Cavalry operations in the West under Rosecrans and Sherman.
by Thomas speed, Captain, U. S. V.
Until General W. S. Rosecrans
took command of the Army of the Cumberland, October 30th, 1862, the Union
cavalry in Kentucky
had not been organized in a separate command, but its various regiments and brigades were attached to the several infantry divisions.
There being no such organization, there was of course no commander of cavalry to direct the movements of the entire body of these troops, but the commander of a cavalry brigade was the ranking colonel present who received orders from the army commander direct, or through subordinate commanders of the infantry.
came an effort toward a better organization.
divided his army into three grand divisions known as “The center,” “The right wing,” and “The left wing.”
The cavalry was all placed under one commander, General D. S. Stanley
, who at once proceeded to get the cavalry in condition for efficient service.
He formed it in three brigades.
The First was under Colonel R. H. G. Minty
, of the 4th Michigan Cavalry; the Second under Colonel Lewis Zahm
, of the 3d Ohio Cavalry; the Third he kept under his personal charge, while Colonel John Kennett
was made commander of the cavalry division.
Such was the organization when Rosecrans
began the campaign which resulted in the Battle of Stone's River
, December 31st, 1862, to January 2d, 1863.
In the autumn of 1862, while Rosecrans
was making his preparations at Nashville
, a number of cavalry regiments were being recruited in Kentucky
, and that State became a general camp of instruction for new regiments on their way to the front from other States.
They were not able, however, to protect the country from the raids of the Confederate cavalry.
On the 7th of December, 1862, John H. Morgan
attacked the Federals
at Hartsville, Tennessee
, and captured the garrison.
On the 9th General Joseph Wheeler
attacked unsuccessfully a Federal brigade under Colonel Stanley Matthews
, on the road leading to Murfreesboro
‘. A little later in December Morgan
moved into Kentucky
and destroyed bridges on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad.
The Federal cavalry was not in condition at this time to operate successfully against these efforts of the Confederates
In the same month of December, 1862, a bold movement was made by a force of Federal cavalry under General S. P. Carter
, composed of three regiments — the 9th Pennsylvania, 2d Michigan, and 8th Ohio.
made his way through the mountains into east Tennessee
, and destroyed the track and bridges on the railroad leading from Virginia
This successful dash showed that raiding was not to be left wholly to one side.
The cavalry under General Stanley
was actively used in the advance upon Murfreesboro
‘. While numbering only about four thousand effective men, and consequently not expected to cope with the enemy's infantry, it covered the flanks of Rosecrans
's army and also kept well to the front, developing the positions of the enemy, and by bold scouting obtained information of movements.
During the fighting at Stone's River
, December 31st, the Confederate cavalry made its way to the Federal
rear for the purpose of cutting communications and destroying supplies.
Much damage might then have occurred had not General Stanley
's cavalry met and repulsed the raiders.
In the fighting which ensued the 3d Kentucky Cavalry, under Colonel E. H. Murray
, particularly distinguished itself, also the 1st Ohio Cavalry, under Colonel Minor Milliken
, who was killed.
After the battle General Stanley
kept his command posted in the country between
the opposing armies until active operations began in the spring of 1863. General Rosecrans
endeavored unsuccessfully to increase this branch of his army materially.
The authorities at Washington
do not seem to have appreciated the necessities of the case as fully as himself.
Some increase, however, was made, by the coming of new regiments.
And while General Stanley
was on the alert for all the necessary purposes of the army in position, General Rosecrans
organized, in the spring of 1863, for a cavalry raid around the rear of Bragg
For this purpose seventeen hundred men were placed under Colonel A. D. Streight
, with directions to embark on transports on the Tennessee River
at Fort Henry
and proceed to Eastport, Mississippi
. Colonel Streight
and set out thence April 21st.
He reached Tuscumbia, Alabama
, April 24th, and by May 1st was at Blountsville, Alabama
His objective was Rome, Georgia
; but when near Cedar Bluffs
, Alabama, twenty-eight miles from Rome
, he was attacked and defeated by Forrest
himself and thirteen hundred men were captured and carried as prisoners to Richmond
While this raid was in progress Colonel J. T. Wilder
with a body of 2600 cavalry was destroying the railroads south of Murfreesboro
' and capturing a number of prisoners, and other similar movements were being made by Colonels Louis D. Watkins
and A. P. Campbell
in the direction of Columbia, Tennessee
At this time, also, another celebrated cavalry raid took place in Mississippi
. Colonel B. H. Grierson
of the 6th Illinois Cavalry, taking his own regiment, the 7th Illinois, Colonel Edward Prince
, and the 2d Iowa, Colonel Edward Hatch
, left La Grange, Tennessee
, April 17th, and in sixteen days traversed six hundred miles of the enemy's country and reached Baton Rouge
, where a Federal force was stationed.
