Thursday, September 15, 2016

Roberts Ridge, Revisited

 --USAF Technical Sgt. John Chapman 
(KIA, 2002)

 "It was just a moment of pure panic."
--Pilot of Razor 4

Fourteen years after the first publicized meeting engagement in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) -- the Battle of Roberts Ridge -- USAF Technical Sergeant John Chapman (KIA) is being considered for a posthumous Medal of Honor (MOH) based on "newly accessed" graphic data.

The new data? A grainy and indistinct film recently released in the New York Times. But this fuzzy footage is superfluous because the Sergeant's 2003 Navy Cross award citation already told the story of an action which clearly met the bar for a MOH.

The Blair Witch Project-style footage seems an absurd criteria for reconsideration of Chapman's award. 21st century photo technology could render clearer footage (or what's a DARPA for?).

In a 2010 post on his blog [War and Remembrance], Ranger said that Sgt. Chapman should have received the MOH. Why is the Air Force only now considering the upgrade of his Air Cross?

What was being hidden, and why now?

In an incompetent mission, Airman Chapman was left for dead on the battlefield by SEALS. He continued fighting for an hour, before dying from his injuries. Were the authorities waiting to release this Bad News until all living players had received their retirements?

Certainly the war effort and the concept of a viable Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) would have been harmed if it had been acknowledged that the SEALS had abandoned a member of a sister service. Special Operations have not come far since Desert One, despite the Hoorah and exorbitant funding.

The Special Operations Command ratholed a clear MOH action because it would have shed light on the fact that the vaunted SEALS left a seriously-wounded man to die on the battlefield. While they returned to find injured fellow SEALS, they did  not do so for Air Force member, non-SEAL, Sgt. Chapman.

The SEALS have gained a cachet following the release of Marcus Luttrell's book, Lone Survivor (later a movie). Luttrell was the first of the literary SEALS in the PWOT.

But Ranger questions why the Navy even has an element like the SEALS. They are essentially Naval Infantry which lack the training, experience and institutional knowledge to be infantry. Why does a United States fleet Navy need its own infantry personnel thrown into a fight which is remote from any fleet activity?

Why were the SEALS on a frozen Afghan hillside with nary a whiff of salt in the air?

The Navy has the United States Marine Corps (USMC) for land combat purposes. The Marines have  depth of knowledge and Combat Support (CS) and Combat Support Services (CSS) to support their mission. The SEALS are a redundancy.

This battle lacked the hallmarks of advanced military thought or action. In addition, the players lacked for functional equipment. A quick review of the enemy situation reveals the irrelevance of this mission for which Sgt. Chapman died on a meaningless piece of real estate:

They were a squad or platoon minus, or a reinforced squad, occupying an isolated high-altitude observation post; one could stretch the point and call it a combat outpost. Whatever we call it, it was probably occupied by Chechens who got there by climbing the mountain.

This means that United States forces could have interdicted their support and utilized ambush and blocking positions to kill them as they went up or came down the mountain. This is Infantry 101,  of the sort any Army or USMC grunt instinctively understands.

The Battle of Robert Ridge is reminiscent of the Battle of Ia Drang (LZ X-Ray, 1965) in the Republic of Vietnam, the first meeting engagement of the North Vietnamese Army against a heliborne U.S. Army. The Roberts Ridge debacle could also be equated to the Battle of Mogadishu ("Day of the Rangers", Blackhawk Down, 1993) in Somalia.

The truth is simple: if the enemy is assaulted, he will fight back and accept the losses. Our technology means naught when the equation is reduced to rifle against rifle. At that point, you have already lost..

Obviously, the SEALS have no patience for the basics of ground combat, and assaulted an objective without proper visual reconnaissance.

The Operations Orders for this action are still classified -- why?

[cross-posted @Rangergainstwar.]


  1. It is still classified to protect the brass hats who organized this goat rope. The senior brass hat who screwed this up was an Air Force Special Ops Brigadier. The way I see it, his only goal was to get Chapman and or other AF ground controllers on the ground so they could call in air strikes and get headlines and more funding from congress.

    Chapman certainly deserves the highest honors we can give him. Grainy film or not, your NYT link claims there were two separate videos and they were correlated for confirmation. I can go along with that. But I believe that 21st century photo technology being able to render clear footage out of bad video is a myth. There is a limit to physics. Noise reduction, edge enhancement, contrast intensification and other techniques can only go so far before they eventually become good old-fashioned photo retouching - airbrushing out unwanted details or airbrushing in what you want to see.

