Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Black Horse Cavalry, Pt. 2

The gentleman in the picture is Private William Payne, a charter member of the 1859 Black Horse Cavalry militia unit. Mr. Payne is the author of a yet-unpublished manuscript which contains a roster of members of the Black Horse.

In addition to the list of names, he includes a short paragraph about how the Black Horse got its name. Nope! It was NOT because they all rode black horses, which seemed to be the obvious reason. Read on!

The purposes of the organization were well understood and the question was to give it a proper name. I well remember the conversations between Major Scott and myself. The first idea was that we were descendants of cavaliers. The company was to be a cavalry troop. I do remember that I called the Major’s attention to the fact that the first standard borne by our tribe, the Saxons, when they landed under Hengist and Horsa at Thanit, was the banner of the white horse. It was agreed therefore that a horse especially typical and representative of Virginia should be adopted. We were all extreme pro-slavery men, but the Major in addition, was in favor of opening the African slave trade and he suggested that the horse should be black, and hence the troop was named the Black Horse Troop.

I am deeply indebted to Harry Smeltzer, who writes the blog "Bull Runnings" for this quote. Excellent historian that he is, he is still on the lookout for more proof of sources--so if you can help . . .

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