“Stuart Set Out on a Raid”
Immediately after the battle of Sharpsburg it became evident that some general policy must be adopted to ensure the efficiency of our cavalry. Under Brigadier Generals [John] Buford, Bayard, and others and under the management of Major General Pleasanton, the Federal cavalry was improving greatly in efficiency. Stuart's raids had taught the enemy the necessity of keeping up a strong cavalry force to protect his communications and defend the country from raids in the future.
Whilst the boundless resources of the United States enabled the government to keep all of its cavalry well mounted on horses of its own, this, it was early determined, our government could not do for want of money and also from its inability to keep up larger recruiting camps because of scarcity of supplies. Hence our cavalrymen always mounted themselves.
Now previous to this campaign our horses had not been over marched or half fed and consequently the general condition of the horses was good. So when three or four men in a regiment had broken down horses it was no great matter to give them short furloughs to home after fresh ones.
But now the case was different. The men were far from home and there were from one to two hundred men in a regiment totally dismounted or with horses which could never do service again till recruited. Something was to be done or the cavalry would be broken up. Hence, it [had been] decided to send home from Winchester all soldiers with unserviceable horses who expressed themselves as able and willing to bring back fresh ones in 15 to 20 days.