This Day in Dayton, 29 March
In March 1863, John T. Wilder, then with the 17th Indiana, weary of trying to catch cavalry with foot soldiers, came up with a plan that he applied to a whole brigade. Wilder, a tall man (6’2”) with a no-nonsense demeanor, got permission from Gen. William Rosecrans to mount his men on horses. This was unusual, as there were very few mounted infantry units on either side. Several units, including the 72nd Indiana, were allowed to vote on whether to be mounted or to remain on foot. The men of the 72nd chose the affirmative and joined three other regiments (17th IN, 123rd IL, 98th IL) and an artillery battery (the 18th Indiana Battery Light Artillery [see W. O. Crouse], organized by Eli Lilly) to form a brigade of mounted infantry led by Col. Wilder (Jack Alkire, J/C 29 January 1986; McGee; Sunderland, Lightning at Hoover’s Gap). Once they were mounted, the men of Wilder’s Brigade were issued cavalry uniforms. They promptly removed the stripe to distinguish themselves from the detested cavalry. The mounted infantry would fight dismounted, relying on their horses mainly for transportation.