comprising 21 men. (Governor Reynolds was in this company.) The staff of Governor Edwards were Nelson Rector, Lieut. Rober K. McLaughlin, United States army, and Secretary Nathaniel Pope There may have been more, but the writer does not recollect them. " This little army being organized, and with their provisions for or 30 days packed on the horses, they rode (except in a few instance when pack horses were fitted out,) took up the line of march in northwardly direction. Captain Craig, with a small company, was ordered to take charge of a boat, fortified for the occasion, with provision and supplies, anc proceed up the Illinois river to Peoria. "This little army at that time was all the efficient force to protect Illinois. We commenced the march from Camp Russell on the last day of September....I am well aware that we cannot judge of conditions so competently as those present at the time, but from the manner in which Governor Reynolds treated it; the pusillanimous conduct of Hopkins' troops and the assinine and criminal action of Craig, we must, while conceding that to the expedition amid the Indiains, until they recovered breath to do more damage, we must regard with regret the treatment given the villages of the friends of the whites. We will admit that much mischief was hatched in their villages; possibly the Fort Dearborn massacre, of it who shall say an indiscriminate assault should have been made upon friend and foe alike? It was an incident of Indian life and character to find such conditions, and when a raid was contemplated, the highest intelligence should have directed its execution. Finding no reinforcements from Hopkins and Craig and suspecting attack from the exasperated Indians, Governor Edwards turned his face toward Camp Russell, and reached it with his command after 13 days absence. Strange as it may seem, a controversy arose as to who should have the credit of originating the expedition. The question should have been, to whom should we credit the execution of it...(On the latter question Governor Edwards wrote: "I received a letter from Colonel Russell, proposing to me an expedition somewhat similar, and promising to come on before the day I had appointed for marching. He accordingly arrived, with a part of two companies of rangers, consisting of 50 privates and their officers, and tendered me his services, which I gladly accepted by appointing him second in command, well knowing and duly appreciating his great experience in Indian warfare and his merits as a military )....Let it not be understood that the rangers of Missouri were idle while those reports were current and while those plundering raids and murders were multiplying. Though settlements were few and far apart, the great distances were covered by pursuing parties almost constantly. In fact it may be said for the rangers, that all of fighting, vengeance, reprisal, victory which came to the whites, came through the steadfastness of companies of rangers or other detachments and not from any combination of command or concerted expedition. Those rangers were here, there and everywhere, abating not their energies to protect the feeble settlements and by the time the year 1813 came round, with its renewed needs of protection, the rangers went from fort to fort, repairing some, enlarging others, removing families- to safer posts and running down thieves and murderers. " (p.127-144)" -


"Congress in 1811 passed an act for the organization of 10 companies of mounted rangers to protect the frontiers of the West These companies constituted the 17th United States regiment and Colonel William Russel an old Indian lighter of Kentucky was assigned to its command..." 
- A complete history of Illinois from 1673 to 1873, by Alexander Davidson (of Springfield, Illinois), 1877, p. 249

So, by many accounts, the first* US RANGER REGIMENT was conceived as early as 1790-91 and formed beginning in 1811-1812!

(and they were mounted!)

I could find no Congressional military legislation enacted in 1811 but, obviously, discussion, debate and drafting, preceded the 2 January 1812 legislation:

TWELFTH CONGRESS First Session 4 Nov, 1811-6 July, 1812 
"1812 - Jan 2 Chap 11 
- An act authorizing the President of the United States to raise companies of rangers for the protection of the frontiers of the United States..."not exceeding six"...p. 211" 

"1813 - July 1 Chap 119 
- An act supplementary to An act authorizing the President of the United States to raise certain companies of rangers for the protection of the frontier of the United States...p. 233"

THIRTEENTH CONGRESS First Session 24 May  - 2 Aug 1813

"1813 August 2 Chap 41 
- An act explanatory of an act entitled An act to raise ten additional companies of rangers...p. 249"  


note - one law not "inserted" in Callan's book of Military Laws was the 9 April 1816 Act:
"to provide for the payment of horses and other property lost or destroyed in the military service of the United States..."

In March, 1849 - Chapter 129 Approved March 3 1849 Vol 9 p 414 - we find:
"That any field or staff or other officer mounted militiaman volunteer ranger or cavalry engaged in the military service of the United States since the eighteenth of June eighteen hundred and twelve or who shall hereafter be in said service.."  and a note accompanying:
"This act superseded all the expired acts on the same subject of 9 April 1816 chap 40 vol 3 p 261, 3 March 1817 chap 110 vol 3 p 397, 3 March 1825 chap 68 vol 4 p 123 20 April 1818 chap 124 vol 3 p 456 19 Feb 1833 chap 33 vol 3 p 813 3 June 1834 chap 153 18 Jan 1837 chap 5 vol 5 p 142 14 Oot 1837 chap 5 vol 5 p 204 and 2 March 1847 chap 39 vol 6 p 154 none of which are inserted in this compilation.."

 In December 1838, a resolution was put forth to account for property losses in 1811. including those by the mounted rangers that were formed them, in the lead-up to the war:

"Resolved That the Committee of Claims be instructed to inquire into the expediency of abridging its duties by reviving such sections of the act passed the 9th day of April, 1816, entitled "An act to authorize payment for property lost captured or destroyed during the last war," as may be deemed proper and to embrace horses lost and private property consumed by mounted rangers and militia and Volunteers in the authorized campaign of 1811, previous to the formal declaration of war in 1812; also, into the expediency of authorizing and granting to the officers and privates in the service of the United States as rangers, volunteers, and militia, for six months, altogether, from and after the date of the order given to the army to imbody to march to Tippecanoe, in 1811, to the end of the war,scrip sufficient to enter a tract of public land each, apportioned according to rank."



John Coffee's Rangers (primarily known as Mounted Riflemen) of Tennessee in the War of 1812:

American historical magazine, Volume 6, by Peabody Normal College, 1901

THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS , by AC Quisenberry; The Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society, Volume 13, by Kentucky Historical Society, 1915

"Gen. Coffee's Official Record.

"War Department.
"the Adjustant General's Office.
"Memorandum for the Secretary of war.

"The name of John Coffee, appears with the rank of Colonal on a muster roll of the field and staff officers of the regiment of Tennessee Volunteer Calvalry under command of Col. John Coffee, (war of 1812) covering the period between December 10, 1812, and April 27, 1813. This roll is dated April 27, 1813, and shows the date of his appointment as November 21, 1812, and a payroll of the organization shows the date of his service as April 27,1813.

"The name John Coffee also appears, with rank of Colonal, on a muster roll of the field and staff belonging to Col. John Coffee's regiment of Tennessee Volunteer Calvalry and mounted Rifilemen 'on an expedition against the Creek Nation of Indians' (war of 1812) covering the period between September 24, and October 29, 1813. This roll is dated October 29, 1813, and shows September 24, 1813, as the date when he mustered into service and October 29, 1813, as 'time of service performed.'

"The name also appears with rank of brigadier general on a muster roll of the general and staff officers of Brig. General Coffee's Brigade of Tennessee Volunteer Calvalry and Mounted Gunmen (war of 1812) covering the period from Oct. 30, 1813, to May 10, 1814. This roll is dated May 10, 1814, at Fayetteville, and shows October 31, 1813, as the date of his appointment and May 10,

1814, as date of expiration of service.

"The name also appears, with rank of Brigadier General on muster roll of the general and staff officers of Brigadier General Coffee's Brigade of Tennessee Volunteer Mounted Gunmen 'in the late campaign in the south' (war of 1812) covering the period between September 11, 1814, and June 20, 1815, when discharged. The roll is dated June 20, 1815, at Nashville and shows June 20,

1815, as the date of expiration of service.

"The name also appears with rank of Brigadier General on a muster roll of officers belonging to Brigadier General Coffee's Brigade of Tennessee Volunteer Mounted Gunmen in the service of the United States at New Orleans on the first of March, 1815 (war of 1812). This roll is dated March 1st., 1815, at New Orleans, Louisiana, and shows September 11, 1814, as date of commencement of service.

%"It further appears from the records that this officer marched from Nashville, Tennessee, to Washington, M. Ter., in the months of January and February, 1813, thence to Nashville Camp Coffee on the Tennessee river (September 26, 1813), 'Black Warrior's Town,' Fort Deposit and Chenubbe (October 13, 1913); that he marched from Camp Chenubbe by Camp Pleasant, thence to Talishetehay, near Ten Islands Fort Strother (November, 1813), Taledga, Fort Strother, Rutherford County, Tennessee, Enotochopo, Emuckfau, Fort Strother, (January, 1814), Fort Williams, Tohopeka, (March 1814), Fort Williams, Hoithlewalea, Fort Jackson and Rutherford County Tennessee, and that he marched between September 28, 1814, and April 27,1815, from Fayetteville, thence to Fort Montgomery, Pensacola, Fort Montgomery, mouth of Sandy Creek, on the Mississippi, to the encampment below New Orleans, and to Nashville, Tennessee.

"Nothing additional has been found in this department relative to the services of this officer, but it appears from an unofficial publication (Dictionary of the Army of the United States, Gardner) that this officer was wounded in battle under Major General Jackson with Creek Indians at Emuckfau, January 22, 1814, and in an attack on Pensacola November, 1814, and that he distinguished himself in the defense of New Orleans in battles of December 23, 1814, and January 8, 1815.

"It also appears (from No. 19, 'Filson Club Publications' entitled 'The Battle of New Orleans' by Zachery F. Smith) that the thanks of the general assembly of the state of Louisiana were presented to General Coffee and other officers 'For the brilliant share have had in the defense of this country and the happy harmony they have maintained with the inhabitants and malitia of the state.'

"P. C. Harris,
"The Ajustant General.

"Agust 19, 1920."

...The name-sake of General Jackson, Andrew Jackson Coffee, was born near Nashville, Tennessee, August 20, 1819, educated at the University of Nashville, and was appointed to West Point Military Academy by President Jackson. He served on General Taylor's staff in the Mexican war and at its close remained in the service and served in Texas and Louisana, until 1853, when he was assigned for duty on Tampa's coast, with headquarters at San Francisco, with General Albert Sidney Johnson and General Curtis Lee. In the Civil War he sympathized with the south. He returned to civil life in 1859."....

GENERAL JOHN COFFEE AND FAMILY, including Gen Coffee's Official Record, pp. 195-202 Andrew Jackson and Early Tennessee History, Volume 2, by Samuel Gordon Heiskell, 1921

Mississippi Territory in War of 1812, Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society: Centenary series, Volume 4, by Mississippi Historical Society,1921, pp. 11-233 

pp. 72-73; Part III Post Revolutionary War Units, Elite Warriors: 300 Years of America's Best Fighting Troops, by Lance Q. Zedric, Michael F. Dilley, 1996

pp. 29-30; US Army Rangers: History Chapter 2 in Blood Warriors: American Military Elites, by Michael Lee Lanning, 2002
"John Coffee" 8 citations
In the Footsteps of Davy Crockett, by Randell Jones, 2006


The young nation's inherited cultural "fear of a standing army," was illustrated for a second time after the War of 1812. In the case of the quasi regular and costly mounted "rangers" this was understandable. Another costly unit shelved was the Dragoons. As the ARMY LINEAGE SERIES ARMOR-CAVALRY relates:

"The Regiment of Dragoons was disbanded on 15 June 1815, and for seventeen years the Regular establishment again had no cavalry." 

While it lasted somewhat longer, the war's most effective unit, the Rifle Regiment, was deemed too costly and disbanded in 1821 on the edge of the prairie at Fort Atkinson, Nebraska, despite it's proven competence in dispersed tactics and the need for aimed and accurate firepower against the Indians when compared to regular line infantry.

Soon after, the first United States military aid was extended to the Santa Fe traders in the form of escorts - the troops accompanying the traders through Indian country, but remaining permanently stationed in Missouri, Indian Territory, or at Fort Leavenworth on the Missouri River. In other words, instead of guarding the Trail, as the later military posts did, the military escorts guarded only the trade caravans which they accompanied. There were at least six such United States Army escorts during the pre-Mexican War era: The first in 1829 was led by Major Bennett Riley - a former Rifle Regiment officer - with four companies of the Sixth Infantry (in which the Rifles had been merged at Atkinson).

"In 1831 uprisings by the Menominees at Prairie du Chien in the Northwest Territory and by Black Hawk's band at Rock Island, Illinois, provided tangible evidence of the need for an Army capable of tracking down and pursuing the Indians beyond their usual haunts. Finally, in June 1832, Congress authorized the organization of a Battalion of Mounted Rangers for defense of the frontier. Some 600 hardy frontiersmen were brought together." 


"The Mounted Ranger Battalion was made up of young, hardy hunters, trappers, and other outdoorsmen, who were required to furnish their own horses and horse equipment, weapons, and dress. They were completely without uniforms or insignia of rank of any kind, although contemporary writings reveal they did have buglers. Recruiting rules specified that they be clothed in the "hunting dress of the day." - The Horse Soldier 1776-1850, p. 85- by Randy Steffen

"Experience with this battalion proved the value of a mounted force, but it also indicated the importance of having the force properly trained and disciplined. As a result, on 2 March 1833 Congress authorized a regiment of dragoons in lieu of the Battalion of Mounted Rangers." 


"The Creation of the Mounted Ranger Battalion and its replacement by the First Regiment of Dragoons the following year provides insight into the Jacksonian mindset. Authorized by Congress in 1832, the Mounted Ranger Battalion typified the citizen-soldier tradition....the battalion sought to ease concerns regarding forming an aristocratic mounted branch of service by forming what amounted to a federally-sanctioned battalion of mounted militia to meet the challenges of frontier service.  Though the senior officers possessed military experience, none had attended West Point....."pp 62-64


The Rangers on the Old Sante Fe Trail

The First United States military aid extended to the Santa Fe traders was in the form of escorts, the troops accompanying the traders through Indian country, but remaining permanently stationed in Missouri, Indian Territory, or at Fort Leavenworth on the Missouri River. In other words, instead of guarding the Trail, as the later military posts did, the military escorts guarded only the trade caravans which they accompanied. There were at least six such United States Army escorts during the pre-Mexican War era: The first in 1829 was led by Major Bennet Riley - a War of 1812 Rifle Regiment officer - with four companies of the Sixth Infantry (in which the Rifles had been merged).

