UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.
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Accession No. ... OtJU - )O . Class No.
HISTORY OF THE CAVALRY
Army of the Potomac,
That of the Army of Virginia (Pope s), and
also the History of the Operations of the
Federal Cavalry in West Virginia
During the War.
CHARLES D. RHODES,
First Lieutenant, Sixth Cavalry.
HUDSON-KlMBERLY PUBLISHING Co,
HUDSON-KlMBERLY PUBLISHING CO.,
KANSAS CITY, Mo.
The preparation of the following pages, especially
that portion dealing with the events of the first two
years of the war, has not been easy. To evolve a gen
eral history from those of individuals, and yet not deal
with any one regiment to the prejudice of others; to
separate the operations of the cavalry from those of
the other arms, and yet preserve that degree of rela
tionship which a part bears to the whole; to touch
upon the details of the battle and the march, and yet
not transgress the prescribed limits of this little his
tory all these have been difficulties which have sev
erally and collectively taxed the writer s resources to
the utmost. The almost total absence of works of ref
erence, except histories of individual regiments and
the official records of the War of the Rebellion, has
in itself involved a vast deal of labor. It is, perhaps,
not too much to say that a history of the cavalry of
the Army of the Potomac might very easily have filled
three times as many pages as have here been devoted
to it; and the writer has, much against his will, been
compelled to cut out matter of the greatest interest
At the same time, while he has borne in mind that this
4 History of the Cavalry,
history is intended to be a faithful chronicle of the
life of the Federal cavalry, he has tried not to lost*
sight of the fact that a mere record of events is cer
tain to be monotonous reading.
HISTORY OF THE CAVALRY
ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.
At the breaking out of the War of the Rebellion
the cavalry force at the disposal of the United States
Government consisted of the First and Second Regi
ments of Dragoons, one regiment of Mounted Rifles,
and the First and Second Regiments of Cavalry. When
President Lincoln issued his call for three-months
volunteers, another regiment, the Sixth, was added to
the five others, but, for the time, this was the extent
of the increase in the cavalry. Volunteer infantry and
artillery poured into Washington from all parts of the
North, but volunteer cavalry neither came nor -wer>
encouraged to come. Absurd as it now appears, it was
the intention of the Federal authorities to confine the
cavalry to the six regular regiments. The North confi
dently expected to crush the Rebellion at once. Cav
alry was an expensive arm, and experienced officers
knew that years were required to produce an efficient
6 History of the Cavalry,
trooper. Even such a veteran as General Scott gave
it as his opinion that, owing to the broken and wooded
character of the field of operations and the improve
ments in rifled firearms, the role of the cavalry would
be unimportant and secondary. McClellan s report of
the preliminary operations in West Virginia says:
"Cavalry was absolutely refused, but the governors of
the States complied with my request and organized a
few companies, which were finally mustered into the
United States service arid proved very useful."
Only seven companies of cavalry took part in (he
battle of Bull Kun, but the firm front which they dis
played while covering the precipitate retreat of the
Federal army probably saved a large proportion of
the army from annihilation by Stuart s cavalry, and
has never received the recognition which it deserved.
On the 27th of July, 1861, McClellan assumed coin
mand of what was destined to be called the Army of
the Potomac, and the regular cavalry regiments were
reorganized, and renumbered consecutively from "one 1
With the organization of the Army of the Poto
mac begins the real history of its cavalry, but for two
long years until its reorganization under Hooker
its history is one of neglect, disorganization, and mis
use. McClellan s one idea of the shortcomings of the
Army of the Potomac. 1
cavalry was that it was not large enough. Meanwhile
it furnished guides, orderlies, and grooms for staff
officers, and was so divided up among corps, division,
and brigade commanders as to completely subvert its
true value, bringing sarcasm and ignominy on what
should have been one of the most powerful factors in
the overthrow of the Rebellion.
The drill regulations of the cavalry at the break
ing out of the war called at that time "tactics"-
were modified from those of the French dragoons, and
had been found unsuited to the needs of cavalry oper
ating in the United States. General Philip St. G.
Cooke had accordingly prepared a new system, which
was approved by the War Department in October,
1861, but did not come into use on account of the con
ditions which obtained at the time. This, without
doubt, proved a great restriction upon the usefulness
of the arm.
The armament of the volunteer regiments, which
were mustered in with some show of interest after the
disaster at Bull Run, were along the same lines as
that of the regular regiments of that day, and was in
charge of General Stoneman. Though suffering from
a deficiency in cavalry arms and equipments, every
cavalry soldier was armed with a saber and revolver
as soon as circumstances permitted, and at least two
squadrons in every regiment were armed with carbines.
8 History of the Cavalry,
One volunteer regiment, the Sixth Pennsylvania
Cavalry (Rush s Lancers), was armed with the lance,
in addition to the pistol, twelve carbines being after
wards added to the equipment of each company, for
picket and scouting duties. The lances were carried
from December, 1861, until May, 1863, when they were
discarded for the carbine, as being ill-adapted for use
in the wooded country through which the command
The carbines issued were of various patterns, gen
erally the Sharpe s, until the advent of the Spencer in
1863. The revolver was the Colt s. The saddle was
the McClellan, and, with the remaining horse equip
ments, had been adopted through recommendations
made by General McClellan after his official Euro
pean tour in 1860. The saddle, however, was covered
with rawhide instead of leather, and became very un
comfortable when split.
The original regulations governing the mustering
in of volunteer regiments required the cavalry to fur
nish their own horses as well as horse equipments;*
but this was later modified, and the Government fur
nished them, as they had done to the regular regi
ments. But the horses furnished were in most cases
*See Appendix 1.
Army of the Potomac.
very poor animals, due to fraud on the part of Gov
ernment contractors, and the overtaxed resources of
the Quartermaster s Department.
On the 15th of October, 1861, the organization of
the cavalry consisted of a small brigade under Gen
eral Stoneman, and some eleven or twelve other regi
ments, attached to divisions of infantry.* Its strength,
November 12th, aggregated 8,125, of which but 4,753
are reported as "present for duty, equipped." It was
constantly drilled during the fall and winter, with
enough scouting and outpost duty in the Virginia hills
to give the cavalry regiments a foretaste of actual
service. And just preceding the Peninsular cam
paign, General Stoneman with a brigade made a re
connaissance along the Orange & Alexandria Railroad
as far as Cedar Run.
In March, 1862, the Peninsular Army was trans
ported southward, and the siege of Yorktown was
begun. The cavalry reserve, which was under that
veteran cavalryman, General P. St. G. Cooke, was
organized as two brigades under Generals Emery and
Blake, and consisted of six regiments.f The rest of
*See Appendix 2.
tEmory s Brigade: Fifth U. S. Cavalry, Sixth U. S. Cav
alry, Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry. Blake s Brigade: First U.
S. Cavalry, Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry, Barker s squadron
10 History of the Cavalry,
the cavalry was divided up among the army corps
and the various headquarters. Every available hour
spared from outpost duty was still utilized for drill,
and when the enemy abandoned his lines at Yorktown,
the cavalry was called upon to pursue.
General Cooke encountered the enemy in force at
Fort Magruder, but as he failed to be supported by
Hooker s Division through causes which have become
historic, he was obliged to fall back. But not be
fore the First U. S. Cavalry had made two brilliant
charges, capturing a regimental standard. Major
Williams four squadrons of the Sixth U. S. Cavalry,
which was cut off by a large force of the enemy, saved
itself by promptly wheeling about by fours and charg
ing the pursuers.
Had there been a larger force of Federal cavalry,
or had it been properly supported by the infantry di
visions, it is probable that the battle of Williamsburg,
which followed, would never have been fought. Long-
street had not intended to fight here, but finding hLs
rear guard successful and posted in a strong position,
and a large portion of his force involved, he gave
The cavalry took little part in this battle. Wil
liamsburg was abandoned by the enemy on the 6th,
and Colonel Averell, with portions of the Third Penn-
Army of the Potomac. li
sylvania and Eighth Illinois Cavalry, pressed on in
pursuit as far as New Kent, recovering five pieces of
artillery and capturing twenty-one prisoners.
"From this time on," as a distinguished cavalry offi
cer has said, "affairs with the cavalry, through no fault
of its own, went from bad to worse. Detachments
from its strength were constantly increased, and it was
hampered by instructions which crippled it for all use
ful action." But in spite of the disadvantages under
which it labored, it displayed the same brave devotion
to duty which was afterwards to be put to such good
account during the last two years of the war.
During the next few days, the cavalry was almost
constantly engaged in reconnaissance duty, and al
though there were numerous minor skirmishes, noth
ing of importance occurred until the taking of Han
over Court House (May 27-29), when the Fifth and
Sixth United States Cavalry, supported by the Sev
enteenth New York Infantry, cut off and captured the
greater part of an entire regiment the Twenty-eighth
North Carolina Infantry continuing the pursuit two
and one-half miles beyond the town.
In pursuance of the general plan of cutting the
enemy s communications with northern Virginia, cav
alry brigades under General Emory and Colonel War
ren destroyed the bridges over the South Anna and
12 History of the Cavalry,
Pamunkey rivers, and engaged in many creditable
skirmishes with the enemy. Some of the volunteer
cavalry, during these operations, were under fire for
the first time.
The cavalry s part in the battle of Fair Oaks (May
29th) was insignificant. Nothing else could be ex
pected, considering its disunited condition and anom
alous status; so that when, two weeks later (June
13th), Stuart, with about 1,200 cavalry, passed com
pletely around the Federal army and fell on the weak
right flank of the cavalry, there could be but one re
sult. The cavalry was blamed for not having given
notice of Stuart s approach; and when General Cooke,
with a small cavalry force, was tacked on to an infan
try division and told to catch Stuart, his failure to
strike his swift-moving adversary was criticised in
these words: u l have seen no energy or spirit in the
pursuit by General Cooke of the enemy, nor has he
exhibited the characteristics of a skillful and active
guardian of our flanks."*
Time has show r n that General Cooke received posi
tive orders from the commanding general of the left
wing to regulate his pursuit by the march of the infan
try column, and on no account to precede it. "The
officer of to-day, even though he has had no experience
*Report of General Pitz John Porter.
Army of the Potomac. 13
in war, with the record of cavalry marches before him,
can imagine the effect of such an order on a dashing,
chivalrous, enthusiastic cavalry officer, chafing under
the restraints that had already been placed upon him
by a soldier who had learned from the books that a
forced march for cavalry for one day was twenty-five
In the passage of the Army of the Potomac over
the Chickahominy, General Porter, with the Fifth
Army Corps, was charged with covering the move
ment and keeping the enemy in check. All the cav
alry w r as placed under his orders, and the battle of
Games Mill, which followed (June 27th), is remarka
ble for the stubborn resistance of the cavalry under
The line of battle formed the arc of a circle, almost
parallel to the Chickahominy, and Cooke s division,
consisting of two small brigades, was placed behind
the breaks of a plateau, in rear of the extreme left of
the line. During the day the Confederate army, rein
forced by the army of Stonewall Jackson from north
ern Virginia, made four desperate assaults on the
Union lines, arid every available infantryman was
*General Merritt, in Journal U. 8. Cavalry Association,
fSee Appendix 3,.
14 History of the Cavalry^
brought into action. In rear of the left of the line
there was not a single reserve, save the cavalry and
considerable artillery. The day was fast drawing to
a close, when the Confederates made a final effort to
force the left flank and cut it off from the bridge over
the Chickahominy. The center and left of the line
gave way under overwhelming numbers, many of the
regiments being completely demoralized. The reserve
artillery, left without support, had begun to limber
up, when, by order of General Cooke, they were or
dered to maintain their position, and were assured
that the cavalry would support them. The artillery
willingly complied and opened a heavy fire on the
advancing infantry linen. When almost too close for
an effective charge, General Cooke ordered Captain
Whiting, commanding the Fifth U. S. Cavalry, to
charge with his regiment. Numbering but 220 sabers,
the little force moved out under a heavy fire, and a
portion of the line struck the enemy intact, and were
only stopped by the woods at the bottom of the slope.
The casualties in the charge were 58, with 24 horses
killed, a sacrifice that was well worth the results at
tained. Under cover of the charge the artillery was
safely withdrawn, its bold stand having delayed the
enemy s advance long enough for the re-forming of the
best disciplined infantry regiments.
Army of the Potomac. 15
Had this determined stand not been made, the seiz
ure of the Chickahominy bridge and the capture of at
least a portion of Porter s command would undoubt
edly have followed. And yet General Porter reported
that the cavalry caused the loss of the action. The-
Comte de Paris, in a letter to General Cooke, February
2, 1877, has said: "The sacrifice of some of the brav
est of the cavalry certainly saved a part of the artil
lery, as did, on a larger scale, the Austrian cavalry on
the evening of Sadowa. The main fact is that with
your cavalry you did all that cavalry could do to stop
Not a more glorious act occurred during the entire
war than this misrepresented charge of the Fifth U.
S. Cavalry, as a sacrifice for the withdrawal of the
artillery. The survivors should have been decorated,
and, had they belonged to a French or German army,
they would undoubtedly have been thus rewarded.
About June 24th General Stoneman was placed in
command of all the cavalry on the right of the army
(about 2,000 in all), and was charged with picketing
the country towards Hanover Court House. During
the Seven Days battles he was guarding the region
from the Meadow Bridge to the Pamunkey, with the
*"Battles and Leaders of the Civil War/ Vol. II., page
16 History of the Cavalry,
Seventeenth New York Infantry and Eighteenth Mas
sachtfsetts in support. The maneuvering of the enemy
was such as to cut off Stoneman s command from Por
ter s corps, and, after falling back on White House,
where he destroyed immense quantities of stores to
prevent their falling into the enemy s hands, he re
treated to Yorktown, arriving there the 29th instant.
These cavalry regiments attached to the army corps
during this movement performed arduous and pains
By an order published July 8, 1862, part of the
volunteer cavalry of the Army of the Potomac was
organized by General Stoneman into two brigades,
commanded by Colonels Averell and Gregg.* To
Averell was assigned the task of thoroughly patrol
ling the country in front of the right wing and flank,
and to Colonel Gregg was given similar duties on the
left flank. Diminutive as this force was for the many
duties it was called upon to perform, it performed
*First Brigade (Averell s): Third Pennsylvania, First
New York, Fourth Pennsylvania, Cavalry.
Second Brigade (1, Gregg s; 2, Pleasanton s) : Eighth Illi
nois, Eighth Pennsylvania, Sixth New York.
To Sumner s corps, Barker s squadron.
To Heintzelman s corps, Delaney s squadron, Fifth Penn
To Keyes corps, one squadron, Eighth Illinois Cavalry.
To Porter s corps, one squadron, First New York Cavalry.
To Franklin s corps, one squadron, First New York
Army of the Potomac. 17"
them well. But again was the cavalry called upon to
furnish guides scouts, orderlies, and escorts, until the
regiments dwindle down to mere nothings. In fact,
as General Merritt has said, "After Games Mill, the
cavalry of the Army of the Potomac had no history
of which it had reason to be proud, until the reorgan
ization of the army, with Hooker in command."
On the 26th of June General John Pope had been
assigned to the command of the Army of Virginia,
composed of the commands of Generals Banks, Fre
mont, and McDowell. Fremont had succeeded Rose-
crans in command of the Mountain Department,
March 29th, but under his administration and those of
his predecessors, the Federal cavalry in West Virginia
had performed no conspicuous deeds. The country
was ill-suited for maneuvering large bodies of cav
alry; but for scouting and reconnoitering small bodies
could be made very useful, as shown by the value to
McClellan of the hybrid commands known as McMul-
len s Rangers, the Ringgold Cavalry, and Burdsall s
Cavalry. In fact, partisan warfare was a distinct fea
ture of the operations in West Virginia throughout
18 History of the Cavalry,
A year after the beginning of the war, the Moun
tain Department, which included West Virginia, con
tained thirty-six companies of cavalry, aggregating
2,741 men; but they were poorly equipped and mount
ed many of them dismounted. And these, with the
insufficient infantry and artillery forces, guarded a
frontier 350 miles long, 300 miles of railroad, and 200
miles of water communication.
In his report of the battle of Kernstown (March
23, 1862) one of the bright spots in the successive
misfortunes of the Union forces in the Shenandoah
Valley General Shields says: "My cavalry is very
ineffective. If I had one regiment of excellent cavalry,
armed with carbines, I could have doubled the enemy s
The cavalry which Fremont brought to the Army
of Virginia were partly dismounted, and the horses of
those who were mounted were in a great measure so
broken down and starved as to be well-nigh useless.
The mounted forces of Banks and McDowell were in
much the same miserable condition. The consolidated
morning report of July 31, 1862, shows that out of
8,738 cavalry in the three corps, 3,000 are deducted as
"unfit for service." Such a proportion is a comment
ary on the condition of the cavalry of the Army of
Virginia at this time.
Army of the Potomac. 19
And yet this little force did excellent service; part
ly, perhaps, through the efficiency of those who com
manded it, but principally on account of its wise use
by the commanding general.
Pope s general instructions directed him to cover
Washington, and pending the transfer of McClelland
troops from Harrison s Landing to Aquia Creek, Va.,
he was charged with resisting at all hazard any pos
sible advance of the enemy.
Accordingly General King, at Fredericksburg, was
directed to send out detachments of his cavalry to
operate on the line of the Virginia Central Railroad
and destroy communications between Richmond and
the Shenandoah. The cavalry expeditions sent out
were highly successful.
At the same time Banks was directed to push all
his cavalry towards Gordonsville, and its execution
was entrusted to General John I. Hatch, an officer of
the regular cavalry. But this officer, instead of push
ing forward with all haste, burdened himself with
infantry, artillery, and wagon trains, so that when
Pope supposed the bridges and railroad destroyed
in the vicinity of Charlottesville and Gordonsville,
Hatch s command had just reached Madison Court
House. This movement illustrates the common idea
of the use of cavalry at this period. Hatch s delay
20 History of the Cavalry,
allowed Jackson s advance to occupy Gordonsvillo.
and the movements contemplated became impractica
ble. Hatch was relieved from command, and was suc
ceeded by Buford, as chief of cavalry of Banks corps.
On August 7th the cavalry of the Army of Vir
ginia was distributed as follows: Buford s brigade, at
Madison Court House, picketing the Rapidan from
Barnett s Ford to the Blue Kidge; Bayard s brigade
at Rapidan Station, picketing from Barnett s to Rac
coon Fords. (Buford and Bayard were young officers
of the regular cavalry.) Pickets were also established
from Raccoon Ford to the forks of the Rappahannock.
The whole disposition of the cavalry was admirably
arranged as a screening force, and on August 7th and
8th performed valuable service in retarding Jackson s
advance and keeping Pope informed of the enemy s
At the battle of Cedar Mountain,* which occurred
the following day, the cavalry fell slowly back as
the enemy advanced, and rendered effective service
throughout the day, a squadron of the First Pennsyl
vania Cavalry making a most gallant charge against
a body of the enemy which was about to charge the
Union batteries. The squadron lost an aggregate of
93 men out of the 164 who participated in the charge.
*See Appendix 4.
Army of the Potomac. 21
As Jackson fell back across the Rapidan, the cav
alry kept touch with him, and reoccupied their old
picket line, stretching from Kaccoon Ford to the base
of the Blue Ridge. Reconnaissances, too, were pushed
forward, and a cavalry command sent out on August
16th captured General Stuart s adjutant-general with
important dispatches, the tenor of which strongly in
fluenced Pope in his decision to fall back across the
Rappahannock, which he did August 17th and 18th.
At this time the cavalry was greatly fatigued.
Pope says: "Our cavalry numbered on paper about
4,000 men, but their horses were completely broken
down, and there were not 500 men capable of doing as
much service as should be expected from cavalry."
That the cavalry would play an unimportant part in
the subsequent movements leading up to and culminat
ing in the battle of Bull Run would be expected from
their miserable condition. With broken-down horses
it was impossible to cover the front of the army, or
to make reconnaissances. Speaking of the condition
of the cavalry on the morning of the battle of Bull
Run, Pope says: "The artillery and cavalry horses
had been in harness and saddled continually for ten
days, and had had no forage for two days previous."
But the services of the cavalry under their two effi
cient brigade commanders could not receive greater
22 History of the Cavalry,
praise than when General Pope says: "Generals Bay
ard and Buford commanded the cavalry belonging to
the Army of Virginia. Their duties were peculiarly
arduous and hazardous, and it is not too much to say
that throughout the operations, from the first to the
last day of the campaign, scarcely a day passed that
these officers did not render service which entitles
them to the gratitude of the Government."*
Thus did the cavalry acquit itself. It had not al
ways been used wisely, nor was it kept supplied with
remounts and forage as it should have been. Effi
ciency, which comes only with experience, was gradu
ally gaining ground in spite of many obstacles. The
true worth of cavalry, and consequently its true em
ployment, was beginning to be better comprehended.
An order issued by General Pope, soon after the bat
tle of Cedar Mountain, directing the cavalry detach
ments at brigade and division headquarters to report
for duty to their chiefs of cavalry, and greatly reduc
ing the number of orderlies, marks a decided change
in the condition of the cavalry; but the time was still
far distant when it was to be given a status in keep
ing with its importance, and when it was able to vin
dicate itself in the eyes of those who "never saw a
*See Appendix 5.
Army of the Potomac. 23
On the 5th day of September, 1862, the Army of
the Potomac and the Army of Virginia were consoli
dated, and General McClellan assumed command of
Contrary to public expectation, General Lee in
vaded Maryland instead of attacking Washington, and
the Army of the Potomac, while shielding the national
capital, endeavored to keep touch with the army of
invasion. Had McClellan had at his disposal at this
time an adequate cavalry force, his task would have
been made infinitely more simple.
But the cavalry, especially that portion which had
passed through Pope s campaign, was in deplorable
condition for aggressive action. Pleasanton s cavalry
division, weakened though it was by its experience on
the Peninsula, was best able to take the field, and
early in September was reconnoitering the fords of
the Potomac. On the 9th it occupied Barnesville, and
captured the battle-flag of the Twelfth Virginia Cav
alry. On the 13th the right wing and center of the
Federal army having reached Frederick, the cavalry
cleared the passage over the Catoctin Hills, ancf early
on the morning of the 14th found the enemy occupying
advantageous positions at South Mountain, on either
24 History of the Cavalry,
side of the gap through which the National Road
The enemy was routed from his positions by the
Federal army, but the cavalry took little part in the
battle. Pleasanton deployed a portion of his cavalry
dismounted during the day, causing the enemy to mass
a considerable force on the right of the Confederate
Lee s army withdrew so as to cover the Shepherds-
town Ford of the Potomac, and the cavalry, followed
by three army corps, pursued by way of Boonesbor-
ough. At the latter place the cavalry caught up with
the enemy s rear guard, and, charging repeatedly,
drove the enemy two miles beyond the town. The
enemy left 30 dead and 50 wounded upon the field,
besides 2 pieces of artillery and 250 prisoners cap
tured; while the loss to the Union cavalry was but 1
killed and 15 wounded.
On the 17th, the date of the battle of Antietam, the
cavalry moved to Antietam Bridge, which was found
to be under a cross-fire of the enemy s artillery. Cav
alry skirmishers were thrown forward, and, aided by
the horse batteries of the division, the enemy s batter
ies were driven from their positions. The main battle
was between the infantry and artillery of both armies,
and resulted in the withdrawal of Lee s army into
Army of the Po
On the 18th the cavalry was feeling the enemy and
collecting stragglers; on the 19th, pushing the enemy s
rear guard at the fords of the Potomac; and thereaf
ter, for some time, it was so disposed as to cover
the principal fords, making frequent reconnaissances
into Virginia to develop the enemy s position and
For these duties the strength of the cavalry was
found to be inadequate. Overwork and disease had
broken down the horses to such an extent that when
on October llth General Stuart made a raid into Penn
sylvania with 2.000 men, McOlellan could mount but
800 men to follow him.*
To meet this raid, Averell then on the upper Po
tomac moved down the north side of the river, while
Pleasanton, taking the Cavestown Mechanicstown
road, was disposed to cut off the raiding force should
it cross by any of the fords below the main army.
Upon arriving at Mechanicstown, Pleasanton learned
that the enemy was but an hour ahead of him re
treating towards the mouth of the Monocacy; and, al
though his own force numbered about one-fourth that
of the enemy, he pursued vigorously,! and attacked
*Rebellion Records, Vol. XIX., Part I., page 71.
For strength, "present and absent," see Appendix 7.
fPleasanton marched seventy-eight miles in twenty-four
26 History of the Cavalry,
Stuart s rear guard with such energy that the latter
was prevented from crossing the Monocacy Ford, and
was forced to move to White s Ford, three miles below.
Had the latter ford been occupied by troops as was
originally ordered, it is quite probable that Stuart
would have been captured or badly crippled. A larger
cavalry force, or even a supply of serviceable horses
for the Army of the Potomac, might have prevented
this raid, which had the effect of drawing a consider
able force from Lee s tired army, produced great con
sternation among the people of the North, and led to
the loss of much property.
On September 10th General Buford had been an
nounced as chief-of-cavalry of the Army of the Poto
mac, but the office was simply a staff position, and was
attended with very little, if any, independence of ac
tion. So far as the cavalry was concerned, the chief-
of-cavalry was the executive officer of the command
On October 1st General Bayard was assigned to
the command of all the cavalry about Washington,
south of the Potomac; and on the 21st General Pleas-
anton was given a cavalry brigade, consisting of the
Sixth U. S. Cavalry, the Eighth Pennsylvania, the
Eighth Illinois, the Third Indiana, and the Eighth
New York Cavalry regiments.
Army of the Potomac. 27
On the 26th Pleasanton crossed the Potomac at
Berlin, and during the next few days was employed,
as was also the brigade of Bayard, in gaining infor
mation of the enemy s movements, resulting in skir
mishes at Snicker s Gap, Upperville, Aldie, Mount-
ville, Philomont, and Manassas Gap. On November
5th his brigade fought an action at Barbee s Cross-
Roads, with Stuart s command of about 3,000 cavalry,
accompanied by four pieces of artillery. Gregg, with
the Eighth Pennsylvania and the Sixth United States,
turned the enemy s right; Davis, with the Eighth New
York, attacked the left; and Farnsworth, with the
Eighth Illinois, moved against the center. During the
engagement, Davis was met by a much superior force,
about to charge him. He quickly overcame the dis
proportion in numbers by dismounting several of his
companies behind a stone wall, and their galling front
and flank fire soon threw the enemy into confusion.
This accomplished, Davis, with the remainder of the
regiment, mounted, charged, routed the enemy, and
drove him from the field. The Confederates left thirty-
seven dead upon the field, while the Union loss was
but five killed and eight wounded. This maneuver of
fighting dismounted behind obstacles with a portion
of a command, and charging the enemy in the flank
with the remainder mounted, became a very common
and effective method of fighting throughout the war.
28 History of the Cavalry,
On November 7th General McClellan was super
seded as commander of the Army of the Potomac by
General Burnside, and the army was organized into
three grand divisions the right, center, and left, com
manded by Sumner, Hooker, and Franklin. An order
of the 21st instant assigned the cavalry divisions of
Pleasanton, Bayard, and Averell to the three grand
Burnside moved his army down the north side of
the Rappahannock on November 15th, and reached
Falmouth on the 20th. Although the river was ford-
able a few miles above the town, and Lee s army had
not yet reached Falmouth at this date, Burnside did
not cross the river until the llth of December. The
passage of the river was effected without much oppo
sition, but in the subsequent attempts to turn the ene
my s position on the heights in rear of Fredericksburg,
the Federal army was obliged to fall back. Both
armies remained in position until the night of Decem
ber loth, when General Burnside withdrew his forces
to the north bank of the Rappahannock.
During the advance along the north bank of the
river, begun on November 15th, the cavalry was in
rear, employed in covering the fords, and this duty
gave rise to much skirmishing. On November 16th at
the United States Ford, and on the 28th at Hartwood
Army of the Potomac. 29 1
Church, Bayard s and Averell s cavalry divisions were
engaged ; and on the 28th to 30th of the month the
brigade attached to the reserve grand division, whose
headquarters were near Fairfax, advanced to Snickers-
ville and Berryville and routed the enemy s cavalry
(White s), capturing their colors and many prisoners.
