The Confederate cavalry always seemed to be the most glamorous arm of their armed forces, and the many successful raids they made on Union positions and supplies further enhanced their reputation. However such raids did little to damage the war machine of the US (mostly forcing troops to guard against further attacks rather than allowing them to join the main battles), and what damage was done was made good quickly, while the raids lost the Confederates men and horses that ultimately they could have used better. Despite the dashing image, by the 1860s even the South had to acknowledge that the cavalry was no longer the force it had been as recently as the Napoleonic Wars, and with a few exceptions such as Brandy Station it was mainly used in the light role of skirmish, guarding and reconnaissance rather than in massed charges. Recognising this fact, Italeri subtitled this set 'Raiders', though it came out as the rather ridiculous 'Riders' on the box.
Italeri had already produced several cavalry sets by the time this one appeared, and had established the standard of nine poses plus four or more horses. This set includes a tenth pose of a man kneeling beside his downed horse, firing his pistol. All too often manufacturers ignore casualty figures, but this one is excellent. The mounted figures are also excellent, with plenty of useful poses, and the inclusion of a trumpeter, standard-bearer and two officers means this set covers all the bases. Several hold sabres, which look great but were not so practical in an age of ever more precise rifles and artillery that could reach hundreds of metres. Some do carry a carbine, but we would have liked to have seen many more pistols too, and indeed rather too many of the poses here are carrying a sabre, even if not holding it, which is not a fair reflection of the reality most of the time.
In the early years of the War most men supplied their own uniforms and mounts, and on many occasions supply was a real problem. Consequently the appearance of the cavalry was rarely uniform, and these figures reflect that nicely. Some figures have more or less regulation clothing, and some are virtually completely in civilian attire. One of the men wears the hussar-style tunic, with loops of braid on the breast, which was worn by several units raised privately and uniformed at the discretion of their colonel. One man is especially well attired, with a long coat with a cape, making him a splendid sight though not typical of the Confederate rider, where a shell-jacket was much preferred by most. Only a few here have the kepi cap, which is good, as is the cartridge boxes and cap pouches many have.
All the horses are equally well sculpted, with both advancing and standing poses. All the poses seem natural, even the downed animal, though the first animal in the fourth row is perhaps not so convincing. Since Confederate cavalrymen had to provide their own horses and horse furniture, both varied widely, but everything here is the same for all horses. Nothing about it is wrong, though such uniformity was never achieved across the cavalry. However individually these beasts are all accurately equipped.
This is a standard Italeri set, so detail and anatomy are beautifully carved and of the highest quality. Flash is virtually non-existent and both variety and accuracy have received a lot of attention. All this makes the one fundamental error in this set all the more puzzling as it is such an obvious one. The flag has been engraved on both sides with the Confederate battle flag. Regular visitors will know we prefer plain flags so we can choose to paint whatever design we wish, but here it is worse, as the flag clearly bears 17 stars. No Confederate flag ever had more than 13 stars, and some had less than this for obvious reasons. An elementary mistake that mars an otherwise excellent collection of figures, though the frequency of sabres and the generally high standard of equipment means this lovely set is not as representative of the Confederate cavalry as it could have been.