What happened essentially was this. Several days after the caravan proceeded unescorted beyond the Mexican boundry (Arkansas River) "The frightened traders requested Riley and his troops to come to their aid, and, although it meant taking United States soldiers into Mexican territory, Riley did not delay. He led his command across the river and proceeded to the besieged caravan. Arriving at the train during the night and establishing a suitable guard, the soldiers witnessed the withdrawal of the Indians the following morning. The traders, fearing to continue without escort, begged Riley to accompany them onward. He complied, and escorted them for two days, to Drunken Creek (twenty-four miles from the scene of the attack), and then refused to go farther into foreign territory. After resting in camp for one day, the troops returned to the Arkansas and remained on the Mexican side for ten days before recrossing the river and going into camp opposite Chouteau's Island. For the duration of their encampment, the soldiers moved camp when necessary for cleanliness or to find grass for the oxen or buffalo for food. They were almost constantly harassed by Indians until August 11, but the remaining two months of their stay on the Arkansas were passed practically without incident. Since they were infantry, Riley and the soldiers found it extremely frustrating not to be able to give chase to the hostile Indians....Despite the limitations placed upon them because they were not mounted, the soldiers withstood the Indian attacks. The command lost only four men during the entire expedition. For defensive purposes they were effective and successful, but their experiences demonstrated the need for cavalry if they were ever to take the offense against the Indians. This lesson apparently had its effect, because the next escort was comprised of United States Mounted Rangers....Senator Benton submitted Major Riley's report to the Senate in 1830 in support of legislation to provide further protection for the Santa Fe trade. The report may have been influential in securing passage of an act, in 1832, establishing the United States Mounted Rangers." - source Indian Attack on Charles Bent at Bear Creek Pass

a missing link - The Regiment of Riflemen 1808-1821

Mounted Ranger Battalion of 1832

 1830 - Mounted Ranger -  21st1st session - MA - p371
"The Regiment of Dragoons was disbanded on 15 June 1815, and for seventeen years the Regular establishment again had no cavalry." ...In 1831 uprisings by the Menominees at Prairie du Chien in the Northwest Territory and by Black Hawk's band at Rock Island, Illinois, provided tangible evidence of the need for an Army capable of tracking down and pursuing the Indians beyond their usual haunts. Finally, in June 1832, Congress authorized the organization of a Battalion of Mounted Rangers for defense of the frontier. Some 600 hardy frontiersmen were brought together." ARMY LINEAGE SERIES ARMOR-CAVALRY
1832 - Mounted Rangers-officers - Dec -Senate Executive Journal - p283-4

"The Mounted Ranger Battalion was made up of young, hardy hunters, trappers, and other outdoorsmen, who were required to furnish their own horses and horse equipment, weapons, and dress. They were completely without uniforms or insignia of rank of any kind, although contemporary writings reveal they did have buglers. Recruiting rules specified that they be clothed in the "hunting dress of the day." - The Horse Soldier 1776-1850, p. 85- by Randy Steffen

"Experience with this battalion proved the value of a mounted force, but it also indicated the importance of having the force properly trained and disciplined. As a result, on 2 March 1833 Congress authorized a regiment of dragoons in lieu of the Battalion of Mounted Rangers." - from the ARMY LINEAGE SERIES ARMOR-CAVALRY

- One interesting individual,Captain Jesse Bean,may be said to "connect" the old Rifle Regiment to the US Mounted Rangers. (Bean) "was born about 1784 in Tennessee, and died before 31 January 1844 in Independence County, Arkansas...served during the war of 1812 in between 28 July 1812 and 28 July 1817 in Captain Joseph Kean's Company of the US Rifle Regiment as a gunsmith. In 1832 Lewis Cass, Secretary of War, commissioned Jesse to raise a company for the military force at Fort Gibson on the Arkansas River above Fort Smith. This was Captain Jesse Bean's Arkansas Mounted Rangers of the Army of the United States, the first military company raised in the area specifically to serve outside the territory. The company was in service for about a year. In 1832 the Indian Commissioner, Henry Leavitt Ellsworth was instructed "to visit and examine the country set apart for the emigrating Indians, west of the Mississippi", land in what is now Oklahoma. He was accompanied by the famous author Washington Irving whose book "A Tour of the Prairies," published in 1835 and based on Irving's journal during this trip. Washington Irving's "tour" included a circuit from Ft. Gibson through the back country and back to Ft. Gibson between 10 October 1832 and 9 November 1832. During this portion of the tour Ellsworth and Irving were escorted by Jesse's company." - source: Kraus-Everette Genealogy

Ranger Excerpts from Tour of the Prairies by Washington Irving

Ellsworth was part of the so-called the Stokes Indian Commission, which was an "effort to bring representatives of the wild tribes to Fort Gibson for the purpose of making treaties with them and impressing them with the sovereignty of the United States; it was hoped that they would conform their conduct accordingly & become friends of the whites and of the Indian immigrants from the East who were to be the new owners of the Indian Territory. Ellsworth's efforts in 1832, when Irving accompanied him, failed to accomplish this result. In 1833 another expedition set out from Fort Gibson commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James Many. In his command were two select companies of the Seventh Infantry and three companies of Rangers commanded by captains Bean, Ford, and Boone, the latter Nathan Boone, son of the famous Daniel. They went as far as the country on the Washita, Blue, and Red rivers, but returned empty-handed after suffering tremendous hardships. - - FORT GIBSON - A BRIEF HISTORY Grant Foreman Press of Hoffman-Speed Printing Co., Muskogee, Oklahoma

From Tom Aycock's MOUNTED INFANTRY OR DRAGOON?"The formation of the Ranger Battalion served several purposes. They showed the government the wisdom of a mounted unit. The also, however, showed the need for a regular unit of horse. Henry L. Ellsworth (a commissioner dispatched from Washington to negotiate a treaty with the warlike tribes), wrote,
"The Rangers generally, are smart active men at home, good farmers & respectable citizens. They enlisted only for one year, to explore the country and expect to return to their families again when their term is out- in the meantime, they seemed determined to keep up republican equality, by acknowledging no superior and let me here say, I consider the Rangers almost a failure - their dress in the first place is practically the poorest clothes they have or can get- their equipments are only one rifle- this often gets out of order, and then the Ranger has no weapon" Now, their appearance is that of so many poor hunters - they strike no awe."

At the end of 1832, the Secretary of War, Lewis Cass, reported that it cost $150,000 more a year to maintain the Battalion of Mounted Rangers than it would for a full regiment of dragoons. The fate of the Rangers was sealed. By July of 1833, the men of the Ranger Battalion had served their 1-year's enlistment, and demanded their discharge. Earlier that year Congress had authorized The United States Regiment of Dragoons, on the 2nd. of March. This is the date used as the real birthday of the United States Cavalry.

The Ranger commander, Major Henry Dodge, was promoted to colonel and given command of the new regiment.

"Thus ended the history of Major Dodge's Mounted Rangers. No battle had been fought and no blood had been shed; no acts of heroism are recorded;and the reports of rifles were heard only on the drill ground. But the battalion of Mounted Rangers certainly insured the peace of the northwestern frontiers which had seen and felt the terror of Indian outbreaks. Then, too, with the moral influence of a movable force Major Dodge was able to perform the duties of adviser and friend among a people who with each generation had to look less at a rising and more to a setting sun. As early as March 2, 1833, President Jackson had approved an act "for the more perfect defense of the frontier" whereby was created the first regiment of Dragoons in the army history of the United States. It was but another recognition of henry Dodge's military services when two days later the President appointed him Colonel of this force which was to consist of seven hundred and forty-eight officers and men. As early as the previous December the proposition of the Secretary of War to convert the Mounted Rangers into a regiment of Dragoons had been urged in Congress: the cost would be less than for the Rangers by $153,932 a year; the Dragoons would be equal in celerity of movement; their service on horse and on foot would require training in the use of both rifle and the sword; and finally, the addition of such a force would make much more complete the military arm of the government. Jefferson Barracks, a post ten miles below St. Louis, was selected as the headquarters for the regiment. Early in March 1833, orders for the enlistment of the corps were issued, and Colonel Dodge divided his time between commanding the Rangers on the Illinois frontier and in assisting in the organization of the Dragoons. During the spring and summer of 1833 his military orders were generally issued over the title of "Col. US Dragoons Commanding U. S. Rangers" [The same order, which brought the Regiment of Dragoons into existence, stated that: "The Ranger Battalion would continue in service until formally relieved by regular cavalry."]
"I wish the Regiment to be efficient and useful to the country", wrote Colonel Dodge to the Adjutant General. "And by taking a part of the officers from the Regular Army who understand the first principles of their profession and uniting them with the Ranging officers who understand the woods service would promote the good of the service. The sooner the determination of the Hon Secretary of War on this subject the better for the good of the service..."
Stephen W. Kearney, the Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment, was appointed to superintend the recruiting of the regiment, with the order "to recruit healthy, respectable men, native citizens, not under twenty, nor over thirty-five years of age, whose size, figure and early pursuits may best qualify them for mounted soldiers." Henry Dodge by Louis Pelzer,1911 pp.78-82

Other sources:
JSTORS provides access to the excellent article "The United States Mounted Ranger Battalion, 1832-1833" by Otis E. Young - originally in The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 41, No. 3 (Dec., 1954), pp. 453-470 doi:10.2307/1897493
Beers, Henry Putney. The Western Military Frontier, 1815 46. Phila: Author, 1935. 227 p. E179B44.
Foreman, Grant. Pioneer Days in the Early Southwest. Cleveland: Clark, 1926. 349 p. F396F67.- See Chap entitled "Washington Irving at Fort Gibson, 1832."
McBarron, H. Charles, Jr. "U.S. Mounted Ranger Battalion, 1832-33." Mill Collect & Hist 1 (Dec 1949): pp. 5 6. Per.

Privilege vs. equality: civil-military relations in the Jacksonian era, 1815-1845, by Robert P. Wettemann,ABC-CLIO,2009
see 3. Egalitarianism vs. Aristocracy: Officers and Civilians
"The Creation of the Mounted Ranger Battalion and its replacement by the First Regiment of Dragoons the following year provides insight into the Jacksonian mindset. Authorized by Congress in 1832, the Mounted Ranger Battalion typified the citizen-soldier tradition....the battalion sought to ease concerns regarding forming an aristocratic mounted branch of service by forming what amounted to a federally-sanctioned battalion of mounted militia to meet the challenges of frontier service.  Though the senior officers possessed military experience, none had attended West Point....."

TWENTY SECOND CONGRESS First Session 5 Dec, 1831 - 16 July, 1832
"1832 June 15 Chap 131
- An act to authorize the President to raise mounted riflemen for the defence of the frontier..."That the President of the United States be and he is hereby authorized to raise either by the acceptance of volunteers or enlistment for one year unless sooner discharged six hundred mounted rangers to be armed equipped mounted and organized in such manner and to be under such regulations and restrictions as the nature of the service may in his opinion make necessary..p.325"


1832 - Mounted Rangers to Dragoons - Dec - 22nd2ndsess - MA -p126

"1833 March 2 Chap 76
- An act for the more perfect defence of the frontiers 329
An Act for the more perfect defence of the frontiers 1 Organization of regiment of dragoons 2 Pay when mounted Pay when on foot 3 To serve on horse or foot and subject to rules and articles of war &c ...That, in lieu of the battalion of mounted rangers authorized by the act of the fifteenth of June one thousand eight hundred and thirty two, there be established a regiment of dragoons...p. 329"


 1833-1861 - 1st U.S. Dragoon Regiment (became 1st US Cavalry)The "United States Regiment of Dragoons" was organized by an Act of Congress approved 2 March 1833. It became the "First Regiment of Dragoons" when the Second Dragoons were raised in 1836. The regiment, made up of a field and staff (headquarters) and 10 companies, had 34 officers and 714 men, many of whom were formerly in the Battalion of Mounted Rangers. The same order, which brought the Regiment of Dragoons into existence, stated that: "The Ranger Battalion would continue in service until formally relieved by regular cavalry. It was referring to the Regiment of Dragoons!"....The Ranger commander, Major Henry Dodge, was promoted to colonel and given command of the new regiment.

Another former Ranger was Capt. Nathan Boone, youngest son of Daniel Boone. Most of the other officers were taken from the regular army. There was Lt. Philip St.George Cooke, late of the 6th. U.S. Infantry, and the new Lieutenant Colonel, Steven Watts Kearny. There was also a Lt. Jefferson Davis who would serve as the first adjutant... The combination of Regulars and Rangers gave to the new regiment some officers with a thorough knowledge of military principles and others well acquainted with the type of action that all were soon to experience.
"The third effort to make contact with these Western Indians was successfully carried out in 1834, by what became known as the famous Dragoon Expedition. General Henry Leavenworth arrived at Fort Gibson April 28 of that year and assumed command of the post, which he held until June 12 when he departed in command of the expedition. This expedition included also Colonel Henry Dodge, Colonel Stephen Watts Kearney, and Major R. B. Mason. Jefferson Davis, a lieutenant a few years out of West Point, was in command of one company. This train of five hundred mounted troops, a large number of white-covered baggage wagons, and seventy head of beeves made an imposing procession. It was accompanied by eleven Osage, eight Cherokee, six Delaware, and seven Seneca Indians who went along to serve as guides, hunters, interpreters, and as representatives of their respective nations. They crossed the Arkansas River below the mouth of Grand River, passed over the prairies near the site of the future Muskogee, traveled southwest to the mouth of the Washita River, then northwest, where they visited the site of a Comanche village at the western end of the Wichita Mountains. This was a disastrous expedition which resulted in the deaths of nearly 150 men from disease and the effects of excessive hot weather and poor water upon the unseasoned and undisciplined soldiers lately recruited from private life in the North and East. Included among the casualties of this expedition was that of General Leavenworth, who died July 21 near the Washita River. However, they did succeed in bringing back to Fort Gibson representatives of the Kiowa, Wichita, and Waco tribes, and after their return invitations were extended to all the Indians within reach to attend a grand council at the post--Choctaws, Cherokees, Creeks, Senecas, Osages, Delawares, and others. Here, on September 2, 1834, began one of the most interesting and important Indian councils ever held in the country." - FORT GIBSON - A BRIEF HISTORY Grant Foreman Press of Hoffman-Speed Printing Co., Muskogee, Oklahoma

United States Dragoons, The Military and Naval Magazine of the United States, Volumes 1-2, 1833 pp. 118-122
"Too much praise cannot be bestowed on Congress, for the : very handsome and liberal manner in which they have provided for the formation of a regiment of dragoons....My object, in the remarks which follow, will be to show the manifest injustice to the army at large, in perfecting 'the organization of the dragoons, by the selection of such officers of the rangers, as may be deemed qualified for the service. It may be said, and with great truth, that a very few only of the rangers are qualified, and that this discretionary regulation is of such a nature, that not more than two or three can be appointed from the corps. I say, that the appointment of a single one of them to the dragoons, would not only be an injury to the army, but an absolute infringement of their implied rights. This language may appear too strong to those who are not acquainted with all the facts in the case; but if we look a little into the claims of the two classes of candidates, viz: officers of the army, and officers of the rangers; we shall be able to form a more correct opinion on the subject."