    Another myth as far as I am concerned is "leave no man behind". Any team leader who puts his men at risk of death or capture by trying to carry out dead bodies should be court martialed. They believed Chapman was dead.

    As far as the Seals, they were victims in this lashup also. Screwed over by a so-called Joint HQ with little or no advance planning and poor reaction to facts on the ground.

    And why bash just the Seals? Why does the Air Force have Special Ops Combat Controllers like Chapman? Isn't the Army capable of training special ops guys to call in air strikes? Restrict the AF to airbases and the wild blue yonder.

  2. Mike,
    One man BELIEVED Chapman to be KIA.Everything else was hearsay. The explanation is clear CYA.
    As i always say- a team leader that accepts a mission is responsible for the out come. In SPECOPS a professional could demand modifications of the opord if it was deficient.
    The 5th group had some fratricide from 500 lb bombs that were called in by SF senior nco's.
    This happened in AFGH.That's probably why the AF has controllers.And the funding pie.
    I am not in favor of AF assets providing fire for SO ops.For gods sake the opn Anaconda had arty out the ass. Why weren't the SO in the fire plan? Imagine a QRF going in without even knowing where the enemy is, and doing so wtithout fire support. Luney tunes for sure.
    Forget the grainy photos. The Air Cross citation of 2003 met the bar for the MOH.
    For the record-i am not bashing the Seals. I'm just stating what i believe to be military logic.
    SF and USMC in the SO arena usually come from the infantry branch and are well qualified before getting to specialized units. What infy depth do the Seals possess.?
    Killing people in their bed room is not included in any FM that i've ever read.

  3. Jim -

    I believe what you say, except for the CYA bit. You and I were not on that ridge. There is no reason to disbelieve that team leader. His duty was to the remaining live members of his team, and not to some fable of about leaving no-one behind. We Americans, no matter whether Army, Navy or Marine Corps, have left tens of thousands behind to die or to be captured or to be butchered.

  4. I have no real idea what happened, nor any particular interest in revisiting it; a poorly conceived operation in the hills of Afghanistan...who would have tought THAT was a bad idea. Hmmm... experience with SEALs is that they are perhaps the most clusterfuck-prone of the "Special Operations" community. In Grenada an entire team was dropped far out in a Caribbean they were badly briefed on and an outload that was too heavy for sea and wind conditions. Four guys drowned.

    Then six years later another bunch of SEALs were ambushed during the goofy "shoot up Noriega's Learjet" mission at Punta Patilla. Another four guys got waxed.

    So, yeah, jim. These guys should go back to the shoreline-snoop-and-poop they did back when they were the UDT. The notion of making them into some sort of light infantry has been consistently shown to be a bad notion...

  5. And as I've discussed with you before, jim...I think the problem with ALL these PWOT decorations is the generalized sense that these raggedy-assed muj aren't really a worthy opponent. Handing out medals for beating up on them is like handing a championship belt to a professional boxer who goes and beats up on bums in an alley.

    You and I know that you can be as dead in some shitty-ass ambush sprung by the local drug gang gunsels as in the Battle of the Bulge. But I think the DoD is a little embarrassed to hand serious valor awards for these shitty little cabinet wars. They shouldn't be, IMO; heroism is heroism, regardless of the where or why. But I think the total lack of interest outside the armed services stems in great part from the fact the these beat-the-snot-out-of-the-raggedy-ass-rebels wars are kinda shameful for a republic that supposedly still celebrates it's own successful rebellion against "foreign tyranny"...

  6. Heroism deserves (and needs) to be recognized.

    However, putting people in a situation where heroism is required suggests that the leadership is not doing their job.

    Ideally, there would be some form of feedback loop where a general who reliably produces heroes gets put into a position better fitting their demonstrated abilities.

  7. Mike,
    I was never at Gettysburg in 1863, nor was i at the greasy grass in 1876 but i sure have read a lot of books about the events. Oh yeah, the books were written by guys that weren't there.
    If the military would release the opord and related documents then i wouldn't have to speculate.
    Heres a bit of second guessing. If Chapman were still alive because his laser sight was moving with his breathing then it seems to me that he was in a real tight situation.
    The laser sight would mark him as a target and he would draw fire.
    Of course i'm speculating, but wouldn't it be prudent to try to turn his sight to the OFF position.This would lessen his signature as a target.
    Now for my conjecture. Technology isn't always a good thing.Why would a troop need a laser sight in CQC? As i read the scenario it was a simple gunfight.whatever happened to quick kill technique?
    The analysis of the battle indicates that the US killed 200 AQ in the fight. Where in the hell are pictures of the bodies, and where in the heck were the hiding?Thats a lot of dead bodies.
    the more one thinks about this fight the more questions come to mind.

