Averell’s Ride and Good Fortune

Regular Cavalry in the Civil War

I should long since have posted on this. I have decided to use Averell’s official report rather than the longer version from his memoirs, as I think it less likely to contain embellishment. Not that this report isn’t told to put himself in the best light, but I considerable it more reliable. While the report itself is interesting reading, what I find more interesting is the subsequent chain of events that led to this relatively obscure lieutenant of Mounted Rifles commanding a volunteer cavalry regiment.

Lieutenant William Woods Averell graduated the U.S. Military Academy in 1851. After a stint teaching cavalry tactics, he proceeded to join the Regiment of Mounted Rifles in New Mexico. In the pursuit of learning his duties as a subaltern, he was involved in several engagements with hostile Indians.

Lieutenant Averell was newly arrived in Washington, D.C. in April 1861. He was just returning to duty…

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