ORDER No.15, HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, Adjutant General's Office, Washington, March 11, 1883, p. 126

1....Colonel Henry Dodge, of the United States Dragoons, will continue in command of the Battalion of Mounted Rangers, and will now repair to the frontiers; thence, as soon as circumstances will permit, he will proceed to inspect the several companies of the Battalion, and see that they be prepared and equipped agreeably to law; and that they be held in readiness for any active service which may be required of them, until relieved by companies of the regular cavalry.

II Lieutenant Colonel Stephen W. Kearny will superintend the recruiting for the Regiment; and the several company officers, whose appointments have been announced in general order No. 14, will report to him for orders and recruiting instructions. Lieut. Col. Kearny, until further orders, will be stationed at Jefferson Barracks; he will establish as many recruiting stations as he may judge necessary, and at such places, within the interior, as may be deemed most likely to recruit healthy, active, respectable men of the country, being native citizens of the United States, not under twenty nor over thirty-five years of age ; and whose size, figure, and early pursuits in life, best qualify them for the duties and active service of mounted soldiers.

III....The Lieutenant Colonel, as superintendent, and all officers employed in recruiting for the Regiment of Dragoons, will strictly observe, and be governed by the established recruiting regulations; and the monthly returns, muster and descriptive rolls, reports, &c. will be regularly made, and be transmitted to the Adjutant General of the Army.

IV Jefferson Barracks is the station designated for the concentration
of the recruits enlisted for the Dragoons, at which post the Regiment will be organized by the field officers, under such instructions as they may receive from the General-in-Chief.

V The General-in-Chief hopes that it is unnecessary to remind the officers appointed to the Regiment now ordered to be raised, of the necessity of devoting their undivided attention to the important service in which they are about to enter—but he would remark, that the President expects every officer will repair to his post without delay, and that all will immediately assume their respective duties, and proceed with alacrity in the discharge of them; and that the Regiment will be recruited, organized, instructed and equipped for service in the field, by the earliest day practicable.

VI The Head Quarters of the United States Regiment Of Dragoons, are established at Jefferson Barracks.

Major Richard B. Mason will report for orders and instructions to Lt. Col. Kearny.

By Order Of Major General MACOMB,
R. JONES, Adjutant General.  

United States Regiment of Dragoons - [Appointments]

Capt. Lemuel Ford of Mounted Rangers, to be Captain, 15th Aug. 1833.
Capt. Jesse B. Browne of Mounted Rangers, to be Captain, loth Aug. 1833. 

Capt. Jesse Bean of Mounted Rangers, to be Captain, 15th Aug. 1833.
Capt. Nathan Booue of Mounted Hangers, to be Captain, 15th Aug. 1833.
1st Lieut. Charles F. M. Noland of Mounted Rangers, to be 1st Lieut.
1st Lieut. T. B. Wheelock of Mounted Rangers, to be 1st Lieut
2d Lieut. John L. Watson of Mounted Rangers, to be 2d Lieut.
2d Lieut. James W. Shauinburg of Mounted Rangers, to be 2d Lieut. 

History of the First Dragoons - A site dedicated to the 1st US Dragoons 1833-1861

Cavalry, Dragoons and Light Dragoons - Gordon Frye's History Ramblings- Perambulations of a freelance historian
PS - Thanks to Gordon Frye for providing the genesis model for my blog.

1836-1861 - 2nd U.S. Dragoon Regiment (became 2nd US Cavalry)
The 2nd Regiment of Dragoons was constituted on 23 May 1836 in response to the Florida Seminole Indian Campaign. The Dragoon, a mounted infantryman, was deemed the most suited to defeat the agile and elusive Seminole even when fighting largely in the dismounted role.

"As quickly as the war in Florida was over in 1842, although all were retained, regiments and companies were reduced to minimum size. However, by a fluke, the Regular infantry actually increased. This came about because in the spring of 1843, to save money, the 2d Dragoons were converted into a rifle regiment. They thus became the first rifle corps included in the establishment for two decades, that is, since the Rifle Regiment had been disbanded in 1821. The erstwhile horsemen, who felt degraded on foot, clung hard to their dragoon organization, but they received rifles and, as far as is known, trained as riflemen. Agitation to remount them was continuous, and by April 1844 they became the 2d Dragoons again." (RG-legislation passed in in August 1842)

"Effective 4 March 1843, the 2d Dragoons were dismounted and reorganized as the Regiment of Riflemen. To turn dragoons into riflemen, only three major changes in the regimental organization actually took place: horses were eliminated, rifles replaced carbines, and the farriers and blacksmiths were discharged.
No sooner were the dragoons dismounted
(RG - US Grant in his memoirs referred to them as the Dismounted Rifles”) than agitation for remounting them began. It was argued that at least two mounted regiments should be stationed on the western frontier and maintained there in readiness for swift offensive action. If action were not needed, the mounted force should make a show of strength at least once a year by marching into the Indian country. In 1844, as a result of these arguments and pressure from the frontier states for a greater number of mounted Regulars in that area, Congress passed legislation to remount the riflemen and to restore to the regiment its original designation. Instead of moving to the western frontier, however, the 2d Dragoons joined Brig. Gen. Zachary Taylor in Texas in 1845."

The 2d Dragoons were in every battle from Palo Alto to Chapultepec during the war with Mexico..

2d Dragoons blog

From Everglade to Canyon with the Second United States Cavalry: an authentic account of service in Florida, Mexico, Virginia, and the Indian country : including the personal recollections of prominent officers : with an appendix containing orders, reports and correspondence, military records ... 1836-1875,Theophilus Francis Rodenbough, 1875


Meanwhile, back in 1838, the President (Tyler) received authority from Congress to convert two or more infantry regiments into rifles if he thought it expedient.

Testimony led to several acts of legislation.


source p. 958, p. 962 - American State Papers

TWENTY FIFTH CONGRESS Second Session 4 Dec, 1837 - 9 July, 1838
"1838 July 5 Chap 162
- An act to increase the present military establishment of the United States and for other purposes... ..."Sec 22 Regiments of riflemen and light infantry...That the President shall be and he is hereby authorized whenever he may deem the same expedient to cause not exceeding two of the regiments of infantry to be armed and equipped and to serve as regiments of riflemen and one other of the regiments of infantry to be armed and equipped and to serve as a regiment of light infantry..."p. 347

TWENTY FIFTH CONGRESS Third Session 3 Dec, 1838 - 3 March, 1839
"March 3 Chap 89
- An act giving to the President of the United States additional powers for the defence of the United States in certain oases against invasion and for other purposes.."upon hereby the same expedient to accept the services of any number of volunteers not exceeding fifty thousand in the manner provided for by an act entitled An net authorizing the President of the United States to accept the service of volunteers and to raise an additional regiment of dragoons or mounted riflemen approved May 23d 1836..."p.353


However, President Tyler never exercised this authority.


In 1846, two rifle regiments were again advocated and, spurred by western expansion along the Oregon trail and in the cauldron of war with Mexico, a Regiment of Mounted Riflemen and a Regiment of Voltigeurs and Foot Riflemen were formed.


Riflemen, remarks in the House of Representatives on the bill to raise two regiments of, by--

1846-1861 - U.S. Regiment of Mounted Riflemen (became 3rd US Cavalry - note the riflemen's bugle on the patch)
The Regiment of Mounted Riflemen was authorized by an Act of Congress on May 19, 1846, as a new organization in the United States Army: a regiment of riflemen, mounted to provide greater mobility than the Infantry and equipped with percussion rifles to provide greater range and more accurate firepower than the Infantry's muskets or the Dragoon's carbines.

"In 1846, after war with Mexico had begun, the mounted force was further increased. Legislation passed in May of that year to strengthen the entire Army included provision for seven regiments of cavalry manned by 12-month volunteers, a Regular regiment designated the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, and an increase in the number of privates in each cavalry company.
The Regiment of Mounted Riflemen was constituted to help establish a military road to the Oregon Territory. For a number of years the opening of the road, part of it through unexplored territory, had been discussed. Money was finally appropriated and a plan developed calling for forts from the Missouri to the Columbia. That there ought to be military protection for the project was evident, and for once a mounted force appeared to be the most economical solution.
Debates in Congress on organizing this new force brought out the point that mounted troops could be used to carry the mail, as messengers, and to guard settlers going west. One member of Congress said he would vote for raising the regiment just to restore a rifle regiment to the Army. Although the United States had once been the rifle country of the world, he contended, it had fallen behind the European nations. There was not one rifle regiment in the establishment. He further stated that the unit should be mounted because, he thought, it was idle to send infantry against Indians who would be on horseback.
The Mexican War afforded U.S. mounted Regular troops the first opportunity since the Revolution to engage mounted troops of a foreign organized army, and American cavalrymen took part in all of the major campaigns of the war. The 2d Dragoons were in every battle from Palo Alto to Chapultepec. The Mounted Riflemen, fighting dismounted at Chapultepec, earned from General Winfield Scott, Commanding General of the Army, the compliment that became their motto:

"Brave Rifles! Veterans! You have been baptized in fire and blood and have come out steel."

"... diverted at its origin into Mexican War service. Its animals were lost on the way, so only two companies, mounted on Mexican horses, acted as cavalry. The rest, armed with Model 1941 rifles, bayonets, and flintlock pistols, fought on foot."

1847-1848 - U.S. Regiment of Voltigeurs and Foot Riflemen:Little is documented on this unit:

"At the start of the Mexican War, Congress tried to get along with just eight infantry regiments of Regulars, but in doing so gave the President power to expand their companies to one hundred enlisted men during the war. Ten months after hostilities commenced, it was necessary to change this policy and add nine new regiments-with the same organization as the old ones-to the Regular infantry. Eight of them, as was customary, bore numbers, the 9th through the 16th; but the other got a name. It was called the Regiment of *Voltigeurs and Foot Riflemen. Half of this unit was to be mounted, the other half on foot, and each horseman was paired with a foot soldier who was to get up behind him for rapid movements. This arrangement was never executed, and the Voltigeurs became in fact a regiment of foot riflemen, armed with the same rifle (a muzzle-loader) as the Mounted Riflemen. Quite by chance, the regiment included a company of mountain howitzers and war rockets, but it was not linked with the riflemen tactically, nor were the rockets and howitzers ever used together. They fought at Contreras, Churubusco, Chapultepec, and Mexico City."

(At Chapultepec they stormed the western wall of the castle - in true Ranger spearhead tradition.)
NB-*Voltigeur~a picked company of irregular riflemen in each regiment of the French infantry, lightly armed skirmisher

"The theory of the voltigeur regiment was that it should be composed of a battalion of infantry and a battalion of mounted men; and that both were to use the same horses. In other words a horse was to carry two mounted men and though this had been found practicable in Napoleon's wars, it did not work well in our army and the .. (illegible) was still called voltigeurs, as the picked riflemen in France are now called." - Williamsport Daily Gazette and Bulletin, Williamsport, PA, 21 March 1884.

"The Regiment of United States Voltigeurs & Foot Riflemen (regulars), was (supposed to be) an elite regiment, inspired by units originally in the French army designed as special skirmishing companies attached to each infantry regiment; the American version was a dedicated regiment comprised of light infantry carrying rifled muskets (riflemen) with one company being a rocket & mountain howitzer battery."

"At its inception The U.S. regiment of Voltigeurs and Foot Riflemen was envisioned as a combined command containing dragoons, infantry and artillery. Half of the men were supposed to be mounted on horses. For rapid movement, each foot riflemen, would climb up behind the saddle of the voltigeur. The men's table of organization also featured a company of mountain howitzers and rockets. In actual practice, however, the Voltigeur Regiment functioned as infantry, and its men gave a good account of themselves with the famous Model 1841 ('Mississippi')rifle, the Army's first general-issue percussion shoulder arm." - Urwin "United States Infantry an Illustrated History," 1988, p.70

"The Voltiguers (sp), in the role of light infantry or foot riflemen, used the Harpers Ferry Model 1841 Rifle, .54 caliber, the first general issue percussion long arm to be made at the government armory, referred to as the ‘Mississippi Rifle’ because of its use by Jefferson Davis’ 1st Regiment Mississippi Infantry. The rest of the Army did not switch to rifles until 1855. The Mississippi Rifle was a shorter weapon than either the huge 1835 or 1842 musket, lighter and easier to wield. Although not issued in great numbers, some may have carried the 1847 Colt .44 ‘Walker’ revolver; perhaps a few, full of bravado, packed bowie knives in their kits." -

"...voltigeurs, (were) a regiment of regulars, in Cadwalader's brigade, Pillow's division...At Churubusco the voltigeurs were held in reserve. At Molino del Rey they supported Duncan's battery, and in "Worth's report of the battle Johnston's name is mentioned with other officers of Cadwalader's brigade. The voltigeurs lost 98 of their 341 men. At Chapultepec, Pillow was wounded and Cadwalader commanded the division and led it up the hill to the castle. The voltigeurs were prominent in the assault and their standard was the first planted on the ramparts from which the Mexicans were driven. Colonel Andrews led the left wing and Lieutenant-Colonel Johnston the right and the latter received three slight wounds which did not prevent his leading his men." -The twentieth century biographical dictionary of notable Americans, edited by Rossiter Johnson, John Howard Brown

There has been controversy as to who first raised an American flag on the heights of Chapultepec. Some one having incautiously said that General Read performed the gallant act, several claimants for the honor came forward.
The fact that the lion-hearted Read did not first plant the colors of his regiment on Chapultepec robs him of none of the laurels he won in Mexico. It was Captain Barnard, of Philadelphia, who seized the flag of the Voltigeurs, and placed it triumphantly on the captured works of the enemy. Read, while gallantly bearing the colors unfurled in the charge, was dangerously wounded, and his name appeared on the first list of the killed. No man who knew him doubts but for this Read would have done all that Barnard accomplished.

The flag of the Voltigeurs, first planted at Chapultepec, is now in Louisville, in the possession of Isaac, a brother of Colonel George Alfred Caldwell, who, with Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph E. Johnston,1 led the assault. It is shattered and battle-torn, and the staff shows marks of the fierce storm through which it was carried.
The reports of Generals Scott and Pillow, and Colonel Andrews, the commander of the Voltigeurs, and Ripley's History, all give to Captain Barnard the honor of first planting the regimental- colors on Chapultepec. General Pillow, in his report, says : " Colonel Andrews, whose regiment so distinguished itself and commander by this brilliant charge, as also Lieutenant-Colonel Johnston and Major Caldwell, whose activity enabled them to lead the assault, have greatly distinguished themselves by their gallantry and daring. Captain Barnard, with distinguished gallantry, seized the colors of his regiment upon the fall of the color-bearer, scaled the wall with them unfurled, and has the honor of planting the first American standard in the works."
When the Voltigeurs were disbanded at Baltimore, a number of the interesting properties of the regiment were forwarded by Lieutenant Colonel Johnston to Colonel Caldwell. Among these was the regimental flag.1 Colonel Caldwell was drafted in 1863. The law required he should personally appear before the board of enrollment for release. Knowing his physical disability, from age and chronic rheumatism, the board wrote him, if he had reason to fear he could not get exempted, he might bring his Chapultepec flag with him, and carry it out to the Taylor barracks."

