By Captain M. C. BUTLER, Seventh Cavalry.
"In advocating the advisability of leaving the saber behind in time of war I assume that the cavalry soldier is properly instructed in the use of the pistol mounted, which is certainly not the case now. How could he be with a limited amount of instruction once a year? And yet we have had cases in our Civil War where men, and great numbers of them, have entered the Confederate service without any preliminary instruction whatsoever in the use of fire arms from horseback; these men were put into service almost immediately and were soon taught the importance of a judicious expenditure of ammunition and effective use of the pistol in their charges, etc. Stern necessity is a tremendous impetus for a man to at least attempt to do the right thing at the right time. Constant practice under such circumstances will make a man an expert. Such were Forrest's men, very few of whom, if any, had sabers, and these men learned from constant practice to render a good account of the pistol mounted. The cavalry on both sides in Virginia made many spectacular charges with the saber, but I am not aware of any tremendous havoc having been created on either side by that weapon alone. The cavalrymen of Virginia were taught to rely almost entirely upon the saber in charges; they" would have accomplished the same results as Forrest's men had they been forced to rely on the pistol in the charge. The battle of Trevilian Station, probably the most severe cavalry fight of the war, was fought almost entirely with fire arms, the saber cut very little figure. In the article in the July number of the Journal by the cavalry board, mention is made, " The saber thus used was often not sharpened." This will be the case in an active campaign; either the troopers will be too worn out to keep their sabers sharpened or there will be no facilities at hand for that purpose. It is a question whether the cavalryman will take the trouble to keep a keen edge on his saber."
Armor, Vol. 17