Why Poinsett's?
In November of 1861, the War Department approved a new cavalry tactics manual, written by Lt. Col. Philip St. George Cooke. The timing of this new manual could not have been worse. The numbers of experienced cavalry officers were very small and they were in great demand to train the thousands of new volunteers recruited to fight. These experienced officers were all well trained in the 1841 "Cavalry Tactics" written by J.R. Poinsett, and they were reluctant to change to the new "Cooke's Tactics" just as they were frantically working to train all those new troopers.

The major difference between the two different manuals was that Poinsett's used a double rank formation for combat, while Cooke's used a long single rank. To make things even more confusing, several privately written, "simplified" cavalry manuals were available, some being approved by well-respected military officers of the day. Of course, there were southern versions of these manuals as well. The majority of Eastern units continued to use Poinsett's, while most of the western units started using the new Cooke's. Since most of the Confederate cavalry leaders were members of the pre-war regular army, most southern units also used Poinsett’s during the War.

During the Maryland Campaign of 1862, all of the union cavalry regiments within the Army of the Potomac were raised before November 1861 when Cooke published his manual. Therefore, it would be fair to assume that those regiments would have been drilled using Poinsett's.

Below I have linked Poinsett's "Cavalry Tactics" split into 3 parts, to easily train your company in a specific field. Each part and lesson builds upon the last so it would be beneficial for you to begin at the dismounted sections first. PLEASE BEAR IN MIND that Poinsett's can be confusing with certain descriptions or lack thereof, for example, it doesn't list the actual number of men per platoon or squadron instead refers to the files (a file is composed habitually of 2 men).

Poinsett's Part One (School of the Trooper, Platoon & Squadron Dismounted)

Poinsett's Part Two (School of the Trooper, Platoon & Squadron Mounted)

Poinsett's Part Three (Evolutions of a Regiment)