NB-1 Afterward a rebel general, and now a member of the United States House of Representatives, 46th Congress, from the third district of Virginia.

- History of the flag of the United States of America: and of the naval and, by George Henry Preble
pp 373 - 374


THE UNITED STATES CAVALRY IN THE MEXICAN WAR, by W.B. Lane, Journal of the United States Cavalry Association, Volume 3, by United States Cavalry Association, 1890

More on the Mounted Riflemen and Voltigeurs & Foot Riflemen Regiments

When the war with Mexico came to an end and the usual postwar reductions of the Army began, the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen was retained as a part of the Regular establishment. All the other new regiments were mustered out, and the Volunteers were discharged and returned home. The Regiment of Mounted Riflemen was at once ordered overland to Oregon, but many of its members took advantage of a wartime law that permitted Regulars to receive discharges at the conclusion of hostilities. As a result, the depleted regiment had to wait for recruits at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. On 10 May 1849 it started its 2,000-mile trek westward, but still its organizational problems continued. After reaching the Oregon Territory the riflemen deserted in droves to go to California and join in the search for gold. In 1851 a mere skeleton of the regiment returned to Jefferson Barracks. It was again brought up to strength and then sent to the Department of Texas where, to implement the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, it tried to keep the Indians of Mexico out of the United States and those of the United States in.

Report of the General-in-Chief of the Army, accompanying tlie Report of the Secretary of War.

Headquarters Of The Army, Washington, Saturday, Nov. 30, 1850. Sib :—The organization, actual numbers on the rolls, and distribution of the army, will be shown by the returns from the Adjutant General's Office appended to this report, viz.:
1. Organization of the army of the United States, as established by law, (marked A.)
2. General return of the army, (B.)
3. Position and distribution of tne troops in the eastern division, (C.)
4. Position and distribution of the troops in the western division, (D.)
5. Position and distribution of the troops in the third, or Pacific division, (E.)
6. Exhibit of the number of recruits enlisted from October 17, 1849, to September 30, 1850, (F,) with the Adjutant General's report thereon.

In my last annual report to the War Department, dated November 3, 1849, I represented the urgent necessity of the increase of the military establishment, created mainly by the large accession of territory acquired by the late treaty of Peace with Mexico, and the express stipulation, on our part, to protect that republic from the Indian tribes within our limits. Congress, by the act of June 17, 1850, recognized this necessity, but the additional force authorized was both inadequate in numbers and description. The act empowered the President, whenever in his opinion any exigency required it, to increase to seventy-four the number of privates in companies serving on the western frontier and at remote stations, and to mount such portions of the foot companies so employed as he might deem necessary. The great extent of our frontiers, and the peculiar character of the service devolving on the troops, render it indispensable that the cavalry element should enter largely into the composition of the army.

Two additional regiments of horse (dragoons or mounted riflemen) are deemed absolutely necessary. The service is suffering greatly in Texas, New Mexico, and on the Pacific, owing to the insufficiency of the force now authorized by law. For the want of regular cavalry, the commanding general in Texas has been compelled to call out, at great expense, a considerable body of volunteer horse. The commander in New Mexico has also made repeated and pressing applications for cavalry, but not a company could be spared from other quarters to reinforce him. No other description of troops will answer for the protection of our immense lines of emigration and frontier settlements through, and bordering on, Indian tribes. Mounted infantry, as a substitute, is wholly inadequate; and the experiment of employing foot regiments in this way can only result in disorganizing them as infantry, and converting them into extremely indifferent horsemen. Beside, from their inexperience, and the temporary character of their new duties, the wear and tear of horses and equipments, in the hands of infantry, would be enormous—probably three-fold greater than with regular cavalry, (dragoons or mounted riflemen)—thus making this nondescript force the most expensive and the least efficient ever known to our service.

I beg, therefore, to recommend, for the reasons given in my former report, that three regiments be added to the establishment—two of light dragoons or mounted riflemen, and one of infantry; that two companies be added to the present forty-eight companies of artillery, and that the fifty be organized into five regiments of artillery—one with its field and staff officers, for the Pacific coast; and that the President be authorized, according to the exigencies of the service, to cause to be extended by regular enlistments the number of privates in every company, old and new, throughout the army, from forty-two, fifty, and sixty-four, respectively, to any number not exceeding seventy-four privates per company.

Another year's experience has confirmed me in the opinion that it is only by such augmentations the army can be enabled to preserve our fortifications along the British, the Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico frontiers, to guard the immense lines of emigration across the Rocky mountains, and defend our numerous settlements bordering on as many ill-affected Indian tribes....."pp. 495-496

omitted from Sec Wars Report in online Congressional Globe 2nd Session December 2, 1850 to March 3, 1851 Appendix
House documents, otherwise publ. as Executive documents: by United States. Congress. House, p. 114-115
Strykers American register and magazine, Volume 5

"In 1855 the mounted force grew by two regiments. This time the new organizations were called Cavalry

(the first official use of the term by the US Army) .
The 1st and 2d Cavalry were constituted on 3 March 1855 not by an act expressly dealing with Army organization, but by an addition to an appropriations bill. The two regiments were organized in the same manner as existing horse regiments but, contrary to the Secretary's recommendation, General Orders prescribing their organization made them a distinct and separate arm. Thus, the mounted force consisted of dragoons, mounted riflemen, and cavalrymen."


"At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, the mounted forces in the Regular Army consisted of the five regiments mentioned, still bearing their different names- dragoons, riflemen, and cavalry- and still considered three distinct arms. Besides their different firearms and the number of privates per company, which varied from time to time, the regiments had uniforms that differed principally in the color of the trim, which in 1861 was orange for the dragoons, green for the riflemen, and yellow for the cavalry. The three arms also had distinctive insignia. The dragoons and cavalrymen wore crossed sabers and the riflemen "a trumpet perpendicular." In later years the trumpet perpendicular was incorporated in the coat of arms and distinctive insignia of the 3d Cavalry- now 3d Armored Cavalry- the descendant organization of the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen.***
Small as they were, the Regular mounted forces could have been of valuable service in the early days of the Civil War if they had been readily available, but they were not. When the war began the companies of the horse regiments were widely scattered over the country; most were in the west and southwest, too distant for ready concentration. In the Battle of Bull Run in July 1861 only seven companies of Regular cavalry were included in the Union Army of about 40,000 men...
In August 1861 all six Regular horse regiments were redesignated cavalry and renumbered as the 1st through the 6th in order, according to their respective dates of organization. All were to be armed with the saber, revolver, and carbine. Although these regiments had been known by different names, all were light cavalry. Their members were mounted on light horses, they were trained to fight mounted or dismounted, and they depended on their firearms rather than shock action with sabers. Nevertheless, the dragoons and riflemen objected to giving up their distinctive names. One captain wrote that with the renaming of the old regiments the units lost the honor attached to the old names, and the change had a demoralizing effect on the troops. The dragoons and riflemen also resisted the changes in their distinctive uniform trim; now all were expected to wear the yellow trimmings of the cavalry. Fortunately, from the dragoon and riflemen point of view, under an economy measure that permitted the use of the old uniforms until they were worn out, much orange and green trim was in evidence for a long time." pp. 14-16


The Military Laws of the United States by John Callan, 1863


With Manifest Destiny came the problem of confronting the "finest light cavalryman in the world" - the Indian horse warrior (although not the finest cavalry "unit" due to "social and political organization that exalted the individual at the expense of the group").

As Robert Utley
- the preeminent historian of the military in the west - in Frontiersmen in Blue explains: "The regulars came home from the Mexican War in high spirits, with soaring morale borne of solid achievement. Officers and men alike, they had consistently outshone the Volunteers in every test of military ability and had been largely responsible for the succession of triumphs...But a variety of influences soon smothered this spirit and turned the talented and ambitious to other pursuits. Able officers and men there were, but the mediocre and incompetent formed too large a proportion for the Regular Army to retain more than a shadow of its wartime energy and ability."(FiB,p. 28)

"Cherry picking" from Utley's prodigious writings over the next 30 plus years, the story of rangers and regulars, is a fascinating account of an organizational and doctrinal "roller coaster" typically American.

"A vast and inhospitable terrain demanded an army that could live off the country in the Indian manner or a logistical system so supremely developed as to permit operations not dependent on the resources of the country. A highly mobile enemy skilled in guerrilla tactics demanded either a highly mobile counterguerrilla force or a heavy defensive army large enough to erect an impenetrable shield around every settlement and travel route in the West. That the Army, for reasons not wholly or even largely within its control, never met these requirements explains its not too creditable record in the half century of Indian operations beginning in 1848." (Fibp.9)

Utley expands:
"The U.S. Army was unprepared for the Civil War as it was inadequate for the Indian Wars very largely because the nation, through its elected representatives, declined to pay the price of Manifest Destiny."
(FiB,p. 16)

Such a price would have been needed in forming the best fitted force for western service - dragoons, mounted riflemen and lastly, cavalry were never consistently financed, manned or supported (nor could they be with a Congress divided by societal, political and sectional differences shaped by its founding).
Utley, in comparing the alternatives of cavalry (expensive), mule-mounted infantry (inferior) and volunteer (including rangers), summarizes the latter as follows, "Volunteers were immensely appealing to frontier settlers and their congressional spokesmen. Such troops, although rather more expensive and given to undisciplined excesses, were frequently mustered - usually by a state or territorial governor over the protest of the local regular army commander...Volunteers, although noted for individuality and self-reliance, were lamentably deficient in discipline."(FiB,p. 21)

Utley paints a vivid antebellum picture of these three regular formations, Dragoons, Mounted Riflemen and Cavalry: "Minor distinctions of uniform, arms and equipment differentiated the three varieties of horsemen, must notably the Mounted Riflemen, who carried rifles and in theory traveled on horseback and fought on foot. But in reality none conformed to the generally accepted European meaning of the terms; all were in fact, light cavalry. The efforts of Secretary Davis and General Scott to eliminate distinctions and designate all the mounted regiments as cavalry failed to overcome Congressional inertia and the pride of the regiments in their history and traditions." - (FiB,p. 22)

He sketches the regiments as follows:
1st Dragoons - dignified and methodical;
2nd Dragoons - "epitome of military impudence";
1st Cavalry (later the 4th) - less colorful compared to the;
2nd Cavalry (later the 5th) - possessed of elan - War Department favorite - breeding ground for generals;
Mounted Riflemen (later the 3rd) - a cantankerous lot - "largely from civil life but fully experienced as West Pointers"
- (p.23)

"For all its weaknesses, only the regular cavalry came closest to the ideal. For all its failures, it could also point to some remarkable accomplishments." (FiB, p. 28)
Accomplishments, yes, but the stark fact remains that for over fifty years the U.S. Army, state volunteers, militias and assorted "ranger" formations, fought a haphazard and ineffective campaign to protect frontier settlers from raiding Indians.

The idea of establishing either a mounted regular force manned with ranger-skilled men or a highly disciplined volunteer ranger force was seemingly beyond the possibilities of the times - with one notable exception.
The notable exception was Texas and its famed (and sometimes infamous) TEXAS RANGERS.

The qualities and skills needed against the Indian on the frontier - those found in a ranger (or another Indian) - could only be found in the self-reliant citizen to which the life and harsh discipline of a soldier was not attractive.

Nor would it be made attractive by a niggardly Congress, who represented a divided society that evolved from a culture that despised a standing army. A society that both feared and despised or ignored and idealized the native Indian, usually in proportion to the distance from them. To those common soldiers - mostly immigrants - who did the hard dirty work and were payed so very little, no sympathy was to be expected by those citizens, especially those who led an equally hard frontier life, and saw genuine opportunities in land and commerce that abounded in the America of their day.
Walter Prescott Webb, who wrote the definitive, The Texas Rangers: A Century of Frontier Defense (Boston, 1935) is quoted at length by Utley:

"Theoretically they (the new state of Texas) were quite willing to turn the task of protecting the frontier over to the federal government, but practically they were unwilling to accept the federal plan; they soon demanded that the work be done through their institutions and leadership - at federal expense...The Texans demanded that the United States should muster the Rangers into federal service pay them with federal money, and let them run all the Mexicans into the Rio Grande and all the Indians into the Red River." - (FiB, p. 70. Webb p. 127.)
In a 2005 MHQ article "RANGERS, REGULARS, and COMANCHES", Utley updated his history surrounding the ranger versus regulars debate, as set in Texas:

"Called to volunteer in government service for a specified time, usually three or six months, the rangers furnished their own horses and arms, wore no uniforms, flaunted no flags, and enjoyed an easy camaraderie with one another and their captain. At the end of the term, they returned to their homes. They thus represented a sporadically evolving tradition rather than a permanent institution." (
RANGERS, REGULARS, and COMANCHES, Robert M Utley. MHQ : The Quarterly Journal of Military History. New York: Winter 2005. Vol. 17, Iss. 2; pg. 6, 10 pgs, p.8)

"With Texas securely in the American union and the Mexican War won, the state gladly turned the responsibility for Indians over to the U.S. Regular Army. "The giant arms of the United States would soon sweep the few bands of hostile Indians from our borders," predicted one editorialist. The arms were giant, but not muscular." (RRC,.9)

The forts established within the newly designated Eighth Military Department, under Major Generals George Mercer Brooke (1849-51) and Persifor Smith (1851-52), eventually created an inner and an outer ring, which could neither initially contain or later guard advancing settlements.

