Foot cavalry

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Stonewall Jackson

Foot cavalry was an oxymoron coined to describe the rapid movements of infantry troops serving under Confederate General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson during the American Civil War (1861–1865).[1] The use of the words "foot" and "cavalry" to describe the same troops were seemingly in conflict with one another, as unlike normal cavalry units with horses, his men were infantry troops, usually on foot (although occasionally traveling by train).


One of Jackson's foot cavalry

To achieve the reputation for amazing speeds of marching (30 miles a day),[2] Stonewall Jackson used a combination of great audacity, excellent knowledge and shrewd use of the terrain, added to the ability to inspire his troops to great feats of marching and fighting. His men endured forced marches and he used an intimate knowledge of the passes and railroad tunnels along the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to move between the Piedmont region and the Shenandoah Valley with unanticipated rapidity, confounding his opponents in the Union leadership.[3]

Because his opponents learned early in the War that they could not accurately predict his location, Jackson and his "foot cavalry" are considered by many historians to have been a major factor in leadership failures of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and General George B. McClellan during the Peninsula Campaign. In fear of Jackson, Lincoln ordered extra troops held back from McClellan's expedition to protect Washington, D.C.. McClellan, whose actions were later seen as overcautious, was unnerved by Jackson's sudden appearance in front of him at the beginning of the Seven Days Battles. In combination, these actions of Lincoln and McClellan contributed significantly to the failure of the main mission of the Peninsula Campaign, which was to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond in the summer of 1862. Richmond would not be captured until the last days of the war.


In honor of Jackson and his "foot cavalry" there is a 100-mile trail run in Fort Valley, Va with a division called "Stonewall Jackson Foot Cavalry Division".[4]

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