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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Some Remarkable Cavaliers

By Alexander Graydon (1752–1818)

[From Memoirs of a Life Chiefly Passed in Pennsylvania. 1811.]

AMONG the military phenomena of this campaign, the Connecticut light horse ought not to be forgotten. These consisted of a considerable number of old-fashioned men, probably farmers and heads of families, as they were generally middle-aged, and many of them apparently beyond the meridian of life. They were truly irregulars; and whether their clothing, their equipments or caparisons were regarded, it would have been difficult to have discovered any circumstance of uniformity; though in the features derived from “local habitation,” they were one and the same. Instead of carbines and sabres, they generally carried fowling-pieces; some of them very long, and such as in Pennsylvania are used for shooting ducks. Here and there one, “his youthful garments well saved,” appeared in a dingy regimental of scarlet, with a triangular, tarnished laced hat. In short, so little were they like modern soldiers in air or costume, that, dropping the necessary number of years, they might have been supposed the identical men who had in part composed Pepperell’s army at the taking of Louisbourg. Their order of march corresponded with their other irregularities. It “spindled into longitude immense,” presenting so extended and ill-compacted a flank, as though they had disdained the adventitious prowess derived from concentration. These singular dragoons were volunteers, who came to make a tender of their services to the commander-in-chief.

But they stayed not long at New York. As such a body of cavalry had not been counted upon, there was in all probability a want of forage for their jades, which, in the spirit of ancient knighthood, they absolutely refused to descend from; and as the general had no use for cavaliers in his insular operations, they were forthwith dismissed with suitable acknowledgments for their truly chivalrous ardor. It appears from a letter of General Washington, that they refused fatigue duty, because it was beneath the dignity of troopers. An unlucky trooper of this school had, by some means or other, found his way to Long Island, and was taken by the enemy in the battle of the 27th of August. The British officers made themselves very merry at his expense, and obliged him to amble about for their entertainment. On being asked what had been his duty in the rebel army, he answered, that it was “to flank a little and carry tidings.” Such at least was the story at New York among the prisoners.