17th Pennsylvania Cavalry, Co. F

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Me at the 150th Cedar creek, 2014




The Battle of South Mountain

The Maryland Campaign resulted from the first invasion of the North by General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and represented the best chance the South would ever have for achieving independence. What began for Lee, in May of 1862, as a series of battles to relieve the Confederate Capitol at Richmond from Union attack had, by September, evolved into a daring plan to carry the war to the North. Maryland was a sister state, Southern in traditions and custom. Slaves were bought and sold within its borders. If it could be brought into the Confederacy the Union Capital at Washington would be completely surrounded by enemy territory. A victory on Northern soil would probably result in foreign diplomatic recognition and intervention. It was hoped that this combination of events would demonstrate to the civilian population that the war was unwinable and persuade a war weary United States Congress into a negotiated peace.

On September 4, 1862, Gen. Lee began the Maryland Campaign by moving his army across the Potomac River into the village of Frederick, Maryland. While in Frederick it became apparent to General Lee that he would have to remove the Federal Garrison at Harpers Ferry. Lee could not move northward with this body of Union troops threatening his supply lines. This decision by Robert E. Lee, and the method he chose to accomplish it, set the stage for the Battle of South Mountain. Unknown to Robert E. Lee, General George B. McClellan was moving his Army of the Potomac out of Washington more rapidly than anticipated by Lee. Ultimately, McClellan moved his troops into the Middletown Valley in an attempt to intercept Lee's army and "...beat him in detail." General Lee had his army divided into five pieces and spread across the breadth of Maryland from Hagerstown to Harpers Ferry. To destroy Lee's army piecemeal, McClellan had only to cross the mountains west of Frederick before those pieces could reunite. These mountains were the northern extension of the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia, in Maryland this range was called South Mountain. For a brief time during the Maryland Campaign the success of the Confederacy, and the fate of the Union, hinged on events at South Mountain.
Rather than grouping all of the action which occurred on Sunday, September 14, 1862, under the single title of "The Battle of South Mountain," some historians feel that it is more accurate to use the term "The Battles on South Mountain." General McClellan sent the VI Army Corps, under the command of General William B. Franklin, to attack the Confederate position at Crampton's Gap near the village of Burkittsville, Maryland. On the other side of Crampton's Gap lay Pleasant Valley and then, overlooking Harpers Ferry, Maryland Heights. On September 13, 1862, Confederate General Lafayette McLaws had attacked the Union defenders on Maryland Heights in preparation for the siege of Harpers Ferry. Franklin was urged by McClellan to use all the intellect and activity he could exercise to destroy McLaws' command and relieve Harpers Ferry. However, Franklin wandered across the Middletown valley with daisy picking urgency and squandered a ten to one advantage.
Eventually though, McLaws was forced to remove some of his troops from Maryland Heights to defend against Franklin's assault at Crampton's Gap. Because of this Franklin's attack at Crampton's Gap can also be considered part of the siege of Harpers Ferry.
Six miles north of Crampton's Gap were located Fox's Gap and Turner's Gaps. The battle in this area resulted from the clash of Union Major General Ambrose E. Burnside's vanguard of the Army of the Potomac and Confederate Major General Daniel Harvey Hill's rearguard of the Army of Northern Virginia. This battle was bitterly fought for the possession of the two passes over the crest of South Mountain at Fox's Gap and Turner's Gap.
The mid-morning combat at Fox's Gap saw one of the rare instances of actual hand-to-hand combat during the Civil War. Bayonets and clubbed muskets were used freely. Many veterans remembered the action "as hot as any in the entire war." The fighting at Fox's Gap claimed the lives of two promising young Generals, Confederate Brigadier General Samuel Garland and Union Major General Jesse Lee Reno, who both received mortal wounds on that bloody Sabbath.
Two future presidents served at Fox's Gap. Both Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley served with the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Hayes was severely wounded and taken to Middletown, where he recovered from his wounds. McKinley survived, only to die by an assassin's bullet on September 14, 1901; thirty-nine years to the day of the Battle of South mountain.
Before the sunken road at Sharpsburg became famous as "Bloody Lane" the Old Sharpsburg Road which passed through Fox's Gap was called the "Sunken Road." Confederate forces under the command of Brigadier General Thomas S. Drayton were caught in a torrent of gunfire in the Sunken Road that resulted in horrendous casualties. Almost one-half of Drayton's men were killed or wounded on South Mountain. Union soldiers on the field the day after the battle remembered the Confederate dead stacked like cordwood in the Sunken Road. Square foot per square foot the South Mountain sunken road was just as bloody as its famous counterpart at Antietam.
Two days after the battle, on September 16, 1862, Union burial details at Fox's Gap dumped the bodies of fifty-eight dead Confederates down the well of a farmer named Daniel Wise and, in so doing, laid the foundation for one of the most persistent legends of the Maryland Campaign. In the years after the war this foul deed was attributed to farmer Wise, who died before the legend became accepted as fact. The dead Confederates remained in the well for twelve years before being reintered at the Confederate Cemetery in Hagerstown, Maryland.