    1. Jim, this happened under NODs and Chapman's laser was IR only. Also good luck hitting targets that are using cover with quick kill under NODs at 100 yards with any consistency from awkward positions (eg shooting under a car, around a barricade, etc). All of these things need to happen during night-time urban combat.

  8. Mike,

    Combat Controllers have been part of the Air Force since its creation and they are a necessary element to any special operations team that needs their special set of skills, which aren't limited to calling in airstrikes. Chapman wasn't there because the Air Force brass wanted a piece of the pie, he was there for his skills to help his team.

    It should also be noted that the Ranger QRF sent to get these Seals and Chapman had a CCT, two Pararescuemen (one of which died and also received the Air Force Cross - SrA Jason Cunningham) as well as a JTAC. There was also a PJ who received an Air Force Cross in Somalia in 1993 - Air Force integration into the special operations community is nothing new.


  9. Andy - No offense meant against Chapman or the others you call out. God bless them. My beef was with the guy in charge of this goat-rope and that was an AF brigadier.

    In addition to those you name I also note that Air Force Master Sergeant Etchelberger received a posthumous Medal of Honor. A man closer to my generation. His MOH was awarded in 2010 for his actions in Laos during TET 1968. While not specifically a Combat Controller, his bomb-directing-radar site did effectively allow night and inclement WX airstrikes on the NVA.

    I am interested in your statement that Combat Controllers have been part of the AF since its creation. Are there any books or websites where I can read of that history. I know there have been airborne FACs in the AF for a long time but had no knowledge of others. Were they also in the USAAC and USAAF prior to the creation of the Air Force in 47?

    1. AFAIK the USAAF had FACs in the ETO by '44. So, yeah.

      Mind you, this is where I tell my CAS joke. Which is; "When German aircraft appear, Allied soldiers duck. When British aircraft appear, German soldiers duck.

      When American aircraft appear...everyone ducks."

  10. Chief -

    That must have been well after July 44 when the 8th AF killed Lieutenant General Lesley McNair and caused an additional 750+ American casualties.

    The Brits were no better, probably worse since they had been at it longer.

    Were those FACs you mention on the ground with the forward battalions? I doubt that. I am assuming they were in observation aircraft or maybe at Corps or Army level.

    1. The heavy bomber strike that opened Goodwood (?) wasn't controlled from the ground. I don't think think there WAS a way for ground controllers to talk to the heavies - nobody ever thought they'd need to!

      The RAF had specialty CAS aircraft - Tempests and Typhoons - whereas the USAAF used regular fighter jocks in the P-47 outfits that flew support. Sure, they did more CAS than the P-51 guys...but as any modern grunt that's been shot over by an F-16 rather than an A-10 can tell you...there's a very different mindset that totally matters.

    2. My understanding is that the USAAF FACs in WW2 were similar to today's; they had,a jeep w a UHF radio to talk to the zoomies and an FM to talk to the maneuver commanders and FOs No airborne FACs then. The FA had aerial FOs in those little L-5 Pipers...

  11. This reminds me of Hackworth's advocacy of bulletproof vests, and much more. It's a zero defect, zero casualties mentality with a valuation of life even above what one would expect of civilians in peacetime.

    Stupidity of the wars in question aside, warfare isn't something where fuckups can be avoided, and individual fuckups - even strings of anecdotes about individual fuckups - are indicative of NOTHING else but the ordinary face of war.
    The decision to go to war also indicates that lives ARE NOT valued highly.

    I have two books about blunders in warfare. Authors have filled entire books with misunderstandings, ignorance, bad ideas, omissions, bad luck et cetera.

    I also oppose the idea that missions need be planned in advance faultlessly. We're already overplanning all the time. More thorough planning is not the answer. The answer is to have redundancies; you need to be able to compensate for shit happens on the quick.

    For patrols such as the one described the way to go is to have two teams moving separately, but in contact with each other. Mutual support can solve many tactical challenges, and avoid panic since there are always NEARBY friendlies whom you can rest your hopes on.

