Kentucky Cavaliers in Dixie: The Reminiscences of a Confederate Cavalryman

By Geo. Dallas Mosgrove | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII.
THE BUTTERMILK RANGER.

"Comrades, leave me here a little,
While as yet 'tis early morn;
Leave me here, and when you want me,
Sound upon the bugle horn."

TO the Confederate cavalryman, his brother, the infantryman, gave the soubriquet "The Buttermilk Ranger;" not that the cavalryman had any special predilection for buttermilk, but because the "web-foot," when out on a private foraging expedition, almost invariably found the cavalryman had been in advance of him. The fact is, the cavalryman was more of a ranger for cane-reed whisky and applejack than for buttermilk.

The typical Confederate cavalryman was a daring, reckless, happy-go-lucky, sufficient-unto-the-day-is-the-evil-thereof sort of a fellow. If he had four days' rations in his haver- sack be contrived to "get away with them" in one day. He lived for the present, concerning himself very little about the future. He was, however, more provident for his horse than for himself, because, unlike the Federal cavalryman, he had to furnish his own horse, and should he become dismounted he must go into the infantry, the very thought of which was peculiarly disgusting, especially to the Kentucky and Texan fellows. Without any conscientious scruples whatever he would steal forage from his dearest comrade.

As he had to be "the eyes and ears of the army," the cavalryman was, perforce, a "hustler," having little rest. Virtually, his home was in the saddle; he slept in it and ate in it, seldom having any cooking utensils or anything in the line of queensware. At night, when not on the march, the earth was his couch, his saddle his pillow, and the sky his canopy. If he had any flour he mixed it with salt and cold water, plastered it on a board and set it before the fire to

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