Utley elaborated:
"Even with the aid of nearly four hundred federalized Texas Rangers, (Bvt Major General George Mercer) Brooke could not protect the people from the raiders. "I do not believe," he wrote to the adjutant general, "that three thousand men or more stationed on the frontier posts can prevent these deluded people from secretly passing the line of posts in very small parties at different points and after uniting in large bodies in particular neighborhoods where they commit their acts of murder and depredations and instantly return to their country... "The general thought that any offensive into Indian haunts offered the only hope of easing the menace, but his forces were to weak for effective defense, much less offense." - (FiB, p. 72. Secretary for War Annual Report 1850, pp. 51-53)

Deep in the heart of Texas, despite nearly doubling in size between 1850-1860:
Soldiers proved unable to accomplish more than had the rangers of the republic. ..because mounted troops accounted for only 20 percent of the total in 1850 and 25 percent in 1860. Occasionally, federalized companies of Texas Rangers, as they now began to call themselves, aided the Regulars. But neither had much respect for the other. The Regulars rightly viewed the rangers as undisciplined, while the rangers rightly viewed the Regulars as inept Indian campaigners. Parties of Comanches and Kiowas easily slipped between the forts, ravished the frontier settlements, and easily slipped out." (RRC, p.9)
In 1855, while considering an enlargement of the military establishment, Texas senators Houston and Rusk " advocated Rangers for frontier defense instead of Regulars." To them "they cost less, they fight Indians more effectively, and they could be demobilized after the threat subsided." - (FiB,p.13)

(send) the bill to Washington. "Give us Rangers in Texas," boomed Sam Houston on the floor of the U.S. Senate:
You may withdraw every regular soldier... from the border of Texas if you will give her a single regiment, one thousand or even eight hundred men, of Texas rangers to protect her frontier....They are men who are acquainted with action; they are efficient; they are athletic; they are inured to toil, to enterprise, to danger; and they carry with them a spirit that is not to be found in the troops that are generally collected in the regular Army.
Houston's boasts about the Indian fighters were true, but the rangers also tended to go their own way and do as they pleased, and they followed captains anointed by political patronage that sometimes fell on the unqualified. To Congress and the army high command, Houston's call seemed like a means of squandering huge amounts of money without corresponding results. Throughout the late 1850s, legislation stirred much debate in Congress but never passed.
Furthermore, the Regulars began to display more ability and energy. This occurred because Texas got one of the two new cavalry regiments established in 1855. Replacing the Regiment of Mounted Rifles, the 2nd Cavalry did not elevate the department's troop strength. But under an able colonel, Texan Albert Sidney Johnston, it swiftly transformed itself into a crack regiment. Its field and line bore such names as Robert E. Lee, William J. Hardee, George H. Thomas, Earl Van Dorn, Fitzhugh Lee, and John B. Hood. It pursued its defensive mission aggressively and, for a time, effectively. " (RRC,pp.9-10)
In mentioning Johnston, Utley loses some chronological sequencing, but then later backtracks to discuss earlier regular efforst:
"A new department commander (in 1857), moreover, had begun to think of offense instead of defense. Brevet Major General David E. Twiggs-"Old Davey, the Bengal Tiger"-lived up to his sobriquet with ill temper and a venomous character. A veteran of the War of 1812, still sturdy at sixty-seven, he ruled his department with a commanding presence. He would concentrate elements of the 2nd Cavalry in a striking column to carry the war into the Comanche homeland north of the Red River, "thus giving the Indians something to do at home in taking care of their families, and they might possibly let Texas alone."
The strategy was not original with Twiggs. With four ranger companies already in service, in January 1858 Governor Hardin R. Runnels called on the Texas Legislature to give him another hundred rangers "to follow the Indians to their retreats, break up their lodges, and execute summary vengeance." He had in mind, as did all Texas governors, mobilizing rangers and seeking federal reimbursement of their expenses. As an Austin newspaper declared: "The United States fails to afford the protection to save the scalps of our citizens. Let us, therefore, protect ourselves and charge the bill to Uncle Sam." The legislature met the request." (RRC, p.11)
Enter Texas legend John S. "Rip" Ford, who doubles his force by recruitng "more than one hundred" from friendly tribes, "Brazos allies," who track down the Comanche to their lair and spearheaded the Battle of Antelope Hills (May 12, 1858), in Oklahoma, outside Texas jurisdiction, against 300 Comanche. "Their (Brazos allies) role had been critical, perhaps decisive, and Ford gave them their due. His own men, he added, "have fully vindicated their right to be recognized as Texas Rangers of the old stamp." (RRC, p.10-11)
"In Hardin R. Runnels, who took office as governor in 1857, the ranger advocates at last found an executive who could be prodded into sanctioning a sizable state force operating independently of the U.S. Army and relying on the Texas congressional delegation in Washington to secure reimbursement for its expenses. With four companies already in service, Runnels won authority from the legislature in January 1858 to raise an additional contingent of a hundred men to be employed offensively. The command went to Captain John S. (Rip) Ford, a veteran of more than a decade of intermittent ranger service against the Indians and a frontiersman who knew how to handle the individualistic volunteers. Commented the Austin Intelligencer: "What with the Utah War and Kansas, the United States fails to afford Texas the protection necessary to save the scalps of our citizens. Let us, therefore, protect ourselves, and charge the bill to Uncle Sam....Rip Ford organized his ranger command and marched it toward the northern frontier in the early spring of 1858, General Twiggs moved to cooperate..By the time the (federal) concentration had been completed in July, the orders had been rescinded, but it was too late to cooperate with the state troops. Captain Ford had already led his hundred rangers and an equal force of Indian auxiliaries from the Brazos Agency in an invasion of the Comanche range north of Red River. On May 11 he had surprised a large Comanche village on the Canadian River near Antelope Hills. In a seven-hour conflict, his men put 300 warriors to rout, killed a reported 76, and destroyed the camp with all its contents. A week later Ford was back at Fort Belknap. In the Battle of Antelope Hills the Comanches were badly hurt by whites for the first time. Far from discouraging them from frontier aggressions, it served only to inflame them. (FiB, pp. 127-129. - Secretary for War Annual Report 1849 p. 143. & 1858, pp 253-54. Winfrey, Texas Indian papers, pp. 270-277)

Not all "rangers" earned credit. A former dismissed and disgruntled Indian agent, John R. Baylor, worked to incite retaliation against reservation Indians (some of whom broke away and occasionally participated in raids) "..organized a some three to four hundred self-styled rangers and got himself elected captain. According to Utley, "..most of these rangers came from recently arrived settlers and akin "to the freebooters who had terrorized Kansas in recent years." Baylor led about 250 "rangers" against the Brazos Agency, home of the very Indians who had so ably served Ford and Van Dorn in the northern campaign...ordered by the army commander to clear out, he was then beseiged by 60 reservation Indians. The Superintendant of Indian Affairs later led the reservation Comanches Exodus-style out of, in his words, the "heathen land of Texas" and north to Wichita and a safer reservation; upon return, was shot to death by a Baylor supporter as a reward. - (FiB, pp. 136-38.)

Meanwhile Twiggs followed suit, launching the 2nd cavalry with 135 native-allies, under senior captain Brevet Major Earl Van Dorn, across the Red River. Leading a classic sabre charge at dawn on October 1, 1858, at Rush Springs,another decisive victory resulted. Recovering from his considerable wounds, most grievously an arrow in his stomach, Van Dorn followed up with another strike, this time into southern Kansas across the Arkansas River, at Crooked Creek (13 May, 1859), both-sides sustaining heavy casualties in a battl fought in rain and fog. While noting these succesful forays, compared to more numerous indecisive affairs, Utley cautions to remind that
"decisive victory on the battlefield did not translate into the desired result. The Comanches now had added inducement for ravaging the Texas frontier: to exact revenge and to replenish horse herds. Raiding did not subside."

And raiding they indeed continued, leading Governor Sam Houston, to take matters in his own hands. According to Utley, this is what happened.

"Early in 1860 he prevailed on the legislature to fund an entire regiment of rangers to take the offensive against the Comanches. To command the regiment, the governor chose Middleton T. Johnson, a rich Fort Worth cotton planter with an undistinguished military record in the Mexican War and against Indians. As Colonel Johnson sought to organize his command, a logistical tangle of daunting proportions developed at Fort Belknap. While chaos spread, he decided he must have three weeks' leave to go to Galveston and replace his wife who had recently died. "Don't scold," he reassured Houston, "all shall be well and I will make the quickest trip ever made." All was not well, with the regiment or its campaign. Even the drought that struck the Plains in the summer of 1860 could not excuse the blundering, erratic course Johnson pursued in Indian Territory. He found no Comanches, but he intruded onto federal Indian reservations and came near provoking the U.S. Army into an armed encounter. Appalled by the huge expense and the well-publicized muddling, on August 4 Houston ordered the regiment disbanded. Middleton Johnson had made the rangers look like fools. The image brightened on December 18, 1860. At the Battle of Pease River, young Sul Ross, veteran of Rush Springs, joined his ranger company of forty men with a contingent of Regulars to surprise and overwhelm the village of Comanche Chief Peta Nocona. Ross himself killed the chief and liberated Cynthia Ann Parker, a captive since childhood and the mother of the celebrated chief of later years, Quanah Parker."

(RRC, pp.11-12)
Utley sums up this period of ranger and regular activity:
The 2d Cavalry (which became the 5th Cavalry in 1861), Colonel Albert Sydney Johnston commanding, brought "..a new and more energetic breed of Regulars manned the Texas defenses from 1856 to 1861 and, like Harney and Sumner to the north, began to think and act offensively. For another, increasing numbers of Texas Rangers were mobilized for Indian duty, and they, too, on occasion carried the war to the homes of the marauders. The Kiowas and Comanches were not conquered, nor did their raiding activity diminish, but their aggressions now brought penalties unknown in the past. - (FiB, p. 126)

"In the next four years, elements of the 2d Cavalry engaged in forty small-unit combats with hostile Indians and nearly always exacted a slight toll in casualties...Although the 2d Cavalrymen compiled a laudable record, they were still too few, even when aided by mounted contingents of the 1st, 3d, and 8th Infantry, to screen the frontier from Red River to the Rio Grande. Since 1846 Texans had championed the use of state rangers to make up the deficiency...only in the gravest emergencies could federal commanders bring themselves to ask for state rangers in federal service; they usually made good Indian fighters but, like all frontiersmen, tended to go their own way with supreme disregard of federal authority, plans, and objectives. And, as General Brooke remarked as early as 1849, their "general and natural hostility to the Indians...would be very apt to bring about what we wish to avoid- a general war." (FiB, p. 127)

Then came the Civil War and Texas joined the Confederacy:

With the outbreak of the Civil War, the Regulars withdrew from Texas, and the Comanches, after much persuasion in Richmond, became a Confederate responsibility. Richmond insisted that the frontier defenders be part of the Confederate army, subject to Confederate command. Austin argued for the old formula that had never worked with Washington: Mobilize Texas Rangers under state authority and let Richmond foot the bill. Once in Confederate service, state officials knew, frontier units could be suddenly withdrawn at the whim of the Confederate high command.
This is exactly what happened when the state gave in. The "Frontier Regiment," after a sorry year under an incompetent colonel, came under command of Lt. Col. Buck Barry, a tough old-time ranger in the mold of Jack Hays and Rip Ford. Operating out of Fort Belknap with six companies, his patrols tangled with raiding parties "often enough to encourage us." In August 1864, however, Barry received orders to join the rest of his regiment in the interior.
Two months later, six hundred Comanches and Kiowas swept down the Brazos River through Barry's old sector. They slaughtered men in their fields and women and children in their cabins, burned homes and barns, and rounded up horses and cattle (the Indians had discovered in Union procurement officers a market for Texas beef). The Elm Creek raid hit the Texas frontier harder than any for years.
Unlike other Southern states, Texas escaped the ravages of Union invasion. Even so, peace brought social, political, and economic turmoil. Returning Confederate soldiers and footloose young men from elsewhere flooded into the state. Crime and violence flourished, former slaves discovered the price of freedom in oppression and murder, and, as usual, frontier settlers cried for help against the Comanches and Kiowas. Once more the responsibility fell to the U.S. Army, but civil chaos in the interior tied down the federal troops.
President Andrew Johnson's innocuous approach to restoring the South to the Union left Texas in the control of elected leaders who had been Unionists during the war. Since the Regulars temporized in reoccupying the prewar forts, Governor James W. Throckmorton requested the legislature to authorize a regiment of one thousand Texas Rangers, to be deployed on the frontier under state authority but offered for muster into the federal service-the familiar scheme that had persuaded neither the U.S. nor the Confederate governments. In September 1866 the legislature enacted this legislation. Federal authorities, however, not only had no intention of paying for rangers but even less of allowing the formation of an armed state unit of men so recently clad in Confederate gray. Scarcely two months later the top federal general, headquartered in New Orleans, objected. "Now, as I have ordered to the frontier double the number of men the legislature thought necessary," Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan telegraphed the governor, "I cannot see any good excuse for the employment of this volunteer force."
Throckmorton had no opportunity to protest. Congressionally mandated Reconstruction replaced President Johnson's plan and bestowed greater power on the generals. Sheridan substituted a more pliable governor for Throckmorton and made good on his promise. By the summer of 1867, fifteen hundred cavalrymen garrisoned eleven frontier forts, and more than seven hundred soldiers occupied the four Rio Grande posts. Nearly fifteen hundred infantrymen, assigned Reconstruction duties, held twenty-two interior stations.
The Regulars occasionally skirmished inconclusively with marauding parties, but federal policy-makers had higher priorities than the Texas frontier, such as to clear the belt of plains between the Platte and Arkansas rivers of all Indians." (RRC, pp.12-13)

This post-war return of Texas into the federal fold and the refocus on traditional frontier Indian concerns, was also the subject of Utley's informative article in Texas Ranger Dispatch Magazine #1 2000 -Forgotten Rangers:
"A product of the frontier himself, Governor Davis felt a keen obligation to the anguished frontier families. At his behest, on June 13, 1870, the legislature enacted a measure authorizing him to muster, for twelve months’ service, twenty companies of "Texas Rangers"—only the second appearance of this term in law. Each company would number sixty-two officers and men. As usual, Rangers would provide their own horses, six-shooters, accouterments, and camp equipage. For the first time, however, the shoulder arm—breech-loading cavalry carbines—would be purchased by the state, issued to the Rangers, and the cost deducted from the first pay. And pay was promised: from one hundred dollars a month for captains to fifty for privates. The state would furnish provisions, ammunition, and forage. Although organized under the rules and regulations of the U.S. Army, the Rangers would always operate under state control, reporting to an adjutant general authorized by the new militia act.[2]

The enabling legislation remained silent on how to pay for what came to be known as the Frontier Forces. However, on August 5, 1870, the legislature resorted to the novel expedient of floating $750,000 in state bonds, with interest at seven percent, payable in gold twice a year. These "Frontier Defense Bonds" would be redeemable in twenty years and paid off in forty.[3]

With pay and logistical support promised, ranger companies came together swiftly. Governor Davis appointed the captains, mostly solid Unionists with solid ranger credentials. By the end of 1870, fourteen companies had been organized and posted at key locations on the frontier. The full twenty sanctioned by the legislature never took shape, but for the first time since 1865 Texas Rangers patrolled the frontier.[4]