In the area northeast of Turner's Gap, along what is now Dahlgren Road, Confederate Brigadier General Robert E. Rodes' lone brigade of 1,200 Alabama troops engaged in battle against Union General George G. Meade's Division of 4,000 men. This remarkable action has come to be known simply as "Rodes' Resistance." On the other side of Dahlgren road Union Brigadier General John P. Hatch led his division in an assault that earned him the Medal of Honor.
The Union troops on this part of the battlefield started their march that morning near Frederick, Maryland, on the banks of the Monocacy River. The bluecoats marched, on a warm summer's day, fourteen miles to the battlefield. Many of the Confederates had a twelve mile march that morning from Hagerstown. Both armies fought after their strenuous journeys on some of the most difficult mountainous terrain of the Civil War.
In the area immediately below Turner's Gap, the men of Union General John Gibbon's brigade would win special recognition for their action against the Confederate defenders of General Alfred H. Colquitt. After the Battle of South Mountain Gibbon's troops would simply be known as "The Iron Brigade." However, in contrast to other portions of the battlefield, here the terrain allowed the Southerners to hold their ground. Although Gibbon's men may have earned the name Iron Brigade it should be noted that General Colquitt was hereafter known as the "Rock of South Mountain."
Approximately 38,000 Union and 12,000 Confederate troops fought in the battles on South Mountain. Union casualties numbered approximately 2,500 and Confederate casualties almost 3,800 in killed, wounded, and missing. In terms of these casualties losses at South Mountain were greater than the war's first major battle at Bull Run. In terms of its strategic results and repercussions South Mountain ranks as one of the most important battles of the Civil War.
The full impact of the Battle of South Mountain is only now being fully appreciated. Brought about largely by General Lee's decision to invest Harpers Ferry, this battle enabled General George B. McClellan to thwart the first invasion of the North by the Confederacy. The Maryland Campaign of 1862 marks the turning point of Confederate fortunes in the Civil War and it is the Battle of South Mountain that marks the turning point of the Maryland Campaign. Previous to South Mountain Lee was proactive. After South Mountain all Lee could do was react, the momentum had passed to McClellan. It was The Battle of South Mountain that prohibited Lee from taking his army into Pennsylvania, as many historians agree was his plan. This battle robbed General Lee of the victory on northern soil that the South so desperately needed. Ultimately the Maryland campaign was the Confederacy's best and last hope for foreign recognition and intervention, and thereby southern independence. It was the Battle of South Mountain that brought about the end of the Maryland Campaign and thereby dashed southern hopes for Southern independence in 1862.
When one considers the tactical situation, there were times during the day that the Battle of South Mountain threatened the destruction of a large part of General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. As it was this battle saved Lee's army from catastrophe. It provided the time Lee needed to regroup his scattered forces and avert catastrophe. Rather than being remembered as a key event in the Maryland Campaign, South Mountain has most often simply been referred to as "skirmishing in the mountain passes." Unfortunately, it has just become the trite and often over-looked "prelude" to the battle at Sharpsburg three days later.
There is more involved than just tactical and strategic influences on a military campaign. The Battle of South Mountain did not happen in a vacuum. It was shaped by the events preceding it and it shaped the events following it. Of more importance though is the fact that the Battle of South Mountain was fought by people. People of many different backgrounds and life experiences. People who were husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers. People who were Americans fighting for their ideals and beliefs, or people who fought simply because they were told to do so. People who but a short time earlier had been fellow countrymen. As one of the Confederate defenders of South Mountain, General Daniel Harvey Hill, would remember years later, "The last time I ever saw Generals McClellan and Reno was in 1848...in the City of Mexico. Generals Meade and Scammon had been instructors while I was at West Point. Colonel Magilton, commanding a brigade in Meade's Division, had been a lieutenant in my company in the Mexican War. Gen. John Gibbon (whose brigade pressed up the pike on the 14th of September at the battle of South Mountain) and his brother Lardull had been best men at my wedding. They were from North Carolina, but one brother took the Northern side, while the other took the Southern."
A bullet knows no geographical or historical distinction and for many of General Lee's and General McClellan's men the slopes of South Mountain would be their last battlefield. They also gave that last measure of devotion. Their story is much more than just the prelude to Antietam. The events of Sunday, September 14, 1862, are important in their own right, and the soldier's story of the Battle of South Mountain, that bloody Sabbath, regardless of the "much work & poor pay" deserves to be considered as a separate and distinct engagement. The story needs to be told.
It is altogether fitting that the State of Maryland has created a South Mountain Battlefield Park to this story.




below was in New market, Va, last month, May 14 - 16 2010

this  below was a normal color picture, it is looking down through part of the shannendoah valley

sunday morning may 16th 2010

I thought a confusing moment
was about to take place

Why  Reenact?