But the cavalry took very little part in the grander
movements of the army. When Sumner s grand divis
ion crossed the river on December 12th, Pleasanton s
cavalry division was massed in rear of the ridge com
manding the approaches to the upper bridges. And
when Franklin crossed below the city, he was pre
ceded by Bayard s cavalry division, which reconnoi-
tered the country southward.* This* was the extent of
the cavalry operations, the exhausting and unceasing
picket duty monopolizing almost the entire time and
attention of officers and men.
After the Union army fell back across the Kappa-
hannock, the two armies confronted each other, each
endeavoring to recuperate from the terrible struggle
*General Bayard was killed on the 15th by a piece of shell,
while near General Franklin s headquarters. He was suc
ceeded by Colonel D. McM. Gregg, Eighth Pennsylvania Cav
alry; and Colonel Thomas C. Devin succeeded to the com
mand of the Second Brigade of Pleasanton s division. Both
these officers were destined to become celebrated in the sub
sequent operations of the cavalry.
For the organization of the cavalry at Fredericksburg, see
30 History of the Cavalry,
at Fredericksburg, and each hesitating to take the ini
tiative. There were dissensions in the Army of the
Potomac, and differences of opinion. Burnside was for
a general advance, but was opposed in this by his
grand division commanders. And the commanding
general s views so far took shape that a cavalry expe
dition, proposed and organized by General Averell,
was put on foot (December 28th), only to be recalled
at the last moment by orders from the President, insti
gated by general officers, who differed with General
Burnside as to the wisdom of aggressive action at this
Averell proposed to take a thousand picked men,
selected from nine regiments, with four pieces of artil
lery, proceed by Kelly s Ford on the Rappahannock
and Kaccoon Ford on the Rapidan to the James River,
and by crossing on the bridge at Carterville, to pro
ceed to Suffolk, or join the Federal forces in North
Carolina, under General Foster. The expedition was
expected to destroy the railroads, bridges, and tele
graph lines between the Federal army and Richmond,
and was to depend upon the country for sustenance.
In many respects it did not differ in conception from
the Stoneman raid of six months later.
Army of the Potomac.
On January 26th, General Burnside was relieved
from command of the Army of the Potomac, and wa&
succeeded by General Hooker. A few days later (Feb
ruary 6, 1863) the organization by grand divisions was
abolished, and that by army corps substituted, with
General Stoneman to command all the cavalry.
This consolidation of the cavalry was by far the
most important step that had yet been taken to in
crease its efficiency, and enable it to act in its true
The cavalry corps was organized in three divisions,
commanded by Generals Pleasanton, Averell, and
Gregg, with the Keserve Brigade in command of Gen
eral Buford. On February 10, 1863, the corps had an
aggregate of 13,452 officers and men present for duty
the present and absent numbering 17,166. These
figures give some idea of the large number of absent
ees. The regular regiments, especially, were depleted
in numbers. Regular officers were constantly as
signed to duty w r ith volunteer commands, as well as
to many staff positions; and in the matter of recruit
ing the Government could not successfully compete
with the States. At times the strength of the regular
regiments did not average more than 250 men present
History of the Cavalry,
for duty. A squadron the tactical unit of organiza
tion contained anywhere from sixty to one hundred
men, and was only brought up to the required strength
by the addition of extra companies.
During the months of January and February the
cavalry was kept constantly employed, reconnoitering
the enemy s position, watching the fords of the Rappa
hannock, and engaged in almost constant skirmish
ing.* Much of this was done in severe winter weather,
while the infantry was being made comfortable in
The enemy s cavalry was very bold and aggressive.
On February 24th General Fitzhugh Lee, with 400 of
his cavalry, crossed the river at Kelly s Ford, drove
back the Federal pickets at Hartwood Church, and
brought on a skirmish with Averell s cavalry. Under
the impression that the enemy were in force, General
Stoneman immediately put the divisions of Pleasan-
ton and Averell in motion, followed by the Reserve
Brigade; but after encamping for a night at Morris-
ville, the enemy eluded their pursuers by recrossing
On March 17th, however, an engagement was
fought at Kelly s Ford, which made the Confederate
*At Grove Church, Fairfax, Middleburg, Rappahannock
Army of the Potomac. 33
cavalry more wary, and did much towards making the
Union cavalry more aggressive.
General Averell received orders to cross the river
with 3,000 cavalry and 6 pieces of artillery, and
attack and destroy the forces of General Fitzhugh
Lee, supposed to be near Culpeper Court House.
The Union general started from Morrisville with
about 2,100 men all told, and arriving at Kelly s Ford,
found the crossing obstructed with abatis, and de
fended by about 80 sharpshooters, covered by rifle-
pits and houses on the opposite bank. After several
attempts, the crossing was gallantly effected by Lieu
tenant Brown with 20 men of the First Khode Island
Cavalry, who took 25 prisoners. The crossing could
easily have been forced by the use of artillery, but it
was not desired to give notice of the movement to the
Westward from the ford, the ground was compara
tively clear for half a mile, followed by woods; and
beyond the latter was an open field. The cavalry col
umn reached the first line of woods without opposi
tion, when the enemy was discovered advancing in
line. The Fourth New York was directed to form line
to the right of the road, the Fourth Pennsylvania to
the left, with a section of artillery between the two.
Jn front of these troops was a broad, deep ditch, cov-
34 History of the Cavalry,
ered by a heavy stone wall; and from behind this
obstacle the carbines of the cavalry and guns of the
artillery delivered a brisk fire. Farther to the right
the Third Pennsylvania and Sixteenth Pennsylvania
had come into position; while to the left the Fir^t
Rhode Island and Sixth Ohio had also formed line. As
the enemy advanced under the galling fire of the dis
mounted men, Colonel Duffie . commanding the first
brigade, led the regiments on the left of the line in a
most successful charge. This charge was closely fol
lowed by that of Colonel Mclntosh, who struck the
left flank of another of the enemy s columns just ar
riving on the field, and the entire body of Confederate
cavalry was driven back in great confusion.
The Federal line being re-formed, it again advanced
three-quarters of a mile, driving the enemy through a
second line of woods. Beyond these woods, and dis
tant about half a mile, the Confederates made another
stand, and attempted to advance under cover of a
heavy artillery fire, but were again repulsed and
driven from the field. As it was then quite late in
the day, and the horses of the Federal cavalry were
much exhausted, the division was withdrawn, and re-
crossed Kelly s Ford without opposition. The official
return of casualties was, for the Union forces, 78; and
for the Confederates, 133,
Army of the Potomac. 35
This engagement has been described with some
degree of detail, because of its importance as being
the first time the Federal cavalry was made to feel its
superiority, or at least equality, with the splendid
cavalry of Stuart.* It was another step in the increas
ing feeling of confidence in themselves and in their
leaders, which was to manifest itself in a still greater
degree at the subsequent battle of Brandy Station.
But the interminable picket duty of the cavalry
still went on,f as though none but mounted troops
were capable of performing such service.
During this period, too, the Federal cavalry in
West Virginia were kept more than usually busy, due
to the expedition of the Confederate General Imboden
into that State (April 20th to May 14th), and also the
raid of General W. E. Jones on the Baltimore & Ohio
Railroad (April 21st to May 21st), leading to skir-
mishes at Beverly, Janelew, and Summerville, W. Va.
*Generals Stuart s and Fitzhugh Lee s official reports of
this engagement dwell on the fact that the Union forces were
afraid to meet their opponents in the open, and that the
mounted troops continually fell back, when hard pressed, to
the protection of their artillery and dismounted skirmishers.
tThe skirmishes of the cavalry while upon this duty were
of daily occurrence, some of them very severe Bealeton Sta
tion, Herndon, Occoquon, Little River Turnpike, Broad Run.
Middleburg, Burlington. Purgitsville, Rappahannock Bridge.
Kelly s, Welford s, and Beverly fords. (Skirmish of April
36 History of the Cavalry,
In addition to these attempts to frustrate the more
important raids of Confederate troops in the State,
the Union cavalry in West Virginia had particularly
arduous service during the entire year, in attempts to
break up the depredations of the guerrilla bands of
Mosby and Gilmore. During the winter of 1862-63
movements of troops were especially onerous on ac
count of the severity of the winter weather in the
mountains, and the extent of the territory to be
During the spring of 1863, as well as during the
succeeding summer, the cavalry in West Virginia
fought a number of minor skirmishes, which, though
often bravely contested, reflected no great credit on
the cavalry arm. As General Halleck states in his ro-
port (November 15, 1863): "The force [in West Vir
ginia], being too small to attempt any campaign by
itself, has acted merely on the defensive in repelling
raids and breaking up guerrilla bands."
The same may be said of the cavalry of General
Milroy, operating in the Shenandoah Valley at this
time. Though kept continually busy, reconnoitering,
patrolling, and picketing this part of Virginia, its
operations were of a minor character.*
*The cavalry fought skirmishes at Buck s, Front Royal,
and Berry s fords.
Army of the Potomac. 37
On April 27, 1863, was .inaugurated the Chancel-
lorsville campaign, General Hooker crossing the Rap
pahannock and Rapidan above their junction. At th
same time the major portion of the cavalry corps
under Stoneman crossed the upper Rappahannock for
a raid on the enemy s communications with Richmond.
Stoneman s instructions from Hooker were framed
with the idea in view that the coming encounter be
tween the Army of the Potomac and the Army of
Northern Virginia would be gained by the Federal
"You will march," says the order, "with all your
available force, except one brigade, for the purpose of
turning the enemy s position on his left, and of throw
ing your command between him and Richmond, and
isolating him from his supplies, checking his retreat,
and inflicting on him every possible injury which will
tend to his discomfiture and defeat. You
may rely upon the General [Hooker] being in conn -c-
tion with you before your supplies are exhausted.
Leaving Devin s brigade of Pleasanton s division
for duty with the Army of the Potomac, Stoneman
crossed the Rappahannock on April 29th, by way of
the railroad bridge and Kelly s Ford. Three days
rations and three days allowance of short forage were
taken on the troopers horses; while three days sub-
38 History of the Cavalry,
sistence and two days short forage were taken upon
pack-mules. With the exception of the artillery, not
a wheel of any description accompanied the command.
After crossing the river, General Stonemau turned
over to Averell s command which consisted of one
division, one brigade, and six pieces of artillery the
task of defeating any force of the enemy likely to im
pede the operations of the raiding force. But Averell
had not gone far when he was recalled by an order
from General Hooker, leaving Stoneman with one d : -
vision, one brigade, and six pieces of artillery, aggre
gating 4,329 men.
The Rapidan was crossed at Morton s and Raccoon
Fords on the 30th, and thereafter, until May 8th, the
command subsisted entirely on the country through
which it passed. After taking possession of Lou
isa Court House, Stonemnn passed on and destroyed
the Virginia Central Railroad from Gordonsville, for
eighteen miles eastward, together with all railroad
bridges, trains , d6p6ts, provisions, and telegraph lines.
Passing on, a large portion of the Aquia & Richmond
Railroad was destroyed, all the bridges across th
South Anna, and several across the North Anna.
On May 3d Colonel Judson Kilpatrick, command
ing one of the brigades, was sent with his own regi
ment (Harris Light) io destroy the railroad bridge
Army of the Potomac. 39
over the Chickahominy. But, being unable to rejoin
Stoneman, Kilpatrick took refuge within the Union
lines on the Peninsula, having burned the bridge over
the Chickahominy, run a train of cars into the river,
destroyed the ferry at Hanovertown in time to check
a pursuing force, surprised a Confederate force at
Aylett s, burned fifty-six wagons and a depot contain
ing 60,000 bushels of corn, and destroyed the ferry over
the Mattapony, as well as vast quantities of clothing
and commissary stores.
As to Stoneman s main command, the six days hav
ing expired during which General Hooker was to have
opened communication, and supplies becoming scarce,
Stoneman decided to make the best of his way to the
Army of the Potomac, which he reached in safety. He
then learned the result of the sanguinary battle of
As a moral factor and an engine of destruction, the
Stoneman raid was a great success. It destroyed mil
lions of dollars worth of Confederate property, and,
although for a short time only, cut Lee s communica
tions. Its moral effect, judging from the Confederate
correspondence since published, was much greater
than was at the time believed to be the case. It, more
over, taught the Union cavalry how to cut loose from
*For organization of cavalry, see Appendix 9.
40 History of the Cavalry,
their base of supplies, and gave them a new confidence
in their mobility never before experienced.
But, as a part of the main operations, the raid was
ill-timed. Its complete success, depending as it did on
a Federal victory at Chancel 1 or sville, was frustrated
through no fault of the cavalry or its commander. The
detaching of Stoneman s command deprived Hooker
of cavalry at a time when he particularly needed a
covering force to conceal the movements of his right,
as well as to give timely information of the Confeder
ate concentration against his right flank. The Comte
de Paris has said: "The absence of Stoneman s fine
cavalry had probably been the cause of Hooker s de
feat, as he had deprived himself of all means of otain-
ing information w r hen about to enter an impenetrable
forest. Such was Jackson s opinion, expressed a few
days before his death. * * * From the moment he
[Hooker] had failed to compel Lee to retreat, the role
assigned to Stoneman lost almost all its importance. " 5
But the cavalry brigade left with the Army of th >
Potomac performed most valuable service.
On May 2d General Lee, having concluded that a
direct attack upon the Union forces would prove fu
tile, determined to turn the Federal right flank, and its
"History of the Civil War, Vol. IV., page 115. (Comte
Army of the Potomac. 41
execution was entrusted to .General T. J. Jackson. By
a flank march along the Furnace and Brock road, ef
fectually covered by the heavy woods and by the move
ments of Fitzhugh Lee s cavalry, Jackson succeeded in
placing three divisions opposite the Union right.
On the afternoon of this day General Pleasanton,
with three small cavalry regiments, the Sixth New
York, Eighth Pennsylvania, and Seventeenth Pennsyl
vania, was ordered to assist General Sickles in pursu
ing the enemy s wagon trains. Finding the time inop
portune for a cavalry attack, Pleasanton took position
north of Scott s Run, on the left of the Eleventh Corps
Jackson s attack on this corps was a complete sur
prise, and resulted in a demoralizing and panic-
stricken retreat on its part. As this was taking place,
Pleasanton was notified, and the Eighth Pennsylvania
Cavalry was dispatched at a gallop to check the ene
my s attack at any cost, until preparations could be
made to receive them. When this regiment reached
the scene of action,* Howard had fallen back, and the
enemy s skirmish line had crossed the road along
which the cavalry was moving. Led by Colonel Huey,
the regiment made a desperate charge in column, at
*Huey s report, Rebellion Records, Vol. XXV., Part I., page
42 History of the Cavalry,
right angles to Jackson s column, losing three officers
out of the five with the regiment, and about thirty
men, but checking for the time being the Confederate
Meanwhile Pleasanton, to whom every moment s de
lay was invaluable, had been straining every effort to
concentrate artillery to meet the advancing lines, and
before the enemy came in sight, had succeeded in plac
ing twenty-three pieces of artillery in position, double-
shotted with canister, and supported by two small cav
alry squadrons. The fugitives from the Eleventh Corps
swarmed from the woods, and swept frantically over
the fields, the exulting enemy at their heels. But as the
latter drew near, the Federal artillery opened with ter
rible effect. The Confederate lines were thrown back
in disorder and with the arrival of reinforcements to
the Union line, aided by darkness, the enemy withdrew.
It is impossible to say what might have happened
had not the attack of Jackson s victorious divisions been
checked. The sacrifice of the brave cavalry regiment
well repaid the results gained, and illustrates how very
effective as a gainer of time the charge in flank of even
a small body of cavalry may be, when prosecuted with
vigor. It was, perhaps, the most important piece of
mounted work by a single cavalry regiment during the
Army of the Potomac.
After Chancellorsville the opposing armies rested
for a time on opposite sides of the Rappahannock, near
During the entire month of May the cavalry was
greatly annoyed by Mosby s men. On the 3d Mosby
and others surrounded fifty men of the First West Vir
ginia, but the latter were rescued by a brilliant charge
of the Fifth New York. Towards the middle of the
month the First New York had a skirmish with a por
tion of Mosby s command at Upperville (May 12-14);
and again on the 30th Mosby attacked the train of the
Eighth Michigan near Catlett s Station, burning it and
engaging in a spirited cavalry fight with the First Ver
mont, Fifth New York, and a detachment of the Sev
enth Michigan. Partly as an offset to these raids, the
Eighth Illinois Cavalry was sent on a raiding expe
dition (May 20-26) into King George, Westmoreland,
Richmond, Northumberland, and Lancaster counties,
destroying property estimated at one million dollars.
Early in June Stuart s cavalry were holding the
fords of the upper Rappahannock, the main body being
near Culpeper Court House and Brandy Station. It
retained its division organization, being composed of
five brigades, aggregating May 31st, 9,536 men.
44 History of the Cavalry,
To the right rear of the Array of the Potomac was
the Federal cavalry, massed at Wnrrentou Junction
uDder General Pleasanton, who had May 22d assumed
command. It was still organized as a corps of three
divisions, numbering in all 7,981 men, and was charged
with outpost duty from the neighborhood of Falmouth
to Warrenton, with occasional expeditions into the
country above the upper Rapidan.
In Lee s plan of invasion of the Northern States, his
first objective was Culpeper Court House. Hooker
guessed Lee s intentions, and Pleasanton was ordered
to make a reconnaissance in force, having for its object
to discover the strength, position, and possible inten
tions of any body of Confederate troops on the Fred-
ericksburg-Culpeper road. But the corps was hamp
ered by the addition of two infantry brigades accord
ing to the still prevailing idea as to the employment of
On June 9th one division of the cavalry corps
(Buford s), accompanied by Ames infantry brigade,
was to cross the Rapphannock at Beverly Ford, and
moved by way of St. James Church to Brandy Station.
The second column, Gregg s and Duffi^ s divisions, with
Russell s infantry brigade, was to cross at Kelly s
Ford, and, separating, Gregg was to proceed past Mount
Dumpling to Brandy Station, while Duflfid was to take
the left-hand road to Stevensburg.
Army of the Potomac. 45
By a strange coincidence, it was Stuart s intention
on this same day to cross the river at Beverly Ford and
the upper fords, and divert the attention of the Union
forces from Lee s movements northward later infor
mation showing that he intended to invade Maryland.
The orders for the Federal cavalry divisions directed
them to cross the river at daylight on the 9th, and push
rapidly on to Brandy Station. Under cover of a heavy
fog and the noise of a neighboring mill-dam, Buford s
command crossed the river at 4 o clock, surprised the
enemy,* and would have captured his guns had it not
been for the untimely death of the brave Colonel B. F.
Davis, Eighth New York Cavalry, who was killed while
charging the enemy at the head of his brigade. The
enemy s force confronting the Federal column was su
perior in numbers, but in spite of this fact, Pleasanton
had formed line of battle crossing the ford in less than
an hour. But the Confederates were in such force that
no advance was made until Gregg s guns were heard
on the enemy s left, when a general advance was
The enemy fell back rapidly, and General Stuart s
headquarters, with all his papers, was captured. A junc
tion was soon formed with Gregg, and with heavy losses
to both sides the enemy was pushed back to Fleetwood
*This attack was afterwards known to the Confederates
as "The Surprise."
46 tlistory of the Cavalry, -
Kidge. It was then found that the enemy s infantry
was advancing from Brandy Station and Culpeper. The
object of the reconnaissance having been partly gained,
through the development of the Confederate infantry
from the direction of Culpeper, and the information
gained from the papers captured in the Confederate
camp, orders were given to withdraw Gregg by the
way of the ford at Kappahannock Bridge, and Buford
at Beverly Ford. But as this order was being put into
execution, the Confederates made a heavy attack on
the Union right, resulting in the most serious fighting
of the day. The mounted charges, rallies, and counter
charges by the cavalry of both sides made this pre-
emininently a cavalry fight of the most desperate
At 4 o clock p. m., a superior infantry force being
about to advance, Pleasauton ordered a withdrawal,
which was executed in good order, the recrossing of
the river being effected about 7 o clock p. m.
The contest had lasted for ten hours, and the casual
ties, amounting to 866 for the Federal troops and 485
for the Confederates,* attest the desperate character
of the fighting. Although the battle illustrated all
kinds of cavalry fighting, mounted and dismounted, it
was principally mounted. Stuart had the advantage in
"Official returns, Rebellion Records, Vol. XXVII., Parts I.
and II., pages 170 and 719, respectively.
Army of the Potomac. 47
position, but the conditions were most favorable for
cavalry operations; men and horses were in prime con
dition for active service; the ground was undulating,
rising slightly from the river towards Brandy Station;
and the infantry on both sides served principally as
Brandy Station rounded up % the successful experi
ences of the Federal cavalry at Kelly s Ford in March,
and with the raiding column of Stonemau in April. It
was the first great cavalry combat of the war, and was
really the turning-point in the fortunes of the Union
cavalry. The Confederate cavalry had hitherto held
their opponents in contempt, and the latter had had
doubts of themselves.
But the experience of June 9, 1868, made the Union
cavalry, and henceforth no one could doubt its effi
ciency, mounted or dismounted. McClellan has said:
"One result of incalculable importance certainly did
follow this battle it made the Federal cavalry. Up
to this time confessedly inferior to the Southern horse
men, they gained on this day that confidence in them
selves and their commanders which enabled them to
contest so fiercely the subsequent battle-fields of June,
July, and October."*
*McClellan s "Campaign of Stuart s Cavalry," page 294.
48 History of the Cavalry,
Lee s second objective was the fords of the upper
Potomac, and these he proposed to reach by the valley
of the Shenandoah, where, concealed from observation
by the mountain ranges on his right, his safety, could
be secured by holding the mountain passes connecting
the valley with the main theatre of operations. He
entrusted this duty to Stuart s cavalry, supported by
Longstreet s infantry corps.
By June 15th Stuart had pushed forward to the Bull
Run Mountains, and held Thoroughfare and Aldie gaps,
traversed respectively by the main road from Win
chester to Alexandria, and the Manassas Gap Railway.
He also occupied Rectortown, and, later on, Middle-
burg, from which points he could reinforce either one
of the two passes, as occasion required.
On June 13th the cavalry corps of the Army of the
Potomac was concentrated at Warrenton Junction, and
from the 14th to the 17th, was covering the movement
of the main army northward.
Lee s movements were, however, so well concealed
that on the 17th the cavalry corps was sent to obtain
information. This was one of the very things that
Stuart had been instructed to prevent.
Army of the Potomac. 49
Pleasanton proposed to move to Ashby s Gap in the
Blue Ridge, by way of Aldie. To do this, he moved on
Aldie with Buford s and Gregg s divisions Barnes
division of infantry in support and detached Duffie
with his regiment, the First Rhode Island Cavalry, to
march to Middleburg, by way of Thoroughfare Gap.
It was expected that Duffi would rejoin the main com
mand, after it had passed through Aldie, by way of
Union, Purcellville, and Nolan s Ferry.
Munford s brigade of Stuart s cavalry was at Aldie,
and Gregg s division encountered his outposts on the
17th inst. A spirited engagement ensued, in which the
advantage remained w r ith the Federal cavalry, the en
emy withdrawing from the field and occupying Mid
dleburg that night. The casualties were quite heavy
on both sides, aggregating for the Federal troops 305
killed, wounded, and missing, and for the Confederates
119. There was much mounted and dismounted fight
ing on both sides, the greater number of casualties on
the Federal side being due to the obstinate resistance
of the Confederate sharpshooters, posted behind stone
walls. Stuart, in his report of the engagement, pro
nounced Aldie "one of the most sanguinary battles of
Meanwhile Dum6 had proceeded through Thorough
fare Gap, where he encountered the enemy s outposts.
As his orders directed him to proceed to Middleburg,
50 History of the Cavalry,
he kept on, and was ultimately surrounded by Cham-
bliss and Robertson s Confederate brigades. Duffle",
with four officers and twenty-seven men only, suc
ceeded in escaping.
On the 19th Pleasanton advanced against the Con
federates at Middleburg. Three brigades under Gregg-
moved on the town, while one brigade was sent to out
flank the enemy s position. The fighting was of the
most desperate character, the Federal forces, as Pleas
anton stated in a letter to Hooker, "really fighting
infantry behind stone walls." The enemy s right flank
was finally outflanked by dismounted skirmishers and
fell back to a stronger position, half a mile to the rear.
The same evening Stuart was reinforced by Jones
brigade from Union; and on the 20th, by Hampton s
brigade, which relieved Chambliss on the Upperville
On the 21st Stuart s line of five brigades extended
from Middleburg to Union, confronted by six brigades
of Federal cavalry, supported by a division of infantry.
Gregg s division moved against the enemy s right, while
Buford s advanced toward Union to turn the Confed
erate left. As so often happened, Gregg s movement,
though intended as a feint only, developed into the
principal fight of the day. Protected by the heights,
the enemy stubbornly resisted Gregg s advance, but
were steadily driven back to Upperville, where the first
Army of the Potomac. 51
division (Buford s), which had closed in on the second
division on its left, cooperated with it in the attack on
the town. Here the enemy had massed his cavalry,
with his artillery in position at Ashby s Gap; but after
repeated charges and counter-charges, was driven from
the town, and his steady withdrawal was finally
changed to a headlong retreat towards Ashby s Gap.*
That night a portion of Longstreet s infantry corps
occupied the gap; and Stuart s command, as that gen
eral says in his report, was "ordered farther back for
rest and refreshment, of which it was sorely in need."
And on June 22d, having accomplished the objects of
the expedition, Pleasanton fell back to Aldie, and a
few days later joined the Army of the Potomac.
In these operations the cavalry corps had admirably
performed the duties of screening the movements of
the Army of the Potomac and of reconnoitering the
enemy s movements. Some of Buford s scouts on the
heights of the Blue Ridge had actually seen a Confed
erate infantry camp, two miles in length, in the val
ley of the Shenandoah. At the same time, Lee was
uncertain of the movements of the Army of the Poto
mac. The success of the engagements at Aldie, Mid-
dleburg, and Upperville brought increasing confidence
to the officers and men of the Federal cavalry.
*Casualties at Upperville: Union, 209. Upperville and.
Middleburg (consolidated): Confederate, 510.
52 History of the Cavalry,
Within five days it had driven the Confederate cav-
airy through a country capable of a most stubborn de
fense, as far as the base of the Blue Eidge; had proved
its ability to cope, mounted or dismounted, with its
formidable antagonists; and had been able to furnish
information of a most important character to the com-
During this time the Army of the Potomac had,
under cover of the cavalry, moved from Fredericksburg
northward, covering Washington and Baltimore, and
on June 25th and 26th had crossed the Potomac at
Edwards Ferry. Upon reaching Frederick, General
Hooker was, at his own request, relieved from com
mand of the army, and General Meade was appointed
in his stead.
When Pleasanton, on June 22d, withdrew from con
tact with the enemy he employed the few days in which
his corps was on outpost duty in refitting. His horses
needed shoeing badly, and his command required both
rations and forage. On June 27th the divisions of
Buford and Gregg crossed the Potomac in rear of Ilie
infantry, and on the following day a new cavalry divi
sion, composed of the cavalry hitherto guarding Wash
ington under General Stahel, was assigned to the cav
alry corps as the Third Division. General Judson Kil-
patrick was assigned to command it, with Generals
Farnsworth (an officer promoted from the Eighth Illi-
Army of the Potomac. 53
nois Volunteer Cavalry) and Ouster as his brigade
On June 24th Stuart s cavalry started on a raid
which was destined to have a most important effect
upon the battle of Gettysburg, about to follow. Its
purpose was to cut the communications of the Federal
army, destroy the immense wagon trains in rear of that
army, and create a moral effect by threatening the
General Lee s letter to Stuart, dated June 22d, gives
him these general instructions: "If you find that he
[the enemy] is moving northward, and that two bri
gades can guard the Blue Ridge and take care of your
rear, you can move with the other three into Maryland,
and take position on General Ewell s right."
