The Yellowlegs.

The Yellowlegs.

Richard Wormser.
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
The story of the United States Cavalry, Richard Wormsers book cover the whole period of existence of horsed Cavalry in the various American armies spanning the earliest days of the militias fighting the British in 1776 to demise of their mounts in 1917.

This engagingly written book is studied with the names of men that most of us have heard of Stuart, Lee, Sheridan, Sherman, Custer, Roosevelt, and Pershing. The author does a wonderful job of putting flesh on the bones of these colourful, tough, and unique men. I am the first to admit that I only know many of those names from the armoured vehicles they are associated with.

From the humble beginnings of the war of independence, through the various Mexican campaigns, the Civil War, the Philippines, and the constant background of the Indian wars we are led with humour and insight. Very early on Wormser points out the unique nature of Cavalry in the New World, in that By European standards the were not strictly Cavalry at all but mounted Infantry for much of their use. Indeed the earliest recognised this and were called Dragoons, the name eventually falling out of use. The author also puts to bed the commonly held belief by most in power over that period that “All American men can ride a horse and fire a rifle”. Many men and horses were to die to disprove this myth, indeed it was the Southern Cavalry Commanders such as J.E.B Stuart running rings round their more pedestrian Northern opponents that gave proof to this lie.

The books flows wonderfully well, gently introducing the characters who later of figure so highly Custer’s Civil War service being one such example. The development of this combat arm was unique to the Continent, both in weaponry, horse management, provisioning, and of course employment. The book does a fine job of exploring and explaining the reasoning behind the dumping of sabres for pistols, pistols for revolvers, carbines for repeaters, the seasonal nature of campaigning based on grazing and supplies.

The Yellowlegs would make a fine addition to any students of warfare's library or for the more casual reader who just wanted to discover whether Custer was the complete incompetent he’s is often painted as.

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