Pole-arms were not widely used during the American
Civil War, in fact, United States cavalry rarely
used lances as did European cavalry. American cavalry
was patterned more along the lines of dragoons or
mounted riflemen, where the horse was used primarily
as transportation to the battlefield. European cavalry,
on the other hand, maintained the lance, even until
World War I, for close-action cavalry charges. There
were, however, a few regiments and companies of
lancers organized during the Civil War, the most
well known being Rushs Lancers from Pennsylvania.
One problem with lances was that they were only
effective in a charge, and the lances were difficult
to carry through rugged forests. Rushs Lancers
realized the burden they were carrying and turned
in their lances in May 1863.
The Confederacy also used lances and pikes, not
by choice, but because they were weapons that
could easily be made to arm the troops. There
was a variety of pole-arms manufactured by the
Confederacy during the Civil War. Some were made
with a double-edged blade at the end of a seven-foot
pole. Another type was known as a bridle-cutter
pike, which was similar to the aforementioned
pole-arm but with an extension of a crescent-shaped
blade at a right angle to the main blade that
was used to cut the bridles of enemy soldiers.
The most interesting pikes were those made with
a retractable blade. A fourth type had a cloverleaf
design and were known as Joe Brown Pikes.
These were named after Joseph E. Brown, the governor
of Georgia. In February 1862 he issued a call
to the state's mechanics to manufacture 10,000
pikes to arm the troops. They did not have enough
firearms to arm every soldier, and the pike was
an easy and cheap weapon to manufacture. As the
governor stated, "the short range pike and
terrible knife, when brought within their proper
range, (as they can be almost in a moment) and
wielded by a stalwart patriots arm, never fail
to fire and never waste a single load.