And again, in a letter written to Stuart the follow
ing day, Lee says: "You will, however, be able to judge
whether you can pass around their army without
hindrance, doing them all the damage you can, and
cross the river east of the mountains. In either case,
after crossing the river, you must move on and feel the
right of Ewell s troops."
*For the organization of the cavalry at Gettysburg, July
1st to 3d, nee Appendix 10 and 11.
54 History of the Cavalry,
It seems, from these letters and confirmatory state
ments in letters to General Longstreet, that Lee author
ized, if he did not actually suggest, Stuart s raid about
the Federal army. But, while giving Stuart great dis
cretionary power, he qualified this power by several im
portant conditions. That Stuart met with hindrances
which prevented his keeping in touch with Ewll s
right, and even caused his absence from part of the
battle of Gettysburg, is a matter of history.
Taking the brigades of Fitzhugh Lee, Hampton, and
Chambliss, Stuart moved on June 25th to Haymarket,
via Glassoock s Gap, where he was delayed twenty-four
hours by encountering Hancock s corps of infantry. On
the 27th he crossed the Potomac at Bowser s Ford, and
on the following day captured a Federal wagon train
eight miles long.
On this same day the cavalry corps of the Army of
the Potomac was disposed so that Gregg was on the
right, Buford on the left, and Kilpatrick in advance.
In consequence of Stuart s depredations, Kilpatrick g
division was on June 28th detached, and ordered to
move eastward to intercept Stuart, reported to be head
ing for Littlestown. By June 30th Kilpatrick s com
mand was badly scattered, the First and Second Michi
gan and Pennington s battery being at Abbotstown,
north of Hanover, and Farnsworth s brigade was at
Littlestown, southwest of Hanover. The Fifth am}
Army of the Potomac. 55
Sixth Michigan readied Littlestown at daylight, after
an all-night march, and during the morning Farnsworth
started towards Hanover. The troops at Abbottstown
were also ordered there.
As Farnsworth passed through Hanover, his rear
guard was attacked by the leading regiment of Stuart s
column (Chambliss brigade), which boldly charged and
threw the Federal column into great confusion, cap
turing the pack-trains. Under Farnsworth s skillful
direction, however, the Fifth New York Cavalry was
faced about, and by a counter-charge repulsed the
attack. Meanwhile the Sixth Michigan, which had been
left for awhile at Littlestown, was hurried up, and was
attacked en route by Fitzhugh Lee s brigade. About
noon the entire division was united at Hanover, and
until dark kept up a vigorous skirmishing with the
enemy, now holding the hills southwest of the town.
Stuart s dispositions, in guarding the long line of
wagons he had captured, were such as to prevent his
rapid deployment. Otherwise he might have overcome
the rear of Kilpatrick s column before it could have
been reinforced. As it was, Stuart s elongated column
gave a fine opportunity for a successful attack by the
Federal commander, which he failed to take complete
advantage of, principally because he was unable to
concentrate his scattered units. But Kilpatrick s final
56 History of the Cavalry,
stand had the eft ect of still further delaying Stuart s
efforts to join Lee.
This encounter, coupled with his efforts to save the
wagon train which embarrassed his movements, and the
fact that he believed Lee to be near the Susquehanna,
forced Stuart to make a detour to the east, passing
through Jefferson and Dover, and endeavoring to carry
out his original instructions as to keeping in touch with
Ewell s right. Swinging northward to Carlisle on July
1st, Stuart learned, to his dismay, that the Confederate
army was at Gettysburg, and that, in spite of the ex
hausted condition of his command, he must push south
ward with all haste, in order to be present at the ex
pected encounter of the two great armies. He therefore
moved rapidly towards Gettysburg, while Kilpatrick,
who had meanwhile been acting on interior lines,
marched to Berlin, by way of Abbottstown, for the pur
pose of throwing himself across Stuart s path, but the
Confederate commander succeeded in eluding him.
While Kilpatrick had been following Stuart, the
First Cavalry Division (Buford s) had marched to Mid
dletown, covering the left of the army, and watching
the enemy in the direction of Hagerstown. While in
camp at Middletown, Buford improved the opportunity
to shoe his horses and refit. The second division
(Gregg s) was stationed at different points from Fred
Army of the Potomac. 57
erick City to Ridgeville on the Baltimore pike, cover
ing the right of the army.
On June 29th the first division moved so as to cover
and protect the left flank of the line of march, the Re
serve Brigade, under Merritt, marching through Me-
chanicstown to Emmittsburg, protecting the division
trains, while the First and Second Brigades, passing
through Boonesborough, Cavetown, and Monterey, en
camped at Fairfield. The Second Cavalry Division on
that day moved to Westminster on the right flank of
the army, patrolling the country between York and
On June 30th Buford s first and second brigades
moved towards Gettysburg, meeting en route two Con
federate infantry regiments, with artillery, and became
involved in a skirmish. But not wishing to use his
artillery, lest he cause a premature concentration of the
enemy s forces, and thus disarrange General Meade s
plans, Buford turned aside, and, passing through Em
mittsburg, reached Gettysburg during the afternoon.
His arrival was most timely. The enemy s advance was
just entering the town, and Buford was able to drive
it back in the direction of Cashtown before it gained
During the night of June 30th scouting parties from
Buf ord s division patrolled the country in all directions.
^No information of value could be obtained from the in-
58 History of the Cavalry,
habitants, and it was only through the untiring exer
tions of these patrols that the cavalry commander
learned by daylight of July 1st that Hill s corps of the
Confederate army had reached Cashtown, and that his
pickets, composed of infantry and artillery, were within
sight of the Federal pickets. Buford accordingly made
every effort to hold the enemy in check until Reynolds
corps, encamped five miles south of him, could arrive
on the ground. His trained eye had been struck at
once with the strategic importance of Gettysburg.
From the town at least ten roads radiated in different
directions, and the commanding ground above the town
offered extraordinary advantages to the army which
should first gain possession. It seems apparent that
neither General Lee nor General Meade were at the
time aware of the strategic importance of the place.*
To Buford belongs the credit of the selection of Gettys-
*Meade s dispatch to Reynolds, 11:30 a. m., June 30th:
"P. 8. If, after occupying your present position, it is your
judgment that you would be in better position at Emmitts-
burg than where you are, you can fall back without waiting
for the enemy or further orders. Your present position was
given more with a view to an advance on Gettysburg than a
Then again, Reynolds dispatch to Butterfield, June 30th:
"I think if the enemy advances in force from Gettysburg, and
we are to fight a defensive battle in this vicinity, that the posi
tion to be occupied is just north of the town of Emmittsburg.
covering the plank road to Taneytown."
Army of the Potomac. 59
burg as a field of battle,* and the cool equanimity with
which he disposed his two insignificant brigades, when
he positively knew that the whole of General A. P.
HilFs force was advancing against him, must excite the
admiration of soldiers the world over.
Buford had placed Gamble s brigade, to which was
attached Calefs battery of the Second U. S. Artillery,
on the left, connecting with Devin s brigade across the
Chambersburg road, about one mile in front of the sem
inary. One section of Calefs battery was placed on
each side of the Cashtown road, covering the ap
proaches, and the third section was on the right of the
left regiment. Devin s brigade was on the left of the
First Brigade, its right resting on the Mummasburg
Between 8 and 9 o clock in the morning Heth s divi
sion of the Confederate army advanced along the Cash-
town road, and Buford sent a squadron from each bri
gade, part of which was dismounted, to deploy as skir-
* Buford stated to his brigade commander, Devin, "that
the battle would be fought at that point" (Gettysburg). And
again, "The enemy must know the importance of this posi
tion, and will strain every nerve to secure it, and if we are
able to hold it, we would do well." (Bates "Battle of Get
60 History of the Cavalry,
mishers and support the pickets. Gradually the whole
of the cavalry, dismounted, became involved, and as
Buf ord has said : "The line of battle moved off proudly
to meet the enemy." In a short time, the enemy s fire
becoming unbearable through ever-increasing num
bers, the line of battle was moved back about 200 yards.
Here again the dismounted cavalry fought desperately,
and Calef s battery did tremendous execution in the
face of an overwhelming fire. Indeed, at one time
twelve of the enemy s guns were concentrated on this
battery. For over two hours the enemy was held in
check by this little force of less than -3,000 effective
men, when the arrival of the First Corps, under Gen
eral Keynolds, served to relieve the cavalry from its
perilous position. During the greater part of the re
mainder of the day, however, the cavalry continued to
fight side by side with the infantry; and portions of
the Eighth New York, Third Indiana, and Twelfth Illi
nois regiments, posted behind a low stone wall within
short carbine range of the enemy, did tremendous exe
cution and by their fire prevented the turning of the
left flank of General Doubleday s command.* Part of
the Third Indiana Cavalry found horse-holders, bor
rowed muskets, and fought with the Wisconsin reg
iment that w r as sent to relieve them.
*General Gamble s report says: "The stand which we made
against the enemy prevented our left from being turned,
and saved a division of our infantry."
Army of the Potomac. 61
The First Cavalry Division bivouacked that night
on the field of battle, with its pickets extending almost
to Fairfield. Early next morning, while reconnoiter-
ing the enemy s right, it became engaged with Confed
erate sharpshooters, but succeeded in holding its posi
tion until relieved by the Third Corps. Then, at the
risk of leaving the Federal army s left flank unpro
tected by cavalry, it was ordered to proceed to West
minster to assist in guarding the supply trains at that
Meanwhile the Second Cavalry Division under Gregg
had been moving along the right flank of the Federal
army. On June 29th it covered the country between
York and Carlisle with patrols. On the 30th, due to the
enemy s concentration at Gettysburg, it left one bri
gade (Huey s) to cover the d6pot at Westminster, and
with the two other brigades moved to a position on
the extreme right flank of the Federal line of battle,
with orders to prevent the enemy from turning the
flank or gaining the rear.
The position of this division at the intersection of
the Gettysburg and Hanover turnpike with the road in
rear of the Federal line of battle was taken about noon
July 2d. A line of pickets was established to the front,
connecting with the right of the infantry line. Towards
evening an attempt was made to dislodge some of the
enemy s sharpshooters posted in front of the division,
62 History of the Cavalry,
resulting in the enemy s sending a regiment of infantry
(Second Virginia) to meet the dismounted cavalry. The
key to the position was a well-built stone wall running
along the top of the ridge, to the right of the Hanover
road. Each side raced for the wall at full speed, but the
fire from Bank s battery, Third Pennsylvania Artillery,
delayed the enemy long enough for the dismounted cav
alry to reach the wall first and pour a withering fire
from their breech-loading carbines into the Confed
erate infantry line, not more than twenty feet distant.
The result was decisive.
The following day, July 3d, this cavalry division,
which had for a time been withdrawn from its position
of the previous day, was again ordered to the right of
the line, with orders to make a demonstration against
the enemy. The First and Third Brigades were again
posted on the right of the infantry, this time about
three-fourths of a mile nearer the Baltimore and Get
tysburg turnpike, for the reason that Ouster s brigade
of the Third Cavalry Division had been detached from
that division and was occupying the ground held the
day before by the Second Cavalry Division. Dis
mounted skirmishers from the Sixteenth Pennsylvania
Cavalry were deployed through the woods in the direc
tion of Gettysburg.
About noon a dispatch reached General Gregg, say
ing that a large body of the enemy s cavalry were
Army of the Potomac. 63
observed from Cemetery Hill, and were moving against
the right of the line. In consequence of this informa
tion, Ouster s brigade, which had been ordered back to
Kilpatrick s command on the left of the line, was held
bj General Gregg until after the enemy s attack.
This Confederate column, moving to the attack, was
Stuart s cavalry, which, belated by obstacles already
mentioned, was advancing in front of Swell s corps.
Stuart took position upon a ridge which controlled a
wide area of cultivated fields. His plan ; as stated in
his official report, was to employ the Federal troops in
front with sharpshooters, while a cavalry force was
moved against their flank. He says: ! moved this
command [Jenkins cavalry brigade] and W. H. F.
Lee s secretly through the woods to a position, and
hoped to effect a surprise upon the enemy s rear."
Taken in combination with Pickett s famous charge,
Stuart s dispositions were such that he hoped to seize
the opportune moment to profit by it.
To meet this attack the First New Jersey was posted
as mounted skirmishers to the right and front in a
wood; the Third Pennsylvania was deployed as dis
mounted skirmishers to the left and front in open fields
and the First Maryland Cavalry was placed on the Han
over turnpike, in position to protect the right of the
64 History of the Cavalry,
In a short time the skirmishing became very brisk,
and the artillery fire on both sides very heavy the
Federal artillery under Kandall and Pennington, de
livering an extremely accurate fire. To counteract the
advance of the Federal skirmish line, about to cut off
a portion of his sharpshooters, Stuart caused a reg
iment of W. H. F. Lee s brigade to charge. This was
met by the Seventh Michigan, but without apparent
advantage, both regiments discharging their carbines
across a stone-and-rail fence, face to face. The First
Michigan Cavalry, aided by firing from Chester s bat
tery, made a charge which, followed by a desperate
hand-to-hand fight, drove the Confederate line back in
confusion. Then followed counter-charges by the Con
federates, until a large part of both commands were in
volved in the melee, and while withdrawing past a wood
towards his left the enemy was charged in flank by the
First New Jersey Cavalry. In this terrible cavalry
combat, every possible weapon w r as utilized. In a dash
for a Confederate battle-flag Captain NewJiall was re
ceived by its bearer upon the point of the spear-head,
which hurled Newhall to the ground. And after the
battle men were found interlocked in each other s arms,
with fingers so firmly imbedded in the flesh as to re
quire force to remove them.* The Confederate brigades
"" Battles and Leaders of the Civil War," Vol. III., p. 405.
Army of the Potomac. 65
crumbled away, retiring behind their artillery, and after
dark withdrew to the York road. The Federal casual
ties had amounted to 254, and the Confederate to 181.*
This grand cavalry combat,f on the right of the Fed
eral line of battle, has, like Buford s glorious stand in
the first day s fight, never received the recognition
which its importance deserved. Had Stuart s plan of
striking the rear of the Union army simultaneously
with the desperate charge of Pickett on Cemetery
Eidge succeeded, the result of the battle of Gettys
burg would certainly have been different.
The occasion for Stuart s attack was most oppor
tune. The tide of battle between the long lines of in
fantry had been wavering, first one way and then the
other. Had Stuart, with his veteran cavalry, gained
the rear of the line of battle, the panic which would
have undoubtedly followed would have been more than
sufficient to win the day for the Confederate cause.
On the Federal left another great cavalry battle was
taking place. After Kilpatrick s encounter with Stu
art s cavalry at Hanover, June 30th. it will be remem-
*Rebellion Records, Vol. XXVII., Part I., p. 958; Part
II., p. 714. "Gregg s Fight at Gettysburg." ("Battles and
Leaders of the Civil War.")
Known as Rummel s Farm.
66 History of the Cavalry,
bered that the Third Cavalry Division marched on the
following day to Berlin via Abbottstown, for the pur
pose of intercepting Stuart. Not finding him there, a
detachment under Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander fol
lowed Stuart to Rossville. On July 2d, the second day
of the battle of Gettysburg, Kilpatrick received orders
to march as quickly as possible to the battle-field. Here
he received further orders to move over the Gettysburg-
Abbottstow r n road, and see that the enemy did not turn
the Federal left flank. While nearing Hunterstown, Kil
patrick was attacked by a heavy cavalry force in posi
tion, which proved to be Hampton s and Lee s brigades.
Custer, whose brigade was leading, at once covered the
road with a line of mounted skirmishers, while dismount
ed skirmishers were throw T n out on each side behind the
fences which flanked the road. The leading squadron
of the Sixth Michigan Cavalry charged down the road,
and two squadrons were dismounted and deployed along
a ridge to the right. Pennington s battery took posi
tion to their rear. This gallant charge of the leading
squadron was futile against the superior force which it
encountered, but it gained time. A counter-charge,
which the enemy attempted, was repelled by the dis
mounted skirmishers with their Spencer repeating
The position was held until near midnight, when
Kilpatrick received orders to march to Two Taverns.
Army of the Potomac. 67
Beaching there early in the morning of July 3d, the
tired troopers wer.e allowed a short bivouac. But hardly
had the men of Custer s brigade stretched themselves
on the ground, when orders arrived, detaching them.
and directing the brigade to take position on the Union
right,* where, as has been seen, they rendered such sig
nal aid to the Second Cavalry Division.
The Union left had been deprived of protection by
the detaching of Buford s division to Westminster on
July 2d; so that at 8 o clock the morning of July 3d
Kilpatrick received orders from General Pleasanton to
move to the left of the line with his whole command
and the Reserve Brigade, meanwhile ordered up from
Emmittsburg. The purpose was to attack the enemy s
right and rear, at the same time preventing, if possible,
the turning of the Federal left.
The result of the Confederate operations of the day
before had induced them to believe that another attack
on the Federal right would succeed. The column of
attack was to consist of Pickett s, Heth s, and a part
of Fender s divisions, Pickett being on the right.
*Kilpatrick s report characterizes this detaching of Ous
ter s brigade as "a mistake." Gregg s report: "I learned that
the Second Brigade of the Third Division was occupying my
position of the day before," which seems to indicate that Gregg
was not responsible for the detaching of Custer. Pleasan-
ton s report, too, gives no clue as to who detached this bri
gade. At all events, the detaching of Custer, whether due to
mistake or to wise forethought, was of the greatest assistance-
in preventing Stuart s attempted turning movement.
38 History of the Cavalri/.
General Farnsworth reached his position to the left
and front of the "Bound Tops" about 1 o clock p. ni.
and became engaged with his skirmishers, the Confed
erate division immediately opposed to him being Hood s
division under General Law. About this time (1 o clock)
began the grand cannonade from one hundred and
twenty-five pieces of artillery, which was to precede the
assault of the Confederate infantry column. The arrival
of Farnsworth s brigade had the effect of constantly
threatening Law s right, and greatly embarrassed that
general s movements.*
Meanwhile, the Beserve Brigade under Merritt, hav
ing marched from Emmittsburg, did not reach its posi
tion on Farnsworth s left until about 3 o clock. Then,
advancing along the Gettysburg road, Merritt s dis
mounted skirmishers caused Law to detach a large
force from his main line in order to protect his flank
and rear. This so weakened the Confederate line in
Farnsworth s front that Kilpatrick ordered Farns
worth to charge the center of Law s line. The ground
*Gfeneral Law regarded the appearance of the cavalry as
exceedingly dangerous to his flank. He pays ("Battles and
Leaders of the Civil War," Century Company): "While the
artillery duel was in progress, and before our infantry had
moved to the attack, a new danger threatened us on the right.
This was the appearance of Kilpatrick s division of cavalry,
which moved up on that flank, and commenced massing in the
body of the timber which extended from the base of Round
Top westward towards Kern s house on the Emmittsburg
Army of the Potomac. 69
was most unfavorable for a charge, being broken, un
even, and covered with stone. It was, moreover, inter
sected by fences and stone walls, some of the latter
being so high as to preclude the possibility of passing
them without dismounting and throwing them down.
Posted behind these fences and walls were veteran
After making a dignified protest against what he
considered a most reckless sacrifice of life, Farnsworth
placed himself at the head of his brigade, and rode, as
became a brave soldier and gallant cavalryman, boldly
to his death.* When his body was afterwards recov
ered, it was found to have received five mortal wounds.
The charge was most desperate. The First West
Virginia and Eighteenth Pennsylvania moved through
*Captain H. C. Parsons, First Vermont Cavalry, says in
"Battles and Leaders of the Civil War": "I was near Kilpat-
rick when he impetuously gave the order to Farnsworth to
make the last charge. Farnsworth spoke with emotion: Gen
eral, do you mean it? Shall I throw my handful of men over
rough ground, through timber, against a brigade of infantry?
The First Vermont has already been fought half to pieces;
these are too good men to kill! Kilpatrick said: Do you re
fuse to obey my orders? If you are afraid to lead this charge.
I will lead it. Farnsworth rose in his stirrups, looking mag
nificent in his passion, and cried, Take that back! Kil
patrick returned his defiance, but soon repenting, said: I
did not mean it; forget it. For a moment there was silence,
when Farnsworth spoke calmly: General, if you order the
charge, I will lead it, but you must take the responsibility.
T did not hear the low conversation that followed, but as
Farnsworth turned away, he said: I will obey your order,
Kilpatrick sajd earnestly: M take the responsibility. "
70 History of the Cavalry,
the woods first, closely followed by the First Vermont
and Fifth New York, and drove the enemy before them
until the heavy stone walls and fences were reached.
Here the formation was broken; but two regiments
cleared the obstacles, charged a second line of infantry,
and were again stopped by another stone wall, covering
a third line of infantry. One of the supporting cavalry
regiments, after passing the first wall, encountered a
large body of the enemy which had been sent from the
enemy s left to cut off the retreat of the first charging
column. The contest became hand-to-hand, and the
cavalry used their sabers to such advantage as to dis
able a great many of their opponents and cause others
to surrender. Being exposed to the enemy s artillery
and sharpshooters, this regiment was at length obliged
to fall back. If even a portion of the Federal infantry
posted on Kilpatrick s right had advanced on Law s
attenuated line at the time Farnsworth s men had
gained the enemy s rear, the Confederate division must
have given way. But no cooperation took place. As
it was, one of the regiments in the first charging line
the First West Virginia after passing the two stone
fences already referred to, was entirely surrounded,
but succeeded in cutting its way back with a loss of
but five killed and four wounded, bringing with it a
number of prisoners.
Army of the Potomac. 71
All things considered it seems wonderful that these
four regiments did not suffer a greater percentage of
killed, wounded, and missing.* It can perhaps, best be
accounted for by the moral effect of the charge, and
the fine horsemanship with which the fearless troop
ers leaped the obstacles and sabered the infantrymen
in their positions. Of this, the Confederate General
Law has said: "It was impossible to use our artillery
to any advantage, owing to the close quarters of the
attacking cavalry with our own men, the leading
squadrons forcing their horses up to the very muzzles
of the rifles of our infantry."
The Federal victory at the battle of Gettysburg owes
much to the cavalry. Buford at Oak Hill, Gregg on the
Federal right, and Kilpatrick on the left, performed
deeds which have never been excelled by the cavalry
of any nation. As Gettysburg was the turning-point
in the fortunes of the Union Army, it also marked an
epoch in the development of cavalry, trained in meth
ods which were evolved from no foreign text-books, but
*Therewere300meninFamsworth s charge, and 65 casual
ties. (Captain Parsons, in "Battles and Leaders of the Civil
72 History o f Ihc Cavalry,
from stern experience on the battle-fields of the great
By the morning of the 4th of July General Lee s
lines were evacuated, his army was in full retreat, and
the Federal cavalry and the Sixth Army Corps were in
hot pursuit, striving to gain his rear, cut his lines of
communication, and harass and annoy him in every
The First Cavalry Division moved from Westmin
ster to Frederick, where it was joined by the Keserve
Brigade under Merritt on July 5th. On the following
day it moved towards William sport to destroy the en
emy s trains, reported to be crossing the Potomac into
Virginia. Upon nearing the town the Confederate pick
ets were driven in until the enemy s line of battle be
came too strong for further progress. In an attack on
Gamble s brigade on the Federal left the enemy was
severely punished, but the destruction of the enemy s
trains in the face of the strong force guarding them
proved too difficult a task for the division, with the
exception of a small train of grain with about forty
Meanwhile Kilpatrick s division had inarched on
July 4th from Gettysburg to Emmittsburg, where it
was joined by TTuey s brigade of Gregg s division, and
from 1 hence it moved towards Monterey, with the in
tention of destroying the enemy s wagon trains near
Army of the Potomac. 73
Ilagerstown. After a series of combats with Stuart s
cavalry, the Third Division reached Smithburg on
July 5th, having entirely destroyed a large wagon
train of Ewell s, and having captured 1,360 prisoners,
1 battle-flag, and a lai ge number of horses and mules.
On July Gth, while "Ruford was attacking Williams-
port, Kilpatrick attacked Stuart at Hagerstown, result
ing in that general s surprise and retreat towards Grei n
castle. Kilpatrick then endeavored to cooperate with
Buford at Williamsport, but failed to gain any material
advantage. The enemy, however, was forced to burn
a large train northwest of Hagerstown.
From the 7th until the 14th of July, Kilpatrick s
division was constantly engaged with the enemy on
the right of the Federal army, as was Buford s division
on the left, and ITuey s brigade of Gregg s division in
Meanwhile Gregg had followed the enemy by way of
Cashtown, where a number of piisoners wer > captured.
The division then proceeded by way of Marion and
Ohambersburg to Booncsborough; Mclntosh s brigade
being placed at Emmittsburg to prevent raids of the
Confederate cavalry towards the Federal rear.
On July 14th Gregg, with Mclntosh s and Irvin
Gregg s brigades, crossed the Potomac at Harper s
Ferry, and being reinforced by Huey s brigade, marched
to Shepherdstovvn with a view of striking the enemy
74 History of the Cavalry,
in flank and rear. On the 16th, Huey s brigade not be
ing present, Gregg was attacked by the enemy in force.
After a spirited engagement, lasting all day, the enemy
On the same day Buford s and Kilpatrick s divisions
followed the enemy closely to Falling Waters, captur
ing many prisoners, three battle-flags, and a large quan
tity of stores.
After July 15th the pursuit of the enemy through
the London Valley and across the Rappahannock River
was made by detachments, and the Gettysburg cam
paign, so far as the movements of the cavalry corps werv
concerned, properly closed at that date.
By the end of July the entire cavalry corps was con
centrated about \Varrenton, Warreuton Junction, and
Fayetteville, Virginia, and was agahi engaged in pick
eting the Rappahannock. The casualties of the corps
from June 28th to July . list consisted of 1,949 killed,
wounded, and missing.
During the first two years of the war 284,000 horses
were furnished the cavalry, when the maximum num
ber of cavalrymen in the field at any time during this
period did not exceed 00,000.
Army of the Potomac. 75
The enormous number of casualties among the
horses was due to many causes, among which were:
ignorance of purchasing officers as to the proper ani
mals for cavalry service; poor horsemanship on the
part of the raw cavalry troopers, mustered in at the
beginning of the war; the control of the cavalry move
ments by officers of other arms, ignorant of the limit
of endurance of cavalry horses; the hardships insep
arable from tlu 1 duties of the cavalry upon such duties
as the Stonemaii raid, the campaign of the Army of
Virginia, and the campaign of Gettysburg; and last,
but not least, ignorance and gross inefficiency on the
part of many officers and men as to the condition of the
horses backs and feet, care as to food and cleanliness,
and the proper treatment of the many diseases to which
horses on active service are subject.
Cavalry, of all arms, requires^ the greatest length of
time to acquire efficiency, and if the reduction of the
regular establishment of the Army of the United States
is ever contemplated, the experience of the Government
during these first two years of the War of the Rebel
lion with horses alone should serve as a warning.
Given men possessing unbounded patriotism, intel
ligence, and physical excellence, as were the volunteers
at the beginning of this war, yet these qualities, while
quickly combining to make excellent infantry and artil
lery soldiers, required many times the length of time to
*76 History of the Cavalry,
make good cavalrymen. Training and discipline, backed
by the unlimited finances of a great government, pre
vailed in the end; but the lesson, to say the least, was a
humiliating and costly one, which should never be
In such a tremendous machine as the Quartermas
ter s Department of the Army of the Potomac, contain
ing at the beginning of the war many officers with ab
solutely no experience as quartermasters, there were
necessarily many vexatious delays in purchasing and
forwarding supplies, and many disappointments in the
quality of supplies, furnished too often by scheming
The tardiness, too, with which cavalry remounts
were forwarded to the regiments was a frequent sub
ject of complaint. In October, 1862, when service in
the Peninsular campaign and that of the Army of Vir
ginia had brought the numbers of mounted cavalry
down to less than a good-sized regiment, General Me
Clellan wrote to Halleck: "It is absolutely necessary
that some energetic measures be taken to supply the
cavalry of this army with remount horses. The present
rate of supply is 1 ,050 per week for the entire army here
and in front of Washington. From this number the
artillery draw for their batteries."