There are many facets of interest within this hobby to draw many people. Historical education and commemoration are not the only reasons people pursue reenacting. Some people are seriously into the details of their equipment, and some people are into the excitement of the cannons and guns sounding off while charging forth, with mounted troopers galloping by, sabers drawn. The peaceful camp life draws many people also. Whether it's hearing and smelling your food sizzle over the fire, hearing some musical instruments being played to the old tunes of the day, or the comradery under the camp fly, there are aspects large and small to keep people coming back. Look us up at the next event we attend, and we'll share all sorts of stories.The Remount Unit of the U.S. Cavalry is a group of Troopers that somehow lost their horses during the war and are waiting for another horse. Horses were lost many ways, but sickness and being shot were very common ways. Sometimes they were referred to as Dismounted  Cavalry, because they continued to fight on foot. We are a group that have the honor to portray that group of tough men. We are a group of soldiers that have the benefits of carrying equipment such as Carbines, Sabers, and Pistols. We are no strangers to tactical training. We are sent out first into the field drawing fire to start the battles, and we fill in to support our fellow Mounted, Infantry, and Artillery. Also, since the cavalry carried their goods on wagons and horseback, it is sure a nice perk to have the extra camp equipment. And, we can't forget the spectators cheering when the Cavalry shows up, by mount or by foot..

our weapons and accouterments 

58 cal. Enfield Musketoon


Getting started in this hobby can be easy. Your first step is under way. The first step is deciding if you should pursue Infantry, Artillery, Dismounted Cavalry, or Mounted Cavalry... Federal or Confederate... and then decide on which Unit, within that branch, will best fit what you want to do and even how to dress.

    This PA Dismounted Cavalry is a fairly laid back group. Yes, we do take the action seriously to get into the moment and maintain safety. But, we are not "stitch- counters". We do ask everyone to follow our rules and regulations. We help our people get good equipment for their money. Also, we understand a new person has to 'build' their collection of clothes and equipment. Until a reasonable time that you can supply yourself, a few of us can arrange to bring a few pieces of extra equipment until the new person has their own. Any lending within our group needs to be arranged well before the event.

    Below is a list of personal equipment that our troopers have. You will find that we have basically the same equipment within our group since we are Cavalry, but since "our story" is the we are a Remount Unit, ( a group of soldiers from other Units who are waiting for another horse ) some details of the uniform vary to the individual. We will give guidelines to stay within. For example, you will need to have 'Sky Blue' trousers, your choice of a shell jacket or sack coat, and your choice of brogans or boots. These are just a few choices. Other choices are what kind of gun, what kind of pistol ( if you are going to carry one ), kepi or forage hat, what color shirt, and what kind of tent?

We allow Wedge Tents ( also called "A Framed Tents" ) and Shelter Halves ( also called "Dog Tents" ) in our camp. Our Unit does not allow wall tents. Consult with our Unit before investing into a tent so we can guild you to get the proper size tent for your needs and the best quality for the money. The larger tents shown above are the Wedge Tents and the smaller tents are the Shelter Halves. The Shelter Halves are two rectangles of canvas buttoned together along the ridge and staked to the ground on the other end. As you can see, there is a variety of styles among the large and small tents, but even with the variety, each tent should fall within the Federal Regulations of the period. After a Trooper´┐Żs tent is setup in an approved fashion, the soldiers are allowed to either keep their tent setup looking simple or set things out for public display. Things set outside the tent should fall within the look of the Civil War era and will basically be functional items. Not a lot a reenactors, or soldiers of the day, would put things out just for decoration, because items needed in the camp are items packed. Since there is usually a bunch of needed items to get through an event, no one really wants to waste space and time with unnecessary items. The camp fire is a very important part of any camp. Usually there is only one fire pit allowed in our Unit's camp. This helps reduce the scarring on the land of the park or private property we are on. We all take part in sharing space on the fire grate to ensure everyone gets a good turn to cook their food. The Unit usually has a fire grate and spit for the soldiers to use.

Some personal items you will need for your Mess Kit will be:

Plate - usually made of tin or stainless steel. The hand-crafted tin plates have a lot of character. Since a tin plate is easy to clean and dry,
tin plates last a long time if properly stored. Some people still stick with the steel plates to rid chances of rust. A few people also use a "Canteen Half".

- usually made of tin and stainless steel, but sometimes you will see a copper cup. The same is to be said for the cups as was for the plates.

Eating Utensils
- come in many shapes, sizes, and forms. Some people use the old looking utensils like would be found in a home and some people use an "issued" style utensil.

- usually made of steel or cast iron. The cast iron skillet is the most used. The most common sizes of skillets range anywhere to accommodate a large burger to a large helping of home fries. If you use too large of a skillet, then you will be taking up too much space on the fire grate.

Rag or Pad
- used to grab hot items, such as skillets and kettles. Also a rag is nice for cleaning items.

Cooking Oil
- coats your skillet to protect it and helps with the cooking.

Dish Soap
- obviously to clean.

- usually made of tin or stainless steel. Stainless steel is usually preferred. The liquids and fire can make a tin kettle rust fast if the kettle is not well maintained. Sometimes kettles are shared, but if you use a lot of hot water for coffee and to clean your guns, then you might want your own kettle.

Matches - it is always good to have a spare set if needed.

Our camp Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 2012

Rules and Regulations



1. Any person, age 18 or older, may make application to join this unit of Cavalry.

2. Any person who is 16 years of age, but not yet 18 years old, may make application for membership with written parent / guardian approval, and must have a unit member as a sponsor.

3. Children are welcomed and encouraged to join in. All minors will be under the direct supervision of their parent (s) who will be held completely responsible for their actions.