  12. FDChief -

    My reading of WW2 is that those ground FACs were more than just a jeep. They had a USAAF officer, a ground liason officer and 12 or 13 enlisted to set up antennas and operate and service the radios. They needed boocoo transport (pardon my French) to get around. I would guess they were probably no lower than division if not at Corps level. Perhaps down to brigade or regimental task force in special cases.

    Patton's Third Army reportedly did some pioneering work there by installing Army Air Force radios in ten tanks of each Armored Division. But he probably got that idea from Guderian.

    And the airedales did in fact use small aircraft as airborne FACs. They called them 'Horsefly' and the story is that they got the idea from a suggestion of an overworked artillery-spotter flying an L-5 'Grasshopper'. Low on fuel he had landed at a Tactical Air Command field and asked a TAC pilot next to him why they did not use L-5s to direct fighter-bombers onto a target when artillery was not available to mark the target with smoke.

    By the way, I'm not sure UHF was available back then in USAAF aircraft? Maybe experimentally? Wasn't the Navy's AN/ARC-12 the first military UHF radio, and I don't think that was fielded until mid 45? But I am not clear on those dates. Maybe Andy has better data.

  13. @Sven - "I also oppose the idea that missions need be planned in advance faultlessly. We're already overplanning all the time. More thorough planning is not the answer. The answer is to have redundancies; you need to be able to compensate for shit happens on the quick."


    Regarding Hackworth: Bulletproof vests were already in use by Special Forces. They were cumbersome to move in and extremely heavy. My understanding was that Hackworth advocated issuing the same lightweight vests used by Secret Service details that protected the president. He was complaining about the miserly penny-pinching of the pentagon by issuing the leaden and bulky el-cheapo version. If it was good enough for the President and his security detail, why wasn't it good enough for the troops, at least for special ops.

  14. SO,
    i do not advocate perfection in combat ops, but i do expect reasonable actions once contact is made. Especially in elite units.
    BTW there are no such thing as bullet proof vests. They are simply protective vests with different degrees/levels of protecting the wearer. Commonly called body armor and a number indicating the level of protection. A .50 cal will penetrate any individual vest on the market.

    I never saw a SF man in rvn wear a protective vest. It was Marines that wore fragmentation protection as seen in many photos of the era. SF seldom if ever even wore steel pots.

  15. Jim -

    Colonel Hackworth did NOT write that article during or just after Vietnam. He wrote it in the early 2000s. It was in response to a news story that a special ops Soldier in Afghanistan was kia by a bullet in the back after he had taken out the back plate of his armored vest as it was restricting his upper body manueverability.

    And by the way, in his book About Face, he recounts that in Korea it was SOP for all in his regimental recondo unit to wear an armored vest that he claims could stop a .38 round. He must have tried it out.

    In Vietnam I'll take your word for it that SF did not wear flak jackets. I don't believe that Marine Force Recon did either. I never saw one on my first tour (65). During my second tour I hated the extra weight of it. The Army Americal Division Soldiers that we liased with also wore them. And I saw plenty of Army Soldiers wearing them in the middle of downtown Danang and even in Saigon.

    1. I know what vests you 're talking about, the Doron (fiberglass) plate vests of Korean War vintage.

      "In an attempt to provide a more drastic demonstration of the ballistic properties of doron and also to determine whether the doron armor could be closely applied to the body or would require some offset, a most courageous demonstration was conducted by two Navy officers. Lt. Comdr. Edward L. Corey, USNR, wore the new armored lifejacket vest and permitted an associate, Lt. Comdr. Andrew Paul Webster, USNR, to fire at him with a caliber .45 pistol. There was complete defeat of the bullet, and this demonstration was repeated 21 times with no serious injury."

  16. Sven -

    Amazing that they had it back then! Reminds me of a County Fair I went to as a boy in upstate Maine. One of the star attractions was an American Indian, supposedly a chief, who allowed himself to be shot in the chest with a .45 pistol using only a piece of two inch thick lumber between him and the bullet. It knocked him over. He at first had trouble getting up and appeared stunned. It took two assistants to help him. But after a few minutes to regain his breath (it must have really knocked the wind out of him) and clear his head he recovered and waved to the crowd who gave him a great cheer and a standing ovation. My uncle spoiled the whole thing for my 12-year old mind when he speculated that the .45 cartridges must have had a reduced charge of powder.