In reply to this I ho Quartermaster-General stated
that since the battles in front of Washington there
Army of the Potomac. 77
had been issued to the Army, (o replace losses, 9,254
horses, adding: "Is there an instance on record of such
a drain and destruction of horses in a country not a des
ert?" A little later McClellan again complained that
many of the horses furnished "were totally unfitted for
the service, and should never have been received." Gen
eral Pope had, in fact, reported that "our cavalry num
bered on paper about 4,000 men, but their horses were
completely broken down, and there were not 500 men,
all told, capable of doing much service, as should be
expected from cavalry. On the morning of
the 30th [August 30, 1862], * * * the artillery and
cavalry horses had been saddled and in harness for ten
days, and had had no forage for two days previous."
And again he says: "Our cavalry at Centerville was
completely broken down, no horses whatever having
reached us to remount it. Generals Buford and Bay
ard, commanding the whole of the cavalry force of the
Army, reported to me that there were not five horse*
to the company that could be forced into a trot."
The demand for horses was KO great that in many
cases they were sent on active service before recover
ing sufficiently from the fatigue incident to a long rail
way journey. One case was reported of horses left on
the cars fifty hours without food or water, and then
78 History of the Cavalry,
being taken out, issued, and used for immediate
To such an extent had overwork and disease re
duced the number of cavalry horses that when General
Stuart made his raid into Pennsylvania^ October 11.
1862, only 800 Federal cavalry could be mounted to
follow him, and the exhausting pursuit which took
place broke down a large proportion of the horses that
remained. Under date of October 21st, McClellan wrotv*
to Halleck: "Exclusive of the cavalry force now en
gaged in picketing the river, I have not at present over
1,000 horses for service. Without more cavalry horses,
our communications from the moment we march would
be at the mercy of the large cavalry force of the
The need of cavalry was so urgent and the numbeis
of dismounted men so alarming that even President Lin
coin wrote to McClellan, October 27, 1862: "To be told,
after five weeks total inaction of the Army, during
which time we have sent to the Army every fresh horse
w r e possibly could, amounting on the whole to 7,918,
that the cavalry horses were too much fatigued to
move, presents a cheerless, almost hopeless prospect
for the future."
*General Meigs report, Rebellion Records, Vol. XIX., Part
I., page 19.
Army of the Potomac. 79
The reorganization of the cavalry under Hooker
worked a great improvement in the care and condition
of horses, as it tended to systematize the forwarding of
remounts, and by a centralization of authority brought
the whole cavalry force under a stricter sense of respon
sibility for casualties among the hordes. It also re
duced the excessive picket duty, which m my corps and
division commanders had deemed the chief duty of cav
alry. But little by little officers and men were begin
ning to realize how important the health and strength
of their chargers were to them, and by actual experience
on many arduous campaigns they were gradually learn
ing how best to preserve that health and strength.
But the Stoneman raid again necessarily reduced
the numbers of serviceable horses. Stoneman reported
that while the horses were generally in fair condition
when they started, they were much exhausted and
weakened by the march. Many were rendered tempo
rarily useless from infrequent feeding," mud fever,"
and sore backs, while at least a thousand were aban
doned. Numbers of men thus dismounted procured
remounts from the country, mostly broo d-mares and
draught-horses, which, though unsuitable for cavalry
service, served for temporary use.
This raid, followed by the battle of Beverly Ford,
was a poor preparation, so far as horse-flesh was con
cerned, for the Gettysburg campaign which followed.
80 History of the Cavalry,
In immediate readiness for action, constantly in motion
night and day, saddled for long periods,* fed and
groomed at irregular times, often unshod in a country
from which the Confederate cavalry had collected every
horse-shoe, the horses of the Union cavalry fought their
battles of the Gettysburg campaign at a disadvantage.
Had not the enemy s cavalry been in much the same
condition, this would have been a serious consideration.
Aside, too, from the ordinary diseases to which
horses are subject, the Virginia soil seemed to be par
ticularly productive of diseases of the feet. That
known as "scratches" disabled thousands of horses dur
ing the Peninsular campaign and that of Pope, and late
in 186.3, after the Bristoe campaign, General Merritt re
ported: "Since arriving in camp I have sent to the
Quartermaster s Department, Washington City, accord
ing to order, 471 disabled, unserviceable horses. There
are at least 100 more in the command. This leaves the
entire strength for duty not more than 1,500. The
frightful loss among horses is owing to a disease which
resembles tetter (called in the Army, foot-rot ), from
the effects of which the finest appearing horses in the
command became disabled in one day s march. * * *
The disease seems to have been contracted in the quar
termaster corrals, in Washington."
*From Warrenton Junction to Thoroughfare Gap, the
-horses were not unsaddled for two days.
Army of the Potomac. 81
Such was the enormous expense of the cavalry arm
of the service during the first two years of the war thai
in July, 1863, the Cavalry Bureau was established. The
order of the Secretary of War relative to its establish
ment contained the following: "The enormous expense
attending the maintenance of the cavalry arm points to
the necessity of greater care and more judicious man
agement on the part of cavalry officers, that their horses
may be constantly kept up to the standard of efficiency
for service. Great neglects of duty in this connection
are to be attributed to officers in command of cavalry
troops. It is the design of the War Department to cor
rect such neglects by dismissing from service officers
whose inefficiency and inattention result in the dete
rioration and loss of the public animals under their
The. Cavalry Bureau was charged with the organi
zation and equipment of the cavalry forces. It further
more provided that the mounts and remounts be pur
chased and inspected under its direction, by officers of
the Quartermaster s Department and cavalry service,
Depots were established at important cities one
of the principal depots being at Giesboro Point, near
Washington. The establishment of a "dismounted
camp," near Washington, where cavalrymen were sent
to be refitted, worked great injury to the cavalry service,
as the men purposely lost their equipments and neg
82 History of the Gavalrv.
lected their horses for the purpose of being sent to the
"dismounted camp." So pernicious had been the effect
of this camp that on October 26th General Meade rec
ommended that all horses, arms, and equipments for tht>
dismounted men be sent out to the army as needed.
The first chief of the Cavalry Bureau was General
Stoneman, followed January 2, 1864, by General Gar
rard ; he in turn being succeeded in the 26th of the same
month by General J. H. Wilson. On the 14th of April,
1864, it was directed that the Cavalry Bureau be under
charge of the chief of army staff; the duties pertain
ing to organization, equipment, and inspection of cav
alry being performed by a cavalry officer, while those
of the purchase, inspection, subsistence, and transpor
tation of horses were performed by an officer of the
Quartermaster s Department.
The establishment of this bureau worked a decided
improvement in the supply system of the mounted aim
and much of the success of the Federal cavalry is to be
attributed to the systematic and efficient manner in
which the officers of the bureau performed their duties.
That it was difficult for even the Cavalry Bureau to
keep the supply of remounts up to the number required,
is shown from the fact that General Sheridan states in
his Memoirs that "only 1,900 horses were furnished the
Army of the Potomac from April 6 to August 14, 1864
not enough to meet casualties and that it was neces
sary for him to send his dismounted men into camp."
Army of the Potomac. 88
The months of August and September were marked
by several important reconnaissances by the cavalry.*
On August 1st General Buford advanced from Rap
idan Station with his cavalry division and drove the
enemy s, cavalry towards Culpeper Court House. The
enemy s infantry caused the division to retire, but the
reconnaissance had the effect of causing Lee to draw
his infantry south of the Rapidan. Towards the end of
this month regiments of the Second Cavalry Division
engaged the enemy at Edwards Ferry, Hartwood
Church, Barbee s Cross-Roads, and Rixey s Ford.
Again, on September 1st, General Kilpatrick with
the Third Cavalry Division marched to Port Conway on
the lower Rappahannock, where he drove a force of the
enemy s cavalry across the river and, with his artillery,
destroyed the gunboats Reliance and Satellite.
Another cavalry fight took place September 13th to
17th. It had been reported that the enemy was mak
ing a retrograde movement, and General Pleasanton
*On the 15th of August the Reserve Brigade was ordered
to Giesboro Point to refit. On August 12th the Second Brigade,
Second Cavalry Division, was broken up; "the Second New
York going to the First Brigade, Third Division; the Fourth
New York to the Second Brigade, First Division; and the
First Rhode Island, Sixth Ohio, and Eighth Pennsylvania to the
two remaining brigades of the Second Cavalry Division.
84 History of the Cavalry,
with all the cavalry, supported by the Second Army
Corps under General Warren, crossed the river at a
number of points, driving the enemy s cavalry across
the Rapidan, and capturing three guns and a number
of prisoners. The fords of the Rapidan were found
fortified and held by such strong bodies of the enemy s
infantry as to prevent the cavalry from crossing.
On September IGth the Army of the Potomac
crossed the Rappahannock and took position near Cul-
peper Court House, with two corps advanced to the
Rapidan. The fords on the latter river were found to
be too strongly guarded to be forced. Just as a flank
movement had been matured, the Eleventh and
Twelfth Army Corps w r ere withdrawn from the Army
of the Potomac, for duty in the Southwest.
During the next few weeks the cavalry was active
ly engaged in reconnoitering duty. On September 21st
Buford and Kilpatrick crossed the Rapidan, their
purpose being to develop the enemy s strength and
position about his left flank. Stuart s cavalry was
encountered and driven back, and the fact that two of
the enemy s infantry corps were north of Gordonsville
Information having been received that the enemy
was about to make some important movement, Gen
eral B 11 ford was, on October 10th, sent across the Rap
Army of the Potomac. 85
idan with the First Cavalry Division, to uncover, if
possible, the upper fords of the river, while the First
and Sixth Army Corps would attempt to force the
fords in their front.
On this same day, before any word had been re
ceived from Buford, the enemy crossed the Robertson
River, and advanced in heavy force from the direction
of Madison Court House, driving in the Federal cav
alry. As there was every indication that this force
was endeavoring to pass the flank of the Union
army, General Meade, on the following day (October
llth), withdrew his army to the north bank of the
Meanwhile Buford had forced a passage over the;
Germanna Ford, although without a pound of forage
for his horses. He then proceeded along the river,
capturing the enemy s pickets at the fords, and biv
ouacking that night at Morton s Ford. As the First
Division train had in the meantime been ordered to
recross the river, and the First Army Corps had re
tired, Buford was at a loss to know just what to do,
especially as the enemy was pressing him hard. He
finally recrossed the Rapidan at Morton s Ford and en
gaged a body of the enemy that had crossed at the Rat-
coon Ford. Finally learning that General Pleasanton
with the Third Cavalry Division was still in the rear of
86 History of flic Cavalry,
the Third Army Corps, Buford determined to hold his
position until the arrival of that division. The next
day the First Division, with Sedgwick s corps, made a
reconnaissance in force to Brandy Station, and accom
plished its purpose of discovering the enemy s strength
Meanwhile the Second Cavalry Division had pro
ceeded from Culpeper Court House on the llth instant
1o Sulphur Springs, with orders to feel the enemy to
wards Sperryville and Little Washington. This was
successfully accomplished, but the division was com
pelled by superior numbers to recross to the east side
of the river. As the enemy advanced, the cavalry fell
slow r ly back to Auburn, covering the rear of the Sec
ond Army Corps.
At daylight on the 14th instant the enemy attacked
Gregg s division, but he held his position tenaciously,
while General Warren got the Second Corps across
Cedar Run. After this stubborn contest the cavalry
fell back slowly, and after dark moved to B rent svi lie
to assist General Buford with the wagon trains. Dur
ing this arduous rear-guard duty, the First Maine Cav
alry, which had been cut oft in its return from Sperry
ville, made a circuitous march of ninety miles, and re
ported in safety at Bristoe Station.
The Third Cavalry Division was, at the beginning
of the enemy s movement across the Rapidan, picket-
Army of the Potomac. 87
ing from Griffinsburg near Hazel Run, through Rus
sell s Ford on Robertson s River to the vicinity of
On the 10th of October the enemy moved through
Cregler s Mills, Russell s Ford, and Creglersville, and,
although its advance of artillery and cavalry pre
sented a bold front, the Third Cavalry Division suc
ceeded in holding its position throughout the day. At
. *> o clock in the morning of the following day, the di
vision received orders in keeping with the general
withdrawal of the Army of the Potomac to fall back
to Culpeper Court House, covering the rear of the
Third and Fifth Army Corps. As the enemy ap
proached Culpeper, Pennington s battery opened upon
them from the hills north of the town, and the entire
cavalry division fell back on Brandy Station. Here it
was found that the enemy had taken up a position
immediately in front of the division, and was also
approaching the left flank. The command was accord
ingly massed in column of squadrons. General Davies
having the right and General Custer the left. A charge
of a large force of the enemy s cavalry was met and
broken by a counter-charge, and the division continu
ing to advance in good order, the enemy broke and
fled in great confusion. Passing on, Kilpatrick effected
a junction with Buford s division, and crossed the
88 History of the Cavalry,
Rappahannock about 8 o clock in the evening. On the
morning of the 12th, the division moved to Fayetteville
to reinforce General Gregg, and from there moved
through Buckland Mills, encamping on the 13th at
On the 15th, the Army of the Potomac remained in
position at Centerville, with skirmishing at Black
burn s Ford and at Liberty Mills; and on the 17th the
enemy made a further attempt to turn the right flank
of the army, retiring again on the 18th.
On the 19th, with the Third Cavalry Division in
advance, the army moved to Gainesville. On the 20th
the Third Division moved out on the Warrenton Pike,
driving the enemy from Gainesville and across Broad
Run. Davies brigade advanced from Buckland Mills
to New Baltimore, where it narrowly escaped being
cut off by a column of the enemy s cavalry and in
fantry, advancing from the direction of Auburn. The
Seventh Michigan was sent out to delay the enemy.
Ouster s brigade formed line of battle, and Davies
brigade was ordered to retire. The Michigan regiment
was driven in on Custer, whoso skirmish line "repulsed
the Confederate cavalry, but under stress of superior
numbers was forced to retire.
Davies brigade was at this time slowly retiring,
and Custer crossed Broad Run and took up a position.
Army of tJie Potomac. 89
enabling Davies to cross safely by the right of the
town, the enemy not being able to attack him with
out passing within range of Ouster s artillery. Ouster
then fell back upon the infantry supports at Gaines
ville, and Davies extricated himself by marching to
On the 20th instant the Army of the Potomac again
occupied Warrenton, the eneniy retiring to the south
bank of the Rappahannock, having destroyed the
Orange & Alexandria Railroad from Bristoe Station
to the Rappahannock, and by the 22d both armies
were again recuperating in camp.
In the arduous work of the cavalry corps as ad
vance and rear guard during the Bristoe campaign,
October 9th to 22d, it suffered a total of 1,251 casual
ties, w r hich included 4 officers killed and 29 wounded.*
But the period of rest did not last long. General
Meade submitted to the general-in-chief a plan for
the seizure of the heights above Fredericksburg, thus
*That this highly efficient work of the cavalry was not
duly appreciated is shown from the fact that in congratula
tory General Orders No. 96, of October 15, 1863, the cavalry
was not mentioned. General Gregg accordingly asked for
either a court of inquiry upon his conduct as commander of
the Second Cavalry Division, or that he be relieved at once
from command. In replying, General Meade disclaimed any
intention of disparaging the services of the cavalry, and in
General Order No. 97, following, bore testimony to "the activ
ity, zeal, and gallantry" of the whole cavalry corps during
the operations from the Rapidan to Centervilje.
90 History of the Cavalry,
transferring the base of operations to the Fredericks-
burg Railroad. This plan not being approved, it was
decided to force the passage of the Kappahannock.
Accordingly, on November 7th General Sedgwick
advanced to Kappahannock Station with the Fifth and
Sixth Army Corps, finding the enemy strongly in
trenched on the north bank of the river. General
French, with the First, Second, and Third Army Corps,
marched to Kelly s Ford.
Sedgwick attacked and carried the enemy s works
on the north bank, capturing four pieces of artillery
and 1,600 prisoners; and the Third Corps of French s
command likewise gallantly forced the passage of the
river at Kelly s Ford.
During these operations the First Cavalry Division
under Buford moved on the right flank, crossing at the
upper fords and forcing the passage of Hazel River at
Rixeyville, thus cooperating with Sedgwick.
Kilpatrick s division operated similarly on the left
flank, crossing the river at Ellis Ford, and cooperat
ing with French s left infantry column. Gregg s di
vision was held in reserve, guarding the trains at
Bealeton and Morrisville.
The cavalry took part in the pursuit of the enemy
to Brandy Station, and as far as Culpeper. The Army
of the Potomac then took position from Kelly s Ford
Army of the Potomac. 91
through Brandy Station to Welford s Ford; and the
work of repairing the Orange & Alexandria Railroad
to the Rappahannock was begun immediately. By the
16th of November the railroad and a bridge over the
Rappahannock was completed; and by the 19th sidings
and a dep6t at Brandy Station, where supplies for the
army were brought forward and delivered.
By the end of November the Army of the Potomac
Avas ready for another advance southward. A front
attack w r as deemed impracticable, as the position of
the enemy along the Rapidan was strongly intrenched.
Preparations were accordingly made for an advance
on the enemy s flank. On November 26th the Federal
army crossed the Rapidan in three columns at Ja
cobs , Germanna, and Culpeper fords. The Third
Corps (French s) crossed at Jacobs Ford, followed by
the Sixth Corps (Sedgwick s); the Second Corps (War
ren s) crossed at Germanna Ford; and the Fifth Corps
(Sykes ) crossed at Culpeper Ford, followed by the
First Corps (Newton s).
Gregg s division was ordered to operate on the left
flank of the army, Buford s* on the right, to cover the
*In November General Buford was permitted to go to
Washington for surgical treatment, and during the Mine Run
92 History of the Cavalry,
movement, and Kilpatrick s to hold the fords of the
Rapidan until further orders. Detachments of cav
alry, each 100 strong, were also ordered to report to
Generals French, Sykes, and Warren, commanding th:>
Gregg s division crossed the Rappahannock at Ellis
Ford on the 24th instant, and proceeded to Ely s Ford
on the llapidan. The advance guard crossed and took
possession of the heights, but later the entire division
was withdrawn to Richardsville and Ellis Ford. On
the 26th the division crossed the Kapidan, and oper
ated in the direction of the head waters of the Po
Kiver. On the 27th it passed through Parker s Store,
and took position on the Orange plank road, in ad
vance of the Fifth Army Corps. At New Hope Meet
ing House, the enemy s skirmishers were encountered
and driven back with loss by three of the advance
regiments of the division. The cavalry division s cas
ualties this day were 106.
On the 30th Devin s brigade of this division, which
had been protecting the wagon trains of the army,
campaign General Wesley Merritt commanded the First Cav
alry Division, and Colonel Alfred Gibbs the Reserve Brigade
General Buford had been wounded, and his constant work
in the field had told severely upon his constitution. In Wash
ington he gradually grew worse, and on December 16, 1863
the very day that the President signed his commission as
major-general he died, the l>c<in ideal of a cavalry officer,
on the threshold of a still more brilliant career,
Army of the Potomac. $&
joined Gregg s division, and was posted at the Wilder
ness. The First Brigade moved to Parker s Store.
Meanwhile the Third Cavalry Division, under Ous
ter, had, on the 26th instant, left camp near Stevens-
burg, and moved to the Rapidan River, Davies bri
gade taking position near Raccoon Ford, and Town s
brigade at Morton s Ford. The First West Virginia
Cavalry was sent to guard the fords between Ger-
manna and Morton s; and the Sixth Michigan to Som-
erville Ford, to patrol that and adjacent fords. Cus-
ter s instructions required him to make demonstra
tions as if to cross from Morton s Ford upwards, the
moment he heard cannonading below. This he did, as
soon as he heard the artillery, and succeeded in draw
ing the fire of thirty of the enemy s guns upon his
force, accompanied by the moving forward of a large
body of the enemy s infantry. The demonstration was
highly successful, and kept two entire divisions (Rode s
and Early s) of Ewell s corps standing to arms all
night. But in the morning of the 27th, having dis
covered the intentions of the Federal army, the Con
federate infantry and artillery between Morton s and
Raccoon fords was withdrawn.
The Second Brigade of this cavalry division ac
cordingly crossed the river, and, occupying the ene
my s intrenchments, drove their cavalry back several
94 History of the Cavalry,
miles. During the remainder of the day and the fol
lowing day skirmishing occurred with the enemy s
cavalry, and during the next five days the command
merely watched the fords.
The campaign was a failure, so far as flanking the
enemy s position was concerned, General Meade attrib
uting it to the fact that the Third Corps (French s),
through taking the wrong road, was so slow moving
out to Robertson s Tavern on the 27th inst. that the
other corps became engaged before the Third was
within supporting distance. The enemy was so strong
ly intrenched that, rather than risk an assault on their
works, it was decided to again fall back behind the
This was accomplished on the night of December
1st, the army s movements being covered by the Sec
ond Cavalry Division, Devin s brigade of the First
Division, and two brigades of infantry from the Third
Army Corps, the whole under the command of General
Again had the Army of the Potomac retired with
out effecting its object. Winter was at hand, and the
troops went into winter quarters. Early in January
the Government offered a furlough and agreed to pay
a bounty to soldiers who would reenlist for threi j
years. A large number of cavalrymen did so, and
were sent home on furlough.
Army of the Potomac. 95
The cavalry troops in winter quarters made them
selves as comfortable as their surroundings permitted,
but their anticipated rest from active duty hardly ma
terialized. In addition to the fatiguing picket and
outpost duty, there were continual scouts, reconnais
sances, and several raids, to keep the cavalry busy,
while the infantry was recuperating for the spring
And here it may be proper to say that General
Hooker s original plan of consolidating the cavalry
and giving its leader independence of action had not
been completely realized. The ever-present outpost
duty still continued, and this, with continual detached
service on minor reconnaissances, guarding wagon
trains, could not but result in a lack of unity in the
Late in December, the Second, Eighth, and Six
teenth Pennsylvania and First Maine Cavalry regi
ments, under the command of Colonel Charles H.
Smith, marched from Bealeton to Luray, Virginia, sur
prising a number of small detachments of the enemy
and capturing a number of prisoners. At Luray they
destroyed a large amount of property useful to the
Confederate Government, and returned in safety,
having marched one hundred miles without a single
96 History of the Cavalry,
Early in January, Fitzhugh Lee, with a large caval
ry command, invaded Hampshire and Hardy counties,
West Virginia. General Kelly, commanding the De
partment of West Virginia, confronted the enemy
with all his available force; after destroying a number
of wagons and securing such supplies as he could find.
Lee s command withdrew, having suffered severely
from the intensely cold weather. Later in the month
these same counties were subject to another raid by
General Early, in which the cavalry forces of West
Virginia, the First New York, the Fifteenth New
York, the Twenty-first New York, Cole s (Maryland)
Cavalry, and detachments of the Second Maryland,
Sixth Michigan, and First Connecticut Cavalry were
engaged. The main object of the enemy, the capture
of the garrison at Petersburg and the destruction of
the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, was successful; but
the Confederate General Kosser succeeded in captur
ing a large wagon train. The hampering of the cav
alry by orders from the infantry officer commanding
the infantry supports and the great difficulty of suc
cessfully concentrating troops in so rough a country
contributed to the safe withdrawal of the enemy s
Although a number of minor engagements oc
curred during the month of January, nothing of great
Army of the Potomac. 97
importance took place until February 6th, when a
demonstration was made along the Rapidan, partici
pated in by the First and Second Army Corps and the
First and Third Cavalry Divisions.
While the infantry was engaging the enemy at
Morton s and Raccoon fords, the First Cavalry Divis
ion (Merritt s) crossed the Robertson River in two
columns, at Smoot s and Ayler s fords; and the Third
Cavalry Division (Kilpatrick s) crossed at Culpeper,
Ely s, and Germanna fords.
On the 7th the First Cavalry Division moved to
Barnett s Ford, and brisk skirmishing ensued. The
demonstration on this ford continued until about 1
o clock p. m., resulting in the deployment of a Confed
erate infantry brigade. The Third Cavalry Division
reconnoitered in all directions, after crossing the Rap
idan, finding the enemy in much the same position as
during the preceding November.
During this month the cavalry was greatly an
noyed by guerrillas, a large number of small detach
ments being ambushed and either shot down or cap
tured. So serious did these losses become that a gen
eral order was issued, threatening with court-martial
officers and men who allowed themselves to be sur
prised and captured while on duty. West Virginia and
western Virginia suffered greatly from these irregular
98 History of the Cavalry,
marauding forces, and on February llth G-ilmore s
guerrillas threw a Baltimore & Ohio express train
from the track at Kearneysville and robbed the passen
gers. And on February 20th, in an attempt to capture
the noted Major Mosby at Upperville and Front Royal,
a severe skirmish took place between Mosby s com
mand and a portion of the cavalry brigade of the De
partment of West Virginia.
On the 28th of February Ouster s cavalry division
undertook a raid into Albemarle County, Virginia.
The command marched by way of Madison Court
House and Standardsville without opposition and took
the road to Charlottesville, where Fitzhugh Lee s
force was in camp. The division approached within
three miles of the place, when, finding the enemy
in superior numbers, Custer withdrew, burning the
bridges over the Rivanna River and destroying much
property. Near Standardsville his force having been
reduced to 1,000 men through a misunderstanding, by
which a portion of the command had marched beyond
the Rapidan, he was charged by the First and Fifth
Virginia Cavalry, led by General Stuart in person.
The charge threw the advance guard one squadron of
the Fifth United States Cavalry back upon the main
body; but the entire regiment, charging forward, drove
the enemy back in great disorder. Custer pursued
Army of the Potomac. 99
with his whole command to Bank s Ford, and then,
wheeling about, eluded the enemy, who had concen
trated here, by moving rapidly to the ford and cross
ing. The command marched 150 miles, captured 1
battle-standard, 50 prisoners, 500 horses, and 6 cais
sons, and destroyed an immense amount of property.
This raid was made to distract attention from an
other raid of greater proportions, begun the same day
by General Kilpatrick, and having as its object the
taking of the city of Kichmond and the liberation of
the Union prisoners confined there. Incidentally, the
President s proclamation of amnesty was to be distrib
uted throughout the hostile territory.
It had been learned that Richmond was, about this
time, comparatively defenseless, and it was thought
that, by a rapid and secret march, the city might be
captured and the prisoners released before reinforce
ments from either Petersburg or Lee s army could
General Kilpatrick left his camp at Stevensburg at
7 o clock p. m., February 28th, with 3,595 picked men
and Ransom s horse battery. The advance, consisting
of 460 men under Colonel Ulric Dahlgren, crossed at
Ely s Ford, capturing the enemy s picket. Then, leav
ing the main body, it proceeded through Spottsylvania
Court House to Frederick s Hall, where it captured a
100 History of the Cavalry,
Confederate general court-martial, consisting of 13
officers. It then proceeded through dense woods and
swamps to the James River, which it reached about 7
a. m. on March 2d. having destroyed considerable Con
federate property en route. But through the alleged
treachery of a guide the little command had been led
out of its course, and instead of being near Eichmond,
the latter was still eighteen miles away. However,
Dahlgren continued his march and even passed the
outer line of the city s works, when he was attacked
from both sides of the road and from the front. A
desperate fight followed. Colonel Dahlgren with
about 150 men pushed on, hoping to get through the
Confederate lines by way of the James River; but
about midnight the command fell into an ambuscade;
Dahlgren was killed, together with a number of his
men, and the remainder captured. The other part of
Dahlgren s force under Captain Mitchell, Second New
York Cavalry, succeeded finally in joining Kilpatrick
at Tunstall s Station, with 44 casualties.
Meanwhile Kilpatrick, after passing through Spott-
sylvania Court House, had taken a southeasterly
course, crossed the South Anna at Ground Squirrel
Bridge, and reached the outer line of works about
Richmond without serious opposition. The first line
of defense was successfully passed, and preparations
Army of the Potomac. 101
were made to assault the main works; but nothing
having been heard from Dahlgren s party, which was
to have made a simultaneous attack from the other
side, and the enemy being heavily reinforced, Kilpat-
rick deemed it prudent to retire.
Kilpatrick s attack was made some three hours
earlier than Dahlgren s, owing to the latter s delay in
reaching Richmond, and thus the Confederates were
prepared to meet Dahlgren when he finally reached
Kilpatrick withdrew across the Chickahominy and
succeeded in reaching General Butler s lines on the
Peninsula March 3d.
