Today in History:

1069 Series I Volume XXV-I Serial 39 - Chancellorsville Part I


to join the right wing of the main army, at or near Germanna Mills, on the Rapidan, and the command crossed the Rapidan at Morton's and Raccoon Fords, with only such supplies as could be taken on the horses of the men and officers. This was about three days' subsistence, and three days' short forage [10 pounds to the ration]. Forty rounds of carbine and 20 rounds of pistol cartridges per man were taken. Not a wheel of any description accompanied the command, except the artillery.

From this time until we recrossed the Rappahannock, on the 8th of May, no other supplies were drawn. The command subsisted entirely off the country through which it passed, and there was no suffering on the part of men or horses for food. We found bacon, corn meal, flour, corn, and frequently hay or fodder, in sufficient quantities to supply the whole command. Foraging parties were sent out from time to time from the different regiments, and generally came back with forage and provisions. No accounts were made of the amounts taken, and no receipts or vouchers of any kind were given for any supplies taken for the use of the troops. Large amounts of provisions and forage were destroyed and wasted by the troops. At one farm, where the command halted for about two hours to rest and feed, corn to the value of &25,000 was taken.

The horses were generally in fair condition when they started on this expedition; they were all much exhausted and weakened by the march. Many of them since then have suffered from a disease known as "mud-fever," and a very large proportion have sore backs. This is due, in my opinion, to two causes, viz, the great length of time for which they were frequently kept saddled, and that the McClellan saddles now furnished are defective, being made too narrow across the withers of the horse.

I have not yet received full reports of the number of horses abandoned on this march. The number will not, however, vary much from 1,000 [365 were abandoned by the Cavalry Reserve Brigade, General Buford's]. Most of those abandoned were killed. The orders were that all should be, but I think this was neglected in some cases.

I am also unable to give the number of horses, mules, wagons, &c., captured. All the men who were dismounted got remounts, and a considerable number of extra horses were brought across the Rappahannock by that portion of the command that returned with General Stoneman. The two regiments that went through to Yorktown have not returned to this army, and have made no detailed report of their captures. Most of the horses captured were brood mares and work horses, not suitable for cavalry service. About 200 mules were taken and brought across the Rappahannock, mostly fine animals, but not in good order. A train of sixteen new army wagons, en route from Richmond to Gordonsville, was captured by General Buford, and the wagons and harness destroyed. I am informed that Colonel Kilpatrick, on his march to Gloucester Point, captured a large number of fine blooded horses.

In the organization of the pack mule train for the cavalry, 66 pack-mules to each regiment are allowed, giving about an average of 1 mule to every 10 enlisted men. The average strength of regiments on this expedition was 450 men to each regiment. The pack-mules were loaded with from 200 to 240 pounds to each mule, varying with the condition of the animals and the kind of supplies. The wagons, in taking supplies from Falmouth to Bealeton, were loaded with an average weight of 2,000 pounds.

With reference to the use of pack-mules as a means of transportation instead of the army wagons, my experience and observation lead to the belief that for cavalry operations in this country they are not