4. In order for an applicant member to become a full member with all voting rights and privileges afforded by the unit, all new members must be nominated by a member in good standing, who will function as a sponsor. New members will be subject to a six (6) event probationary period. During this period, the sponsor will be responsible for the new memberĺs safety and conduct. After completion of the probationary period, a vote will be taken at the next meeting for full membership.

5. All members will conduct themselves in a proper manner at all Unit events and meetings in accordance with the following guidelines: 

      A.    No alcaholic drinks or indecent language will not be tolerated or allowed.

      B.   Military courtesy is required and expected of each member of the Unit. All senior officers will be rendered the proper salute when required.

      C.   Any member exhibiting behavior that might cause bodily harm or in any way harm the Unit's standing, or reputation, will be removed from the camp, as directed by the members of the Unit's Executive Committee present at the event, and be suspended from all other events until voted on by the general membership.

 6. The applicant consents, by signature on this document, to abide by the By-Laws of this unit, including the following basic facts regarding impressions at unit events:

      A.   The original PVC was a volunteer Union Cavalry Regiment and the historical facts detailed in the Regimental History are the basis for this organization's composition.

      B.   Military members of the Unit will contain only MALE members in uniform, except as approved by the Executive Committee of the Unit. All members of the Unit will assume the rank of private, unless elected or appointed a higher rank, in accordance with the By-Laws of the Unit.

      C.   Female members of the Unit will portray Civilians of the period, 1860 - 1865, if not dressing and acting as a male soldier.

      D.   Male Civilian participants must portray Civilians that would have accompanied the Unit, as documented in the Regimental History of this Cavalry unit.

      E.   Dependent members will be dressed accordingly during open camp periods and portray period dependents while participating in unit events (i.e. - a 6 year old boy would be himself dressed in circa 1860 - 1865 attire).

      F.   All members are required to participate in the camp police duties and to keep the campsite neat and clean during and after an event. All members are required to participate in work details, as necessary.

      G.   Proper dress will be enforced while a member is in camp and the camp is open to the public. This applies to both military and civilians.

7. All members are responsible for obtaining the proper equipment for an authentic portrayal and operating such equipment in a safe manner. All equipment must be of Civil War Era and style and type. All equipment must be approved by an Officer or Quartermaster and must be removed immediately if found not to be acceptable. In addition, members of the unit will also comply with the following:

8. Each member is required to supply the proper equipment, powder, etc. Any member engaged in the unauthorized use of another member's equipment or supplies will be subject to disciplinary action, as determined by the Executive Committee of the Unit.

9. The Unit will follow the safety regulations as set forth by the United States Volunteers at all events. Safety to others and ourselves is our most important duty. Weapons will be kept clean and in good working order. When danger to a member seems eminent, all members will rally to that member and all battle activity will cease until the problem is resolved. Also, new members will be required to review safety issues and concerns with either a noncommissioned or commissioned officer of the Unit, before taking the field.

10. Event registration fees, when required, are the responsibility of each individual member and must be paid in advance to facilitate proper planning. Advanced payment ensures members are included in plans for space availability and meals for said event. Also, event registration fees are nonrefundable once paid to the event sponsor.

11. Meal costs must be submitted in advance with the event registration fee. With proper notification to the member responsible for coordinating food purchases, money will be refunded up to seven (7) days prior to the event.

12. Annual dues are $20.00 as established by the membership and are nonrefundable. Dues are required to be paid by March 1st.

13. Any person who is a commissioned officer in any other Civil War reenactment unit, except for temporary assignments or commissions for a specific event, is ineligible for membership in this unit

14. All applicants joining the Unit do so of their own free will and at their own risk.






























Nothing stirs the emotion of the cavalryman more than the sound of a bugle signaling the "Charge." Signaling the troops by the use of a horn goes back to the Roman empire. The daily routine of the American Civil war soldier was regulated by bugle signals, with the infantry, artillery and cavalry all having their own signals. Although the rank of bugler has disappeared from the modern army and the bugle is a symbol of an era gone by, bugling is a tradition that continues to live on for ceremonies and special occasions.

As reenactors we constantly strive to improve upon our impression. If this work helps to assist the cavalry reenactor with a better understanding of the bugle, its proper use in reenacting and its importance in communicating commands by signals, then our objective has been met.


R. Lynch



Numbered as per Cavalry Tactics, (J. R. Poinsett's, 1841 Manual, Third Part.)

The General
Signal to pack up and break camp. Thirty minutes later you will hear, boots and saddles, fifteen minutes later assembly, and in another fifteen minutes march. note: In the recently published book, "The Diary of a Bugler" by George Sargent, he indicates that while on campaign boots and saddles has the same effect as the General, only with more immediacy.

2) Boots & Saddles
When a regiment is to mount, boots and saddles is sounded; at this signal the horses are saddled, bridled and prepared to be led out. First Part, P. 7

[note: Many sources confirm that in actual practice, boots and saddles was used to saddle, pack, bridle, and mount with utmost speed.]