As its commander afterwards reported: "The ex
pedition failed in its great object, but through no
fault of the officers and men accompanying it. All
did their duty bravely, promptly, and well, for which
they deserve the highest praise. Considerable prop
erty was destroyed, and several thousand of the Pres
ident s proclamations scattered through the country.
If Colonel Dahlgren had not failed in crossing the
river, which he did either through the ignorance or
treachery of his guide, or had the enemy at Bottom s
Bridge been forced to remain at that point by a
threatened attack from the direction of Yorktown, I
should have entered the rebel capital and released our
102 History of the Cavalry,
Confirmatory of this opinion, a letter written by
General Wade Hampton to General Stuart, March 6th,
contained the following: "My observations convinced
me that the enemy could have taken Richmond, and in
all probability would have done so but for the fact
that Colonel Johnson intercepted a dispatch from
Dahlgren to Kilpatriek, asking what hour the latter
had fixed for an attack on the city, so that both at
tacks might be simultaneous."
As part reprisal for the killing of Dahlgren, Gen
eral Butler on March 9th sent an expedition consist
ing of a brigade of infantry and about 700 of Kilpat-
rick s cavalry to King and Queen counties. There
they drove the Fifth and Ninth Virginia Cavalry from
their camp, burned the latter with much Confederate
property, and took a number of prisoners.
During the winter many changes important to the
cavalry as well as to the entire army had taken place.
On the 12th of March Lieutenant-General Ulysses
S. Grant had been assigned to command the armies of
the United States, with General Halleck as chief-of-
staff in Washington. And on the 25th of the same
month General Pleasanton was relieved from com-
Army of the Potomac. 10B
mand of the cavalry corps, General Gregg taking tem
porary command, and was superseded on April 4th by
Major-General Philip H. Sheridan.
General A. T. A. Torbert was placed in command
of the First Cavalry Division, his brigade commanders
being Custer and Devin, with Merritt in command of
the Eeserve Brigade. The Second Cavalry Division
remained in command of General Gregg, with Davies
and Irvin Gregg as brigade commanders. The Third
Cavalry Division was assigned to General James H.
Wilson, with Colonels Bryan and Chapman as brigade
Sheridan found the horses of the cavalry corps
much run down, and one of the first and most import
ant things that he did was to impress upon General
Meade the wastefulness of rendering unserviceable so
many thousand horses by unnecessary picket duty,
"covering a distance on a continuous line of nearly
sixty miles, with hardly a mounted Confederate con
fronting it at any point." Sheridan also insisted that
the cavalry should be concentrated to fight the enemy s
cavalry. Meade expressed the traditional views of
army commanders, when, in reply, he failed to see who
would protect the flanks of the army, the fronts of
moving infantry columns, and the wagon trains, if the
cavalrv were concentrated.
104 History of ike Cavalry,
Although Meade promptly relieved the cavalry
from much of the arduous picket duty it was perform
ing, he gave little encouragement at the time to Sher
idan s plans for an independent cavalry corps a corps
in fact as well as in name. But the corps commander
bided his time, confident that an opportunity would at
length come for the realization of his views. The
opportunity came quickly enough.
On May 4th the Army of the Potomac again moved
against the Army of Northern Virginia, then occupy
ing an entrenched position south of the Rapidan. Gen
eral Grant planned, by moving by the left flank, to
compel Lee to come out from his entrenchments along
Mine Run; and although a serious consideration was
the wooded country of the Wilderness, through which
he must pass, the maneuver had the advantages of
using Brandy Station as a base of supplies, and at the
same time of covering Washington.
Sheridan had in the neighborhood of 10,000 cav
alry.* Gregg s and Wilson s divisions took the ad
vance by way of Ely s and Germanna fords, preced
ing the Second and Fifth Army Corps respectively,
while Torbert s division remained in rear to cover the
trains and reserve artillery.
*Por the organization of the cavalry May 5th, see Appen
Army of the Potomac. 105
On the 5th Wilson s division advanced from Par
ker s Store to Craig s Meeting House, where he met the
enemy s advance, and, although at first successful, he
finally withdrew, for lack of ammunition, to Todd s
Tavern, where he formed a junction with Gregg s di
vision. The combined cavalry then drove the enemy
back to Shady Grove Church, and Sheridan so dis
posed the force as to hold the Brock road beyond the
Furnaces and around through Todd s Tavern to Piney
But on the 6th, although Custer had defeated the
enemy at the Furnaces, Meade became alarmed for the
safety of his left flank, and ordered Sheridan to with
draw the advanced cavalry towards Chancellorsville,
abandoning a position that was to be regained later
at heavy cost to both infantry and cavalry.
That Sheridan chafed under this order is seen from
his letter to General Humphreys of May 5th: "Why
cannot infantry/" he says, "be sent to guard the trains,
and let me take the offensive?"
On the 7th the army advanced with a view to tak
ing Spottsylvania Court House, and the trains were
moved towards Piney Branch Church, now, unknown
to Meade, held by the enemy. This led to the battle
of Todd s Tavern between Hampton s and Fitzhugh
l.ce s commands of SluaH s cavalry (about 8,000 men)
106 History of the Cavalry.
and Gregg s division, assisted by two brigades of Tor-
bert s division.* Irvin Gregg s brigade attacked the
enemy on the Catharpen road, Merritt s Reserve Bri
gade on the Spottsylvania road, and Davies brigade
on the Piney Branch road, uniting with Merritt s left.
After severe fighting, in which the enemy showed the
greatest resistance in Merritt s front, the Confederates
gave way and were pursued almost to Spottsylvania
In keeping with Grant s purpose of threatening
Lee s communications by moving the army to Spottsyl-
vania Court House, Sheridan directed Gregg and Mer
ritt to gain possession of Snell s Bridge, early on the
8th, while Wilson was ordered to take possession of
Spottsylvania Court House, and actually reached and
held that place till directed to fall back from it. Meade
had so amended Sheridan s orders as to direct Gregg
to simply hold the Corbin Bridge, and Merritt to act
as advance guard for the advancing column of infant
ry. Had Sheridan s order not been thus modified, it
is quite probable that the cavalry would have to de
layed the march of the Confederates, who held on to
Spottsylvania Court House, till the Federal infantry
had advanced and made good their possession of that
*Torbert was taken ill on the 6th instant, and the com
mand of his division devolved on General Merritt the follow
Army of the Potomac. 107
place. As it was, the enemy had time to fortify the
latter place, and the bloody battle of Spottsylvania
Court House was fought while the work of the cav
alry was practically ineffective.
Sheridan s unwillingness to use his cavalry in this
disjointed manner, coupled with additional distaste
that Merritt s division should have been accused of
delaying the march of the Fifth Army Corps, led to
that famous interview between Meade and Sheridan,
in which the latter told his senior that he could whip
Stuart if allowed to do so, and that henceforth Meade
could command the cavalry corps himself, as he (Sher
idan) would not give it another order.
General Grant determined that Sheridan should be
granted his opportunity to "whip Stuart," and that
very day Meade directed that the cavalry be concen
trated immediately, and that Sheridan proceed against
the enemy s cavalry. When his supplies were ex
hausted, he was to proceed to Haxall s Landing on the
James Kiver, communicating with General Butler.
The country between Spottsylvania and Kichmond
had been stripped of supplies of all kinds. For this rea
son, and in order to obtain greater room for cavalry
operations, secure from interference from the enemy s
infantry, Sheridan decided to march his command
south of the North Anna before offering battle.
108 History of the Cavalry,
Mobilized at Aldrich s, the expedition started on the
morning of May 9th, and with a column thirteen miles
long, Sheridan succeeded in passing at a walk around
the right of Lee s army without discovery. The Ny, Po,
and Ta rivers were safely passed, and the North Anna
reached on the same day; Stuart s cavalry, which fol
lowed, being repeatedly held in check by Davies bri
gade, which acted as rear guard. Ouster s brigade
pushed on to Beaver Dam Station to cut the Virginia
On the day following, the 10th, Gregg s and Wil
son s divisions crossed the North Anna, covered while
crossing by Merritt s division, which had crossed the
preceding day. The cavalry corps then proceeded
leisurely by the Negro-foot Road towards Richmond,
Stuart meanwhile urging his forces forward, in an en
deavor to interpose between the Federal cavalry and
the capital of the Confederacy. On the llth instant
Stuart held Yellow Tavern on the Brook Turnpike.
Early in the morning of this day Davies proceeded
to Ashland and cut the Fredericksburg Railroad, which
so deceived Stuart as to Sheridan s future movements
that he divided his forces, Gordon s brigade following
the Federal troops and the remainder marching to Yel
low Tavern. But Merritt s brigade, having entered the
place, drove (he enemy back and secured possession of
Army of the Potomac. 109
the turnpike. The other Federal divisions being brought
up, Ouster, with his own brigade, supported by Chap
man s brigade of Wilson s division, made a mounted
charge on the enemy s left, capturing two guns and
breaking their line. Then, while Gibbs and Devin
forced the enemy s center and right, Gregg charged in
rear and the battle was won.
This engagement gave Sheridan complete control of
the road to Richmond. The casualties on both sides
were quite severe, but the Confederate loss included
Generals Stuart and James B. Gordon.
Finding the road planted with torpedoes, and there
being no road between the enemy s works and the Cliick-
ahominy, Sheridan gave up the attempt and crossed to
the north side of that river by the Meadow Bridge.
This bridge was repaired, under severe fire, by Mer-
ritt s brigade, which afterwards pursued the enemy to
dairies Mill. But while the bridge was being repaired,
the Confederates advanced from their intrenchments
with a brigade of infantry and large numbers of dis
mounted cavalry, while Gordon s cavalry threatened
Sheridan along the Brook Road. After a severe con
test, the enemy was repulsed and the infantry driven
within the works.
On the afternoon of the 12th the Cavalry Corps en
camped at Walnut Grove and Games Mill; on the 13th
at Bottom s Ridge; on the 14th it passed through White
110 History of ilie Cavalrif,
Oak Swamp and encampad between Maxall s Landing
and Shirley on the James River, and resting there until
the 17th, the return march was begun. Proceeding by
way of Baltimore Cross-Roads, Sheridan crossed the
Pamunkey at White House, repairing the partly de
stroyed railroad bridge; and then, by way of Aylett s,
he rejoined the Army of the Potomac near Chesterfield
on the 24th instant.
The raid had accomplished important results. It
had materially affected Lee s retrograde movements;
had drawn oft Stuart s cavalry, and thus increased the
ease of movement of the immense trains of the Army
of the Potomac; had brought signal defeat to the Ton-
federate cavalry; had seriously threatened Richmond,
and might have taken it; had cut the railroads which
connected Lee with Richmond, and had destroyed im
mense quantities of stores which, with the strained re
sources of the Confederacy at this time, must, no doubt,
have exerted a powerful influence on the result of
Spottsylvania s battles had been fought when Sheri
dan returned, and the Army of the Potomac was ma
neuvering to cross the North Anna.
On the 25th instant Wilson s cavalry division was
ordered to make a reconnaissance across this river as
Army of the Potomac. Ill
far as Little Elver; and from the 26th to the 30th the
division was engaged in this duty, at the same time cov
ering the right flank of the army. On the 31st Wilson
crossed the south side of the Pamunkey, defeating a
division of the enemy s cavalry under W. H. F. Lee.
Pushing on the same day, in accordance with an order
from General Meade, Wilson occupied Hanover Court
House, after a sharp fight, in which the Confederate
General P. M. B. Young was wounded; and on the fol
lowing day, June 1st, destroyed the bridges over the
South Anna. Simultaneously therewith he had a sharp
engagement with the Confederate cavalry, but the lat
ter being reinforced by infantry, and Wilson having
accomplished the object of his movement, he withdrew
by the head of the Totopotomy to Hawes Shop, where
he again came within supporting distance of the army.
Meanwhile Gregg s and Torbert s divisions, sup
ported by Eussell s division of the Sixth Corps, were
covering the crossing of the army over the Pamunkey.
In effecting this crossing, Gregg made a feint of cross
ing at Littlepage s and Torbett at Taylor s Ford. Both
then, after dark, discreetly retired, and successfully
crossed at Hanovertown Ford on the 27th, Custer s bri
gade in the lead. Pushing rapidly on to Hanovertown,
Torbert is division encountered Gordon s brigade of Con
federate cavalry, and drove it in confusion in the direc
tion of Hanover Court House. Gregg s division moved
112 History of the Cavalry,
up to this line; Russell s division of infantry encamped
near the river crossing, in support, and behind the
screen thus formed the Army of the Potomac crossed
the river on the 28th instant unimpeded.
As General Grant was now uncertain of Lee s exact
position, Gregg was ordered to reconnoiter towards
Mechanicsville. At Hawes Shop he found confronting
him Hampton s and Fitzlmgh Lee s cavalry divisions,*
supported by Butler s cavalry brigade, and he attacked
them dismounted at once. The fight which followed
was very severe, and continued late into the evening, as
the position contended for was one of great strategic im
portance to both armies. Ouster s brigade, which had
reinforced Gregg, was finally dismounted, and assault
ing through an opening near the center of the line, tlie
temporary works were carried by the entire Union line,
and the position was won. Although the battle took
place immediately in front of the Federal infantry, Gen
eral Meade declined to put the latter into action, and
the battle was won by the cavalry alone. The result
gave possession of the cross-roads, and showed Grant
that Lee s army was retiring by the right flank.
The night following the battle Sheridan withdrew
the two cavalry divisions to the left rear of the army,
*After Stuart s death, the Confederate cavalry was reor
ganized in three divisions under Hampton, Fitzhugh Lee, and
W. H. P. Lee, due to reinforcement by Butler s cavalry bri
gade from South Carolina.
Army of the Potomac.
and, marching to Old Church, threw out pickets to
wards Cold Harbor, the possession of which was nec
essary to secure White House as a base. The enemy
realized this too, and a fierce fight ensued at Matade
quin Creek, in which the Confederate force was finally
driven to Cold Harbor, that town being taken the fol
lowing day (May 31st), after a hard-fought battle.
The cavalry at Cold Harbor was now so isolated,
being nine miles from the nearest infantry, that Sheri
dan was making preparations to withdraw, when he
received word from Meade to hold the town at all haz
ards. Its capture by the cavalry had not been antici
pated by Grant.
Accordingly Sheridan made every preparation dur
ing the night to hold the town; and on the following-
day, behind his temporary breastworks, successfully
met and repulsed the Confederate infantry under Ker-
shaw. About 10 o clock a. m. the cavalry was relieved
by the Sixth Army Corps, and was moved to a position
at Bottom s Bridge, on the north side of the Chicka-
hominy, where it rested in camp until June 6th.
Wilson having meanwhile driven the enemy out of
Hawes Shop and passed so far around Lee s left flank
as to deceive him into the belief that he was threatened
by a large force, after taking a number of prisoners, fell
back the next day and quietly went into camp at New
114 Hi si on/ of fhe C avoir j/,
Grant s unsuccessful attack upon the enemy s strong
position at Cold Harbor made him decide to again move
his army forward by the left flank. To draw off the
enemy s cavalry during this da igerous maneuver, Sheri
dan received instructions on Juno Oth to proceed with
two cavalry divisions via Charlottesville to break up
the Virginia Central Railroad, and afterwards to unite,
if possible, with the army advancing through West Vir
ginia under General Hunter towards Lynchburg.
Wilson s division was directed to remain with the
Army of the Potomac, receiving its instructions direct
from army headquarters. Torbert s and Gregg s divi
sions accordingly started on the 7th of June, taking
with them three days rations in haversacks to last for
live days, two days forage on the pommels of saddles,
and 100 rounds of ammunition to each man.
The line of march carried the command through Ne\v
Castle and Polecat Station along the r.orth bank of the
North Anna, through Twyman s Store, and across the
Anna on the 10th instant, and in the vicinity of Tre-
vilian Station on the llth.
Here Torbert s division, pressing back the enemy s
picket s, found the enemy in force about three miles
from Trevilian, posted behind heavy timber. At the
same time, Custer was sent by a wood road to destroy
Trevilian Station. In doing this Custer passed between
Fitzhugh Lee s and Hampton s divisions, and soon had
Army of the Potomac.
possession of the station, as well as the Confederate
wagons, caissons, and led horses, causing Hampton to
detach Rosser s brigade.
Assured of Ouster s position, Sheridan dismounted
Torbert s tw 7 o remaining brigades, and, aided by one of
Gregg s brigades carried the enemy s works, driving
Hampton s division pell-mell back on Ouster, and even
through his lines. Gregg s remaining brigade had mean
while attacked Fitzhugh Lee successfully, and pursued
him until almost dark as far as Louisa Court House.
Hampton s scattered forces retreated towards Gor-
donsville, and were joined by Fitzhugh Lee s command
during the night.
The cavalry corps eiicauipid that night at Trevilian,
and here Sheridan received information which showed
that General Hunter was marching away from, instead
of towards, Charlottesville. He therefore decided to
give up attempting to join Hunter, and made imme
diate preparations to return to the Army of the Poto
mac. The wounded arid prisoners greatly impeded his
movements, and his supply of ammunition was not suffi
ciently large for more than one general engagement.
On the morning of June 12th Gregg s division pro
ceeded to destroy the railroad towards Louisa Court
House, while Torbert made a reconnaissance towards
Goidonsville. The latter became heavily engaged with
Hampton s and Fitzhugh Lee s cavalry at Mallory s
116 History of fJie Cavalry,
Cross-Roads, about two miles beyond Treviliau, the
battle continuing until dark.
Although the fighting in this series of engagements
was in favor of Sheridan, the general result prevented
a return by way of Mallory s Ford, as had been planned,
and Sheridan decided forthwith to return by the same
road on which lit had come. But for reasons which are
not clear he marched northeast, reaching Catharpen
road, in the Wilderness, on the 14th; on the 15th, the
Ta Kiver; on the 16th, it passed through Bowling Green
to the Mattapony Eiver; on the 17th, it reached Walker-
ton, and on the 18th, the vicinity of King and Queen
County. On the 19th instant the wounded, the pris
oners, and about 2,000 contrabands were sent to White
House, while the corps marched to Dunkirk, reaching
White House on the HOth of June.
At the latter place Sheridan found orders directing
him to break up the supply station there and conduct
the 900 wagons to Petersburg. This was successfully
accomplished, but not without several severe engage
ments with the Confederate cavalry, which had a^ain
got across his line of march. Gregg s division had a
severe engagement at St. Mary s Church, particularly
creditable to the cavalry.
In combination with the operations of the Army of
the Potomac, the Army of the James, under General
Butler, had meanwhile moved up the Peninsula; and
Army of the Potomac. 117
on May 5th General Kautz, with a cavalry force of
nearly 8,000 men,* had been detached for a raid against
the Petersburg & Weldon Railroad. Kautz forced the
Blackwater, burned the railroad biidge at Stony Creek
below Petersburg, cut the Danville Kailroad at three
points, cut the Petersburg & Lynchburg Railroad at
three points, cut the Petersburg & Weldon Railroad,
and destroyed property of immense value. The com
mand reached City Point in safety on May 17th, having
marched from thirty to forty miles a day for six days.
On June 9th General Kautz, with 1,300 - cavalry,
took active part in the movement which General But
ler had planned for the capture of Petersburg, then de
fended by a force of about 1,200 militia. It was ar
ranged that Kautz should make a detour to the left,
attacking the city from the Jerusalem road, while the
infantry forces under General Gillmore should coop
erate on the Jordan s Point and City Point roads.
Kautz s cavalry a portion mounted and the remain
der dismounted gallantly charged the enemy s en
trenchments, capturing the works and approaching
*First Brigade: Third New York Cavalry, First District of
Columbia Cavalry. Second Brigade: Fifth Pennsylvania Cav
alry, Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, section of Eighth New
York Artillery. Total, 2,838 men for duty, equipped.
118 tlistory of the Cavalry,
very near the city, but, owing to lack of support from
the infantry, the cavalry was obliged to fall back.*
Wilson s division, augmented to 5,500 men by the
addition of the cavalry from the Army of the James,
had, during the absence of the other divisions of the
Cavalry Corps at Trevilian Station, made a raid (July
22d) south of Petersburg, destroying the Petersburg &
Lynchburg and Richmond & Danville railroads. Upon
reaching the left of the army on his return, Wilson
was attacked in front by a large force of Confederate
infantry under General Mahone, sent down from Pe
tersburg on the Weldon Railroad, and on the flank by
the Confederate cavalry, which had dropped Sheridan
and marched rapidly to this point. The impossibility
of breaking the infantry line which confronted it
caused the division to fall back across the Nottoway
and Meherrin rivers, and swing east across the Black-
water, losing in the retreat a great number of hcrscs
through heat and fatigue. Wilson had previously ex
pressed his doubts of being able to return safely, unless
the enemy s cavalry and infantry were kept engaged
by General Sheridan and the Army of the Potomac
respectively. But the destruction of the railroads on
this raid was considered by General Grant to have
fGeneral Gillmore s alleged bad management of this attack
led to charges against him by General Butler, and his subse
quent relief from command at his own request.
Army of the Potomac. 119
more than compensated for the severe losses which the
cavalry division sustained. Had infantry been prompt
ly sent, as requested, to meet Wilson at Ream s Sta
tion, only four miles from Meade s headquarters, and
open the door for his return, he could have safely with
drawn his command and rejoined the army without
From the 2d to the 26th of July Sheridan was at
Lighthouse Point recuperating his hard-worked com
mand. Here 1,500 horses were received in addition to
the 400 received at White House. That the Union cav
alry had learned to take better care of its horse-flesh is
shown from the fact that these 1,900 remounts were
all that the Cavalry Corps received from the Quarter
master s Department of the Army while Sheridan
had personal command that is, from April 6th to
The misfortunes of the national cavalry during this
period was due to its division into two parts, and al
though it had been roughly handled, it was soon ready
for active operations. On the afternoon of July 26th the
First and Second Cavalry Divisions moved north of the
James, the Second Army Corps cooperating, with or
ders to raid, if opportunity offered, the Virginia Cen
tral Railroad, and destroy the bridges over the North
and South Anna rivers. The Appomattox was crossed
at Broadway Landing; and at Deep Bottom, Kautz s
120 History of the Cavalry,
small cavalry division joined the raiding force, the
Second Army Corps taking the advance.
A portion of Hancock s corps *oon became engaged,
and Sheridan with two divisions of the cavalry accord
ingly moved to the right upon the strongly fortified New
Market and Central roads, leading to Richmond. In
advance of Ruffin s House on the New Market road, the
First and Second Cavalry Divisions formed line of bat
tle, but were driven back over the high ground by the
Confederate infantry divisions of Kershaw, Wilcox, and
Heath. Reaching the eastern extremity of a ridge, the
cavalry were quickly dismounted and directed to lie
down about fifteen yards from the crest. When the
enemy s infantry arrived, such a galling fire was deliv
ered from the cavalry s repeating carbines that the Con
federate divisions gave way in disorder. The Federal
cavalry quickly followed, capturing 250 prisoners and
two battle-flags. This adaptability to fight mounted or
dismounted had now become a marked characteristic of
the Union cavalry.
The long line presented by the cavalry and the Sec
ond Army Corps deceived General Lee into the belief
that Grant had transferred a large part of his force to
the north side of the James. Lee accordingly moved
a large body of his troops from Petersburg to the vicin
ity of New Market. This was one of the very objects
which Grant wished to obtain by this demonstration
Army of the Potomac. 121
north of the James, as the explosion of the mine at
Petersburg was nearing consummation, by means of
which he hoped to gain possession of the city.
Giving up all idea then of tlu> original objects of thi>
expedition, Hancock and Sheridan bent all their re
sources towards keeping up the deception without giv
ing battle. This was accomplished until the 29th in
stant, when the Second Corps was withdrawn to take
part in the assault on Petersburg tlie following day.
This withdrawal of the infantry left the cavalry
corps in a position where it could have been annihilated
had the enemy seen fit to attack. But shortly after
daylight on the 30th the cavalry safely followed the
infantry, and moved with a view to operating on the
enemy s left flank, should the mine explosion be suc
cessful. The failure, however, of the latter caused this
movement of the cavalry to be at once arrested. On
August 1st, two days after the mine explosion, Genera]
Sheridan was relieved from personal command of the
Cavalry Corps, and was ordered to the Shenandoah
The results thus far accomplished by the cavalry
under Sheridan had b ^en most distinguished. With the
idea ever held in view r that the Cavalry Corps should
be organized and used to fight the enemy s cavalry, he
had succeeded in almost annihilating what had hereto
fore been the most uniformly successful arm of the
122 History of tJie Cavalry,
Confederate Army. Besides accomplishing the destruc
tion of millions of dollars worth of property, the Cav
alry Corps had, in all important movements, acted as a
screen to the main army, and by its hostile demonstra
tions had time after time forced the Confederate com-
mander-in-chief, much against his will, to detach much-
needed troops from his already hard-pressed army.
Had it been kept united in its more important opera
tions of breaking up the enemy s communications, it
would have escaped all defeat and would have been
much more successful.
The Federal Government had, with an inconsidera
ble force, been able to hold the State of West Virginia,
subject though it was at all times to guerrilla opera
tions and to bold raids of the enemy s cavalry. Aside
from the moral effect of keeping the State within the
Union, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in the northern
part, main line between the East and West, the Vir
ginia Central Railroad, penetrating the Blue Ridge at
Rockfish Gap, and the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad,
just beyond West Virginia s southern boundary, were
all of immense strategic importance.
But although the State had by extraordinary exer
tions been held, the operations of the cavalry had been
Army of the Potomac. 123
inconspicuous. With the advent of Grant s control of
the Federal armies, the cavalry of the Army of West
Virginia came into more prominence.
In the spring of 1864 the Department of West Vir
ginia, which included the Shenandoah Valley, was in
command of General Si gel, who, under orders from
Grant, despatched an expedition under General Crook
to cut the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad at New
River Bridge and destroy the salt works at Saltville.
As a diversion, Sigel proposed to menace the Virginia
Central Railroad at Staunton.
Crook entrusted the destruction of the works at
Saltville to General Averell s cavalry division, while
he himself marched against New River Bridge. It
is w r ith the cavalry command that we are chiefly
Averell was at Charleston, W. Va., with 2,479 offi
cers and men* when Crook s orders reached him.
Marching on May 1st over pathless mountains, Aver
ell found Saltville too strongly guarded to be taken
without infantry and artillery. Approaching Wythe
ville on the 1.0th, he was confronted by 5,000 of the
enemy under Generals Morgan and Jones, whom he
successfully attacked and held at bay for the purpose
*Averell s brigade commanders were General Duffio and
124 History of the Cavalry,
of preventing their concentration on General Crook s
column. Proceeding to New Eiver, Averell crossed at
an opportune time, the river rising in time to check
Morgan s pursuing force. At Christianburg, Averell
look two 3-inch guns and destroyed the railroad to a
point four miles east of town. On the 15th instant
the little command rejoined General Crook at Union,
having inarched with uncomplaining fortitude 350
miles through an almost impassable region, destitute
of supplies, thirty miles of the journey being made in
single file, on foot, over unfrequented paths.
While this campaign of the Kanawha was taking
place, Sigel had, with 6,000 men, of which 1,000 were
cavalry under General Stahel (an officer of foreign
birth), begun operations in the Shenaudoali Valley.
He reports: "The few troops I have here [at Winches
ter] are excellent, with the exception of the cavalry."
On May 15th he met the Confederate force under
Breckenridge, at New Market,* and the Federal cav
alry, posted on the left of the line*, were routed early
in the action. Although the remainder of the Union
troops contested the ground bravely, they finally gave
way. Sigel was signally defeated, and was accordingly
*Breckenridge had 5,500 men, his 800 cavalry being oonT-
manded by Imboden. The corps of cadets of the Virginia
Military Institute, under Colonel Shipp, took part in tb s
Army of the Potomac. 125
relieved from command of the Department of West
Virginia, being succeeded on May 21st by General
On May 26th Hunter began from Cedar Creek the
campaign which had for its object the occupation of
Lynchburg. His two cavalry divisions were under the
command of Duffle" (also a foreigner) and Averell.
