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Accession No. ... OtJU - )O . Class No. 



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. 



First Lieutenant, Sixth Cavalry. 







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. 





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 
to "six." 

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 
Illinois Cavalry. 

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 
General Cooke.f 

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, 
June, 1895. 

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 
the rout."* 

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 
taking duties. 

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 
sylvania Cavalry. 

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 
the war. 


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 
dead cavalrvman." 

*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 
both armies. 

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 
ing general. 

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 
divisions respectively. 

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 
Appendix 8. 

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 
winter quarters. 

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 
the Rappahannock. 

On March 17th, however, an engagement was 
fought at Kelly s Ford, which made the Confederate 

*At Grove Church, Fairfax, Middleburg, Rappahannock 
Bridge, Somerville. 

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 
de Paris.) 

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 
(Howard s). 

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 
entire war. 

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 
a reserve. 

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 
the war." 

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 
national capital. 

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 
a foothold. 

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 
defensive point" 

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 
Civil War. 

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 
manner possible. 

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 
the center. 

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 
was discovered. 

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 
and position. 

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 
James City. 

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 
Sudley Springs. 

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 
New Market. 

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:> 
advanced corps. 

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 
cavalry corps. 

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 
reach there. 

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 
their works. 

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 
dix 12. 

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 
Branch Church. 

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 
Court House. 

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 
ing day. 

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 
Central Railroad. 

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 
the war. 


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 
Caslle Ferry. 

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 
material loss. 

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 
August 1st. 

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 
Colonel Schoonmaker. 

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 
troops arrived. 

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 
vere skirmishes. 

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 
towards Strasburg. 


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 
after night. 


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 
9 battle-flags. 

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 
Northern States. 

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 
was complete. 

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- 
ton Ford." 

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." 


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 
born resistance. 

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 
est battles.* 

*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 canal. 

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 
sylvania Cavalry. 

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 
American nation. 

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, 
and bravery. 

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 
the war. 

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 
dy Station. 

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. 

Appendix. 175 

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 
teer cavalry:* 

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. 


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. 

176 Appendix. 

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 

(four companies). 

Attached to McDowell s Division 2d New York Cavalry (Har 
ris Light). 

Attached to Heintzelman s Division 1st New Jersey Cavalry. 
Attached to Porter s Division 3d Pennsylvania Cavalry, 8th 

Pennsylvania Cavalry. 

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 
ed Rifles). 

Attached to Dix s Division (Baltimore) one company of Penn 
sylvania Cavalry. 


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 
vania Cavalry. 

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 

Cavalry Reserve. 
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 

and C. 
Escort at Headquarters, Second Army Corps 1st Michigan 

Cavalry (detachment), 5th New York Cavalry (detachment), 

1st West Virginia Cavalry (detachment). 

Cavalry Brigade. 

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. 

178 Appendix. 

Attached to First Army Corps 3d West Virginia Cavalry, 

Co. C. 
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, 

Co. G. 
Escort to Headquarters Twelfth Army Corps 1st Michigan 

Cavalry, Co. L. 

Brigadier-General Alfred 

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 

3d Brigades). 
2d U. S. Artillery, Batteries 

A, B, L, M. 
3d U. S. Artillery, Batteries 

C, G. 


Report of officers, enlisted men, and horses in the 
cavalry and light artillery, Army of the Potomac, 
November 1, 1862; 





No. of 




















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 

and E. 
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, 

Co. L. 
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 

F. Farnsworth. 
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. 

Appendix. 181 

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 

McM. Gregg. 

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, 
Co. L. 

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. 


182 Appendix. 


Brigadier-General George Stoneman. 

First Division. 

Brigadier-General Alfred Pleasanton. 
1st Brigade Colonel Benj. F. 2d Brigade Colonel Thos. C. 

Davis. Devin. 

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. 

Second Division. 

Brigadier-General William W. Averell. 
1st Brigade Col. Horace B. 2d Brigade Colonel John B. 

Sargent. Mclntosh. 

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. 

Third Division. 

Brigadier-General David McM. Gregg. 
1st Brigade Colonel Judson 2d Brigade Colonel Percy 

Kilpatrick. Wyndham. 

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 
May 2d. 

Appendix. 183 


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, 
Co. L. 

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. 

First Division. 

Brigadier-General John Buford. 

1st Brigade Colonel William 2d Brigade Colonel Thos. C. 
Gamble. Devin. 

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. , 

Second Division. 

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. 

Third Division. 

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. 

A. Custer. 

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. 



Horse Artillery. 

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 
Gettysburg) : 













> cS 




-2 (H 

33 S 

oa o> o 






W h 

< fl 





c ?*"< 










Corps Headquarters 
1st Division 
2d Division 
Stahel s Division 


3 291 











Brigade Horse Artillery 
















fNot reported. 


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 
York) Cavalry. 

*With Huey s cavalry brigade, and not engaged in battle. 

186 Appendix. 

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. 

First Division. 
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. 

Second Division. 
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. 

Appendix. 187 

Third Division. 

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 
31, 1864: 

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 
York) Cavalry. 


A npendix. 

Escort at Headquarters Ninth Army Corps 3d New Jersey 
Cavalry (detachment). 

Second Division. 


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 

H. Smith. 
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. 


Aug. 31st. 

Sept. 30th. 

Oct. 31st. 

Nov. 30th. 

Dec 31st. 


6 358 

7 122 

6 295 

8 698 

10 059 














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) 



4 600 

4 840 

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 : 


Present for 

Pres nt 

Pres ni 



es of 




1st Division (Devin). 
General Headquarters 
1st Brigade (Stagg) 
2d Brigade (Fitzhugh) 










Reserve Brigade (Gibbs) 
Artillery (Miller) 




3d Division (Custer). 
General Headquarters 
1st Brigade (Pennington) 
2d Brigade (Wells) 
3d Brigade (Capehart) 






. , . . . 








Grand Total Army of Shenandoah 










Present for 


Pres nt 

Pieces of 






2d Division (Crook). 
General Headquarters 







2d Brigade (Gregg). 
3d Brigade (Smith) 








Qrand Total 

591 12,835 





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 

York) Cavalry. 
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 

(8 companies). 

Appendix. 191 


Major-General Philip H. Sheridan. 
Army of the Shenandoah Brevet Brig.-General Wesley Merritt. 

First Division. 
Brigadier-General Thomas C. Devin. 

1st Brigade Colonel Petier 2d Brigade Colonel Chas. L. 

Stagg. Fitzhugh. 

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. 

Third Division. 
Brigadier-General George A. Custer. 

1st Brigade Colonel A. C. M. 2d Brigade Colonel William 

Pennington. Wells. 

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. 

192 Appendix. 

Second Division. 

(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. 

Cavalry Division. 

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 

Virginia 23 

Lee s invasion of Maryland 23 

Battle of Antietam . . . .... 24 

Stuart s raid into Pennsylvania 25 

Buford as chief of cavalry 26 

194 Contents. 


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 

Contents. 195 



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 

Casualties 74 


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 

"Scratches" 80 

"Foot-rot" 80 

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 

196 Contents. 



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 

Virginia 104 

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 

Contents. 197 



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 

198 Contents. 



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 
burg 158 

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 

Bibliography 174 

Letter from the Secretary of War 175 


Organization of cavalry, Army of the Potomac, October 

15, 1861 175 

Contents. 199 



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 

200 Contents. 


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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