Stables - Training the Dragoon Horse
The dragoons and their horses were trained according to a system of cavalry tactics that were approved by Secretary of War J.R. Pointsett, and published as a manual in 1841. The 1841 manual divided the training of a dragoon into four schools: the School of the Trooper Dismounted and Mounted; the School of the Platoon; the School of Squadron; and the Evolution of a Regiment. The School of the Trooper Dismounted and Mounted was the most critical period in the training of a dragoon recruit. During the first six to eight weeks of this particular school, the recruit was required to learn how to march, drill and use the carbine, saber, pistol and lance on foot before he was allowed to begin his instruction of horseback. He was also required to learn how to wear and take care of all of his equipment and uniforms. The noncommissioned officers provided the basic training to the dragoon recruits and were also responsible for the training of the remount (replacement) horses.
Remount horses were allowed at least one day to become adjusted to their new surroundings before their military training was started. In addition to the normal equestrian gaits (walk, trot, canter, and gallop) all of the dragoon horses were required to move backwards, sideways and jump various obstacles (ditches, walls, logs, etc.) without any hesitation. They were also trained to respond to their riders during the loud noise and confusion of combat (i.e. weapons discharging, drums, bugles, explosions, etc.).
After a dragoon recruit completed the School of the Soldier Dismounted, he began his instruction on horseback. Normally a dragoon received individual instruction in horsemanship on a gentle, well-trained horse from a noncommissioned officer. If the dragoon and his horse were compatible, a mutual trust developed and they were allowed to remain together. If they were not compatible the dragoon was assigned to a different horse. No physical abuse (kicking, beating, etc.) of a horse was allowed and if any did occur, the dragoon could receive immediate company punishment or be tried by a court-martial.
The information for this section came from an article in Fort Scott's files called Horses of the United States Dragoons.
Did You Know?
Fort Scott is the only NPS unit that was directly involved in "Bleeding Kansas". Fort Scott was a proslavery town, but many free staters lived in the surrounding area. Located on the grounds was the Western or Proslavery Hotel, directly across from it was the Fort Scott or Free State Hotel.