The Post War Frontier Army

Rolling the Cloak

The development of cavalry tactics manuals is an evolutionary business; if you take the time to peruse them, you'll find that much of the text of 'Cooke s Tactics" can be found in "Poinsett's" whlch in turn borrowed heavily from its predecessor "Scott's Tactics". Unfortunately, each follow-on generatlon often deleted a few "unnecessary" passages in an attempt to streamline the whole, the stricken material usually belng prosalc details whlch would fall into the category of "common knowledge" during the period. The missing pieces of the puzzle often cause frustration when we try to fathom somc esoterlc aspect of l9th century military life.

The "Manner of Rolllng the Cloak" described in "Poinsett's Tactics" is an excellent example of thls phenomenon. In the first place, by the 1860s the"cloak" had become known as the "greatcoat" or "overcoat," and attempts at rolling thls garment "by the numbers" have stymied many an interpreter. The key is that the coat is rolled inside out! There is no mention of this minor detail In "Poinsett's" but if we refer back to "Scott's," we find that the first sentence in the instructions reads: "the cloak will be [placed] wrong side outwards....". You will also find it helpful to fold the coat so that it forms a trapezoid [narrower at the collar] rather than a rectangle as the manual instructs (Step 4)—thls will allow the rolled portion to be "introduced into the . . . pocket."

The following instructions diagram the "Manner of Rolling the Cloak" as described in Cooke's Cavalry Tactics.

Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Step 4
Step 5

Diagrams from the Civil War Cavalry Review
Courtesy Bob Erickson of Hamilton, Montana
Text from Cooke's Cavalry Tactics

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The New Buffalo Soldiers, Shadow Hills, CA.