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This young Confederate cavalry trooper prepares to help form a dismounted skirmish line as his company disperses quietly into an Ozark forest. Under the command of his Lieutenant and watched by the horse holder he draws his fathers old Colt Walker revolver from its holster. Boys as young as fifteen or sixteen joined up and were considered full fledged members of the units they served with, especially in areas like Missouri which was a bitterly divided state. Whole communities and entire families were at war with each other and raids like these from both sides devastated large regions of the state by the war’s end. Most of the cavalry’s fighting was done dismounted, as firing a weapon from a horse was wildly inaccurate. Usually every fourth man was designated a horse holder and stayed with the horses to keep them available and ready for a quick remount. One or two of the men in this scene are lucky enough to have issue shell jackets and captured Sharps carbines indicating that these were Confederate regulars but most of the men fought with the weapons and clothing they brought from home. Our young trooper’s horse’s tack is a typical slick-fork style saddle with a Pelham bit and civilian halter. The St. Louis area was a major saddle-making region and the local saddlers copied many of the Spanish designs and styles. A wood canteen made waterproof with beeswax and the bedroll behind the cantle of his saddle are the only indications of the many days and weeks spent living out of the saddle.
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