[See map, Vol.
III., p. 442.] Hatch
's regiment destroyed the railroads east of Columbus, Mississippi
, and returned to La Grange
, while the remainder of Grierson
's force destroyed much of the Mobile
This bold and successful raid produced
a profound sensation, and was of great benefit to General Grant
in the Vicksburg
The great activity of the Union
cavalry at this period is further shown by the fact that General Stanley
in the month of June led a strong force in rear of Bragg
's position at Tullahoma
, cutting the railroads at Decherd Station, whereupon Bragg
fell back to Bridgeport
In July Stanley
again made a movement upon Huntsville
Proceeding by several roads, the separate brigades of General J. B. Turchin
and Colonels Eli Long
and Robert Galbraith
all reached Huntsville, Alabama
, and, after capturing prisoners, supplies, and stock, returned without serious loss.
The Confederates on their part also made a celebrated raid at this time.
On the 27th of June Morgan
crossed the Cumberland River
, Kentucky, with about 2500 men. He passed northwardly through Columbia, Kentucky
, and, reaching Green River
at Tebbs's Bend on the 4th of July, demanded the surrender of Colonel O. H. Moore
, who was stationed there with a portion of his regiment — the 25th Michigan. Colonel Moore
returned the famous reply that the 4th of July was not a good day to surrender, and was instantly attacked.
After a severe fight Moore
drove off his assailants, and saved the bridge over Green River
at that point.
crossed below the bridge and passed through Lebanon
and on to Brandenburg
on the Ohio River
; there, seizing a steamboat, he crossed into Indiana
, and dashed through that State into Ohio
and was captured near Salineville
[See map and article, Vol.
III., p. 635.] This raid has become famous for many reasons, but one of the most notable things pertaining to it was the pursuit and capture of the raider and his men. The pursuit began at Burksville
immediately upon Morgan
's passage of Cumberland River
The night of the passage four Kentucky
cavalry regiments, the 1st, 8th, 9th, and 12th, under Generals J. M. Shackelford
and E. H. Hobson
, both Kentuckians, were concentrated at Marrow Bone, only a few miles west of Burksville
Four noted Kentucky
officers commanded these regiments, Frank Wolford
, B. H. Bristow
, R. T. Jacob
, and E. W. Crittenden
the pursuers were joined by three Ohio
A month later this same Federal cavalry and several other regiments were organized at Camp Nelson
for an expedition to east Tennessee
It was placed under command of Shackelford
, who led it through Williamsburg
and Big Creek Gap
The infantry force under Burnside
moved out at the same time and took possession of Knoxville
's cavalry then hastened to Cumberland Gap
and captured the place, with 2500 men under the Confederate General Fraser
They then made their way to the borders of Virginia
, clearing the valley of Confederates, and returned to Knoxville
, where Burnside
was concentrating to resist the advance of Longstreet
For three weeks the cavalry was shut up in Knoxville
with the infantry.
After the siege it pursued Longstreet
up the valley, fighting a hard battle at Bean's Station
Winter coming on, active movements ceased.
The cavalry under Stanley
cooperated with Rosecrans
's infantry in the advance to Chattanooga
, bearing its full share of the burdens at Chickamauga
After the battle of Missionary Ridge
, November 25th, 1863, General W. L. Elliott
was assigned to the command of the cavalry.
dispatched Colonel Long
's brigade to the relief of Knoxville
, and during the months of
November and December, among the various dashes made at this season was one by Colonel Watkins
, with 250 men, as far as Lafayette, Georgia
Also Colonel Long
, with a small force, defeated General Wheeler
at Calhoun, Tennessee
, December 27th.
During the winter the cavalry was principally at Athens, Tennessee
, under General Elliott
On the 11th of February, 1864, General Sooy Smith
started from Memphis
with a mounted force of seven thousand men to cooperate with Sherman
in eastern Mississippi
The expedition proved a failure, and returned to Memphis
[See foot-note, p. 247, and article, p. 416.]
