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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > American Age of Discovery, Colonization, Revolution, & Expansion > American Age of Formative Expansion

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American Age of Formative Expansion 1789-1830 To begin with the 1st US President & extend through the Whiskey Rebellion, Quasi War with France, War of 1812, & southeastern Indian wars,

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  #76  
Old 05 Jan 17, 05:31
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Originally Posted by Tuebor View Post
You do realize that the Light Artillery Regiment was horse artillery do you not? Peters' company was merely the first one formed.
Yes, it was supposed to be-and how many of its ten authorized companies were mounted permanently before war came in 1812?

The legislation that authorized the Regiment of Light Artillery had no funds provided to arm and equip it.

And Peters' company was dismounted and its horses sold in 1809 by order of the new Secretary of War, William Eustis, 'embodying the parsimonious ineptitude of the new Madison administration' which 'directed that the light artillery horses be sold in 1809 as an unnecessary waste of public funds. Not until February 1812 was the light artillery regiment authorized to purchase a few new horses; war with England came in June.'-see Volume II of Military Uniforms in America, 4.
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  #77  
Old 05 Jan 17, 05:44
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It was a good combined arms unit (not a division though, more like a regimental combat team), but was designed specifically for the frontier. It was also too expensive to maintain, and Washington nixed it after the Legion's three year enlistment was up.
A division of 'all arms' is a combined arms unit by definition.

How large do you think a French division of the same period was? They varied in size during 179201799 from approximately 3,300 to 13,000, depending on the army, the troops available, who the commander was, and who was organizing and forwarding the troops to the field armies.

The Legion of the United States had an authorized strength of 5,120; they probably fielded something around 3,500-easily the equivalent of the permanent all arms divisions the French were beginning to field at the same time.

From Volume I of Military Uniforms in America:

'The Legion was the equivalent of the division of all arms which the French Army was then developing as a self-sufficient tactical organization. Its high proportion of riflemen and light infantry was specifically designed for frontier warfare...despite its brief existence, the Legion of the United States remains unquestionably one of the most effective military forces in all American history.

And it was composed of four 'sublegions' which were the equivalent of a regiment, each having two infantry battalions, and included riflemen and specifically trained light infantry. The Legion also had an artillery battalion and a battalion of dragoons. That's quite a bit more than a regimental combat team.
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  #78  
Old 06 Jan 17, 01:31
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Below is the letter to Wilkinson. The source is given above.

How does this discretionary order become "embodying the parsimonious ineptitude of the new Madison administration' which 'directed that the light artillery horses be sold in 1809 as an unnecessary waste of public funds."



If you can find an original source that says the contrary, please provide.

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  #79  
Old 06 Jan 17, 02:12
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How large do you think a French division of the same period was?
My bad, as I was thinking you were referring to the sub-legions otherwise it did not make much sense. But your comparison of the entire legion as a "division" is just way off. It was the entire army, and Congress ditched it as soon as peace was achieved (for which the Legion, or augmentation of 1792 was limited to. Washington simply changed the name of the United States Army to that of the Legion (the Legionary organization was never authorized by Congress).

Instead the "Legion of the United States" was synonymous with "Army of the United States." One can make the same argument for the post-legion army as being a "combined arms division."

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Old 06 Jan 17, 10:01
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If you read the reference, it stated that the Legion was the 'equivalent' of the all arms divisions the French were fielding.

Perhaps you should read more carefully?
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  #81  
Old 08 Jan 17, 20:39
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Originally Posted by Tuebor View Post
One can make the same argument for the post-legion army as being a "combined arms division."
No, it cannot. The two organizations were entirely different, especially when the new commander was Wilkerson after Wayne's untimely death.

Regarding Peter's horse artillery company and the disposition of the horses, which were sold by the order you referenced (discretionary or not, it is still an order, and the expense of the horses was the issue), the following is offered from two credible secondary sources:

Cannonade by Fairfax Downey, 64-65:

'That first American horse artillery...commanded by Captain George Peter, held high promise. Peter staged a drill for Congress on July 4, 1808, greatly impressing that body. Galloping three miles, he dismounted, unlimbered, and fired a national salute; then returned to the starting point and fired a second salute-in all twenty-two minutes. He made a route march from Baltimore to Washington at better than six miles an hour-good time even by World War I standards and a remarkable rate over the plodding guns of the Revolution. Cheered by spectators, the battery paraded smartly down Pennsylvania Avenue...Next the battery struck out for New Orleans, crossing the Alleghenies handily in midwinter, and finishing the journey by Mississippi flatboats. Then it was ignominiously stalled in the Louisiana mud when the new secretary of war, William Eustis, former contract surgeon and a small-minded politician, ordered its horses sold on the ground that forage was too expensive. Peter, his fine battery immobilized and ruined, resigned his commission in disgust.'

The references used were Historical Sketch of the Organization, Administration, Material and Tactics of the Artillery, United States Army by William Birkhimer; The Beginning of the US Army 1783-1812 by James Jacobs; Military Collector and Historian Journal, September 1952, article by Harry Larter; Niles' Register, LXXII.

History of the United States Army by Russell Weigley, 111:

'The act of April 12, 1808, included a regiment of light artillery in its increases of the Army. Captain George Peter's company of the new regiment was issued sufficient horses to mount itself and thus to become the first American battery of light artillery in the New Napoleonic style. On July 4, 1808, Peter's company staged an impressive demonstration for Congress, and it soon conducted a route march from Baltimore to Washington at the then remarkable speed of six miles an hour. Unfortunately, the experiment proved abortive. After Jefferson left office, President Madison's Secretary of War decided the horses were a waste of money and sold them. No other company of the Regiment of Light Artillery was mounted before the War of 1812; during the war a few were, but only briefly.'

Weigley references Downey.
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