Cavalry After Action Report
Guilford Court House 2006
by Dan Murphy

Dear IISC and fellow 3dCLDs,

What a weekend! The gods were truly with us! First I’d like to thank Chris, Athena, Annie, Anna, Kerry and all the ladies who work harder than any of us. We’d starve without you and your company was excellent as always. Vido, Nutter y’all had everything squared away in camp and it ran great. Herb, Aug (I hope that’s how you spell it) and Scotty had the artillery section covered like a blanket. Musicians, I’ll never hear Garryowen again without thinking of y’all. I know I’m leaving out some names but that’s just because there’s so damn many people in this unit I can’t remember them all!

For us the first highlight of the weekend was having Sheldon’s Horse from Connecticut come down and fall in with us. They brought two mounted and four dismounted. All were great guys and I’m sure we’ll see more of them in the future.

The second highlight was Jay Callaham and the British Guards giving us dragoons an award on Saturday afternoon. I was both floored and extremely honored. Hell I could hardly stammer out a thank you.

The third highlight (there were a lot of them) was having Gene Hough join the troop. Welcome aboard Gene! Were glad to count you in our ranks.

For me the new field we fought on was a challenge. At the old site there’s an open, flat piece of ground one hundred yards across with open woods on either side. There’s a foot path running right across it which makes an excellent guide for the horses and lets the infantry know exactly where to stand. The task at that site is simple; charge straight down the path to the far tree line, reform do it again. Then rinse and repeat as needed!

But Price Park was different. The third line was at the crest of a hill and we would be charging across a sloping, slightly broken piece of ground in front of the third line. Instead of just letting the horses out and zipping across the field to the far trees we were going to have to bring them up to speed quickly - within thirty yards, hit the gap made by the guards, skirt past the flank of the First Maryland and then slam on the brakes or risk running in front of one of our guns posted farther down the line. Then turn about, reform column, ride back through the guards at speed. Then halt, reform column, hit the gap between the guards a second time, stop before the guns, reform, charge back at speed and this time left about wheel into the flank of the guards and close up on them so that we could slap sabres to bayonets. Then run away when the British guns opened.

All that’s certainly possible but it’s asking a fair amount from a horse given all the hullabaloo going on around them. I think we showed everybody we’ve got some great horses under us. And the riders aren’t half bad either! Both days came off without a hitch. No injured horses, no injured riders, no injured infantry, no empty saddles! I can’t say how proud I was of every Dragoon this weekend. Y’all were simply awesome! Thank you for your help and support. And Ed Harrelson gave all an outstanding example of what a First Sergeant should do.

Then there was the tactical Sunday morning.

The terrain was heavy woods on either side of a ten foot dirt road. The woods were just too thick for cavalry but there was a slight curve to the road with just enough drop and deflection to hide a single column of horses off to the side. The plan was to hold the dragoons there as a hidden reserve at the bottom of the woods and have Ron Vido use our own infantry to draw the enemy infantry down the road and within range of the waiting dragoons. Then have our infantry fire a volley - which would serve as a smoke screen - and jump to the side as we rode forward and hit the Brits. The plan was further improved by adding our six pounder, Boots, to the mix. Our infantry would still draw the Brits down the road but we cut a hole in the woods and hid Boots to the side with the dragoons farther back behind the guns. Same basic plan, only the dragoons would wait until Boots fired and then charge.

So we all got in place and waited and waited. For awhile it seemed like only five Brits were going to show up. I sent out a series of mounted scouts and we determined that the Brits were indeed coming, man were they ever!

I don’t know about y’all but it’s been my experience that tactical is often a French word meaning plan something and watch it go astray. Not this time!

We heard the first couple of shots from the top of the woods and then a series of yells. Hiding where we were I could only picture the Brits charging forward. The firing quickly became general. I’d thought it would take the British quite a while to push down the road but it seemed like no time at all before Vido was warning us that the Brits were moving down the road, and fast. We drew swords and then some of our infantry came spilling past Boots. My mount started to spin around in the road and I heard Herb give the order to pick and prime. Musket fire was starting to crack all around us and then Boots erupted like a valcano, spewing out a massive cloud of powder smoke. We spurred ahead with a shout, entered the smoke like in a dream and then came out the the far side where we rolled straight into the King’s Royal Regiment of Provincial Infantry. The look of shock and surprise on their faces said it all! I tapped a few musket barrels with my sabre as we galloped past and then bowled into the next squad of red coats. Same expression.

All those times I didn’t want to walk down to the barn and feed, clean my tack, or go to a drill - it was suddenly all worth it in spades!

Thanks again to everyone,

yours,

Daniel Murphy
3rd Continental Dragoons

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