The War Department lost little more than a month in reacting to the advent of Texas Rangers. On July 19, Secretary of War William W. Belknap declared that the state of Texas would not be allowed to make war on the Indians and that the U.S. military authorities would preserve the peace. The U.S. military authorities, of course, had signally failed to preserve the peace—either in the interior or on the frontier—and the Texas commander, Brevet Major General Joseph J. Reynolds, welcomed the prospect of twelve hundred Rangers on the frontier. He and Davis promptly colluded to sidestep the secretary’s edict.
In direct violation of the law, Davis placed the Rangers at the disposal of the War Department—i.e. a receptive Reynolds. During the formative months of the Frontier Forces, therefore, ranger officers operated under the command of the nearest senior federal officer. That worked neither uniformly nor well. General Reynolds, moreover, had flouted the intent of his superiors, and he made matters worse by recommending, as an alternative to the Rangers, the muster of five hundred frontiersmen into the U.S. service. Hopelessly tangling the issue was a dispute over whether the Rangers could draw subsistence at U.S. military posts. By the end of 1870, so confused and frustrating had the bureaucratic squabbling become, Davis had the state assume complete control and support of the Frontier Forces.[5]

"before 1875 volunteer Ranger units of citizen soldiers were called up to contend with Kiowas and Comanches. They had no more effect in curtailing the raids than the Regular Army, which played much the larger role ... Ironically, only a year after the legislature institutionalized the Rangers in 1874, the U.S. Army conquered the southern Plains tribes in the Red River War. The threat to the Texas frontier vanished at the very time the state had an administratively-named "Frontier Battalion" of Rangers raised mainly to fight Indians. It fought only one major engagement before the war ended. Occasionally Kiowas and Comanches, now confined to reservations in the Indian Territory, strayed across the line in hunting parties, often with passes issued by their agents because the rations promised by treaty had not arrived. Rangers intercepted some, but rarely with any exchange of gunfire...then transformed themselves into Old West lawmen"
- Robert M Utley, review of Policing the Great Plains: Rangers, Mounties, and the North American Frontier, 1875-1910. By Andrew R. Graybill. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007. The Journal of Military History. Lexington: Apr 2008 Vol. 72, Iss. 2; pg. 581, 2 pgs

Wrapping Up:
In 1976
, Utley nicely wrapped up what we can might have gleaned organizationally from these Indian wars.
In fighting a mobile, irregular foe, such as the
Plains and Southwest Indians, an enlightened force of Indian "thinkers and fighters," primarily native would have yielded less sanguinary and more humane results for all involved:

"Had the nation’s leaders understood the lessons of General Crook’s experience, they would have recognized that the frontier army was a conventional military force trying to control, by conventional military methods, a people that did not behave like conventional enemies and, indeed, quite often were not enemies at all....Had the nation’s leaders acted on such understandings, the army might have played a more significant role in the westward movement- and one less vulnerable to criticism. An Indian auxiliary force might have been developed that could differentiate between guilty and innocent and, using the Indian’s own fighting style, contend with the guilty. Indian units were indeed developed, but never on a scale and with a continuity to permit the full effect to be demonstrated...led by a cadre of carefully chosen officers imbued with a sense of mission and experienced in Indian relations-the kind of officers artist Frederic Remington said were not so much “Indian fighters” as “Indian thinkers.”14 How different might have been the history of the westward movement had such a force been created and employed in place of the regular army line. How vastly more substantial might have been the contribution of the frontier to our traditions of unconventional warfare...By contrast, a major aspect of twentieth-century practice owes a large debt to the frontier. Total war-warring on whole enemy populations- finds ample precedent in the frontier experience." (pp.10-11) - from THE CONTRIBUTION OF THE FRONTIER TO THE AMERICAN MILITARY TRADITION by Robert M. Utley (pp. 3-13), The American Military on the Frontier : the proceedings of the 7th Military History Symposium, United States Air Force Academy, 30 September-1 October 1976, edited by James P. Tate, The Minerva Group, Inc., 2002

it took until 2008 to "institutionalize a whole-of-government approach to combating insurgency and sustaining success in an era of persistent conflict":
"In the aftermath of Vietnam, we failed to capture and integrate the most important lessons of the war into our training and education. We turned away from the bitter experiences of that time and left behind a rich body of lessons learned, especially the tactics, techniques, and procedures necessary to conduct successful counterinsurgency. The remarkable insights concerning the necessity and efficacy of unity of effort would never be institutionalized in doctrine or law, and the lessons of that experience would soon be lost to time and a far more insidious threat to national security, the Soviet Union...Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England signed Department of Defense Directive (DODD) 3000.05 in November 2005, fundamentally changing the military’s concept of, and approach to, stability operations. No longer secondary to combat operations, stability operations were recognized as an essential capability on par with the traditional destructive cornerstones of military strength, offense and defense. "

- Field Manual 3-07, Stability Operations: UPSHIFTING THE ENGINE OF CHANGE, William B Caldwell IV, Steven M Leonard. Military Review. Fort Leavenworth: Jul/Aug 2008. Vol. 88, Iss. 4; pg. 6, 8 pgs

Notably, as a Background and Foundation article appearing in the Combined Arms Center Interagency edition referencing the above , is a 2001 article 'America’s Frontier Wars: Lessons for Asymmetric Conflicts, by Congressman Ike Skelton, suggesting "how to overcome the threat of asymmetrical warfare by examining yesteryear’s battles to develop strategies and tactics for tomorrow’s conflicts" (first appeared in Military Review 81:22-27 September-October 2001). As the Congressman rhetorically posits and rightly asserts:
"Why do I begin an article addressing tomorrow's conflicts with an account of a battle fought two and a half centuries ago? As an avid student of history, I believe it is critically important for us to understand that asymmetric warfare is not something new. In fact, it has been a recurring theme of American military history and is familiar to many of today's military officers. Many of its best historical examples come from the series of conflicts we collectively refer to as the Indian Wars."

The American Military on the Frontier
By James P. Tate
Edition: illustrated
Published by The Minerva Group, Inc., 2002
"Seventh Military History Symposium of the United States Air Force Academy brought together military historians, frontier historians, western historians, and local historians. The papers presented are arranged in four sections: The Frontier and American Military Tradition Comparison of Military Frontiers Impact of the Military on the Frontier Military Life on the Frontier Papers in the first two sections address the broad weep of the military experience on the frontier. These papers help provide perspective and conceptual framework within which to fit the more specific studies in the third and fourth sections. The fifth section, "The Seventh Military History Symposium in Perspective," includes the reactions and commentary of three leading military historians."

Frontier Forts - U.S. Military on the Texas Frontier by Robert Wooster


SECOND CONGRESS First Session 24 Oct, 1791 - 8 May, 1792
"1792 May 8 Chap 33
- An act more effectually to provide for the national defence by establishing an uniform militia throughout the United States...p. 95...Sec 4 That out of the militia enrolled as is herein directed there shall be formed for each battalion at least one company of grenadiers light infantry or riflemen and that to each division there shall be at least one company of artillery and one troop of horse there shall be to each company of artillery one captain..."p.98

THIRD CONGRESS Second Session 3 Nov, 1794 - 3 March. 1795
"1795 March 3 Chap 44
- An act for continuing and regulating the military establishment of the United States and for repealing sundry acts heretofore passed on that subject...p. 111... That the present military establishment of the United States composed of a corps of artillerists and engineers to consist of nine hundred and ninety two non commissioned officers privates and musicians and of a legion to consist of four thousand eight hundred non commissioned officers privates and musicians be and the same is hereby continued Sec 2 That the said corps of artillerists and engineers be completed conformably to the act of the eighth ninth of May last establishing the same and prescribing the number and term of enlistments and the methods of organization Sec 3 That the legion of the United States be also completed to the number of four thousand eight hundred non commissioned officers privates and musicians by voluntary enlistments for the term of three years and that the sub legions composing the same be organized in such manner as the President of the United States shall direct Provided nevertheless That no such enlistment shall be made after three years from the passing of this act. Sec 4 That it shall be stipulated as a condition in the enlistments for the cavalry that they shall serve as dismounted dragoons when ordered so to do and that in all cases of enlistments of the troops of every description there be expressly reserved to the government a right to discharge the whole or any part thereof at such times and in such proportions as may be deemed expedient...Sec 7 ...that there be furnished to the cavalry and riflemen such clothing shall be the most suitable and best adapted to the nature of the service..." p.111

FIFTH CONGRESS Third Session 3 Dec, 1798 - 3 March, 1799
"1799 March 2 Chap 31
- An Act giving eventual authority to the President of the United States to augment the army.1
That it shall be lawful for the President of the United States, in case war shall break out between the United States and a foreign European power, or in case imminent danger of invasion of their territory by any such to be raised in addition to the other military force of the United States, twenty four regiments of infantry, a regiment and a battalion of riflemen, a battalion of artillerists and engineers and three regiments of cavalry, or such part thereof as he shall judge necessary; the non commissioned officers and privates of which to be enlisted for a term not exceeding three years, and to be entitled each to a bounty of $10 one half to be paid at the time of enlistment and the remainder at the time of joining the regiment to which they may belong....
1.-The 1st and 2d sections of this net expired by the operation of the 11th section the powers thereby conferred not having been continued for a longer time ..."p. 131

TENTH CONGRESS, First Session 26 Oct, 1807 - 26 April, 1808
"1808 April 12 Chap 43
- An Act to raise for a limited time an additional Military Force
That in addition to the present military establishment of the United States there be raised five regiments of infantry, one regiment of riflemen, one regiment of light artillery, and one regiment of light dragoons, to be enlisted for the term of five years unless sooner discharged..."p. 201

TWELFTH CONGRESS First Session 4 Nov, 1811-6 July, 1812
"1812 - Jan 2 Chap 11
- An act authorizing the President of the United States to raise companies of rangers for the protection of the frontiers of the United States..."not exceeding six"..."p. 211

"1813 - July 1 Chap 119
- An act supplementary to An act authorizing the President of the United States to raise certain companies of rangers for the protection of the frontier of the United States..."p. 233

THIRTEENTH CONGRESS First Session 24 May - 2 Aug 1813
"August 2 Chap 41
- An act explanatory of an act entitled An act to raise ten additional companies of rangers...p. 249"

THIRTEENTH CONGRESS Second Session 6 Dec, 1813 - 18 April, 1814
"1814 Feb 10 Chap 11
- An act to raise three regiments of riflemen..."That there be immediately raised such number of regiments of riflemen not exceeding three as in the opinion of the President will best promote the military service to serve for five years or during the war unless sooner discharged..."p. 251

THIRTEENTH CONGRESS Third Session 19 Sept, 1814 - 3 March, 1815
"March 3 Chap 79
- An act fixing the military peace establishment of the United States..."shall consist of such proportions of artillery infantry and riflemen not exceeding in the whole ten thousand men as the President of the United States shall judge proper"...."p.266 - one regiment of riflemen retained

SIXTEENTH CONGRESS Second Session 13 Nov, 1820 - 3 March, 1821
"1821 March 2. Chap 13.
- An act to reduce and fix the military peace establishment of the United States...."p. 306. - by effect eliminated the regiment of riflemen

TWENTIETH CONGRESS Second Session 1 Dec, 1828 - 3 March, 1829
"1829 March 2 Chap 38
- An act providing for the printing and binding sixty thousand copies of the abstract of infantry tactics including manoeuvres of light infantry and riflemen and for other purposes..."p. 320

TWENTY SECOND CONGRESS First Session 5 Dec, 1831 - 16 July, 1832
"1832 June 15 Chap 131
- An act to authorize the President to raise mounted riflemen for the defence of the frontier..."That the President of the United States be and he is hereby authorized to raise either by the acceptance of volunteers or enlistment for one year unless sooner discharged six hundred mounted rangers to be armed equipped mounted and organized in such manner and to be under such regulations and restrictions as the nature of the service may in his opinion make necessary..."p.325

"1833 March 2 Chap 76
- An act for the more perfect defence of the frontiers

An Act for the more perfect defence of the frontiers 1 Organization of regiment of dragoons 2 Pay when mounted Pay when on foot 3 To serve on horse or foot and subject to rules and articles of war &c ...That, in lieu of the battalion of mounted rangers authorized by the act of the fifteenth of June one thousand eight hundred and thirty two, there be established a regiment of dragoons..."p. 329

TWENTY FOURTH CONGRESS First Session 7 Dec, 1835 - 4 July, 1836
"1836 May 23 Chap 80
- An Act authorizing the President of the United States to accept the service of volunteers and to raise an additional regiment of dragoons or mounted riflemen..."That the President of the United States be and he hereby is authorized to accept volunteers who may offer their services either as infantry or cavalry not exceeding ten thousand men to serve six or twelve months after they shall have arrived at the place of rendezvous unless sooner discharged and the said volunteers shall furnish their own clothes and if cavalry their own horses and when mustered into service shall be armed and equipped at the expense of the United States ...Sec 3 That the said volunteers so offering their services shall be accepted by the President in companies battalions squadrons, regiments, brigades, or divisions whose officers shall be appointed in the manner prescribed ..." p. 336

TWENTY FIFTH CONGRESS Second Session 4 Dec, 1837 - 9 July, 1838
"1838 July 5 Chap 162
- An act to increase the present military establishment of the United States and for other purposes... ..."Sec 22 Regiments of riflemen and light infantry p.341 - That the President shall be and he is hereby authorized whenever he may deem the same expedient to cause not exceeding two of the regiments of infantry to be armed and equipped and to serve as regiments of riflemen and one other of the regiments of infantry to be armed and equipped and to serve as a regiment of light infantry..." p. 347

TWENTY FIFTH CONGRESS Third Session 3 Dec, 1838 - 3 March, 1839
"March 3 Chap 89
- An act giving to the President of the United States additional powers for the defence of the United States in certain oases against invasion and for other purposes.."upon hereby the same expedient to accept the services of any number of volunteers not exceeding fifty thousand in the manner provided for by an act entitled An net authorizing the President of the United States to accept the service of volunteers and to raise an additional regiment of dragoons or mounted riflemen approved May 23d 1836..." p. 353

TWENTY SEVENTH CONGRESS Second Session 6 Dec, 1841 - 31 Aug, 1842
"1842 August 23 Chap 186
- An Act respecting the organization of the army and for other purposes
1 Dragoons reduced - 2d regiment dragoons into riflemen...
"...the second regiment of dragoons now in service shall be converted after the fourth day of March next into a regiment of riflemen;..." p.358

TWENTY EIGHTH CONGRESS First Session 4 Dec, 1843 - 17 June, 1844
"1844 April 4 Chap 11 -
An act to repeal so much of the act approved twenty third of August one thousand eight hundred and forty two as requires the second regiment of dragoons to be converted into a regiment of riflemen after the fourth day of March one thousand eight hundred and forty three..."p. 364

TWENTY NINTH CONGRESS First Session 1 Dec, 1845 - 10 Aug, 1846
"1846 May 19 Chap 22
An act to provide for raising a regiment of mounted riflemen and for establishing military stations on the route to Oregon..."p. 371