In March and April, 1864, Forrest
advanced from Mississippi
with a large force, and passed through western Tennessee
to Paducah, Kentucky
Returning, he reached Fort Pillow
on the morning of April 12th, and captured the fort.
[See p. 418.] Forrest
was pursued by General S. D. Sturgis
, but turned upon him, and signally defeated him at Brice's Cross Roads on the 10th of June, and pursued him back to Memphis
[See p. 420.] On the 14th of July Forrest
was in turn defeated near Tupelo
by A. J. Smith
remained in west Tennessee
and northern Mississippi
and northern Alabama
, until he joined Hood
in the Tennessee
The cavalry which Sherman
assembled at Chattanooga
for the Atlanta campaign
15,000 in four divisions.
[For organization, see pp. 286 and 289.] In the new organization General Stanley
was assigned to duty with the infantry in the Army of the Cumberland.
The details of the service of the cavalry in the Atlanta campaign
cannot be given here.
It participated in all the movements and engagements from May to August, 18 64.
When the lines were drawn closely about Atlanta
the cavalry became very active.
Meanwhile Major-General L. H. Rousseau
, who had been stationed at Nashville
for the protection of Sherman
's rear, and who had succeeded in preventing Wheeler
from injuring the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, was ordered to execute a very important duty.
On the 10th of July, 1864, he started from Decatur, Alabama
, with two brigades of cavalry, under Colonels T. J. Harrison
, 8th Indiana, and William D. Hamilton
, 9th Ohio.
In nine days he had traveled 300 miles, and was 100 miles in rear of Johnston
He destroyed railroads and supplies, and safely joined Sherman
On the 27th of July General McCook
moved down the right bank of the Chattahoochee
to Campbelltown, and crossing pushed boldly into the Macon
road, damaging it, burning trains, and capturing four hundred prisoners. On his return he encountered the enemy in strong force, and was not only compelled to give up his prisoners, but lost many of his own men.
On the same date General Stoneman
moved from the other flank and destroyed the railroads leading from Macon
, but he, too, suffered greatly, Stoneman
himself and part of his command being captured.
Colonel Silas Adams
of the 1st Kentucky Cavalry successfully fought his way back with the brigade he commanded.
After the fall of Atlanta
a portion of the cavalry, under General Kilpatrick
, accompanied General Sherman
on his march to the sea; the remainder was placed under General Thomas
for the protection of Tennessee
against the expected movements of Hood
, and went to Tuscumbia
early in November, 1864, commanded by General Edward Hatch
During the Atlanta campaign Kentucky
was protected against guerrillas and raiders by General S. G. Burbridge
In May he started for Virginia
with a large mounted force, and at the same time Morgan
came into Kentucky
through Pound Gap
This was Morgan
's last raid.
He was attacked at Cynthiana
, Mount Sterling
, and Augusta, Kentucky
, by the Federal
cavalry under Colonel John Mason Brown
, Colonel Wickliffe Cooper
, and others, and finally was driven into east Tennessee
, where he was killed, at Greenville
, on the 4th of September, 1864.
[See article by General Duke
, p. 243.]
In October, 1864, General Hood
, having led his army from Georgia
into northern Alabama
, was organizing for his expedition into Tennessee
At the same time Forrest
was operating with his usual energy and activity.
On the 30th of October he suddenly appeared with a strong force on the Tennessee River
, near Johnsonville
, where he captured a gun-boat, the Undine
, and two transports — an exploit which excited very general admiration.
He then joined Hood
At this time General John T. Croxton
, with a brigade of Union cavalry, was watching along the north bank of the Tennessee
, and on the 7th of November was joined by General Edward Hatch
with a division.
This body, numbering about three thousand men, kept a sharp lookout for indications of Hood
On the 20th it became apparent that Hood
was moving in the direction of Lawrenceburg Hatch
skirmished with Forrest
, and while the infantry under Schofield
fell back from Pulaski
also backed steadily until that point was reached.
At Columbia General J. H. Wilson
, who had been transferred from the cavalry corps of the Army of the Potomac and assigned to the command of all the cavalry in General Thomas
's department, came up and took personal charge.
[See p. 466.]
The fame of Forrest
, and Wheeler
was accented by the widespread heralding of all their exploits.
On the other hand the services of the Union
cavalry, being far southward and beyond the reach of newspapers, excited less notice; but for boldness and effectiveness, devotion to duty, endurance, celerity of movement, and accomplishment of results the Federal
cavalry in the West
made a proud record, and its history, when written in detail, will be full of thrilling interest.