3) To Horse
At the signal to horse, the 1st. Sergeants direct the men to lead out. The Sergeants, Corporals, and Privates, being in two ranks, in the order of their platoons, at the head of their horses, the Orderly Sergeant calls the roll. In case of alarm or surprise, to horse is sounded; the men then saddle, pack up, bridle and mount with the utmost celerity and repair to the place of assembly, which is always previously designated. First Part, P. 8 [when acting as dismounted skirmishers, return to the # 4 individual & horseholder.]

4) Assembly
The trumpeters sound the assembly for troops to form-rank for Roll Call without weapons and for marching the squadrons to the parade.

5) To Arms
When a regiment is to turn out under arms on foot, "to arms" will be sounded; at this signal, the men are formed and inspected and the reports are made as is prescribed. First Part, P. 8 [signal of "alarm" while on campaign.]

6) To The Standard
As soon as the standard appears, the Captain orders the sabres to be presented; the trumpets sound to the standard
. First Part, P. 10 [also sounded at head of column to prepare for action.]

7) March
After "to the standard" has been twice repeated, the Captain orders the sabres to be carried, and breaks in the same order in which he came; the trumpets sound the "march." First Part, P. 10 [to move forward at the walk.]



8) The Charge
Keeping the horses straight, charge as directed: The charge in line is executed by the squadron when in line; it should be as short as possible, so as to arrive in good order, and without fatiguing the horses. The charge in column is executed by the squadron broken with distance. To execute the charge as foragers, all the troopers of the squadron disperse, and direct themselves each upon the point he wishes to attack, observing not to lose sight of their officers, who charge with them. The squadron being in line, the first captain orders the sabres to be drawn, and the platoons to charge one after another, commencing by the right. For this purpose the first Captain advances 240 paces to the front, taking a trumpeter with him; and when he wishes the movement to commence, he causes a signal to be given. The platoon moves forward at the command of its chief, as prescribed, No. 569. It passes successively from the walk to the trot, and from the trot to the gallop, and from the gallop to the charge. Second Part, P. 262-3.

9) Rally
When the squadron is dispersed as foragers, the first Captain causes the rally to be sounded. In rallying, the troopers direct themselves to the right and to the left, outside of the flanks of the squadron in order to unmask promptly the front of the squadron, and to reform in passing by the rear. Second Part, P. 267.

10) Reveille
Morning Roll Call. Signals the beginning of the morning roll call count. note: This is not the signal to awaken. "Assembly of Buglers # 16 is that signal.

11) Stable Call Feed and groom horses.

12) Watering Call Water horses.

13) Breakfast Time for breakfast.

14) Assembly Of Guard Posting of guards/pickets. Change of guard every 24 hours.

15) Orders
Time to receive orders. NCO's report to commander. Roll call and Daily reports are submitted to the Adjutant.

16) Assembly Of Buglers
It is played first thing in the morning and called "First Call.". It is the signal to awaken. The signal is for all buglers to assemble.



17) Retreat (short version) Retreating while continuing to fire. *

(long version) Evening colors ceremony. (flag lowering)

* #17. Retreat. At the signal retreat, the troopers of the first rank move forward 5 paces, fire, then turn to the left-about, in order to move to the rear; and retire loading their pieces. When they have marched 50 paces, or more if necessary, the chief of platoon

causes the about, No. 5 to be sounded. At this signal, the troopers, who were retiring,

face to the front by turning to the right-about. The troopers who are in the first line fire and turn to the left-about, retire in loading their pieces, pass in the intervals of the line which is the rear, move 50 paces farther, and face to the front at the signal the about, No. 5. The troopers of the line which is in rear, move 5 paces to the front the moment the troopers who retire pass into their intervals; they then commence firing by the flank indicated. The alternate movement of the two lines continues as long as the skirmishers move to the rear. To halt the retreat, the chief of platoon orders forward, No. 1, to be sounded. The skirmishers who are in rear move up, in doubling the gait, abreast of those the most advanced, and all march forward until the signal, to halt, No. 2 is sounded. If the whole line of skirmishers is to retire at once, he orders the about, No. 5 to be sounded. The reserve retires and faces to the front, regulating its movement by that of the skirmishers, so as to remain always at 60 paces from the 2d line. It executes its rear

movement at the moment the retreating line passes into the intervals of the line which moves forward. Second Part, P.178

18) Fatigue Call Assemble for work details-wood, water, cook, police, etc.

19) Dinner Call Time for dinner.

20) Distributions Pay, mail, provisions, etc.

21) Drill Call Fall in line and dress ranks for drill.

22) Officers Call Officers meeting at Headquarters.

23) Common Step Ceremonial pass in review and marching tune.

24) Cease Firing Stop firing.

25) Officers Take Place Officers are behind the firing line and return to their battle lines after firing. Used to reform ranks after battle.

26) Sick Call Bring the sick to the Medical Staff for examination.

27) Tattoo Lights out. As a trio this is used for returning the men to camp.



For The Service Of Skirmishers

With respect to the signals, as well as to commence firing and to cease firing, the troops conform to what is prescribed in the school of the platoon mounted and PL 52 Fig. C. Second Part P. 268. The chief of the platoon, followed by his Trumpeter, places himself half way between the skirmishers and the reserve; he moves along the line wherever he thinks his presence most necessary. Second Part, P. 177. The same signals are also used for dismounted cavalry as well.