TWENTY NINTH CONGRESS Second Session 7 Dec, 1846 - 3 March, 1847
"1847 February 11 Chap 8
- An act to raise for a limited timo an additional military force and for other purposes..."Sec 1...Provided, That one or more of the regiments of infantry authorized to be raised by this section, may, at the discretion of the President be organized and equipped as voltigcurs and as foot riflemen and be provided with a rocket and mountain howitzer battery Sec 2 That during the continuance of the war with Mexico the term of enlistment of the men to be recruited for the regiments authorized by this act shall be during the war unless sooner discharged..."...p. 379"

THIRTIETH CONGRESS First Session - 6 Dec, 1847 - 14 Aug, 1848
"1848 - June 16 Res 9
- Joint resolution providing for the payment of the regiment of Texas mounted troops called into the service of the United States under the requisition of Colonel Curtis in the year eighteen hundred and forty seven and for other purposes..."p. 399

THIRTY FIFTH CONGRESS First Session - 7 Dec, 1857 - 12 June, 1858
"1858 April 7 Chap 13
- An act to provide for the organization of a regiment of mounted volunteers for the defence of the frontier of Texas and to authorize the President to call into the service of tho United States two additional regiments of volunteers...p. 451"

THIRTY SEVENTH CONGRESS First Session - 4 July - 6 August, 1861
"1861 August 3 Chap 42
- An act providing for the better organization of the military establishment...Dragoons mounted rifles and cavalry to be denominated cavalry Brevet officers to retain...p 480...Sec 12 That the two regiments of dragoons the regiment of mounted riflemen and the two regiments of cavalry shall hereafter be known and recognized as the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth regiments of cavalry, respectively, the officers thereof to retain their present relative rank and to be promoted as of one arm of service according to existing law and established usage and regulations..."p. 484


"In view of the growth of our neighbors, the vast extent of our territory, and the rapid increase of our floating population, the time must speedily arrive when all intelligent and law abiding people will accept and adhere to the opinion of John Adams that the National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman. Our military policy or, as many would affirm, our want of it, has now been tested during more than a century. It has been tried in foreign, domestic, and Indian wars, and while military men, from painful experience, are united as to its defects and dangers, our final success in each conflict has so blinded the popular mind, as to induce the belief that as a nation we are invincible..."p. vii- The Military Policy of the United States; by Bvt. Maj. Gen. Emory Upton,1907

our family's
Horse Soldiers


I finally found a historian who long ago captured the arguments and views I have also derived vis a vis a study of cavalry and riflemen misuse in the American Revolution - don't know how I missed this - and from one of the famed Adam's family!:

Charles Francis Adams II (May 27, 1835 - May 20, 1915) "was a member of the prominent Adams family, and son of Charles Francis Adams, Sr. He served as a colonel in the Union Army during the American Civil War. After the war, he was a railroad regulator and executive, an author of historical works, and a member of the Massachusetts Park Commission.",_Jr.

Cavalry in the War of Independence, by Charles Francis Adams, Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1910, pp. 547-593

Excerpts from: Cavalry In The War Of Independence.

"In the notice of this meeting the subject of my present paper is given as "The Failure of Washington to utilize Cavalry," and it so chances that this morning's papers announce the unveiling at Washington yesterday of the long delayed Pulaski statue. In connection with my paper the event is of interest, for Count Casimir Pulaski was the first Chief of Cavalry in our Revolutionary Army...."

"I now find myself face to face with an accepted American historical cult; for the investigator who is so rash as to question, from any point of view or in any respect, Washington's all embracing prescience or infallibility of military judgment, incurs imminent risk of being summarily ruled out of court, — or, so to speak, historically disbarred. In avoidance of this penalty, I find myself, therefore, compelled to reiterate what in any good military treatise would be ignored as a commonplace. To any one at all acquainted with the practical side of warfare the proposition is elementary: There is no branch of the service in which a familiar acquaintance with the country to be operated in, and its conditions, is so essential to a commander's success, as in the cavalry. A man not to the manner born may be a good officer of infantry or of artillery, and an excellent engineer, even though he speaks but indifferently the language of his soldiers; not so the efficient commander of horse. To be really effective, he must be of his command; his troopers must see in him one of themselves. Especially is this so in a new country, such as the United States in all respects was during the last half of the eighteenth century. In America and in Europe, engineering and artillery were in essentials the same. That European infantry at times found itself out of place under American conditions had been demonstrated in Braddock's case and again at Bunker Hill; but still the European battalion and officers could do good work when out of the woods and the reach of rangers and riflemen. With the mounted service it was altogether otherwise. American conditions called for a species of cavalry peculiar to themselves; and, in organizing and commanding it, a European had first to unlearn everything he had ever been taught, and start fresh. He must understand the country, its people and their speech, its horses, its roads and its forage. In a word, no less in Revolutionary times than during our War of Secession, if he is going to prove a cavalry success, he must be a Daniel Morgan and not a Casimir Pulaski...."

"To the "bookish theorick" and closet historian, — the Bancrofts and the Fiskes, past, present and to come, — all this may at best be news, or at worst seem quite immaterial; but any man who in America has himself ever "set a squadron in the field" in presence of an enemy will see in it not only the alphabet, but the very crux itself, of his calling. And my point is that, after two whole years of campaigning in the Jerseys and Pennsylvania, Washington ought to have grasped this elementary proposition. That he did so grasp it, I find no evidence, whether in his operations or his correspondence. Yet the third year of active warfare was now drawing to its end, and while poor Pulaski was struggling in vain with the English language and a "Legion" cavalry organization, at once inchoate, ill-considered and insubordinate, both Morgan and Arnold were in command of men who ought to have been on horseback with rifles on their saddle-bows, but who still marched and fought on foot with musket and bayonet...."

"Why was all this thus ?" Lee's Legion," modelled, by the way, apparently on Pulaski's ill-conceived idea of an effective American cavalry service, consisted of some three hundred men, one half only of whom were mounted. Instead of organizing a cavalry command of such wholly inadequate proportions, why was King's Mountain not anticipated, and a call sent out for the frontiersmen and rangers of Virginia and Pennsylvania to come riding in on their own horses? Why were not Morgan's riflemen jerked into the saddle, where they would have felt far more at home than on their feet?...."

"In view of what subsequently took place during the War of Secession in this country,1 and what took place in South Africa more recently, under conditions strikingly similar to those which obtained here during our Revolution, it is useless to say that this was impracticable; and the question next naturally presents itself— Who was responsible for this strategic and military shortcoming? The unavoidable answer suggests itself. And yet Trevelyan, in a footnote to the very page in his narrative from which I have just quoted, says that when Stuart was taking Washington's portrait, wishing to interest his sitter, he wrote, " I began on the Revolution, the battles of Monmouth and Princeton, but he was absolutely dumb. After a while I got on horses. I had touched the right chord." Washington was then (circa 1794) President, and living in Philadelphia. Trevelyan adds he had twenty-six horses in his stable...."

"The explanation seems obvious. Washington began his military career as a backwoods Indian fighter, and never forgot the lessons then learned, nor outgrew the experience. In the wooded wildernesses of the Alleghanies cavalry could not operate. All he knew of it was from hearsay, and reading the news-letter accounts of the campaigns and battles of Frederick. And so, Virginian though he was, there is from the beginning to the end of his military life, so far as I can discover, no indication of any adequate conception of the value and importance of the mounted man in military operations, and more especially in that particular form of military operation which it devolved upon him to conduct Yet it is the first business of any great soldier both to appreciate and study the nature of the weapons at his command, and then to make full and effective use of them...."

"In the employment of the several recognized arms of the service in the Revolutionary struggle, the British enjoyed a great, and for the patriots an insuperable, advantage as respects infantry and artillery — what is known as the line-of-battle organization. On the other hand, the Americans, from the outset, found compensation in their superior marksmanship, individuality and mobility. Recourse should, accordingly, have been had to the rifle and the horse. From Lexington to King's Mountain, with Bennington by the way, the opponent the British officer most dreaded the sight of, was the leatherclad ranger;1 and, of all descriptions of rangers, the organized mounted ranger was the most potentially formidable..."

"It is useless to object that in 1777 the use made of mounted men and irregular cavalry in modern warfare had not yet been developed. In the first place the fact is otherwise. It had been developed even in Roman times and, as already pointed out, Parthian tactics were quite as proverbially familiar as Fabian; while the name of Rupert was one to conjure with in Virginia. In the next place, if the use that could be made of mounted men in American open country warfare had not previously been developed, it was the province of Washington then to develop it. That is what he was there for; and a little later, at King's Mountain and Cowpens, the instinct of his people developed it for him...."

"The obvious objection will, of course, next be advanced that the keep of horses is costly, and Washington was always kept short of funds. This hardly merits attention.....As respects the argument from cost, however, once for all it should be premised that war, effectively conducted, is a grim reality and in no way a dilettante, delicately handled pastime. In it men must be armed and equipped, somehow; horses must be had and fed, somewhence. The Confederates had no great supply of money between 1862 and 1865, but they had a most effective mounted service; likewise, the South African Boers in a more recent struggle. In practical warfare the existence of a cavalry force is not so much a question of money as of the existence of an adequate supply of horses, of forage and of men accustomed to the saddle. Of all these, and of the best, the America of the Revolutionary period possessed abundance. At King's Mountain, the prospective cost of horse-keep was, so far as appears, not taken into consideration..."

"Trevelyan also tells us that when Clinton set out on his march from Philadelphia to New York, his army had at its disposition no less than five thousand horses, "almost all of which had been collected by requisition or purchase, during Sir William Howe's occupation of Pennsylvania" (Pt. m. 367).
To a like effect, the same excellent authority asserts (lb. 323) that General Greene, Washington's quartermaster, had during the same period "secured a vast quantity of horses for the artillery and transport" of the patriot army. Pennsylvania, as well as Virginia, it would seem, was well supplied with mounts; and, with Virginia only the other side of the Potomac, troopers would naturally not have been far to seek....
One thing, however, stands plainly out, — undeniable. No military movement could possibly have been much more open to fatal disaster through an application of Parthian tactics than that march of the British army from Philadelphia to Sandy Hook, in June, 1778....The whole country-side was up in arms, bent on impeding his progress; and Sir Henry Clinton had no cavalry. All the bridges over which the column had to pass were broken down; the road, such as it was, "was execrable, and the heat like the desert of Sahara....Whatever the mounted force under Harry Lee or Allan McLane may have been, it is apparent that it was not sufficient to cut any figure during the momentous movement culminating at Monmouth Court House. To a wagon train, eleven miles in length, the American cavalry offered no obstacle. To have stopped that train's forward movement, and, in so doing, to have thrown the whole column into confusion, would in our day have been a simple matter. But the weapon was not at command. It was by a margin of only five days that Clinton's army and possibly the British fleet escaped heavy disaster, if not total destruction (Fisher, n. 187). Drawing inferences from this record, would it be unfair to conclude that two thousand of the King's Mountain rangers led, we will say, by Daniel Morgan,1 might, during those momentous ten days of transfer, have very potently contributed towards then and there ending the War of Independence? (Stedman, n. 23). If so, might not the historian, at once expert and judicious, find cause to suspect that a Fabian policy, combined with economy in horse-keep, came somewhat high at that juncture of Revolutionary experiences?...

"No more pitched battles were fought in the North. Washington never met Clinton in the field. The two commanders, one impregnably intrenched in the Highlands, and the other impregnably intrenched in the town of New York, simply watched each other, from July, 1778, until September, 1781, when Washington made his sudden move to Yorktown, Virginia...."

1 Fisher, n.207. Morgan, at this time, wrote to Washington, "You know the cavalry are the eyes of the infantry."..

"After Monmouth, the seat of active Revolutionary warfare was transferred from the vicinity of New York and the Jerseys to the Carolinas, and General Nathanael Greene, in place of Washington, directed operations....
I shall not attempt to enter in detail into the operations conducted in the Carolinas between the fall of Charleston in May, 1780, and the final evacuation of South Carolina by the British in September, 1782. It is sufficient to say that, as a military study from the cavalry point of view, those operations afford a striking contrast to what had previously taken place during an almost exactly similar space of time in the Northern Department...."

"There was, it is true, a large royalist faction in the Carolinas; but the same element was found in almost equal proportion in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The horse was equally at hand in each region; while forage was more plentiful in the Northern than in the Southern States: but it seemed as though both sides, simultaneously and as if from instinct, " caught on " in the Carolinas...."

"The warfare which then developed itself in the Southern Department is, moreover, strikingly suggestive of that in South Africa a century and a quarter later. The tactics employed on both sides in the Carolina struggle were the same. Irregular bodies of partizans, the men mounted on their own horses, called together at a moment's notice and separating at the will of these composing the band, harried the land, cut off detached parties, showed small mercy to prisoners, and, withal, did little in the way of effective work towards bringing warfare to an end. It was a process of exhaustion. Made up chiefly of eccentric partizan operations, as it is studied in the somewhat voluminous detail of McCrady's two bulky volumes, the narrative conveys no lesson. The one cause for wonder is, how Greene, without arms, munitions, clothing, commissariat or camp-chest, contrived to keep the field at all...."

"As to Greene, also, it is impossible now to say whether he possessed in any marked degree the elements of an officer of cavalry. He, however, fully realized, as a result of experience, the immense importance of that arm of the service, causing him to write to Lafayette, when the latter was conducting operations in Virginia, the enemy "are increasing their cavalry by every means in their power, and have a greater number than we have, though not of equal goodness. We are trying to increase ours. Enlarge your cavalry or you are inevitably ruined."1  G. W. Greene, Life of General Greene, iii. 320.

It is a curious and very noticeable fact, also, that as respects both the employment of cavalry and its effective use, the British not only seem to have taken the initiative, but they held their advantage up to the close of the struggle ;1 that is, cavalry in the campaigns of Cornwallis and Lord Rawdon acted as an adjunct in military operations, and was used effectively in this way. This was the case to a very limited extent only on the patriot side. All the cavalry Greene ever could depend upon as an effective weapon in his immediate central command, were the comparatively insignificant organizations commanded by Harry Lee and Lieutenant-Colonel Washington. On the other hand, judging by McCrady's statements, Pickens, Marion, Sumter and the rest gave Greene almost as much trouble as they rendered him assistance. He was continually making futile attempts to draw them under his personal control for some concentrated movement; while they, much older men and natives of the country, plainly more or less jealous of his, the Rhode Islander's, authority, acted on their own responsibility, obeying or neglecting to obey his orders much as they saw fit.

