The Civil War Connections Blog

A Clear Eye for the Cavalry

Hello again, and welcome back to the good ol’ blog! Today’s tidbit about me is: When I visit my Dad in Alexandria, we often enjoy going to the gun range for some nice father-son-bonding time. And also because shooting guns at paper circles and clay discs is RIDICULOUSLY satisfying.

Lame Pun Coon, from

Wow. That was so lame it hurt my soul.


Ok so we have a short but cool blog post today! On this day 150 years ago, General Pope was fully fed up with his forward cavalry commander, General John Hatch. Pope had dispatched Hatch to capture Gordonsville VA, but he moved so slowly that General Jackson got there first with more men. When Pope demanded status updates and reconnaissance info, Hatch declined to provide any for well over a week – a big deal, when you’re trying to fight a war and need updates every day. Finally, Hatch sent a message – that he couldn’t move any faster, because his horses broke down.


Yea, you gotta watch out for those potholes.


Yes, he claimed that his horses “broke down.” Like a car. Despite being one of the most outlandishly silly excuses one could come up with, Hatch had to explain his slow speed somehow. He would have been better off just stating the truth: that they were going slowly because Hatch had decided to bring infantry and artillery with his cavalry force when he set out for Gordonsville. That’s why his command was moving at a snail’s pace: he had to travel at the speed of his slowest component, i.e. his infantry and artillery. The thing is, moving slowly completely defeated the purpose of being sent in the first place. This almost comical display of incompetence was too much for Pope, who replaced Hatch with a somewhat unknown officer named General John Buford.


General Buford sure knows how to give a determined stare.


General Buford was a seasoned cavalry officer who had fought in the western frontier during the 1850’s. He was not widely known, though, and his appointment must have seemed like an unexpected choice. Nevertheless, Buford was today dispatched to replace Hatch, who was transferred to command an infantry unit. Buford would rise to prominence when he held off a large part of the Confederate army on the first day of Gettysburg, buying time for the Union army to claim the high ground.


“Keep a clear eye!” – Sam Elliot stealing the show as General Buford in the excellent 1993 film Gettysburg.


Well, that’s about all for today, folks – tune in next time for more Civil War stuff, and have a great Olympics-filled weekend! GO (insert your favorite country here)!!!