Why the Cavalrymen were so Tough

When we went to Fort Davis, to ride in 4 July parade, we ride in Costume representing 1874, the last heyday of the fort, during the Apache Indian campaign. At that time the 10th cavalry, “buffalo soldiers. “ were billeted there. The soldiers were African-Americans, who had earned great respect from their white officers, as well as from the Apaches whom they were attempting to relocate to reservation lands. The ladies in the parade ride side saddle, representing 19th century officer’s wives, on their gaited (Peruvian) horses. Meanwhile, yours truly was asked to ride in the color guard as a cavalry non-commissioned officer. The good news is that since fort Davis is a Mile High city, the temperature on 4 July is way below the Texas average for the day. This is good news why? Because the uniform of 19th-century cavalry is heavy wool! But that’s not all. The saddle is a McClellan( I think it should actually be called Machiavellian.)  I have enormous sympathy for the masses of fine men who spent hours a day subjecting their backsides to this torture device! After only a few hours I had a firm grasp of the reason for cavalry sergeants being referred to as “hard asses! “

Then to top it off, I’m wearing a helmet which is of the design of the German hussar, which clamps the head in a vice, and I am carrying a sword of 10 pounds (cavalry saber) in one hand, while managing a nervous parade horse with the other. If I didn’t already have a healthy respect for the men who wear the uniform in defense of our country, I would certainly have it by now. Long before facing any combat, they are suffering inhumane clothing, equipment, and saddles. It reminds me of the saying “keep your eye on a star, your ear to the ground, and your nose to the grindstone… Now try to work in that position!”

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