Sunday, December 4, 2011

The War Mount--Fact and Fiction Glamorizing an Unglamorous World

Assembly is a bugle call used to call in a group of soldiers or scouts. It is also sometimes referred to as "Fall in".

assembly score
A bugle call is a short tune, originating as a military signal announcing scheduled and certain non-scheduled events on a military installation, battlefield, or ship. Historically, bugles, drums, and other loud musical instruments were used for clear communication in the noise and confusion of a battlefield.

A defining feature of a bugle call is that it consists only of notes from a single overtone series. This is in fact a requirement if it is to be playable on a bugle or equivalently on a trumpet without moving the valves. (If a bandsman plays calls on a trumpet, for example, one particular key may be favored or even prescribed, such as: all calls to be played with the first valve down.)

Bugle calls typically indicated the change in daily routines of camp. Every duty around camp had its own bugle call, and since cavalry had horses to look after, they heard twice as many signals as regular infantry. "Boots and Saddles" was the most imperative of these signals and could be sounded without warning at any time of day or night, signaling the men to equip themselves and their mounts immediately. Bugle calls also relayed commanders' orders on the battlefield, signaling the troops to Go Forward, To the Left, To the Right, About, Rally on the Chief, Trot, Gallop, Rise up, Lay down, Commence Firing, Cease Firing, Disperse, and other specific actions.

Andrzej Wajda's movie "Lotna" from 1959. Depicts an epic charge of Polish Hussars that never took place but for propaganda purposes the rumor has been kept alive for years.

Training Cavalry Horses Fort Myer, VA 1935



Comanche, the "supposed" only survivor of the Battle Of the Little Big Horn.

Comanche was a handsome bay gelding, standing 15 hands. He was of mustang/morgan breeding and was captured with a herd of wild horses and sold to the army. Captain Myles Keough paid $90 to make him his personal mount for battle.

According to stories at the time, “Comanche, was found with his owner Lt. Col. Myles Keough, Commander of Company I, on Custer Hill. While all around him soldiers slaughtered their horses to hide behind and shoot, evidence and oral tradition shows that Keough crouched between Comanche’s legs, holding onto his reins, while he was fighting. Keough was killed, but his hands still clutched Comanche’s reins. Warriors left the horse alone; it would have been bad medicine to take a horse so closely tied to his owner that the man held the reins even in death.” [Source:] Comanche was not truly the only equine survivor; other horses were rounded up by the native Americans while Comanche remained wounded on he battlefield.

Statue honoring US Cavalry Mounts Fort Riley, Kansas

“But, aside from their wonderful heroism,---for I can find no better name for it,---they exhibited in many ways that sagacity for which the animal is famous. I have already referred to the readiness with which they responded to many of the bugle-calls used on drill. In the cavalry service they knew their places as well as did the riders, and it was a frequent occurrence to see a horse, when his rider had been dismounted by some means, resume his place in line or column without him, seemingly not wishing to be left behind.” Artilleryman John D. Billings American Civil War


Anonymous said...

I've never been able to figure out how the reins were held in tandem riding. Obviously you couldn't hold both sets of left reins in one hand and the rights in the right, because it would be too erratic for the mounted horse. So, are the driven horse's reins held in one and the ridden horse in the other (Western style). Or, are the ridden horses' reins slack and the focus is on the driven horse and the ridden horse mostly follows? What do you think?


Wade G. Burck said...

I believe the ridden horse is very well schooled off the legs, and his reins are attached to the pommel. I have also seen the tandem horse's lines/reins run through and over check rein ring on the ridden horse's bridle. Any insight Madame Col., Turban, John Milton?


Dianne Olds Rossi said...

In my opinion the driving horse is on the snaffle rein going through the nose band to keep the rein from falling down also encouraging the riding horse to keep his head straight. The riding horse is on a single curb rein thus each horse is able to be ridden separately. The Spanish do this very well the driving horse as collected as the riding horse the only way to get all the movements. Not easy when done well. I have also seen the same except the riding horse rein is attached to the rider's belt/waist so that he is controlling the riding horse by his body movements. Normally seen done with the driving horse with no collection and herded around by the rider.... not pretty

johnny said...

The drivan horse reins are both in the right hand of the rider along with the riding horse off side rein and the inside riding rein is in the left hand so that the rider can move his left hand over to pull whitch ever rein is needed. so he can also neck rein the riding horse and by raising and neck reining he gives a pull on the side of the driven horse. I have done it. It takes some time for the horses to adapt, but we know very slight hand movement is all that is necessary after some practice. Its a little like "jerk linning" Johnny. The legs suggest the movements and cadence. Generally we get passage, three step, walk, trot and canter. Naturally the horses have to be well trained. When I rode and cued the great dane on the ground with whip pointing suggestions the horse worked by leg suggestions. johnny

Wade G. Burck said...

John Milton,
What did you just say!!!! It is politically incorrect to use "jerk lines" anymore. Now a day's they use "come alongs" instead of "jerk lines." They use a "guide" to train elephants and not a "bull hook". Animals are contained in a "squeeze" to medicate them and are no longer contained by a "crush". Jerk lines, bull hooks, and crushes have gone the way of the Albatross. Now a days we come along, guide and squeeze the animals to do our bidding. :)
I hope you are doing well, old hoss. My best wishes to Mary Ruth.