The Federal command encountered no opposition
until it reached Harrisonburg, where Imboden was
found occupying a strong position. The Federal cav
alry succeeded in capturing a large supply train at this
point. On the 5th of June, Wyncoop s cavalry brigade
took an active and important part in the battle of Pied
mont, by which the Confederate General Jones was
defeated; on the 6th Hunter occupied Staunton, and
on the 8th he was reinforced by the infantry under
Crook and the cavalry under Averell.
In setting out from Staunton, Duffies cavalry di
vision was ordered to demonstrate against the enemy
at Waynesborough, but finding the Confederate force
very strong, he crossed the Blue Eidge and cut the
Charlottesville & Lynchburg Railroad at Arlington
Station. Imboden followed him, but was repulsed with
loss, Duffie capturing 100 prisoners, including 17 offi
cers. While these operations were highly successful,
Duffi#S failure to return to the main command caused
126 History of the Cavalry,
Hunter a long delay at Slauuton, and the main object
ive, Lynchburg, was reinforced before the Federal
On the 17th Averell, supported by Duffle", came
upon the enemy at Quaker Church, five miles from
Lynchburg;, and, aided by Crook s infantry, charged
their intrenchments and carried the works. But find
ing Lynchburg heavily reinforced, Hunter decided to
withdraw toward his base by way of Buford s Pass.
This he accomplished successfully, Early following,
and repulsed the enemy whenever attacked. He
reached Salem on the 21st instant, where the enemy
abandoned the pursuit, and arrived, half-starved at
Granley s Bridge on the 27th.
Hunter s campaign had the effect of drawing off a
portion of Lee s force to reinforce Lynchburg, and
caused a great loss of property to the Confederate Gov
ernment. In these successes the cavalry divisions of
Generals Averell and Duffie took a prominent part.
But Early did not long remain idle. After forcing
Hunter into the Shenaudoah a maneuver which freed
Lynchburg and left the lower Shenandoah open he
united General Breekenridge s infantry division and
the cavalry of General Robert Ransom, Jr., to his own
corps and moved down the valley. Reaching Winches
ter on July 2d, and Martinsburg two days later, lie
Army of Iho Potomac. 127
brushed Sigel s and Wallace s troops aside, crossed the
Potomac, and threatened Washington. This move
nient so alarmed the Federal authorities that the
Sixth and Nineteenth Army Corps were rapidly trans
ferred from the Army of the Potomac to Washington,
resulting in Early s retiring through Leesburg, Win
chester, and Strasburg. During this retreat Early
was continually harassed by Duffies cavalry division,
which attacked his trains and engaged in several se
On the 24th of July, Early turned at Kernstown on
Crook s command, which was following him, and han
dled it so severely that Crook was obliged to retire to
Harper s Ferry. In this battle both Duffies and Aver-
ell s cavalry saw severe service, but that their effi
ciency was not what it should have been is shown by
Hunter s letter to Halleck, written about this time:
"The cavalry and the dismounted men in the late fights
behaved in the most disgraceful manner, their officers
in many instances leading them off and starting all
kinds of lying reports tending to demoralize the whole
command." Although applicable to the dismounted
men, who were the odds and ends of various regiments
about Washington, this statement was unjust to the
main cavalry force, which, with few exceptions, fought
128 History of tho Cavalry,
The way was again open for Early, and, advancing
into Maryland, he detached McCausland to Chambers-
burg, Penn., laid that town in ashes, and fell back
Early s second raid caused such consternation in
the North that Grant determined to not only crush
Early s command, but, by devastating the fertile valley
of the Shenandoah, to prevent its being used in future
as a base of supplies for the Confederate armies. Gen
eral Sheridan was selected to carry out this difficult
task, in a region where many generals had already
When Sheridan assumed command of the Army of
the Shenandoah, its strength comprised the Sixth
Army Corps, one division of the Nineteenth Army
Corps, two divisions of infantry from West Virginia,
and Torbert s division of cavalry. In the expectation
that Averell s cavalry division would soon join him,
Sheridan appointed Torbert chief-of-cavalry, and as
signed Merritt to the command of Torbert s old division.
Sheridan s instructions directed him to mass his
troops at Harper s Ferry, and follow and attack the
raiding force wherever found. And, although protect-
Army of the Potomac. 129
ing all buildings, to take and destroy all forage and
stock in the valley which might invite the enemy s
The first five weeks of Sheridan s Valley campaign
were spent in maneuverings, offensive and defensive,
which, though enlivened by numerous severe cavalry
skirmishes, brought on no general action.
The Federal Army set out from Harper s Ferry on
August 10th, and between that date and the 13th
moved with strategical precision to Strasburg. Here
Sheridan received a delayed letter from Grant to Hal
leek, informing him that Early had been reinforced by
infantry and artillery from the Confederate Army at
Petersburg, and directing Sheridan to act on the de
fensive. The latter accordingly retraced his forward
movement with the same precision which had marked
his advance, and left in his wake a devastated valley.
By August 18th he was again in the vicinity of Charles-
town, closely followed by Early; but towards the end
of the month the Confederate general fell back to
wards Brucetown and Bunker Hill, and later to the
vicinity of Stephenson s Depot, near Winchester. No
engagement of importance occurred,* Sheridan stand
*On September 13th Mclntosh s brigade of Wilson s divis
ion (Second Ohio, Third New Jersey, Fifth New York, Sec
ond New York, and First Connecticut) captured the Eighth
South Carolina Infantry, with its colonel and battle-flag, at
Abraham s Creek.
130 History of the Cavalry,
ing strictly on the defensive, as his orders required, in
spite of great political pressure employed to force
him into aggressive action. But the time was well
employed. As Sheridan reports: "The cavalry was
employed every day in harassing the enemy, its oppo
nents being principally infantry. In these skirmishes
the cavalry was becoming educated to attack infantry
September 16th Sheridan learned through spies that
Kershaw s division had returned to the Army of North
ern Virginia, and he decided that the time for active
operations had at length come.
His original plan of action contemplated throwing
his army across the Valley Pike at Xewtown, south of
Winchester, but hearing from Averell that on the 17th
Early had attacked him at Bunker Hill with two in
fantry divisions, and had afterwards proceeded to
wards Martiiisburg, he determined to attack the two
remaining Confederate divisions at Stephenson s De
pot, and then turn, in time to meet those at Bunker
Hill and Martinsburg.
But Early, suspecting that Sheridan was about to
move, promptly withdrew these divisions, so that on
the 18th instant Gordon s division was at Bunker Hill,
Kamseur s two miles east of Winchester across the
Berryville Pike, Wharton s at Stephenson s, and Rodes
Army of the Potomac. 131
division near there. The cavalry of Lomax, Jackson,
and Johnson was to the right of Ramseur, while Fitz-
hugh Lee covered Stephenson s Depot, westward.
On September 19th Sheridan s army was up and
moving at 3 o clock in the morning. Wilson s division
crossed the Opequon at the Berryville crossing, and,
charging up the canon through which the Berryville-
Winchester turnpike runs, captured a small work on
the open ground at its mouth before the Confederates
could recover from their astonishment. All efforts to
dislodge Wilson proved fruitless, and he held it until
the arrival of the Sixth Army Corps. This corps and
the Nineteenth, which were following Wilson, were so
long passing the defile already referred to, that it was
late in the forenoon before they were able to form line
of battle; and in the meanwhile Early had time to
bring Bodes and Gordon s infantry divisions down
from Stephenson s, and from the high ground in front
was able to enfilade the Union troops as they advanced.
With the arrival of the infantry, Wilson moved to the
left from his perilous position in front and took posi
tion along the south bank of Abraham s Creek, cover
ing the Union left.
Line of battle formed, the Union infantry advanced
Getty s division of the Sixth Corps to the left, and
Rickett s division to the right of the Berryville- Win-
132 History of the Cavalry,
Chester pike ; Grover s division of the Nineteenth Corps
to the right of Rickett s, with Russell s and Dwight s
divisions in reserve, in rear of their respective corps.
The advance was successfully accomplished on the left,
but retarded on the right; and as Getty and Rickett
gained ground to the left, a serious break occurred at
the center of the line, which was opportunely filled by
Russell s reserve division.
Meanwhile Averell had advanced from Darksville
southward; Ouster had crossed the Opequon at Lock s
Ford, while Lowell and Devin had crossed at Ridg-
way s Ford, all three commands pressing forward to
wards Stephenson s Depot.
To confront this force, the Confederates had Pat-
ton s brigade of infantry and some of Fitzhugh Lee s
cavalry, but with Averell s division on the west of the
Valley Pike, and Merritt s on the east, Torbert easily
drove this force towards Winchester. The ground in
front of the Federal cavalry was well adapted for a
charge, and while Averell pressed rapidly towards the
Confederate rear, Merritt s division charged forward
with such success as to break the Confederate left and
capture a battery of 5 guns and 1,200 prisoners.
Almost simultaneous with this, Crook s divisions,
which had been massed at the Berryville crossing of
the Opequon, were hurled against the Confederate left,
Army of the Potomac. 133
on the right of the Nineteenth Army Corps. This, to
gether with the brilliant success of Torbert s cavalry
along the Valley Tike, stampeded the whole Confed
erate line, which fell back in confusion towards Win
chester in spite of the repeated efforts of its command
ers to rally their demoralized units.
Sheridan had hoped to retain Crook s divisions in
reserve, until an opportunity should occur to use them
in taking possession of the Valley Pike, southward,
thus cutting off the enemy s retreat. Rut under the
circumstances it had seemed best to place Crook s com
mand in the main line of battle to the right. Accord
ingly, Wilson was directed to perform alone, as well as
he was able, what had been intended for Crook s entire
command to prevent the retreat of the Confederate
army along the Valley Pike towards Strasburg.
Wilson s demonstrations on the 1 extreme Confeder
ate right had, earlier in the battle, caused Early to
weaken Fitzhugh Lee s cavalry division on the left by
detaching Wickham s brigade for the purpose of secur
ing a route for retreat; but this brigade was later sent
back to the Confederate left to confront Averell, so
that Wilson advanced without difficulty, scattering
Wickham s brigade and continuing his advance till
134 History of the Cavalry,
When the Confederate line fell back panic-stricken,
Sheridan caused the Sixth and Nineteenth Army Corps
to move towards the left to assist Wilson in taking
possession of the Valley Pike. But Kamseur s Confed
erate division, which still retained its morale, was in
position to delay movements in this direction till the
Confederates had swept by the point of danger and
darkness had put an end to hostile operations.
The Union loss in this battle of the Opequon was
from 4,500 to 5,000 men, of which the cavalry lost but
441. The Confederate loss amounted to about 4,000,
of which nearly 2,000 were prisoners. The Army of
the Shenandoah also captured 5 pieces of artillery and
The victory came at a time when its moral effect
was most needed, and crowned with success a long
series of misfortunes to the Federal arms in the Shen
andoah Valley. It restored the lower valley to Federal
control, and relieved Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the
national capital from further fears of invasion, and it
is safe to say could not have been gained but for the
part taken by the cavalry both in securing and driving
the enemy from it.
Army of the Potomac. 135
"We have just sent them whirling through Win
chester, and we are after them to-morrow/ wired Sher
idan, and his words sent a thrill of joy through the
In obedience to Sheridan s orders, the cavalry corps
was after the retreating Confederates at daybreak,
September 20th Merritt straight down the Valley
Road towards Strasburg; Wilson to Front Eoyal by
way of Stevensburg; and Averell along the Back Bond,
skirting the edge of the mountain range to the west,
towards Cedar Creek. The infantry followed, the Nine
teenth Corps on the right of the pike, the Sixth on the
left, and the Eighth Corps in the rear. Early had
taken his stand at Fisher s Hill, two miles south of
Strasburg and beyond a little stream called Tumbling
Run. No effort was for the present made to dislodge
him, for his position -was probably the strongest that
he could have selected.
At Strasburg the valley is divided longitudinally
by the Massanutton Range, and between this range
and the Little North Mountains to the west is barely
four miles. With his right resting on the Massanutton
spurs and the north fork of the Shenandoah, his in
fantry line of battle extended across the valley, and
186 History of the Cavalry,
was prolonged on the left by Lomax s cavalry, dis
mounted. The whole Confederate line was intrenched,
and so sure was Early of the strength of his position
that the ammunition chests w r ere lifted from the cais
sons and placed behind the works.
As the Union troops arrived on the evening of the
20th, Wright and Emory went into position on the
heights of Strasburg, Crook north of Cedar Creek, and
the cavalry to the right and rear of Wright and Emory,
extending to the Back Road.
A reconnaissance satisfied Sheridan* that the ene
my s right was impregnable, and he determined to use
the same turning tactics he had used at Opequon.
On the 21st Sheridan pushed the enemy s skirmish
ers back towards Fisher s Hill, and after a severe en
gagement of the infantry, secured an advantageous
position on the right. The night of the 21st Crook was
concealed in the timber near Strasburg. The same day
Torbert, with Wilson s and Merritt s cavalry divisions,
was dispatched up the Luray Valley with orders to
defeat the enemy s cavalry, cross over the Massanutton
Range to New Market, and thus gain the enemy s rear,
should Sheridan drive him south from Fisher s Hill.
On the 22d Crook moved secretly to a position in
the timber near Little North Mountain, and the Sixth
and Nineteenth Corps were massed opposite the right
Army of the Potomac. 137
center of the enemy s line, Rickett s division opposite
the left center, and Averell s cavalry on Rickett s right.
The maneuver of Crook was eminently successful.
Moving out from the timber late in the afternoon of
September 22d, he struck the enemy s left and rear
with unexpected and irresistible force; the infantry in
the main line of battle swung into the turning move
ment at the proper time, and the rout of Early s army
All during the night of the 22d the Federal infantry
with Devin s brigade of cavalry pushed on in pursuit of
the demoralized enemy. Devin struck the enemy north
of Mount Jackson, and had he been properly supported
by Averell, would doubtless have taken thousands of
prisoners. But for some unaccountable reason Averell
had gone into camp immediately after the battle of
Fisher s Hill, leaving the infantry and Devin s small
cavalry brigade to make the all-night pursuit. He re
inforced Devin about 3 p. m. on the 23d at Mount Jack
son, but his attack was indiff erently made, and he soon
afterwards withdrew into camp near Hawkinsburg.
Meanwhile Torbert with his cavalry had passed up
the Luray Valley to Milford, and finding this place in
possession of the Confederate cavalry under Wickham,
the bridges destroyed and the country impracticable for
cavalry off the turnpike, it was impossible to dislodge
138 History of the Cavalry <
the enemy or to pass beyond the defile opposite New
Market. "Not knowing these facts, I was astonished
and chagrined," writes Sheridan, "on the morning of
the 23d at Woodstock, to receive the intelligence that
he [Torbert] had fallen back to Front Royal and Buck-
Had Torbert succeeded in forcing the pass and reach
ing New Market, as Sheridan contemplated, Early s
army must have been captured bodily. As it was, Sher
idan s loss was only about 400, while Early s was be
tween 1,300 and 1,400. Early abandoned most of his
artillery, and such property as was within his field
Excepting Devin s energetic pursuit, it must be con
fessed that the cavalry contributed very little to the
success of the battle of Fisher s Hill; but candor com
pels the statement that the valleys were too narrow for
cavalry operations. Averell was immediately relieved
from his command, Sheridan attributing his apparent
apathy to dissatisfaction at Torbert s appointment as
chief-of-cavalry, which had repeatedly manifested itself,
except when Averell was conducting independent expe
ditions. Colonel William H. Powell succeeded to the
command of Averell s division.
The enemy which had concentrated south of Mount
Jackson was driven thirteen miles southward on the
Army of the Potomac. 139
24th, through New Market and Keezletown, reaching
Port Republic during the night, and moving from
thence to Brown s Gap in the Blue Ridge. Below Port
Republic, Early had been joined by Lomax s, Wick-
harn s, and Payne s brigades of cavalry, and Kershaw s
infantry division, while Cutshaw s artillery was en route
to join him.
On the 25th the Sixth and Nineteenth Army Corps
reached Harrisonburg, where they were ordered for the
present to remain; and during the next few days the
cavalry, all of which had rejoined Sheridan by the 26th,
was employed in laying waste the upper valley, and in
skirmishing with the enemy as far south as Stauntou
and Brown s Gap, the general line of the Federal army
being until October 6th from Port Republic along North
River by Mount Crawford to the Back Road near the
mouth of Briery Branch Gap.
During this time Sheridan advised that the Valley
campaign be here terminated, and that a portion, at
least, of the troops be withdrawn for other purposes.
Grant s consent to Sheridan s plans reached the latter
October 5th, and on the following day the movement
down the valley was begun, the infantry preceding the
cavalry, and the latter in a line stretching completely
across the valley, destroying or taking all available
140 History of the Cavalry,
The enemy s cavalry, now under General Rosser,*
became exceedingly annoying to the rear guard during
the next few days, and, on October 8th, Torbert was
directed by Sheridan "to give Kosser a drubbing next
morning or get whipped himself." At this time Merritt
was in camp near Bound Top, north of Tom s Brook,
and Custer some six miles northwest, near Tumbling
During the night Custer was ordered to retrace
his steps by the Back Road, joining his line of battle
with Merritt, who was to attack along the Valley
Pike, only about three miles separating these parallel
About 7 a. m. October 9th Ouster encountered
Rosser with three brigades near Tom s Brook Cross
ing, and soon after Merritt struck Lomax and John
son on the Valley Pike, the Federal line of battle ex
tending across the valley.
The fighting was desperate on both sides. On the
Federal side there was a determination to maintain
the prestige of the cavalry in the valley, and to make
up for Torbert s failure to punish these same Confed
erate divisions at Milford a few r weeks before. On
the Confederate side it was hoped that Rosser, whose
*Rosser had joined Early on October 5th, with a cavalry
brigade from Richmond, and was boastfully proclaimed "the
.savior of the valley."
f UNIVERSITT )
p >&UFOg^X ,
Army of the 1 otomdc.
previous efforts had been successful, would reestab
lish the supremacy of the Confederate cavalry, and
the sight of the devastated valley by men, many of
whom were from this region, spurred them to stub
The fight was essentially a saber contest. Again
and again were charges given and received on both
sides, and for two hours the honors w r ere almost
equally divided, the Confederates holding the center
with success, while the Federal cavalry pushed back
the flanks. This finally proved too much for the
enemy, and as both Confederate flanks gave way, Mer-
ritt and Custer ordered a charge along the whole line.
The retreat of the Confederates which immediately
followed degenerated into a panic-stricken rout, wh ch
continued for twenty-six miles up the valley, through
Mount Jackson and Columbia Furnaces. Eleven pieces
of artillery, 330 prisoners, ambulances, caissons, and
even the headquarters wagons of the Confederate
commanders, were captured.
Torbert has stated that of all the cavalry victories,
that of Tom s Brook "was the most brilliant one of
them all, and the most decisive the country has ever
Of this reverse to the Confederate arms Early
wrote to Lee, October 9jh; " * * * GCK] knows
142 History of the Cavalry,
I have done all in my power to avert the disasters
which have befallen the command ; but the fact is, the
enemy s cavalry is so much superior to ours, both in
numbers and equipment, and the country is so favor
able to the operations of cavalry that it is impossible
for ours to compete with his. Lomax s cavalry are
armed entirely with rifles, and have no sabers, and
the consequence is that they cannot fight on horse
back, and in the open country they cannot success
fully fight on foot against large bodies of cavalry. It
would be better if they could all be put in the in
fantry; but if that were tried, T am afraid they would
all run off."*
Sheridan had specially halted the Union infantry
one day in order to have the battle of Tom s Brook
fought. On the following day he again moved for
ward across Cedar Creek and occupied the heights,
the cavalry on the flanks, and the Sixth Corps con
tinuing its march to Front Royal, with a view of join
ing the Army of the Potomac. On the 13th, however,
it was recalled in consequence of the enemy s arrival
at Fisher s Hill. It was Sheridan s intention at the
time to send all the cavalry on a raid through Chester
Gap to the Virginia Central Railroad at Charlottes-
ville, and it had actually proceeded as far as Front
".Rebellion Records, page 558, Vol. XLIIL, Part L
Army of the Potomac. 148
Royal, but in consequence of unconfirmed informa
tion that Longstreet was about to join Early, the
expedition was given up. The cavalry was accord
ingly ordered back to Cedar Creek, and General
Wright was directed to make his position strong, and
be well prepared for any advance of the enemy. This
done, Sheridan proceeded to Washington to consult
with the Secretary of War in regard to future
Nothing suspicious was seen or heard by the Fed
eral army at Cedar Creek to indicate a further ad
vance by Early. In fact, a reconnaissance on October
18th reported the enemy as having retreated up the
valley. But it is to be observed that no cavalry scouts
or pickets were kept in advance to observe the ene
my s movements.
On the night of the 1.8th the Army of the Shenan-
doah was encamped on the bluffs along the north
bank of Cedar Creek, as follows: Crook s Army of
West Virginia was on the extreme left, his two divis
ions on each side of the pike; on his right was th^
Nineteenth Corps, separated from the Sixth Corps
farther to the right by a rivulet Meadow Brook;
Merritt s cavalry division was on the right of the
144 History of the Cavalry y
Sixth Corps at Middle Marsh Brook, and Ouster s a
mile and a half beyond Merritt, watching the fords of
the Back and Mine Bank roads; Powell s First Bri
gade was out on the Front Eoyal pike, and his Sec
ond Brigade was guarding Burton s Ford on the
The enemy attacked the left of the line, in a heavy
fog before daylight, October 19th, and, with a turning
movement which was very effective, drove the infant
ry back from position to position.
The cavalry was in the saddle at the first alarm,
and was put in position on the right of the infantry.
The First Brigade, Second Division, being at Burton s
Ford, was cut off by the enemy s attack, but, passing
completely about the Confederate flank, joined the
left of the army at Middletown. The second brigade
of this division moved slowly backward on the Front
Royal-Winchester pike, and succeeded admirably in
engaging Lomax s cavalry and in preventing him,
throughout the day, from attacking the Federal rear.
The value of this stubborn resistance can best be esti
mated by thinking of the consternation that would
have followed an attack on the rear, in addition to
the confusion in front.
Of Merritt s division, the Reserve Brigade, having
received orders for a reconnaissance the night before,
had already advanced to the line of pickets, when the
Army of the Potomac. 145
latter were attacked, but subsequently fell back, and
gave way to the First Brigade. Ouster s division,
which had at daylight been feebly attacked by Kosser
at Copp s Ford, was, with Merritt s division, deployed
in line of battle on the right of the infantry. The
infantry lines soon after gave way in confusion, and
the Fifth U. S. Cavalry was deployed across tli
fields in the almost useless attempt to stop strag
glers and form a line. Devin s brigade was sent
to the left of the line, with orders to hold the pike,
and about 10 o clock the First and Third Divisions*
were transferred to the left of the line, across the pike
just north of Middletown, the First Division being so
disposed as to connect with the line of the infantry.
The First Brigade, Second Division, was on the left
of the Third Division, and the Third Division was on
the left of the First.
The cavalry fought gallantly. Even at times when,
by backward movements of the infantry line on th< k
right, the First Cavalry Division was subjected to a
galling cross-fire, the division stood firm, and both
divisions suffered greatly from a murderous artillery
*Three regiments of the Third Division were left on the
right of the line, and for five hours gallantly stemmed the
tide of thousands of stragglers who were moving to the rear.
146 History of the Cavalry,
But for the services of the cavalry at this time on
the left flank, the enemy must surely have penetrated
to the rear of the Federal army. The cavalry not only
held its own on the left, but at one time so threat
ened to envelop Early s right that he was forced to
crowd his troops farther east.
Finding his efforts of little avail against the solid
front presented by the Sixth Army Corps and the
cavalry. Early determined to try to force the Union
flank. But, to his surprise and consternation, \\<>
found his own troops in no condition for such an
attack. Early himself states: "So many of our men
had stopped in the cam]) to plunder (in which I am
sorry to say that officers participated), the country
was so open, and the enemy s cavalry so strong, that
I did not deem it prudent to press further, especially
as Lomax had not come up."*
Affairs were at this stage when Sheridan, having
made his historic ride, arrived on the field. He says:
"On arriving at the front I found Merritt s and Cus-
ter s divisions of cavalry under Torbert, and General
Getty s division of the Sixth Corps, opposing the
Custer s division was at once (11 a. in.) ordered to
the right, and in a charge drove back the enemy s cav-
*Early to Lee, the day after the battle.
Army of the Potomac. 147
airy for a mile behind their infantry supports. The
Nineteenth Corps and two remaining divisions of the
Sixth Corps were also ordered to the front, and Sher
idan personally supervised the formation of the line
of battle in prolongation of Getty s line.
At 4 p. m. a general advance of the Federal lines
was ordered, and as the enemy s line overlapped a
portion of the Union right, McMillan s brigade cutoff
the Confederate flanking force. This done, Glister s
division was ordered to charge. Leaving but three
regiments to hold the Confederate cavalry in his
front, Custer moved to the left, dividing the enemy s
cavalry from his infantry, and charging across an
open plain on the enemy s exposed flank. The effect
was apparent before the charge was completed, thou
sands of the enemy throwing away their arms and
crowding across Cedar Creek, a demoralized mob.
Meanwhile Merritt s division, on the extreme right
of the line, had also gallantly moved forward in the
general advance of the line. "The Eeserve and Sec
ond Brigades charged into a living wall of the enemy,
which, receiving the shock, emitted a leaden sheet of
fire upon their devoted ranks"; while the First Bri
gade, in column of regiments in line, overwhelmed a
battery and its supports, amid a perfect tempest of
fire at close range. In this charge the fearless and
chivalric Lowell received a mortal wound.
148 Ilislory of Hie Cavalry,
The cavalry on both flanks continued the pursuit
across Cedar Creek, and even after dark charged and
broke the last line the disorganized Confederates
attempted to form. Darkness alone saved the greater
part of Early s army from capture.
The cavalry alone captured 45 pieces of artillery,
32 caissons, 46 army wagons, 672 prisoners more
than half the total number captured arid a great
deal of other property.
The services of the cavalry during the entire day
were most distinguished and valuable, and in decided
contrast to those of the Confederate cavalry. Neither
Kosser nor Lomax, although striking for the Union
lines at a time when the Federal infantry was most
demoralized, were able to reach the pike; the former
being easily repulsed by Custer, and the latter held
at bay during the entire day by Powell. The fact
that two of the cavalry divisions were about to depart
upon a raid to the Virginia Central Kailroad, and
that their orders were countermanded at the last
moment by Sheridan at Front Royal, shows how the
smallest happenings may affect the fate of the great
*During the Shenandoah campaign the cavalry alone cap
tured 2,556 prisoners, 71 guns, 29 battle-flags, 52 caissons, 105
army wagons, 2,557 horses, 1,000 horse equipments, and 7,152
beef cattle. It destroyed, among other things, 420,742 bushels
of wheat, 780 barns, and 700,000 rounds of ammunition.
Army of the Potomac. 149
Early s disorganized army reassembled at New
Market, while Sheridan proceeded to Kernstown.
From Stephenson s Depot to Harper s Ferry the rail
road was reconstructed and arrangements made to
detach troops to General Grant. On the night of
November llth General Early made a reconnaissance
north of Cedar Creek, but hastily retired on the night
of the following day, before troops could be sent
against him. His cavalry, however, were not so for
tunate. On the day following this reconnaissance
General Powell s cavalry division attacked Lomax s
cavalry at Nineveh, routing them, pursuing them two
miles south of Front Royal, and capturing all their
artillery (2 guns), their ordnance train, and 180 pris
oners. On the same day General Custer, moving on
the Middle and Back roads, engaged Rosser s cavalry
division north of Cedar Creek, routing it, driving it
across Cedar Creek and capturing sixteen prisoners.
The enemy s infantry was also successfully engaged
on the Valley Pike by a portion of the First Cavalry
Division under General Merritt.
Late in November (November 28th to December
3d), General Merritt was sent with two brigades on
an expedition into the Luray Valley for the purpose
of operating against Mosby, and of rendering the
valley useless as a base of supplies for the guerrillas
in the future.