1) Forward
If the chief of the platoon wishes the skirmishers to move forward, he causes the forward, No. 1, to be sounded; each skirmisher moves forward, regulating his movements by those of the guide and preserving his interval; the reserve follows them, keeping at its proper distance. Second Part, P. 177.

2) Halt
The commander causes the halt to be sounded when the skirmishers are a 100 to 150 paces from the reserve. Second Part, P. 176. Brings troops to a stop.

3) To The Left
Left turn 1/4 of a circle. To move the skirmishers towards the left, to the left, No. 3 is sounded; each skirmisher turns to the left and marches in the new direction of those who precede him, taking care to preserve his distance. The reserve also turns to the left. To face the skirmishers again to the front, to the right, No. 4 is sounded; the skirmishers and the reserve turn to the right. Second Part, P. 177.

4) To The Right Right turn 1/4 of a circle.

5) About
If, after having turned to the right, the instructor wishes the skirmishers to move towards the opposite side, [rear] he orders the about, No. 5, to be sounded; the skirmishers and the reserve turn to the left-about, and move forward. If after having turned to the left, the instructor wishes the skirmishers to move towards the opposite side, [rear] he causes, the about, No. 5, to be sounded; the skirmishers and the reserve turn to the right-about, and move forward. Second Part, P. 177.

6) Rally On Chief
When the squadron is dispersed as foragers, the first Captain should sometimes establish himself to the right or to the left of the direction followed by the troopers, and then order the rally to be sounded to accustom them to rally upon any point he may select. Second Part, P. 268. At this signal, each platoon rallies as rapidly as possible upon its chief. Second Part, P. 271.

7) Trot 200 to 220 paces per/min. over a 1000 pace distance. Second Part, P. 197.



For The Service Of Skirmishers

8) Gallop
300 paces per/min. over a 1000 pace distance. Second Part, P. 197. A horse gallops true when he gallops on the right foot, in exercising or turning to the right hand, and on the left foot, in exercising or turning on the left hand. Second Part, P. 74.

9) Commence Firing Discharge weapon. Continue until ordered to cease fire.

At the signal to disperse, the squadron disperses in every direction to the front. Second Part, P. 267.


The "MUST KNOW" CAVALRY Bugle Signals


American Civil War Cavalry Reenactors

The following 15 bugle signals are a condensed list of calls that are absolutely necessary for you to correctly pull off an American Civil War Cavalry impression. You not only must know the signal and what it means, but you must react appropriately and instantaneously when you hear the call. Memorization ´┐Żditties´┐Ż to help you sing and learn the tunes are provided later on.

Numbering is per Poinsett´┐Żs

2.-Boots and Saddles Go to your horses bridle and saddle ´┐Żem up


4.-Assembly means form up, including on the battlefield

9.-Rally (fall back quickly to your reserves)

10.-Disperse we do not want the troops bunched up, lie down, take cover, spread out

11.-Stable Call is very important, care of the livestock comes first (Water Call One hour later)

15.-Orders {NCO´┐Żs and Adjutants ONLY}

16.-Assembly of the Buglers is important to wake the troops up

17.-Retreat the first measures as a signal mean ´┐ŻFall Back!´┐Ż. Complete call is Flag Lowering.

22.-Officers Call {Officers ONLY}

24.-Cease Firing

S 1.-Forward (March)

S 2.-Halt (stop)

S 5.-About (Turn Around)

S 9.-Commence Firing

Inf. Recall to get the troops back to the camp, return from detached duty/sutlers, dismissal from drill Your Unit´┐Żs Signal(s)


Others Bugle Signals of Importance to Cavalry

Unit Call

A call composed by the unit bugler that is unique and unlike any other call and is used to signal that the next signal is for your unit only.

Used by the chief bugler to order specific manuever elements to respond to a particular signal. Platoon and company calls may also be

developed in addition to the regimental call.


The recall serves to withdraw troops, so that they rejoin the main body, or the commander, at the ordinary gait; and also for the occasion of exercises. note: This signal is also used to dismiss the troops from drill or fatigue duty and recall the troops back to camp should they be at the sutlers or performing some other such activity. Although, recall is mostly known as an infantry signal, it was utilized by some units that did in fact use Cooke´┐Żs "Cavalry Tactics´┐Ż"


The 24-note melancholy bugle call known as "Taps" is a revision of the 1835 Tattoo, second stanza. A bugle signal, the "Tattoo," notified soldiers to cease an evening's drinking and return to their garrisons. It was sounded an hour before the final three drum taps that ended the day. The revision that gave us the present-day "Taps" was made during the Civil War, by Union General Daniel Butterfield, heading a brigade camped at Harrison Landing, Va., near Richmond. Up to that time the U.S. Army's infantry call to end the day was the French final call, "L'Extinction des feu," (To Extinguish Lights) followed by the three drum taps. General Butterfield as the story goes, decided the "lights out" music was too formal to signal the day's end. One day in July of 1862 he recalled the "tattoo" music and hummed a version of it to an aide who wrote it down to music. Butterfield then asked his brigade bugler, Oliver W. Norton, to play the notes and, after listening, lengthened and shortened them while keeping his original melody. He ordered Norton to play this new call at the end of each day thereafter, instead of "To Extinguish Lights". The music was heard and appreciated by other buglers, who asked for copies and adopted this bugle call. It was even adopted by Confederate buglers. This music was made an unofficial Army bugle call after the war, and officially became a signal in 1891. The first time "Taps" was played at a military funeral may also have been in Virginia soon after Butterfield composed it. Union Capt. John Tidball, head of an artillery battery, ordered it played for the burial of a cannoneer killed in action. Not wanting to reveal the battery's position in the woods to the enemy nearby, Tidball substituted "Taps" for the traditional three rifle volleys fired over the grave. "Taps" was also played at the funeral of Confederate General, Stonewall Jackson 10 months after it was composed.