    That Doron vest must have been very thick fiberglass. My neighbors fiberglass fishing boat had a hole poked in the hull by a submerged spruce snag.


      It's not hard to protect against pistol and revolver bullets with thin plates because those bullets usually are made of soft lead because of ease of production and soft lead bullets deform to greater diameter in soft tissues.

      Fiberglass differs greatly depending on glass content and matrix type (thermoset or thermoplastic categories). The thickness of Doron plates was about 3 mm, approx 3x steel helmet thickness. It was available in 1945 already.

      .45ACP is particularly easy to stop, it's a slow bullet.
      7.62x25 mm (used in old Soviet submachineguns) was much, much more difficult to stop.

  17. SO,
    the way to defeat body armor is to shoot for the unprotected areas.witness the day of the rangers in mog.
    the us is issuing tungsten carbide cored rounds for the anemic shoot thru en armor.
    as an aside the orthopedic injuries of combat arms soldiers is a real problem. the bodies of soldiers are being over stessed beyond normal limits.
    look at the qrf at roberts(rangers)and their uphill approach. they were maxed out physically and this is problematic because we know they are well conditioned troops. the altitude/stress/and heavy loads dogged them down.
    now another aside--just imagine if a female ranger were in the ranks.being a ranger is more than making it thru ranger school.
    jim hruska

  18. Sven -

    As I recall the flak jacket I wore 48 years ago, the plates were nowhere near three mm thick. Perhaps half of that. Of course I never measured it and my memory may be playing tricks.

    Regarding your comment that the .45ACP rounds are a 'slow bullet'. Absolutely true! With a muzzle velocity of 250 meters per second it is a lot slower than the old black powder muskets used two centuries ago.

    At the pistol range at Camp Lejeune (at sea level in coastal North Carolina) in an August heatwave that had very high humidity it was easy to observe how slow they really were. You could not see the actual projectile going down range. But you could see what looked like a V-shaped force field on its way towards the target line. Mainly due I assume to the high humidity.

  19. Jim -

    "...the orthopedic injuries of combat arms soldiers is a real problem. the bodies of soldiers are being over stessed beyond normal limits."

    Sad but true! It is now well over 65 years since The Soldier's Load and the Mobility of a Nation was published. And yet after every attempt to lighten the load, someone keeps adding weight with some new whizbang.

  20. Mike,
    the effect u describe is called a vapor trail.
    the spotter on a sniper team can track a bullet from a 7.62 nato using a 40 power scope. adjustments can be made from the vapor trail.
    as for pistols. i can see a 38 wadcutter with no problem.
    A jet airliner goes the same velocity as a .45.

  21. jim -

    Interesting! Can the vapor trail from a sniper be tracked in dry desert conditions? At Lejeune I saw that vapor trail with bare eyeballs, no optics. I am assuming the same with you in Florida. But when I was at the pistol range at Pendleton in California I saw no such effect, I assume because of the drier air.

  22. Mike,
    Vapor as it applies to sniper rifles is always magnified and the spotter MUST be directly behind the shooter. if u remember in American Sniper the spotter was next to the shooter.
    the vapor thing has little aapplication to pistol shooting since the targets are 50 yds or less.
    now for mirage. the only time i ever had trouble reading wind was in mirage scenarios. it's been so long that i cannot reply.fwiw the mirage at camp perry was always hard to read.
    there must be mirage to shoot thru in theater.
    as a mortar man i could also watch the rounds that we fired.

    1. Mortar projos are notoriously slow, tho "slow" is relative; it's pretty easy to eyeball them from behind the muzzle. From beside it, not so much.

      The problem of the U.S. "light" infantry loading has been well known in the branch since the revival of the "light" MTO&E in the Eighties. The problem of how to get all the kit, beans, and bullets you need to fight when your "transportation" consists of human muscle has proved resolutely difficult to solve. Strip Joe down to a "combat load" consisting of a buttpack and web gear? Where does his ruck go? Who secures it? How does it catch up with him when he needs it? And how does all the unit supplies and ammo - spare radio batteries, 60mm mortar rounds - get carried? AFAIK nobody in any army anywhere has a good answer to the problem. Wish they had - I might have been spared a metal hip...

    2. Porters are a classic answer to the light infantry logistics problem, applicable whenever manpower is much more readily available and affordable than heavy equipment.

    3. Problem for the U.S. Army being that the latter has always been preferred. And given the lack of study of historical light infantry (particularly mountain) operations the USAIS never really put much thought into modeling - much less solving - the logistical problems.

