Cavalry Soldiers | Pennsylvania Civil War 150
The PA Civil War 150 commemoration has concluded. You are viewing a static, archived version of the PA Civil War 150 website which will not be updated. It is a snapshot of the website with minor modifications as it appeared on July 16, 2015.
Pennsylvania Civil War 150

Pennsylvania Civil War 150

The War

Cavalry Soldiers

Cavalry fought in formations similar to infantry, although its primary battlefield roles proved quite dissimilar. Generals used cavalrymen to protect the advance of an army, secure an army’s flanks or safeguard vital crossroads and supply lines.

During combat, cavalry usually fought dismounted and in skirmish line, with one man from every four-man “cell” holding horses. Occasionally, cavalry became involved in pitched battles, but during these moments, it usually operated by squadron (two companies together). Cavalry could form into mounted lines-of-battle, and they regularly participated in mounted charges with sabers. Cavalry charges, if performed in-line, were usually conducted in several successive lines, sometimes even in column, as such formations provided more flexibility during a charge, enabling cavalry troopers to change direction more easily, as was necessary for mounted combat.

Information for this section was contributed by Timothy Orr, The Pennsylvania State University.

CWPA 150 welcomes your feedback. To share your comments or Civil War stories, please e-mail

Secondary Sources

  • Paddy Griffith, Battle Tactics of the Civil War (Yale University Press, 2001).
  • Earl J. Hess, The Rifle Musket in Civil War Combat: Reality and Myth (University of Kansas Press, 2008).
  • Grady McWhiney and Perry Jamieson, Attack and Die: Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage (University Alabama Press, 1984).

Events Calendar

Want to learn more about The Civil War? Find an event near you.

Experience the Civil War

Get personal with the Civil War. Hear the Gettysburg Address, see Civil War artifacts and navigate the timeline and map.