150 History of the Cavalry,
The division passed through Ashby s Gap of the
Blue Ridge, and raiding columns were then detached
which devastated the country on each side of the
general line of march. The guerrillas kept safely at
a distance and avoided capture, but the destruction of
property was enormous that destroyed by the Re
serve Brigade alone aggregating $411,620.
In spite of the bitter cold weather, the cavalry was
kept moving during December. On the 19th Tor-
bert, with Merritt s and Powell s divisions, marched
through Chester Gap for the purpose of striking
the Virginia Central Railroad at Gordonsville, while
Custer, as a diversion, proceeded up the valley. Tor-
bert drove Jackson s cavalry division out of Madison
Court House, and the latter formed a junction with
McCauseland s division at Liberty Mills; but the com
bined force, General Lomax commanding, was sig
nally defeated by Torbert and driven across the Rap-
idan. The bridge had been mined, and was blown up
while the Federal cavalry were crossing in pursirt;
but, by crossing by fords above and below, Torbert
captured two pieces of artillery. He then proceeded
towards Gordonsville, but found the enemy s infantry
in such force that he returned. Custer had meanwhile
been surprised in his camp at Lacy s Springs, both
Rosser s and Payne s forces attacking him at daylight,
and ho was obliged to retire.
Army of the Potomac. 151
The weather was so intensely cold during these
operations that horses and men suffered severely, and
many men were badly frost-bitten. The expeditions
practically closed the operations of the winter, and
Sheridan s troops went into cantonment near Win
chester. The Sixth Corps had been sent to Petersburg
early in December, one division of Crook s corps to
West Virginia, and the remainder to City Point, leav
ing Sheridan with but one division of the Nineteenth
Army Corps and the cavalry.
While these stirring events had been taking place
in the Shenandoah Valley, Gregg s cavalry division
(still known as the Second Cavalry Division), on duty
with the Army of the Potomac, had not been idle.
Indeed, in consequence of the withdrawal of the other
cavalry divisions to the Shenandoah Valley, it had
rather more than its share of cavalry duty to perform.
When Kershaw s division of Lee s army was with
drawn to reinforce Early, the Second Cavalry Divis
ion, with the Second Army Corps (Hancock s), crossed
the James at Deep Bottom, August 14th. On the 16th
the Federal cavalry met the enemy s cavalry on the
Charles City road, and drove them as far as White s
152 History of tlie Cavalry,
Tavern. In these engagements Generals Ckainbliss
and Girardey, of the Confederate army, were killed.
During the destruction of the Weldon Railroad
which followed, the cavalry was on picket duty, but
a portion of it, dismounted, took active part in the
engagement at Ream s Station on August 25th, which
resulted in the breaking of Hancock s line and the cap
ture of five pieces of his artillery.*
No movements of consequence, except reconnais
sances, now occurred until September 30th, when a
demonstration was ordered on the left of the line, to
prevent the enemy detaching troops to the north side
of the James. In this movement two divisions of
the Fifth Army Corps under General Warren, and
two of the Ninth Army Corps under General Parke,
moved from the left towards Poplar Spring Church
and Peeble s Farm; the cavalry division at the same
time moved to the left and rear. On October 1st
Gregg was attacked by a large force of the enemy on
the Duncan road, where he was guarding the rear and
left of the movement, but he repulsed the attack witli
great loss, General Dunovant being among the Con
federates killed. For some weeks the troops were em
ployed in holding and fortifying the position thus
*For the organization of the cavalry, see Appendix 13.
Army of tlie Potomac. 153
On October 27th the cavalry division was placed
under the orders of General Hancock, and, together
with part of the Ninth, Fifth, and Second Corps,
moved towards the left in reconnaissance. The Sec
ond Corps and the cavalry crossed Hatcher s Eun on
the Vaughan road, with slight opposition from the
enemy s cavalry. On arriving at Gravelly Run, the
enemy was found posted on the west side in a position
of great natural strength. The First Maine and Sixth
Ohio were dismounted, and, assisted by the Twenty-
first Pennsylvania, mounted, drove the enemy s line
back beyond the heights, the enemy breaking in con
fusion at the advance of the Second Corps. In the
subsequent operations on the Boydton Plank Road,
the cavalry was on the left of the Second Army Corps,
and, with almost the entire division dismounted, re
peatedly held the line against superior numbers of the
enemy until he retired. On October 28th the troops
were again withdrawn to the lines of intrenchments.
During November the division was employed on
picket and reconnaissance; and on December 7th,
numbering 4,200 effective men, it was sent, under
General Warren, with three divisions of the Fiftli
Corps, Mott s division of the Second Corps, and four
batteries of artillery, to destroy the Weldon Railroad
and interrupt the enemy s communications.
154 History of the Cavalry,
As the command reached the vicinity of the rail
road General Gregg detached a force to destroy the
railroad bridge over the Nottoway, and the cavalry
continued the partial destruction of the railroad as far
as Jarratt s Station. On December 9th the work of
destruction continued, the cavalry clearing the enenry
out of the way southward, and picketing the country
north and east. At Three Creeks the Confederates
had posted on the south bank two small field-guns
and two hundred cavalry, the bridges having been
destroyed and the fords obstructed; but dismounted
men crossed and drove the enemy away. The railroad
was destroyed for seventeen or eighteen miles, when,
the command s supplies not justifying further opera
tions, it returned to camp on December 12th.
Early in February the Second Cavalry Division
proceeded via Beam s Station to Dinwiddie Court
House without finding the enemy in any considerable
force. On the following day, however, the division
formed a junction with General Warren at Gravelly
Run, and covered his movements to Hatcher s Kun,
the enemy following. With the First and Third Bri
gades dismounted and the Second Brigade mounted,
the enemy w r as driven across the run, and the com
mand bivouacked on the field of battle.
On February 9th General David McM. Gregg, who
had for so long a time been so prominently and illus-
Army of the Potomac. 155
triously identified with the cavalry of the Army of the
Potomac, was relieved from command, through the
acceptance of his resignation, and General John I.
Gregg assumed temporary command. General Davies,
returning from leave later in the month, assumed com
mand, and on March 27th he in turn was relieved by
General Crook, who retained permanent command of
the division.* During this period little of importance
occurred, the division reporting on the 27th to Gen
eral Sheridan for duty with the First and Third Cav
alry Divisions, which had again joined the Army of
the Potomac. f
The latter divisions had meanwhile, on February
27th, entered upon the final campaign, which was to
clear the valley, once for all, of organized Confederate
General Merritt, who had performed such distin
guished services as a division commander, succeeded
General Torbert as chief-of-cavalry. Torbert had dis
appointed Sheridan during the battle of Fisher s Hill
and in the later expedition to Gordonsville. He
seemed to lack self-reliance at critical times, and one
of Sheridan s traits of character was that he took no
*Wilson meanwhile having been ordered west to reorganize
and command Sherman s caavlry.
fFor the effective force of the First and Third Divisions
February 28th, see Appendix 14.
156 History of the Camlri/,
chances. Sheridan s original plans, as directed by
Grant, contemplated the destruction of the Virginia
Central Railroad, the capture of Lynchburg if practi
cable, and a junction with Sherman s victorious army
in North Carolina.
A small force of Rosser s cavalry was encountered
March 1st at Mount Crawford, but was easily driven
to Kline s Mills. At this time Early was at Staunton,
but as Sheridan s command approached that place he
retired to Waynesboro, where he occupied a line of
breastworks along a ridge west of the town. Custer
was dispatched towards Waynesboro, closely followed
by Devin, and finding the Confederate left somewhat
exposed, he sent dismounted regiments around this
flank, while he, with two brigades, part mounted and
part dismounted, assaulted in front.
The Hanking movement was successful, and ena
bled Custer s line of battle to carry the breastworks.
The Eighth New York and First Connecticut charged
in column through the enemy s line, and the town of
Waynesboro, and held the east bank of the South
River, thus cutting off the enemy s line of retreat.
All the Confederates surrendered except Rosser s com
mand and a few general officers, the cavalry captur
ing 17 battle-flags, 1,600 prisoners, and 11 pieces of
Army of the Potomac. 157
Continuing the march, Ouster s division reached
Charlottesville on the 3d instant, but the muddy
roads delayed the wagon train until the 5th. On the
8th Custer destroyed the railroad as far as Amherst
Court House, sixteen miles from Lynchburg, while
Devin, who had proceeded along the James, destroyed
The Confederates had meanwhile destroyed the
bridges over the James, and, the river being so swol
len as to be unfordable, Sheridan deemed a junction
with Sherman impracticable. He therefore decided
to still further destroy the Virginia Central Railroad
and James River Canal, and then join the Army of
the Potomac in front of Petersburg.
Columbia was reached on the 10th of March, where
a halt of a day was made to allow the trains to catch
up. From this point Merritt, with Custer s division,
proceeded to Louisa Court House, destroying the Vir
ginia Central as far as Frederick s Hall, while Custer
destroyed it from the latter place to Beaver Dam
Receiving word that Pickett s Confederate division
with Fitzhugh Lee s cavalry were moving east from
Lynchburg, and that Longstreet was assembling a
force at Richmond to cut off Sheridan s junction
with Orant, the raiding force now pushed on to Ash-
158 History of the Cavalry,
land; Merritt having marched from Frederick s Hall
through Hanover Court House, and Custer crossing
the South Anna on the Ground Squirrel Bridge.
The command reached White House via King Wil
liam Court House on March 18th, where supplies were
found, which Sheridan had requested to have ready.
The expedition had caused an immense amount of
damage to the Confederate cause, with but slight loss
to Sheridan s command. But, owing to the incessant
rains, which lasted for sixteen days and nights, the
almost impassable roads and the high water in the
streams, the march was one of the greatest hardship.
At White House the command rested for five days
and shod the horses. But the march from Winchester
had been so severe upon the latter that there was not
a sufficient number of remounts at White House to
replace those disabled, so that the dismounted men
were sent into camp near City Point.*
On March 24th General Sheridan moved from
White House, crossed the James River at Jones Land
ing, and joined the Army of the Potomac in front of
Petersburg on the 27th instant. But his force was
*For abstract of returns of the cavalry for March, 1865,
see Appendix 15.
Army of the Potomac. 159
still regarded as a separate army, and he received his
orders direct from General Grant.
The effective force of the three divisions of cavalry
aggregated 9,000 men.* Sheridan s general instruc
tions from Grant were to move near or through Din
widdie, reaching the right and rear of the Confederate
army as soon as possible, but with no intention of at
tacking the enemy in his intrenched position. Should
he remain^ intrenched, Sheridan was to cut loose and
destroy the Danville and South Side railroads the
only avenues of supply to Lee s army, and then either
return to the Army of the Potomac, or join Sherman s
army in North Carolina.
The general moA~ement against the Confederate
army began March 29th. The evening of that day the
cavalry had reached Dinwiddie Court House, on the
extreme left of the line, the nearest extremity of the
infantry line beincj near the intersection of the Quak
er Road with the TJoydton Plank Road. The First
and Second Divisions went into camp, covering the
Yaughan, Flatfoot, Boydton Plank, and Five Fork
roads, all intersecting at Dinwiddie, Ouster s diyision
remaining at Malone s Crossing to guard the trains.
The next day Devin s division was sent by General
Merritt to get possession of Five Forks, Davies bri-
*For organization, March 29th to April 9th, see Appendix 16.
160 History of fJir Cavalry,
gade of Crook s division in support. The reconnais
sance showed the enemy to be in force at Five Forks
on the White Oak road, and there was severe skir
mishing. On the following day, March 31st, Merritt,
with the First Division and Davies brigade of the
Third Division, again advanced on Five Forks, while
Crook, with his two other brigades, moved to the left
and encountered the enemy at Chamberlain s Creek.
But in the meantime Warren s army corps, which was
next on the right of the cavalry, was driven back, leav
ing the cavalry at Five Forks to bear the brunt of the
attack. In the very obstinate battle which ensued,
the enemy was unable, with two divisions of infantry
and all his cavalry, to push back the five cavalry bri
gades, which were dismounted on the open plain in
front of Dinwiddie. The fighting continued until after
dark, and the opposing lines of bivouac that night
were not separated by more than a hundred yards.
Of this day s battle General Grant says: "Here
Sheridan displayed great generalship. Instead of re
treating with his whole command on the main army,
to tell the story of superior forces encountered, he
deployed his cavalry on foot, leaving only mounted
men enough to take charge of the horses. This com
pelled the enemy to deploy over a vast extent of
wooded and broken country, and made his progress
Army of the Potomac. 161
On the morning of the 1st of April, Sheridan, rein
forced by the Fifth Corps, and later by Mackenzie s
cavalry division* (1,000 effective men) from the Army
of the James, advanced again against Five Forks.
His plan of attack was to make a feint with the
cavalry, to turn the enemy s right, but meantime bring
ing up the entire Fifth Corps to strike the enemy s
left flank and crush the whole force if possible. The
movement w r as hastened by the fact that two divisions
of the Fifth Corps were at the time in rear of tho
enemy. The enemy s infantry had, in the hot pursuit
of Sheridan to Dinwiddie, isolated itself, and was,
moreover, outside the Confederate line of works.
Warren s corps was slow getting up, but neverthe
less Devin s and Custer s divisions were all the morn
ing, under Merritt s direction, pressing the enemy
steadily backward, until at 2 o clock the Confederates
were driven behind the works on the White Oak road.
In furtherance of the plan of attack Merritt closely
engaged the enemy, and Warren s corps was ordered
up on the Gravelly Church road, oblique to the White
Oak road, and about one mile from Five Forks. But
Warren was again slow in getting into position.
*0n March 20th General Kautz was relieved from command
of this cavalry division and was succeeded by General R. S.
Mackenzie, a young officer of engineers, not long out of West
162 History of the Cavalry,
About 4 o clock Warren began the infantry attack,
his right flank covered by Mackenzie s cavalry, and, at
the same time, General Merritt made a lively demon
stration against the enemy s right. Although the two
leading infantry divisions barely escaped disaster
through getting separated, the error was rectified in
time, and as the infantry swarmed over the left and
rear of the enemy s works, doubling up the Confeder
ate line in confusion, Devin s cavalry division went
over the works in front.* The hostile artillery was
captured and was quickly turned on the demoralized
enemy. At the same time Custer was having an ob
stinate battle on the left with Corse s and Terry s
infantry and W. H. F. Lee s cavalry.
After the first line was carried, the enemy made no
serious stand, and the spoils of the battle were 6 guns,
1% battle-flags, and nearly 6,000 prisoners.
Fearing Lee would escape, Grant ordered a general
assault on the enemy s works the next day, and the
intrenchments were carried at several points. Mer
ritt on the same day was moving westward, and drove
*"The dismounted cavalry had assaulted as soon as they
heard the infantry fire open. The natty cavalrymen, with their
tight-fitting jackets and short carbines, swarmed through the
pine thickets and dense undergrowth, looking as if they had
been especially built for crawling through knot-holes." (Gen
eral Horace Porter s "Campaigning with Grant," in the Century
Army of the Potomac. 163
a considerable force of the enemy s cavalry from a
point north of Hatcher s Kun to Scott s Corners.
During the night of the 2d, General Lee evacu
ated Richmond and Petersburg and moved towards
On the 3d the cavalry resumed their pursuit, the
Fifth Corps in support, and five pieces of artillery
and hundreds of prisoners were taken. The enemy s
infantry rear guard was overtaken at Deep Creek,
where a severe fight took place, and Merritt was di
rected to await Crook s arrival and that of a division
of the Fifth Corps.
As Lee seemed to be heading for Amelia Court
House, Crook was ordered on the 4th to push ahead
and strike the Danville Kailroad, which he did near
Jetersville; and the Fifth Corps, following close be
hind, intrenched itself at that point.
While at Jetersville, a telegram from Lee s com-
rrtissary-general to the supply departments at Danville
antl Lynchburg was intercepted, ordering 3,000,000
rations sent to Burkeville. The telegram was re-trans
mitted by Sheridan, who determined forthwith to
secure the rations for his own army.
On the morning of the 5th General Davies made a
reconnaissance towards Payne s Cross-Koads and dis
covered that Lee s army was attempting to escape in
164 History of the Cavalry,
that direction. Da vies succeeded in burning nearly
200 of the enemy s wagons, and rejoined the support
ing brigades of Smith and Gregg near Flat Creek,
eluding a strong force of Confederate infantry, which
had been sent out to cut off his retreat.
It became apparent to Sheridan on the following
day that the entire mass of Lee s army was attempt
ing to escape. His trains, heavily escorted, were
found moving towards Burkeville, and there were
other evidences of a general retreat. At this time.
Meade s plan of attack was to advance his right flank
to Amelia Court House, but, after carrying out this
maneuver, he found Lee gone, just as Sheridan had
predicted, when, on April 4th and 5th, the cavalry
leader wished to attack Lee with his cavalry and the
Second Army Corps.
Crook was sent against Lee s train on the Deatons
ville road, but found them strongly guarded. So Sher
idan shifted the cavalry across country, parallel to
Lee s line of march, hoping to find a weak point in Ifis
column. To prevent the detaching of any of the ene
my s forces, the Michigan brigade (Stagg s) of the
First Division, with Miller s battery, remained a few
miles south of Deatonsville and made a strong demon
stration. This gained time for the arrival of the Sixth
Army Corps, then marching to join Sheridan.
Army of the Potomac. 165
A favorable opportunity for the attack of the long
Confederate column occurred at Sailor s Creek, where
Custer, with the Third Cavalry Division, charged tlu*
force guarding the trains, routed it, and captured over
300 wagons. While Ouster was thus engaged, the
Confederates were reinforced by Kershaw s and Custis
Lee s infantry divisions under Ewell. The First Cav
alry Division was pushed forward by Merritt to Cus-
ter s assistance, and as Stagg s brigade of this divis
ion moved up on the left of the Third Division it
made a brilliant charge, which resulted in the cap
ture of 300 prisoners, and with the arrival of the other
brigades the enemy s line was broken. This success,
supported by the position of Crook s cavalry division,
which had been planted squarely across the enemy s
line of march, had the effect of cutting off three of the
enemy s infantry divisions; and as the Sixth Corps
moved up in the enemy s rear, nearly the entire force
was captured. This included General Ewell and 6 of
his generals, 15 guns, 31 battle-flags, and from 9,000
to 10,000 prisoners. The battle had also the effect
of deflecting Longstreet s corps from its march to
wards Danville, and it moved to Farmville, north of
Sheridan at this time wrote to Grant, "If the thing
is pressed, I think that Lee -will surrender." And
166 History of the Cavalry,
President Lincoln telegraphed Grant the laconic mes
sage, "Let the thing be pressed."
It was pressed. On the 7th Crook s division was
pushed on to Farmville; and Merritt and Mackenzie to
Prince Edward s Court House to prevent any m ce
ment of the enemy towards Danville.
Crook overtook the rear guard of the enemy s train
just across the river at Farmville, and in a sharp fight,
by Gregg s brigade, was repulsed.*
This action indicated clearly that Lee s objective
was Lynchburg. This being the case, Sheridan deter
mined to throw all his cavalry across the enemy s path,
and hold him, if possible, until the infantry could
Accordingly Merritt and Mackenzie were recalled,
joining Crook at daylight, April 8th, at Prospect Sta
tion, and all the cavalry were hurried on towards Ap-
pomattox Depot, twenty-eight miles away. Custer,
having the advance, detached two regiments to cut off
fourf trains of stores destined for Lee s army, which
were found a short distance out of Appomattox, and
then, turning his attention to the depot, charged the
enemy s advance guard just approaching.
*General Gregg was captured, and the command of his
brigade devolved upon Colonel S. B. M. Young, Fourth Penn
tSheridan says four trains; Merritt and Custer report three.
Army of the Potomac. 167
The First Division was soon brought up by Merritt,
and, being deployed, dismounted, on the right of the
Third, it crossed the road along which the enemy was
attempting to move, and effectually blocked his retreat.
The enemy was driven in this fight, which con
tinued until after dark, towards^ Appomattox Court
House, and 24 pieces of artillery, an immense train,
and many prisoners fell into the hands of the cavalry.
The day s work of the cavalry was most important.
As General Merritt has said: "The enemy s supplies
were taken, as it were, out of their mouths. A strong
force they knew not how strong was posted along
their line of retreat at a point where they did not
expect opposition. Night was upon them. Tired, des
perate, and starving, they lay at our feet. Their
bravest soldiers, their hardiest men gave way when
they heard the noise of battle far in the rear, and the
night of despair fell with the night of the 8th of
April, darkly and terribly, on the Army of Northern
During the night of the 8th, urgent efforts were
made to hurry up the infantry reinforcements under
Ord, and about daylight on the 9th the Twenty-fourth
and Fifth Corps and one division of the Twenty-fifth
Corps arrived at Appomattox Depot. Soon after, the
*Report of April 20, 1865.
168 History of tlie Cavalry,
movement which General Lee had agreed upon during
the night namely, that Gordon should break through
the Federal cavalry was begun under stress of over
whelming numbers. Merritt s cavalry division was
directed to fall back to the right and rear, resisting;
and Crook and Mackenzie on the left of the line were
instructed to hold their ground as long as possible,
without sacrificing their men.
As the enemy caught sight of the long lines of
Ord s infantry, he realized that further resistance was
useless, and discontinued the attack. About this time
Merritt was ordered to move against the enemy s lett,
and, in spite of a heavy artillery fire, the First and
Third Cavalry Divisions secured possession of high
ground within half a mile of the Court House.
Preparations were being made to attack the ex
posed Confederate flank with Custer s and Devin s
divisions, when a flag of truce called for a suspension
of hostilities, and, so far as the cavalry of the Army
of the Potomac was concerned, the War of the Rebel
lion was practically over.
The cavalr} was marched to Petersburg, and on
April 24th was moved southward with a view to
aiding General Sherman s army. But upon reaching
South Boston, on the Dan River, Sheridan received
word of General Johnston s surrender, and the cavalry
retraced its steps to Petersburg, from whence, by
Army of the Potomac. 169
easy stages, it marched to Washington. On May 23d,
inid the cheers of thousands, it took part in "The
Grand Review," as fine a body of cavalry as the world
has ever seen.
The development of the cavalry of the Army of
the Potomac was perhaps the most wonderful object
lesson of the entire war.
Given a mass of citizen-soldiers, undisciplined, un-
drilled, many of them ignorant of arms and of horses,
men from the factory and men from the counting-
house, engineers off the railroad and professors from
colleges; to take these and in four years to mould
them into that magnificent body of horsemen which
constituted Sheridan s command at Appomattox is
something that is distinctively a production of the
active, physical, and mental energy, the intelligence,
the resources, and, above all, the patriotism, of the
It would be absurd to draw comparisons between
the courage of the soldiers of Stuart and those of
Pleasanton; between those of Fitzhugh Lee and
those of Sheridan. They were all Americans, and,
whether born beneath Southern suns or Northern
170 History of the Cavalry,
stars, possessed equally American pluck, endurance,
But the Southern soldiers were natural horsemen,
and, under the wise patronage of General Lee and the
dashing leadership of Stuart, the Confederate cavalry
from the beginning exhibited that independence of
action, whether mounted or dismounted, which made
them so formidable to the Federal Army. At the be
ginning of the Gettysburg campaign, no finer type of
cavalry could be found anywhere than the cavalry of
Stuart; and the stimulus of such a standard of excel
lence contributed not a little towards producing a
Federal cavalry which could successfully cope with
their adversaries. But the greatest influence in mak
ing the National Cavalry was its concentration under
one competent commander.
That it did so is a matter of history, and the supe
riority arose from a number of causes. The first two
years of the war, though years of inferiority for the
Federal cavalry, were filled with valuable lessons, far-
reaching in their effects. The use of arms and the
care of horses natural from birth to the Southerner
was hammered into the daily life of the Northerner
with a persistent thoroughness which was a remarka
ble characteristic of his nature; and this constant at
tention to the minutiae of a cavalryman s life had its
Army of the Potomac. 171
ultimate effect in producing men equally skillful with
saber, pistol, and carbine. The saber was considered
the first weapon of the Union cavalry, but in the use
of the repeating carbine it showed that its effective
fire-action was not lessened by its effective shock-
action. The fact, too, that in the Army of Northern
Virginia each trooper was required to furnish his
horse, undoubtedly had its effect upon the degeneracy
of the Confederate cavalry. Other causes the loss of
Stuart and the rise of Sheridan, as well as the gradual
draining of the resources of the Confederacy, men and
materials, all these contributed to the final result.
It is best now to think of the cavalry of both great
armies as exemplifying to the entire world all that
was greatest and best in the organization, equipment,
and use of the mounted arm. To be sure, a certain
class of European critics continue, with almost willful
persistence, to misrepresent the true character of our
cavalry and its use during the greatest of modern
wars. That our cavalry cast aside the moss-grown
traditions of European tacticians, rejecting all that
was obsolete, retaining all that was best, and devel
oping that which their sound common sense indicated
would add to their fighting efficiency, is to their lasting
credit. They created a new r61e for the mounted arm y
and proved to their own satisfaction, as Kilpatrick
172 History of the Cavalry,
has said, that "cavalry can fight anywhere, except at
Laying aside the question of cavalry raids, those
independent, self-sustaining operations which were a
distinct product of the War of the Rebellion, exam
ples are not wanting of the most glorious use of the
cavalry, both mounted and dismounted, throughout
Side by side with the charge of the German cav
alry at Mars-la-Tour, we can place the effective charge
of the Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry under Huey, at
Chancellorsville. For the charge of the English Light
Brigade at Balaclava, we can name that of the lam
ented Farnsw r orth upon the Confederate right flank at
Gettysburg. With the charge of the French cuiras
siers at Sedan, w r e can class the devoted charge of
the First and Fifth United States Cavalry at Games
Mill, or that of the Sixth United States and Sixth
Pennsylvania upon the Confederate artillery at Bran
Was there ever a finer or more effective cavalry
charge against infantry than that of Merritt s division
upon the Confederate left flank at Opequon? Was
there ever a grander cavalry battle than that of Bev
erly Ford, or the desperate fight of Gregg s division
upon the right flank at Gettysburg?
Army of the Potomac. ITS
And was ever before seen the spectacle of these
same cavalry troops, dismounted, holding in check
long lines of the enemy s infantry, as did the troop
ers of the gallant Buford at Gettysburg, or the cav
alry under the peerless Sheridan at Dinwiddie Court
House? Does the world believe that cavalry was none
the less true cavalry when, like Gamble s brigade at
Upperville, it dismounted behind stone walls, in order
to check a cavalry charge with a withering fire from
their carbines; or, as did Devin s division at Five
Forks, carrying the enemy s works, side by side with
their comrades of the infantry?
No; it will be the proud boast of the cavalry of the
Army of the Potomac that it created where others had
been content to follow; that it shattered the tradi
tions of the Old World and builded them anew. Its
deeds are too indelibly written upon the pages of his
tory to ever be effaced; and, though for a time mis
understood, misused, and misrepresented, it at last
vindicated itself in a way which the cavalry of the
future will do well to emulate.
174 History of the Cavalry,
The writer has depended for his statements almost entirely
upon that best of all authorities the official records of the
Union and Confederate armies but a list of the principal sup
plementary works consulted is appended.
Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.
History of the United States Cavalry (Brackett).
The Second Dragoons (Rodenbough).
History of the First Maine Cavalry (Tobie).
History of the First New York (Lincoln) Cavalry (Stevenson).
Annals of the Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry (Gracey).
Battles and Leaders of the Civil War (The Century Co.).
The Shenandoah Valley in 1864 (Post).
Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign (Davis).
Sheridan s Memoirs.
The Civil War (Abbott).
History of the Civil War (Comte de Paris).
History of the United States (Eliot).
Organization and Tactics (Wagner).
Operations of War (Ham ley).
Journal of the U. 8. Cavalry Association.
The following pages of the Appendix are almost
entirely statistical, and are merely added for reference
in order to make the entire history of the cavalry as
complete as possible in itself :
Copy of the letter from the Secretary of War,
authorizing the raising of the First Regiment of volun
War Department, Washington, May 1, 1861.