Quick March ("The American Flag") The Common Step

These and other tunes, quicksteps, marches, and ceremonial calls are used to keep cadence and increase the morale of the men and their horses.



General Notes:

Posts of the Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers of the Field and Staff of a Regiment in order of battle. The Colonel 25 paces in front of the center of the regiment; having a chief bugler behind him. The Trumpeters, formed in two ranks are posted 25 paces in rear of the center of the regiment. The Trumpeters of a squadron acting separately, are posted in the same manner, but in one rank. First Part, P. 4 (Pl.1)

Posts of Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers of a Company acting singly. The Buglers 20 paces in rear of the center. First Part, P. 7

Formation of the Escort of the Standard. The 1st platoon of the escort furnishes the advance guard, composed of two men in front with the carbine advanced or pistol raised. A Corporal and four men with drawn sabres (or lances at a carry) march 10 paces from

them. The Trumpeters, formed by fours and conducted by the Adjutant, march 10 paces from the four men who precede. First Part, P. 9

Reception of the Standard. See page 1, #7 - March

Pass in Review. At this command the band and trumpeters repair to the head of the regimental column, 6 paces in front of the Colonel. First Part, P. 20

Form and Course of Inspection. The trumpeters of each company take post on the alignment of the front rank, 6 paces from the right. First Part, P. 23

Division, Order And Progression of Instructions. The horses of the Orderly Sergeants, and Trumpeters, cannot be excused on any pretext from participating in the different classes of instruction. First Part, P. 28

Soundings. Are the trumpet signals, which make known to the troop the movements or details of service which are to be executed. First Part, P. 81




5:45 AM Assembly of Buglers "First Call," Awakens troops

6:00 Assembly (for Roll Call)

6:15 Reveille (as soon as Reveille ends the Roll Call count begins)

At sunrise To the Standard (Flag Raising Ceremony at Headquarters)

6:30 Stable Call

7:00 Breakfast

7:30 Sick Call (sounded after every meal)

7:45 Officers Call

8:00 Watering Call

8:15 Orders (Sergeants turn in the Daily Report)

8:30 Fatigue Call (report for work detail)

9:00 Assembly of Guard (changing of the guard every 24 hours)

9:30 Boots & Saddles

9:45 To Horse

10:00 Drill Call

12:00PM Recall (dismissal from drill and Fatigue duty)

12:30 Dinner call

1:00 Sick Call

1:15 Distributions

1:30 Officers Call

1:45 Boots & Saddles

2:00 To Horse

2:15 To The Standard (not needed unless formal parade or going into battle)

2:30 Drill Call or March, going into battle

4:30 Recall (dismissal from drill, return to camp)

4:45 Stable Call

5:00 Watering Call

5:30 Dinner

At sunset Retreat (long version, lowering of flag)

8:30 Tattoo, the Trio Return to quarters

9:00 Tattoo (to extinguish lights)

9:15 Taps (After 1862 in Eastern Theatre & after Winter 1863 Western Theatre)


{to aid in memorization of the bugle signals}


Time to get up and marching, time to get up and onward,
time to get all your kit and gear packed.

Time to get up and marching, time to get up and onward,
time to get all your kit and gear packed.

Time to trot today, we're packing and moving and
time to trot to day we're breaking our camp.
Time to trot today, we're packing and moving and breaking our camp,
Gen-er-al says, Let's Go Right Now.
To Your Horse and Move! To Your Horse and Move!


Go to your hor-ses Bridle and saddle 'em up. Surcingles, cinchas on them all.


Go to the picket line and get your horse,
You are to find him where'er he may be of course

Go to your Number 4 and get your horse.
You are to find him where'er he may be of course.


Time to fall into ranks, time to stop your foolish pranks,
Get in line, markin' time, till the end of your days.


To Arms! Men, to Arms! Go get your guns, its time to hunt some Rebs,
Let's trot around and shoot 'em down, E-lim-in-ate the Se-cesh.
Traitors to our glorious Flag, let's kill them one and all.


Gal-lop boys with your sabers, with your sabers, for the Charge.


Come to the stable as soon as you're able,
and groom off your horses and give them some corn.
For if you don't do it, the Captain will know it,
and then you will rue it, as sure as you're born.
So, come to the stable as soon as your able,
and groom off your horses and feed them some corn.



Time to get Wa-Ter for your horses, Now!


Soupy, soupy, soupy, without a single bean,

Coffee, coffee, coffee, without any cream,

Porky, porky, porky, with nary any lean.


