By Capt. Scott Womack, Commanding, 2nd U.S. Cavalry Co. A/9th Virginia Cavalry Co. D
Whether an historian who loves horses or an equestrian who loves history, the Cavalry Reenactor has the privilege of honoring the mounted soldier of yesteryear in an exciting and unique way. We pursue the goal of accurately portraying a mounted cavalry unit of the American Civil War on both sides of the conflict by striving for excellence in three areas: historical accuracy, horsemanship, and safety.
The safety of both rider and mount come first, and we seek to ensure this via training and standard operating procedures that clearly describe the skills and equipment required to take the field as a rider. In addition to the potential risk typically assumed whenever riding a horse, Cavalry reenacting adds to this the need to safely handle weapons while mounted, the skill to ride in fast-moving massed formations, and a host of sights and sounds unfamiliar to both horses and riders in the already risky world of equestrian activities. Thus, safety is paramount.
Riding with a cavalry unit is exciting and fun but demands a reasonable level of horsemanship, both in the saddle and in camp. On the field, both horse and rider must be able to cope with the noise and confusion of simulated battle scenarios and performing in close quarters with other horses and riders, often after lengthy periods of standing around awaiting orders. In camp, troopers must ensure their mounts are properly supervised and cared for. As few of these skills are part of more typical equestrian activities, we strive to train new members and veterans alike in the nuances of the hobby but expect a level of riding and horsemanship on which to build.
Perhaps what separates cavalry reenacting the most from other equestrian events is the focus on history. Our Federal impression is that of a Regular Army unit, the 2nd U.S. Cavalry Company A. As such, uniforms and equipment should be standardized with exceptions only for safety of horse or rider. Our Confederate impression, the 9th Virginia Cavalry Company D, leaves a little more room for variety but should remain true to the eastern theater of the Civil War. Perhaps the best way we can honor the sacrifices of those mounted warriors who went before and to begin to understand their lives and times is through historical accuracy in the saddle and in camp.
History, horsemanship, and safety combine to make the 2nd U.S. Cavalry Company A/9th Virginia Cavalry Company D a formidable force on the reenacting field and a valuable educational resource for the public. The cement that holds this trinity together is the positive and friendly climate the unit enjoys: something not to be taken for granted in a group of passionate people. Our members hail from a variety of generations, regions, and professions but we share a love of history and horses and know how to have a good time. Come join us!