To the Governors of the Several States, and All Whom It may
I have authorized Colonel Carl Schurz to raise and organ
ize a volunteer regiment of cavalry. For the purpose of ren
dering it as efficient as possible, he is instructed to enlist prin
cipally such men as have served in the same arm before. The
Government will provide the regiment with arms, but cannot
provide the horses and equipments. For these necessaries we
rely upon the patriotism of the States and the citizens, and for
this purpose I take the liberty of requesting you to afford
Colonel Schurz your aid in the execution of this plan.
(Signed) SIMON CAMERON,
Secretary of War.
Organization of the cavalry, Army of the Potomac,
October 15, 1861:
*By authority of this letter, the First Regiment of New
York (Lincoln) Cavalry was organized.
Brigadier-General Stoneman s cavalry command:
Fifth United States Cavalry.
Fourth Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Oneida Cavalry (one company).
Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry (Harlan s).
Barker s Illinois Cavalry (one company).
Attached to City Guard 4th U. S. Cavalry, Cos. A and E.
Attached to Banks Division 3d Regiment, New York Cavalry
Attached to McDowell s Division 2d New York Cavalry (Har
Attached to Heintzelman s Division 1st New Jersey Cavalry.
Attached to Porter s Division 3d Pennsylvania Cavalry, 8th
Attached to Franklin s Division 1st New York Cavalry.
Attached to Stone s Division 3d New York Cavalry (six com
Attached to McCall s Division 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Attached to Hooker s Division 3d Indiana Cavalry (eight com
Attached to Blenker s Brigade 4th New York Cavalry (Mount
Attached to Dix s Division (Baltimore) one company of Penn
Organization of the cavalry, Army of the Potomac,
during the operations before Richmond, June 25 to
July 2, 1862:
Attached to Second Army Corps 6th New York Cavalry, Cos.
D, F, H, and K.
Attached to Third Army Corps 3d Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Attached to Fourth Army Corps 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Attached to Fifth Army Corps 8th Illinois Cavalry.
Attached to Third Division, Fifth Army Corps 4th Pennsyl
Attached to Second Division, Sixth Army Corps 5th Pennsyl
vania Cavalry, Cos. I and K.
Appendix. 1 77
Attached to Sixth Army Corps 1st New York Cavalry (un
Brigadier-General Philip St. George Cooke.
6th Pennsylvania Cavalry. 6th U. S. Cavalry.
1st U. S. Cavalry, Cos. A, C, 5th U. S. Cavalry, Cos. A, D,
F, and H. F, H, and I.
Cavalry Troops at General Headquarters McClellan Dragoons,
Oneida (New York) Cavalry, 2d U. S. Cavalry, 4th U. S.
Cavalry, Cos. A and E.
Organization of the Union cavalry at the battle of
Cedar Mountain, Va., August 9, 1862:
Escort at General Headquarters 1st Ohio Cavalry, Cos. A
Escort at Headquarters, Second Army Corps 1st Michigan
Cavalry (detachment), 5th New York Cavalry (detachment),
1st West Virginia Cavalry (detachment).
Brigadier-General George D. Bayard.
1st Maine Cavalry. 1st New Jersey Cavalry.
1st Pennsylvania Cavalry. 1st Rhode Island Cavalry.
Organization of the cavalry of the Army of Vir
ginia (Pope s) during the operations August 16 to Sep
tember 2, 1862, inclusive:
Headquarters escort 1st Ohio Cavalry, Cos. A and C.
Escort at Headquarters First Army Corps 1st Indiana Caval
ry, Cos. I and K.
Attached to First Army Corps 3d West Virginia Cavalry,
Attached to Independent Brigade 1st West Virginia Cavalry,
Cos. C, E, and L.
Cavalry Brigade of the First Army Corps.
Colonel John Beardsley.
1st Connecticut Battalion. 9th New York Cavalry.
1st Maryland Cavalry. 6th Ohio Cavalry.
4th New York Cavalry.
Cavalry Brigade of the Second Army Corps.
Brigadier-General John Buford.
1st Michigan Cavalry. 1st Vermont Cavalry.
5th New York Cavalry. 1st West Virginia Cavalry.
Cavalry Brigade of the Third Army Corps.
Brigadier-General George D. Bayard.
1st Maine Cavalry. 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry.
2d New York Cavalry. 1st Rhode Island Cavalry.
1st New Jersey.
Unattached 3d Indiana Cavalry (detachment).
Organization of cavalry, Army of the Potomac, Sep
tember 14, 17, 1862 (South Mountain and Antietam):
Escort at General Headquarters Independent Company, Onei-
da (New York) Cavalry; 4th U. S. Cavalry, Cos. A and E.
Attached to Provost Guard 2d U. S. Cavalry, Cos. E, F, H, K.
Quartermaster s Guard 1st U. S. Cavalry, Cos. B, C, H, I.
Escort Headquarters First Army Corps 2d New York Cavalry,
Cos. A, B, I, K.
Escort to Second Army Corps 6th New York Cavalry, Cos.
D and K.
Escort to Headquarters Fifth Army Corps 1st Maine Cavalry
Escort to Headquarters Sixth Army Corps 6th Pennsylvania
Cavalry, Ccs. B and G.
Escort to Headquarters Ninth Army Corps 1st Maine Cavalry,
Escort to Headquarters Twelfth Army Corps 1st Michigan
Cavalry, Co. L.
1st Brigade Major Charles
5th U. S. Cavalry.
6th U. S. Cavalry.
2d Brigade Colonel John F.
8th Illinois Cavalry.
3d Indiana Cavalry.
1st Massachusetts Cavalry.
8th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
3d Brigade Col. Richard H.
4th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
6th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Pleasanton, U. S. Army.
4th Brigade Col. Andrew T.
1st New York Cavalry.
12th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
5th Brigade Colonel Benj. F.
8th New York Cavalry.
3d Pennsylvania Cavalry.
1st Maine Cavalry.
15th Pennsylvania Cavalry
Artillery (attached to 2d and
2d U. S. Artillery, Batteries
A, B, L, M.
3d U. S. Artillery, Batteries
Report of officers, enlisted men, and horses in the
cavalry and light artillery, Army of the Potomac,
November 1, 1862;
Cavalry and Light
Organization of the cavalry, Army of the Potomac,
at the battle of Fredericksburg, Va., December 11-15,
Escort at General Headquarters Oneida (New York) Cavalry.
1st U. S. Cavalry (detachment), 4th U. S. Cavalry, Cos. A
Attached to Provost Guard McClellan (Illinois) Dragoons, Cos.
A and B; 2d U. S. Cavalry.
Escort at Headquarters Ninth Army Corps 6th New York
Cavalry, Ccs. B and C.
Escort at Headquarters First Army Corps 1st Maine Cavalry,
Escort at Headquarters Sixth Army Corps 10th New York
Cavalry, Co. L; 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry, Cos. I and K.
Cavalry Division Attached to Rifjlit Grand Division.
Brigadier-General Alfred Pleasanton.
1st Brigade Brig. -Gen. John
8th Illinois Cavalry.
3d Indiana Cavalry.
8th New York Cavalry.
Artillery 2d U. S. Battery M.
2d Brigade (1) Colonel David
McM. Gregg; (2) Colonel
Thomas C. Devin.
6th New York Cavalry.
8th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
6th U. S. Cavalry.
Cavalry Brigade Attached to Center Grand Division.
Brigadier-General William W. Averell.
1st Massachusetts Cavalry. 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry
3d Pennsylvania Cavalry. 5th U. S. Cavalry.
Artillery 2d U. S., Batteries B and L.
Cavalry Brigade Attached to Left Grand Division.
(1) Brigadier-General George D. Bayard; (2) Colonel David
1st Maine Cavalry. District of Columbia Inde-
2d New York Cavalry. pendent Co.
1st Pennsylvania Cavalry. 1st New Jersey Cavalry.
10th New York Cavalry.
Artillery 3d U. S., Battery C.
Organization of the cavalry, Army of the Potomac,
May 1-6, 1863 (Chancellorsville Campaign):
Attached to the command of Provost-Marshal-General 6th
Pennsylvania Cavalry, Detachment of Regular Cavalry.
Guards and Orderlies Oneida (New York) Cavalry.
Escort Headquarters First Army Corps 1st Maine Cavalry,
Escort Second Army Corps 6th New York, Cos. D and K.
Escort Headquarters Sixth Army Corps 1st New Jersey Cav
alry, 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Escort Headquarters Eleventh Army Corps 1st Indiana, Cos
I and K.
Brigadier-General George Stoneman.
Brigadier-General Alfred Pleasanton.
1st Brigade Colonel Benj. F. 2d Brigade Colonel Thos. C.
8th Illinois Cavalry. 1st Michigan Cavalry.
3d Indiana Cavalry. 6th New York Cavalry.
8th New York Cavalry. 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
9th New York Cavalry. 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Artillery New York Light, 6th Battery.
Brigadier-General William W. Averell.
1st Brigade Col. Horace B. 2d Brigade Colonel John B.
1st Massachusetts Cavalry. 3d Pennsylvania Cavalry.
4th New York Cavalry. 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
6th Ohio Cavalry. 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
1st Rhode Island Cavalry.
Artillery 2d United States, Battery A.
Brigadier-General David McM. Gregg.
1st Brigade Colonel Judson 2d Brigade Colonel Percy
1st Maine Cavalry. 12th Illinois Cavalry.
2d New York Cavalry. 1st Maryland Cavalry.
10th New York Cavalry. 1st New Jersey Cavalry.
1st Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Regular Reserve Cavalry Brigade.
Brigadier-General John Buford.
6th Pennsylvania Cavalry. 5th U. S. Cavalry.
1st U. S. Cavalry. 6th U. S. Cavalry.
2d U. S. Cavalry.
*The Second and Third Divisions, First Brigade, First Di
vision, and the Reserve Brigade, with Robertson s and Tid-
ball s batteries were on the "Stoneman Raid," April 29th to
Captain Jas. M. Robertson.
Second United States, Batter- Fourth United States, Bat-
ies B and M. tery E.
Organization of the cavalry, Army of the Potomac,
n\ the battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863:
Attached to the command of the Provost-Marshal-General 2d
Pennsylvania Cavalry, 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry, Regular
Cavalry (detachments from 1st, 2d, 5th, and 6th Regiments).
Guards and Orderlies Oneida (New York) Cavalry.
Escort Headquarters First Army Corps 1st Maine Cavalry,
Escort Headquarters Second Army Corps 6th New York Cav
alry, Cos. D and K.
Escort Headquarters Fifth Army Corps 17th Pennsylvania
Cavalry, Cos. D and K.
Escort Headquarters Sixth Army Corps 1st New Jersey Cav
alry, Co. L; 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry, Co. H.
Escort Headquarters Eleventh Army Corps 1st Indiana Cav
alry, Cos. I and K.
Major-General Alfred Pleasanton.
Brigadier-General John Buford.
1st Brigade Colonel William 2d Brigade Colonel Thos. C.
8th Illinois Cavalry. 6th New York Cavalry..
12th Illinois Cavalry (4 Cos.). 9th New York Cavalry.
3d Indiana Cavalry (6 Cos.). 17th Pennsylvania Cr, . al y.
8th New York Cavalry. 3d West Virginia Cavaliy (2
Reserve Brigade Brig.-Gen. Wesley Merritt.
6th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
1st U. S. Cavalry.
2d U. S. Cavalry.
5th U. S. Cavalry.
6th U. S. Cavalry. ,
Brigadier-General David McM. Gregg.
Headquarters Guard 1st Ohio Cavalry, Co. A.
1st Brigade Colonel John B.
1st Maryland Cavalry (11
Purnell (Md.) Legion.
1st Massachusetts Cavaltry.*
1st New Jersey Cavalry.
1st Pennsylvania Cavalry.
3d Pennsylvania Cavalry.
3d Pennsylvania Heavy Artil
lery (section Bat. H).t
2d Brigade! Colonel Pennock
2d New York Cavalry.
4th New York Cavalry.
6th Ohio Cavalry (10 Cos.).
8th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
3d Brigade Colonel J. Irvin
1st Maine Cavalry (10 Cos.).
10th New York Cavalry.
4th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
16th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Brigadier-General Judson Kilpatrick.
Headquarters Guard 1st Ohio Cavalry. Co. C.
1st Brigade (1) Brig.-Gen. E.
J. Farnsworth; (2) Col.
Nath l P. Richmond.
5th New York Cavalry.
18th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
1st Vermont Cavalry.
1st W>est Virginia Cavalry (10
2d Brigade Brig.-Gen.
1st Michigan Cavalry.
5th Michigan Cavalry.
6th Michigan Cavalry.
7th Michigan Cavalry.
*Served with Sixth Army Corps and on the right flank.
tServing as light artillery.
$At Westminster, and not engaged in battle.
1st Brigade Capt. James C.
9th Michigan Battery.
6th New York Battery.
2d U. S., Batteries B, L, M.
4th U. S., Battery E.
2d Brigade Captain John C.
1st U. S., Batteries E, G, K.
2d U. S., Battery A.
3d U. S.. Battery C.*
Field report of the Cavalry Corps, Army of the
Potomac, June 28, 1863 (preceding the battle of
oa o> o
Stahel s Division
Brigade Horse Artillery
Organization of the cavalry operating against Rich
mond, May 5, 1864 (Army of the Potomac):
Attached to Provost Guard 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, Cos.
C and D.
Guards and Orderlies Independent Company, Oneida (New
*With Huey s cavalry brigade, and not engaged in battle.
Escort to Headquarters Second Army Corps 1st Vermont Cav
alry, Co. M.
Escort to Headquarters Sixth Army Corps 8th Pennsylvania
Cavalry, Co A.
Attached to Ninth Army Corps 3d New Jersey Cavalry, 22d
New York Cavalry, 2d Ohio Cavalry, 13th Pennsylvania
Attached to Provisional Brigade 24th New York Cavalry
General Philip H. Sheridan.
Drig.-General Alfred T. A. Torbert, Escort 6th U. S. Cavalry.
1st Brigade Brig.-Gen. Geo. 2d Brigade Colonel Thos. C.
A. Custer. Devin.
1st Michigan Cavalry. 4th New York Cavalry.
5th Michigan Cavalry. 6th New York Cavalry.
6th Michigan Cavalry. 9th New York Cavalry.
7th Michigan Cavalry. 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Reserve Brigade Brig.-Gen. Wesley Merritt.
19th New York Cavalry (1st Dragoons).
6th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
1st United States Cavalry.
2d United States Cavalry.
5th United States Cavalry.
Brigadier-General David McM. Gregg.
1st Brigade Brig.-Gen. H. E. 2d Brigade Colonel J. Irvin
Davies, Jr. Gregg.
1st Massachusetts Cavalry. 1st Maine Cavalry.
1st New Jersey Cavalry. 10th New York Cavalry.
6th Ohio Cavalry. 2d Pennsylvania Cavalry.
1st Pennsylvania Cavalry. 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
8th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
16th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Brigadier-General James H. Wilson.
Escort 8th Illinois Cavalry (detachment).
1st Brigade Colonel Timothy 2d Brigade Col. George H.
M. Bryan, Jr.; Col. J. B. Chapman.
Mclntosh (assigned 3 a Indiana Cavalry.
May 5th). 8t h New York Cavalry.
1st Connecticut Cavalry. 1st Vermont Cavalry.
2d New York- Cavalry.
5th New York Cavalry.
18th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Cavalry of the Army of the James.
Unattached 1st Battalion, 4th Massachusetts Cavalry.
Cavalry Division Brigadier-General August V. Kautz.
1st Brigade Colonel Simon 2d Brigade Colonel Samuel
H. Mix. P. Spear.
1st District Columbia Cavalry. 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
3d New York Cavalry. llth Pennsylvania Cavalry.
1st New York Mounted Rifles.
1st U. S. Colored Cavalry.
2d. U. S. Cavalry.
Organization of the cavalry of the Army of the
Potomac in the operations against Richmond, August
Attached to Provost Guard 1st Indiana Cavalry, Co. K; 1st
Massachusetts Cavalry, Cos. C and D; 3d Pennsylvania
Cavalry, Cos. A, B, and M.
Guards and Orderlies Independent Company, Oneida (New
Escort at Headquarters Ninth Army Corps 3d New Jersey
1st Brigade Colonel William
1st Massachusetts Cavalry.
1st New Jersey Cavalry.
10th New York Cavalry.
6th Ohio Cavalry.
1st Pennsylvania Cavalry.
David McM. Gregg.
2d Brigade Colonel Charles
1st Maine Cavalry.
2d Pennsylvania Cavalry.
4th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
8th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
13th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
16th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Abstract from tri-monthly returns showing present foil
duty equipment or effective strength of the armies operating
against Richmond, under General U. S. Grant, August 31 to
December 31, 1864.
Effective force of the First and Third Cavalry Di
visions, Army of the ^henandoah, February 28, 1865,
Major-General Wesley Merritt, chief-of -cavalry:
First Cavalry Division (Devin s)
One Section, Companies C and E, 4th U. S. Artillery
Third Cavalry Division (Cluster s)
One Section, Company M, 2d U. S. Artillery
Abstract from the returns of the cavalry com
manded by Major-General Philip H. Sheridan, U. S. A.,
for the month of March, 1865 :
1st Division (Devin).
1st Brigade (Stagg)
2d Brigade (Fitzhugh)
Reserve Brigade (Gibbs)
3d Division (Custer).
1st Brigade (Pennington)
2d Brigade (Wells)
3d Brigade (Capehart)
. , . . .
Grand Total Army of Shenandoah
ARMY OF POTOMAC.
2d Division (Crook).
2d Brigade (Gregg).
3d Brigade (Smith)
Organization of the Union Cavalry in the Appo-
mattox campaign, March 29 to April 9, 1865:
Escort to General Grant s Headquarters 5th U. S. Cavalry,
Cos. B, F, and K.
Attached to Provost Guard of the Army of the Potomac 1st
Indiana Cavalry, Co. K; 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, Cos.
C and D; 3d Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Quartermaster s Guard Independent Company, Oneida (New
Escort Headquarters Fifth Army Corps 4th Pennsylvania
Cavalry, Co. C.
Escort Headquarters Sixth Army Corps 21st Pennsylvania
Cavalry, Co. E.
Attached to Ninth Army Corps 2d Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Attached to Independent Brigade 1st Massachusetts Cavalry
Major-General Philip H. Sheridan.
Army of the Shenandoah Brevet Brig.-General Wesley Merritt.
Brigadier-General Thomas C. Devin.
1st Brigade Colonel Petier 2d Brigade Colonel Chas. L.
1st Michigan Cavalry. 6th New York Cavalry.
5th Michigan Cavalry. 9th New York Cavalry.
6th Michigan Cavalry. 19th New York Cavalry.
7th Michigan Cavalry. 17th Pennsylvania Cavi.l.y.
20th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Reserve Brigade Brig.-Gen. Alfred Gibbs.
2d Massachusetts Cavahy.
1st United States Cavalry.
6th United States Cavalry.
6th Pennsylvania Cavalry (6 companies).
5th United States Cavalry.
Brigadier-General George A. Custer.
1st Brigade Colonel A. C. M. 2d Brigade Colonel William
1st Connecticut Cavalry. 8th New York Cavalry.
3d New Jersey Cavalry. 15th New York Cavalry.
2d New York Cavalry. 1st Vermont Cavalry.
2d Ohio Cavalry.
3d Brigade Col. Henry Capehart.
1st New York (Lincoln) Cavalry.
1st West Virginia Cavalry.
2d West Virginia Cavalry.
3d West Virginia Cavalry.
(Army of the Potomac) Major-General George Crook.
1st Brigade Brig.-Gen. Henry 2d Brigade Brvt. Brig.-Gen.
B. Davies, Jr. J. Irvin Gregg; Colonel
1st New Jersey Cavalry. Samuel B. M. Young.
10th New York Cavalry. 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
24th New York Cavalry. <8th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
1st Pennsylvania Cavalry (5 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Cos.). 21st Pennsylvania Cavalry.
2d U. S. Artillery, Battery A. 1st U. S. Artillery, Batteries
H and I.
3d Brigade Brevet Brig.-Gen. Chas. B. Smith.
1st Maine Cavalry.
2d New York Mounted Rifles.
6th Ohio Cavalry.
13th Ohio Cavalry.
Cavalry of the Army of the James.
Unattached 4th Massachusetts Cavalry, Cos. I, L, and M; 5th
Massachusetts Cavalry (colored); 7th New York Cavalry
(1st Mounted Rifles).
Attached to Separate Brigade 20th New York Cavalry, Cos.
D and P; 1st United States Colored Cavalry, Cos. B and T.
Headquarters Guard Twenty-fourth Army Corps 4th Massia-
chusetts Cavalry, Cos. F and K.
Provost Guard of the Twenty-fifth Army Corps 4th Massa
chusetts Cavalry, Cos. E and H.
Attached 2d United States Colored Cavalry.
Brigadier-General Ranald S. Mackenzie.
1st Brigade Col. Robert M. 2d Brigade Colonel Samuel
West. P. Spear.
20th New York Cavalry. 1st District of Columbia (bat-
5th Pennsylvania Cavalry. talion).
1st Maryland Cavalry,
llth Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Introduction . . 3
Cavalry force at the opening of the Rebellion. 5
Cavalry at Bull Run . .6
McClellan assumes command of the Army of the Potomac 6
Drill regulations of the cavalry at the opening of the war. ... 7
Armament of the volunteer regiments . ... 7
Peninsular Army and siege of Yorktown 9
Fort Magruder . 10
Battle of Williamsburg 10
Hanover Court House 11
Battle of Fair Oaks 12
Passage of the Chickahominy 13
Battle of Games Mill 13
General Stoneman in command of cavalry 15
General Pope in command of the Army of Virginia 17
Fremont in command of the Mountain Department 17
Battle of Kernstown 18
Cavalry in the Army of Virginia 18
Battle of Cedar Mountain 20
Cavalry in the battle of Bull Run 21
Consolidation of the Army of the Potomac and the Army of
Lee s invasion of Maryland 23
Battle of Antietam . . . .... 24
Stuart s raid into Pennsylvania 25
Buford as chief of cavalry 26
Bayard in command 26
McClellan superseded by Burnside 28
Operations on the Rappahannock .... .... 28
Averell s proposed cavalry expedition 30
Burnside succeeded by Hooker 31
Consolidation of the cavalry 31
Operations on the Rappahannock 32
Kelly s Ford 32
Cavalry in West Virginia 35
The Chancellorsville campaign 37
Stoneman s operations 37
Kilpatrick on the Chickahominy . . 38
Stoneman s raid 39
Pleasanton s operations 41
Mosby s raids 43
Lee s plan of invasion of the Northern States 44
"The Surprise" 45
Brandy Station 46
Effects of experience on cavalry 47
Lee s second objective 48
Stuart s operations ... 48
Pleasanton s operations 49
Increased confidence of the Federal cavalry 51
Army of the Potomac moves northward 52
Kilpatrick in command of the Third Division 52
Stuart s cavalry raid 53
Lee s letters to Stuart 53
Stuart crosses the Potomac 54
Disposition of the Army of the Potomac 54
Attack at Hanover ... 55
Stuart moves toward Gettysburg 56
Buford s operations . 56
Bu ford impressed with the strategic importance of Gettysburg. .58
Cavalry operations around Gettysburg 59
Combat at Rummel s Farm 63
Stuart s plan of attack , 64
The Federal left at Gettysburg 65
Kilpatrick s operations . 66
Farns worth at "Round Tops" 68
Merritt s operations 68
Farnsworth and Kilpatrick 68
Farnsworth s charge 69
Cavalry at Gettysburg 71
Cavalry operations after the battle 72
Cavalry during the first two years of the war 74
Furnishing remounts 75
Cavalry much depleted 78
Reorganization under Hooker 79
Stoneman s raid 79
The Cavalry Bureau established 81
The "dismounted camp". .. . .... 81
Buford s operations on the Rapidan 83
Kilpatrick s operations on the Rappahannock 83
The Army of the Potomac 84
The Bristoe campaign 89
Operations on the Rappahannock 90
Army of the Potomac advances south. 91
Gregg s division 91
Custer s division 93
The campaign a failure .94
Troops go into winter quarters .... 94
Operations in December 95
Fitzhugh Lee invades West Virginia 96
Operations in January . 96
Custer s raid into Virginia 98
Kilpatrick s expedition 99
The expedition a failure 101
Butler s expedition 102
Changes affecting the cavalry 102
Grant placed in command of the armies 102
Sheridan given command of the cavalry 103
Condition of the cavalry 103
Meade s views .... 103
The Army of the Potomac moves on the Army of Northern
Sheridan against Stuart 107
The raid accomplishes important results 110
Operations of the Army of the Potomac 110
Grant uncertain as to Lee s position 112
Cavalry at Cold Harbor 113
Cavalry at Trevilian Station 114
Sheridan s return 115
Operations of the Army of the James 116
Wilson s raid 118
Sheridan recuperates 119
Raid of the First and Second Cavalry Divisions 119
Lee deceived by the movements of the troops 120
Results of the cavalry under Sheridan 121
Operations in West Virginia 122
Campaign of the Kanawha 123
Operations begun in the Shenandoah Valley 124
Hunter s Campaign against Lynchburg 125
Early s operations 126
Early engages Crook 127
Early s second raid 128
Grant determines to devastate the Shenandoah Valley 128
Sheridan s Valley campaign 129
Battle of the Opequon 131
Losses at the battle of the Opequon 134
Cavalry pursues the Confederates 135
Early makes a stand at Fisher s Hill 135
Early s army routed 137
Losses at Fisher s Hill 138
The Valley campaign terminated .139
Battle of Tom s Brook 140
Early s letter to Lee 141
Further operations . . . . 143
Army of the Shenandoah at Cedar Creek 143
Early attempts to force the Union flank 146
Sheridan s ride . . . 146
Custer s charge . 146
Losses at Cedar Creek 148
Federal and Confederate cavalry contrasted 148
Early s army reassembles at New Market 149
Merritt s expedition into the Luray Valley 149
Troops go into cantonment 151
Operations of the Army of the Potomac 151
The cavalry division under Hancock s orders 153
The division destroys the Weldon Railroad 153
The Second Cavalry Division 154
Merritt succeeds Torbert as chief-of-cavalry .... 155
Custer s operations . . 156
Sheridan decides to join the Army of the Potomac 157
Results of the expedition 158
Sheridan joins the Army of the Potomac in front of Peters
Sheridan s instructions from Grant 159
Battle of Five Forks 159
Spoils of the battle 162
Fight at Deep Creek 163
Sheridan determines to capture Lee s rations 163
The attack at Sailor s Creek 165
Sheridan, Grant, and Lincoln 165
Lee s movements 166
Lee at Appomattox 167
Cavalry moves on to Washington 168
Development of the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac 169
American and European cavalry compared 172
Letter from the Secretary of War 175
Organization of cavalry, Army of the Potomac, October
15, 1861 175
Organization of cavalry, Army of the Potomac, before Rich
mond, June 25 to July 2, 1862 176
Organization of Union cavalry, battle of Cedar Mountain,
August 9, 1862 177
Organization of cavalry, Army of Virginia, August 16 to
September 2, 1862 177
Organization of cavalry, Army of the Potomac (South Mount
ain and Antietam) , September 14, 17, 1862 178
Report of officers, enlisted men, and horses in the cavalry and
light artillery, Army of the Potomac, November 1, 1862. .179
Organization of cavalry, Army of the Potomac, battle of
Fredericksburg, December 11-15, 1862 180
Organization of cavalry, Army of the Potomac, Chancellors-
ville campaign, May 1-6, 1863 181
Organization of cavalry, Army of the Potomac, battle of
Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863 183
Field report of the Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac,
June 28, 1863 ... 185
Organization of cavalry, Army of the Potomac, operating
against Richmond, May 5, 1864 185
Organization of cavalry, Army of the Potomac, operating
against Richmond, August 31, 1864 187
Effective force of First and Third Cavalry Divisions, Army
of the Shenandoah, February 28, 1865 188
Abstract from the returns of cavalry commanded by Sheridan
for March, 1865 189
Organization of Union cavalry, Appomattox campaign, March
29 to April 9, 1865 190
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