Time to be posting and mounting the guard for the day,

Time to be posting and mounting the guard for the day,

Time to be posting and mounting the guard for the day,

Time to be posting and mounting the guard!


Time to get Orders now,

Time to get Orders now,

Time to get Orders now!


Time to re-TREAT! We can not be Beat,
but march A-way, we'll fight again some day,
but for now, we'll have to save our __.


Come on and shovel it up, join in the fun (3 times).


Go to the Adjutant, boys, time for your pay!

Go to the Adjutant, time for your pay!


To the left, to the right, fall in line, dress your ranks, I'm getting tired of this

To the left, to the right, till the end of your days, I'm getting real sick of this!


Ah-Ah-Fi-Cers Call, Ah-Fi-Cers Call, Ah-Fi-Cers Call

Ah-Ah-Fi-Cers Call, Ah-Fi-Cers Call on the run.


C-ease Fire! C-ease Fire! C-ease Fire!


Officer! Officer! Officer's! Form.



Call for the sick, call for the dead.

Now it's time to form up in a line.

Call for the sick, call for the dead.

Now it's time to march on as it's off to bed we go.


Gen tle men it's time to Ex Ting guish lights,

snuff out your lamps and go to sleep!

Gen tle men it's time to Ex Ting guish lights,

snuff out your lamps and go to sleep.

RECALL (Infantry)

Come back here now, come back here now.

Co-ome, Co-ome, Co-ome back here now. (repeat one time)


Quick March (The American Flag)

Stanza 1

A-s we were marching u-p a hill, my heart did stir at the si-ght,

of our flag so bold in Red White and Blue, that will lead us straight into the fight!

Three cheers, my Boys and give us a shout, Cheer for the Stars and the Stripes

Three cheers, my Boys and a mighty Hurrah, for it´┐Żs the A-mer-i-can Flag

Stanza 2

A-s we were marching do-own the street, by chance did I es-py-y

Was a sight so True in Red, White and Blue, wa-ving high up in the sky!

Three Cheers my Boys and give us a shout, Cheer for the Stars and the Stripes

Three Cheers my Boys and a mighty Hurrah! For It´┐Żs the A-mer-i-can Flag

As sounded on solo field trumpet (in G) by R. J. Samp, 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry




We're Ma-ar-ching Forward! and moving ahead

We're Ma-ar-ching Forward! and moving ahead.


Time to Halt! Stand fast men.


To the Left.


Turn-ing To The Right.


Turn ing around, turning around, turning around, boys!


Rally Boys!, Rally Boys!, Forming up on the Chief

Rally Boys!, Rally Boys!, Forming up on the Chief.


[A syncopated rhythm on the same note (E)]


Galloping, Galloping, Galloping.


[Oh] Keep up the Fi-re, Keep up the Fi-re, Keep up the Fi-re Boys.


Time to spread out and fight b-oys, spread it a-round and Fight like Hell

Time to spread out and fight b-oys, spread out and Fight like Hell.


I wish to acknowledge the assistance of R. J. Samp, Chief Bugler-Federal Forces at Gettysburg135, and Trooper Tim Short, Bugler, First NH Cavalry for their assistance in preparing this work. A tape of the bugle signals accompanies this work.

Author/Cavalry Researcher

Editor/Bugling Researcher

Capt. R. D. Lynch, First NH Cavalry

RJ Samp, 2nd WVI

46 Highland Ave.

Three Danada Square East, Suite 173

Jaffrey, NH 03452

Wheaton, IL 60187

A Trooper´┐Żs Friend

My friend and I rode off to war, My friend did not arise this morning,

When country and duty called; And though he tried to lift his head´┐Ż

We fought four long and bitter years´┐Ż I saw within his silent eyes,

By glory unenthralled. There were lonely roads ahead.

I loved him dearer than a brother, The captain rode up beside us,

More than tongue can tell; And said "Ben we must retire."

And though he never spoke a word´┐Ż His next order died unspoken´┐Ż

He loved me just as well. He knew the shot I´┐Żd never fire.

Though we both were often hungry, I knelt beside my friend and stroked his mane,

If there was grain, it went to him; As the column rode away;

I knew I would get by on salt pork, I gave him water from my canteen,

And on moldy hardtack grim. And kept the flies at bay.

A bursting shell at Chickamauga, He struggled once more to gain his feet,

Took one of his ears away´┐Ż And he seemed to say, "We tried!",

But he stood outside the surgeon´┐Żs tent, I could not see him for my tears´┐Ż

As they cut lead from me that day. And I held him as he died.

He saved my life at Brice´┐Żs Crossroads, With only cup and saber,

And took a bullet meant for me; I mounded him with clay´┐Ż

A saber slashed across his neck, For such a true and faithful friend,

When we charged some battery. I could not leave for vulture prey.

And now here in Alabama, He´┐Żs galloped beyond war´┐Żs flame and fury,

The end is drawing near´┐Ż Past the battle smoke and din,

Dark smoke and bloody hoof prints, If there are horses up in Heaven´┐Ż

Across the land and cause so dear. May we ride together again.

me at New Market, Va. 2013