"Two conflicts, however, which occurred in the Carolinas, the one at King's Mountain on the 6th of October, 1780, the other at the Cowpens on January 17, 1781, are especially noticeable; and King's Mountain offered a fine example of irregular mounted warfare. The whole patriot force engaged was less than fourteen hundred strong, "over-mountain men," as they were called. Their mode of operation was almost exactly that of the Boers. Suddenly concentrated, and covering a considerable distance with great rapidity, "as soon as they arrived near the base of the spur [on which the conflict occurred] the riflemen all dismounted and, leaving their coats and blankets strapped to the saddles, tied their horses in the woods and with scarcely a moment's delay started on foot up the three easy sides of the spur" (Fisher, Ii. 353). Stedman's account (n. 221) of this episode is curiously suggestive of similar operations conducted in South Africa nearly a century and a quarter later: "These men . . . the wild and fierce inhabitants of Kentucky, and other settlements west of the Alleganey Mountains . . . were all well mounted on horseback and armed with rifles: each carried his own provisions in a wallet, so that no incumbrance of waggons, nor delays of public departments, impeded their movements. . . When the different divisions of mountaineers reached Gilbert-town, which was nearly about the same time, they amounted to upwards of three thousand men. From these fifteen hundred of the best were selected, who, mounted on fleet horses, were sent in pursuit." 1

"So, three months later, at Cowpens (January 17, 1781), Daniel Morgan there gave evidence of the possession of all the attributes of a born military commander and cavalry leader. Making his dispositions without any regard for military rules, he availed himself in the best way possible of the weapons at his command. He had a small force of cavalry only, amounting perhaps to one hundred and fifty troopers. They were under the command of Harry Lee; and these he flung upon Tarleton's flank at the crisis of the action, in a manner so effective that defeat became at once a rout. He hurled his little band of horsemen on his opponent when, to use Napoleon's expression, "the battle was ripe," much as a stone is flung by a slinger. One of the very few patriot victories of the entire war, Cowpens was altogether the most neatly, though unscientifically, fought battle in it. Both in the commander and in the men the distinctive American attributes were there much in evidence...."

 "So far as Greene's operations were concerned, while most skilfully as well as persistently conducted, they indicated rather the possession by him of the attributes of an excellent commander of infantry than the dashing qualities of one either accustomed to the handling of cavalry or naturally inclined to it. Both Guilford Court-House and Eutaw Springs could have been turned from defeats, or at best indecisive actions, into complete victories, had he then had attached to his command an effective force of cavalry and, like Morgan, known exactly when and how to make use of it. Even as it was, his small body of mounted men, under command of Lee and Washington, rendered on more than one occasion effective service. As to Tarleton, he proved the right arm, such as it was, of Cornwallis, and the raids led by him, both in the Carolinas and in Virginia, seem extraordinary in dash and daring..."

"But when it is borne in mind that the active military operations of the Revolutionary period extended from the affairs at Lexington and Concord in April, 1775, to the fall of Yorktown, in October, 1781, or through more than six years of incessant field work, while, on the other hand, the war in South Africa lasted but two years, and our own War of Secession covered practically but four years, the slowness with which the patriot side realized the nature of the situation, and learned to make the most effective use of the weapons at its command, is indisputably, to say the least, suggestive. It even gives rise to a doubt whether, after all, there was not some ground for the impatience at times felt in the Congress over the Fabian policy of Washington, and whether recourse might not well earlier have been had to a different, and much more effective, system of tactics. But in any event, this phase, as yet undeveloped, of an interesting historical situation merits careful study on the part of some future investigator; for my present examination leads me to think that the military history of the War of American Independence needs to be rewritten to a very considerable extent and in quite a new spirit...."

"And, first of all, in the light of our Civil-War record, Union and Confederate, does not the accepted and traditional American estimate of Washington, the Soldier and General, call for thoughtful revision? Nor would such revision necessarily result in any diminution of his fame; for Washington was much more than a mere military man of any sort, even the highest. He was essentially and conspicuously a man of Character. It was his Character which carried him, and with him the country, through the trials of the War of Independence; and his fame stands in no need of the excessive and undiscriminating adulation with which it had been oppressed. On the other hand, judged by the record, can he be fairly classed among great soldiers? Even Sir William Howe, a commander of "monotonous mediocrity " (Stedman, I. 398), so low in grade as not to be classed at all, time and again out-generalled as well as out-fought him. He did so on Long Island; and again on Manhattan Island; and again both on the Brandy wine and on the Schuylkill. Washington twice surprised outlying detachments, those in command having neglected precautions against attack; and, as the result of a well-conceived strategic movement and combination, he compelled the surrender of Cornwallis. But he never stood victor on a field of pitched battle; and it is indisputable that repeatedly he owed his salvation to the incompetence or procrastination of his opponent. It was so on Long Island; it was so on the Brandy wine. Again, with any but a slothful, self-indulgent voluptuary opposed to him, his command would have been wholly dispersed, and its stores captured during the early months of either 1777 or 1778. He could have been easily manoeuvred out of either Morristown, in the former year, or out of Valley Forge,in the latter. But he was sustained, and carried through every ordeal by a combination of horse common-sense, great fortitude, good judgment and military ability, immense luck and, above all and most of all, commanding Character. He thus had his limitations; and to one of these, heretofore, so far as I know, unnoticed, attention is here called. Nor, possibly, is it in any way speaking beyond bounds to suggest that the existence of this limitation in its military head may have prolonged the War of Independence by a third if not by a half...."

Selected Footnotes

[footnote - The most recent (1910) foreign critic on the American Civil War and its results thus expresses himself on this point:
"Perhaps the principal military lesson [to be derived from a study of that war] is in the use of Cavalry. The problem of getting Cavalry to fight well on foot, without losing its Cavalry Spirit, is often spoken of now-a-days as a sort of ideal to be approached rather than attained ; but Sheridan, Stuart and Forrest all solved it to perfection, using mounted and dismounted action indifferently, though the two latter had few real cavalry in proportion to the size of their commands." —J. Formby, The American Civil War, 484.
It should be unnecessary to point out that the above conclusion applies only to American conditions and to conditions elsewhere prevailing similar to those which in 1861 to 1865 prevailed in America; South Africa, for example. If applied to continental conditions in western Europe, the " lesson " would probably prove fallacious. It is this distinction between American and other conditions that the historians of the Revolution have failed to grasp; in that respect, however, only following the precedent of Washington.] footnote

[footnote - Trevelyan, Ft. Ili. 269, 375. While the rifle as an implement in warfare seems to have been wholly unknown in the British service of the Revolutionary period, marksmanship was neither taught nor practised; and, as early as during the siege of Boston, Sir William Howe wrote home telling of the " terrible guns of the rebels." Finally he succeeded in capturing a ranger, and "sent him to England, rifle and all, and the marksman was made to perform there and exhibited as a curiosity." Some six hundred of the Germans sent to America were riflemen, known as "Jagers "; and, in the negotiations with the landgraves, it was stipulated that as many of the recruits as possible should be riflemen. — Sawyer, Firearms in American History, 81-83, 140. Referring to the so-called "massacre" at Paoli, Trevelyan justly observes (Pt. m. 236): "Men always attach the idea of cruelty to modes of warfare in which they themselves are not proficient; and Americans liked the bayonet as little as Englishmen approved of taking deliberate aim at individual officers."]

[footnote - Immediately after the battle of Brandywine, a provincial corps raised in New York under the name of the Queen's Rangers was adopted by the English commander, and placed under the direction of Major-commandant J. G. Simcoe. What it accomplished is related in " Simcoe's Military Journal "; it need only be snid here that the corps obtained as wide a fame as Tarleton's, and was taken at Gloucester Point when Cornwallis gave up his army at Yorktown. Sir Henry Clinton told Germain that since October, 1777, when Simcoe's corps was first adopted, it "had been the perpetual advance of the army," one of the most serviceable function of light-horse..."]

[ footnote - Major Patrick Ferguson of the 2d Battalion, 71st Regiment Light Infantry, Highlanders, an excellent and enterprising officer, commanded the loyalists at King's Mountain and there lost his life. It is a curious and most interesting historical fact in connection with the subjects of the present paper that Ferguson was the inventor of the first serviceable and practical breech-loading rifled weapon ever adopted into any service. Patented in England in 1776, by it "four aimed shots a minute could be fired, as against an average of one shot in fifteen minutes with a European muzzle-loading rifle after it had become foul." — Sawyer, Firearms in American History, 137-139.
The only difficulty with the Ferguson breech-loader seems to have been that it was, as a weapon in practical European warfare, a full half century before its time. Even as late as our own War of Secession the West Point martinets and ordnance officers were wholly opposed to the adoption of the breech-loading weapons for use by infantry. Breech-loading cavalry carbines were in use..."]

later published as part of:

Studies military and diplomatic, 1775-1865, by Charles Francis Adams, 1911

"Washington and Cavalry"

"This and the following paper, entitled "The Campaign of 1777," were originally prepared for submission to the Massachusetts Historical Society, and are to be found in its Proceedings. (Vol. XLIII, 547-593; Vol. XLIV, 13-65.) Certain facts relating to the reason of their preparation, and the process through which they assumed final shape, are there given. While appropriate enough in papers submitted to an historical society at its stated meetings, such matter, largely personal and to a certain extent at times colloquial, is manifestly out of place in a more formal publication. The two papers have, therefore, now been revised in this respect, and, in a manner, recast. The general reader is, however, always more or less careless, while the judgment of the specialist and investigator is apt to be affected by preconceptions or prejudice. In the case of these papers, misapprehensions would, therefore, almost surely rise in the minds of most, unless they read with some understanding of the purpose for which the studies were prepared, and the successive steps through which they obtained whatever they may have of both form and proportion......"

In 1931, Colonel John W. Wright, to Adam's to task on Washington and Revolutionary Legions, of Pulaski and Lee, but also found his Mounted Riflemen example of some merit:

"...Of all modern writers, Charles Francis Adams is without doubt the most critical of Washington as a soldier. His criticisms are wide in scope and include almost every activity of a commander in the field;

in fact they include duties that pertained to Congress and the Board of War, far beyond those of the Commander-in-Chief. In his zeal to demolish those who praise the leadership of Washington, he finds
they "smell of the lamp"; he laments that such have not, like himself, commanded a squadron in the field. Now we very willingly accede that the military experience of Adams in the Civil War qualifies him
as an expert, but this status must be limited to the Civil War only.
The conditions that governed operations in the American Revolution were so different from those of 1860 that a modern writer of Washington's operations must mingle the smell of the lamp with that of the camp....
To further attract these "Young Gentlemen of property and spirit" they were promised that "all booty taken from the enemy shall belong to the troop by whom it shall be taken." Fortunately these feeble
efforts met with no response, otherwise our army would have been burdened with marauders and pillagers. (Pa. Arch. (1853); VI; 316,

To return to the legion organization, or one composed of horse and foot combined, and to which Adams objected so strongly.
Adams had never seen legions in the Civil War and he seems to have failed to realize that during the period of which we are speaking they were universally used and considered both efficient and useful. He
believed that legions were fantastic conceptions of Pulaski, "modelled, by the way, apparently on Pulaski's ill conceived idea of an effective American force." The modern legion had been first proposed by Marshal Saxe and based upon a study of the Roman legion. He used them in his campaigns and they were extensively used in Europe from 1741 to 1817. France, Prussia and Austria had them during the Seven Years War; and it was then that Steuben saw them and recommended their use in America. The British raised several in America. They were raised during the early part of the French Revolution by the French, and Napoleon organized one in each of the frontier departments in 1815. Wellington used legions in Spain.
Cavalry has always been an expensive arm both to raise and maintain, and while considering the cavalry in the Revolution a most important question is whether more could have been raised, horsed and equipped. An inspector visited our cavalry in the south in 1782 and found them in a most deplorable condition. One third had no scabbards; the few pistols were unfit to use; they had no cartridge boxes.
Thus it appears that what cavalry we actually raised could not be properly armed. A most important question, considering the criticisms of Adams, is whose duty it was to raise cavalry; was it the duty of
Congress and the Board of War or was this duty imposed upon the General in the field? Adams places this responsibility directly upon Washington which we believe is an error. Congress in Nov. 1776 directed its cavalry committee to raise and arm three thousand horses…….
We believe that we have shown that Adams was most unfortunate in his criticisms of Washington. Washington appreciated cavalry and made every possible effort to increase its efficiency. To increase this arm was a function of Congress, and the Board of War and all criticism should be so directed.
Adams' criticisms are mainly destructive but he does on one occasion offer something constructive, which we will now notice. He says that Washington should have assembled Morgan's riflemen and the rangers of Virginia and Pennsylvania (riflemen), and, to use his expression, "jerked them into the saddle." In other words Adams advocates the creation of mounted riflemen, and as a precedent he refers to the Civil War Cavalry and the Boers. This leads us to the American rifle as a weapon and to the thought that sufficient consideration was not here given to the state of development of the rifle at this period.
The rifle as a military weapon was practically unknown in the Eighteenth Century during which time its use was confined to hunting. Several of the smaller German states did organize game keepers into jager, armed with the rifle, but this was entirely exceptional. The rifle could not at this time be used with the musket in the line of battle and actually was not so used for half a century after the Revolution. The rifle was so slow in loading that its use was confined to detachments away from the army. Even skirmishers could not use it in open country. The musket was three times as fast in loading. But the chief objection to the rifle was that it had no bayonet and so the rifleman could never withstand a charge from musket men with bayonets.
There were a number of occasions in our Revolution when our militia left the field of battle in inglorious flight and as a consequence have been severely criticized; yet examination will show that they had slow
loading rifles and no bayonets and so were no match for the British regular in close combat. After the Revolution a legend grew around the American rifleman, just such a legend as we saw appear and encircle the Rough Rider in 1898. Many of our rifle organizations in the Revolution were armed with this weapon as we did not have sufficient muskets. Commanders of rifle units sought to replace their rifles by muskets. Washington, replying to one such request made in 1777 by General Muhlenburg, said that in the future he would have as few rifles as possible in the army. The number of rifles used in the  Continental army was gradually reduced until in 1781 we find President Reed of Pennsylvania writing, "these (rifles) are now generally disused in the Continental army." Yet the legend of the rifle continues with us today in full vigor.
Adams' views on the Continental cavalry are largely influenced by his service in the Civil War. The Federal cavalry towards the close of the war became a most formidable body, fully capable of independent action as it was equipped with the most modern arms,-swords, pistols and rifled breech loading carbines. This body presented for the first time in history the unusual spectacle of a cavalry with fire power superior to the opposing infantry. Cavalry without fire power, like the Continental, must depend upon infantry support and it has but one mode of action, the mounted charge, which calls for large open plains; but the Revolution did not see its battles on such scenes......pp. 94-98

Notes on the Continental Army, by John W. Wright, The William and Mary Quarterly, Second Series, Vol. 11, No. 2 ands 3, Apr and Jul., 1931,
Note that Wright does not directly respond to Adam's multiple exampling of Kings Mountain - or for that matter, as with Adams, does not consider other examples such as Johnson's Kentucky Mounted Riflemen at The Battle of the Thames or Coffey's Tennessee Mounted Riflemen in the Creek War.