      My experience was that what typically ended op happening was that the light divisions had to receive S&T support from Corps or EAC. Expensive, slow, and sluggish which tended to negate the putative advantages of "light" infantry...

    4. It's interesting to look at the history. The U.S. Army was fighting the Indian Wars in the West with European-style cavalry, essentially hussars (sabre + carbine, no armour).

      Their horses were rather heavy and not nearly as well adapted to the terrain as the Indians' "ponies". The horses had an unfavourable ratio between fodder/grazing needs and ability to carry a man and his equipment over a certain distance.

      A more Mongol style approach with every soldier having 5-7 small horses that carry him for a day, then spend several days grazing and as (light) pack animal would have improved mobility greatly. Yet this - like the porters approach - would have required a mobile organic support element that's not meant to fight. Europeans didn't need such a mobile element for they simply foraged and took hay from storages (except in Russia where the Russians rather burned stored fodder).

      We in the West remained unwilling to assign much manpower to mere logistical support for infantry even after we did so for mechanised forces and even after we finally understood that not every infantrymean is an effective infantryman.

      We stick to this fiction of an all-round unified infantryman who carries all he needs during a long mission plus some cross-loading.
      The newest fashion is the "mothership" concept - an APC that holds much ammo and additional quite heavy weapons and the squad takes from it what it needs. A German infantry squad has a .50cal rifle and an ATGM launcher this way.
      This doesn't work for light infantry, unless there are some men with some pack animals (llamas work better than mules for this, albeit with less maximum load per animal) in the background.

    5. The western movie "cavalry versus Indians" was a 20th Century fiction, generally speaking. The few occasions a U.S. mounted unit DID catch mounted tribesmen the expected "light cavalry runs rings around heavies" came off...

      The failure to think creatively and study history for ideas is a long USArmy tradition...

    6. I'd suggest that the US cavalry between 1866 and 1900 were more akin to European dragoons; heavy unarmored sword-and-carbine troopers who were trained to charge with sabers but as often as not fought in dismounted skirmish order. If the frontier hadn't closed in 1890 my guess is that they'd have evolved into mounted infantry of the type the British developed in the Boer War...

  23. Dragoons were no full cavalry (though they evolved in that direction for prestige reasons), and they had horses of lesser quality good for little more than marching. Standards were even lower for dragoons horses than for the light hussar horses.

    I know the U.S.cavalry dismounted for steady carbine/rifle fires (Little Big Horn etc) as if they were dragoons, but carbines played a great role with Hussars as well.
    It's somehow lost to most who pay attention to 18th century Hussars that the daring surprise charge with sabres was actually the exception. Largely ineffectual harassing fires with carbines were the rule for Hungarian-model Hussars (not the Polish "hussars" which were de facto cuirassiers) in 18th century combat.

    1. I'm not sure that I would equate the US Cavalry of the Victorian Era with "dragoons" in general, in that you're right that when dragoons were first employed they were more or less mounted infantry.

      But as you note, by the Napoleonic Era they had become heavy cavalry but that tended to be detailed for security and scouting more than the "real" heavies like cuirassiers. If you like I'll revise that to compare the USC to the Napoleonic carabiniers but the difference seems purely semantic. The US Cavalry of the Indian Wars was treated by their own officers as a shock-type cavalry, albeit that the "shock" was fire-shock, either with pistol-and-sabre while mounted or carbine when dismounted. You don't find many cases where the USC acts purely as a recon or screening element until the infantry comes up. Admittedly, this was largely because their light-cavalry opponents tended to vanish long before that happened, but, still...

      So my thought was that a U.S. cavalryman of 1879 would be closer to a French dragoon (or carabinier) of 1811 than a hussar of the same period.

      Napoleonic hussars were used as scouts and screens to a very large extent rather than as formed blocs of shock cavalry; the USC, OTOH, was trained to charge home. They just didn't do it much for the sensible reason that the rifled musket made it something close to suicide.

      It was that insoluble problem that made smart cavalry leaders like Buford realize that their units effectively WERE mounted infantry, at least except when matched against enemy cavalry...

  24. "40 Miles a Day on Beans and Hay" by Don Rickey is a great read on that period of history:

  25. I thought Sholokoff's works about the Don Cossacks in both ww1 and the Russian Civil War were a good insight into cavalry on the early 20th century.