(Compiled in November, 2007 by Donald Joseph Schulteis)
This history of the First Wisconsin Cavalry was transcribed from the book Wisconsin In The War Of The Rebellion by William DeLoss Love published in 1866. Mr. Love acknowledges his sources of information: very much to J.R. Barnett [Company I] Lieutenant by commission, Colonel Daniels, Colonel La Grange, Major Jones [2nd Battalion], and Stanley E. Lathop [Company M]. Prose which may be characterized as "bells and flourishes" were omitted. The transcriber also took the liberty changing the words "rebel" to "Confederate" and "enemy" to "rebel." Casualties were identified from the book Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion 1861-1865, Volume 1, published in 1886.
The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture at http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/item-detail.aspx?type=Category&item=Military1
CWSAC Battle Summaries at http://www.nps.gov/history/hps/abpp/battles/mo020.htm2
eHistory Archive; Introduction To Civil War Cavalry, Article written by: Alethea D. Sayers at http://ehistory.osu.edu/uscw/features/regimental/cavalry.cfm3
The Civil War Archive at http://www.civilwararchive.com/Unreghst/unwicav.htm4
You may also wish to read the book American Civil War Diaries 1863-1865 by Robert S. Merrill of Company K. It will provide a different perspective on the war; concern for food and clothing and not that much concern for the skirmishes and battles themselves. On the other hand, Mr. Merrill was in few confrontations and when he was, he was generally not in the front lines. So, having something to eat and being warm were his primary concerns.
U. S. cavalry regiments were organized as follows: each regiment contained 12 troops (company), each troop consisting of 100 men, commanded by a Captain, a 1st Lieutenant, a 2nd Lieutenant, and a Supernumerary Lieutenant. In 1863, changes were made to create a more flexible cavalry. The squadron was dropped, along with the supernumerary Lieutenant, and battalions, usually of four troops, were formed. These were handier on the march (shorter columns) and were a better size to detach than a full regiment.
A regiment was commanded by a Colonel, and had a Lieutenant Colonel, 3 Majors, and staff of an Adjutant, a Quartermaster, a Commissary, and a regimental Surgeon and assistant. The noncommissioned officers included: one Sergeant-Major, one Quartermaster Sergeant, one Commissary Sergeant, one saddler Sergeant, a chief farrier or blacksmith, and two hospital stewards.
Each troop [company], which now numbered 82-100 men, had its 1st Sergeant., Quartermaster Sergeant., a Commissary Sergeant, in addition to five Sergeants, eight Corporals, two teamsters, two farriers, one saddler, one wagoneer, and two musicians [buglers].
According to a report of Adjutant General Utley, the First Wisconsin Regiment owes its origin to the energy and perseverance of Professor Edward Daniels of Waukesha, Wisconsin. His permit from the General Government to raise a regiment of cavalry was followed by a commission as Lieutenant Colonel from Governor Alexander W. Randall on 30 June 1861. The work of recruiting at once commenced. [LC Daniels was authorized to recruit and organize one battalion of cavalry in Wisconsin. Later he was authorized to raise two more companies. In October, the Governor was authorized to complete the regiment with the organization of six additional companies. This occurred from 01 September 1861 to 02 February 1862.]
Ripon, Wisconsin was at first the place of rendezvous but Camp Fremont was deemed unsuitable for winter quarters. The regiment was moved to Camp Harvey in Kenosha on 23 November 1861. Here the organization was completed and the last company mustered into the United States service on 10 March 1862. The roster, when the regiment left the state, was as follows:
Squardon = two companies
Charles L. Porter was the first 2nd Lieutenant of Company D but he resigned 02 September 1861. Oscar H. La Grange was the first Lieutenant Colonel but was not commissioned until after the regiment left the state.
(Action Summary 1862: May 10-11 Expedition to Bloomfield, Mo.; May 10 Action at Bloomfield; May 15 Chalk Bluffs; May 16-20 Operations in Dunklin County; July 9-22 Expedition to Madison, Arkansas; July 10 Scatterville; Guerrilla Campaign against Porter's and Poindexter's forces July 20-September 10; July 23 West Prairie; July 29 Bloomfield; August 2-3 Jonesboro, Arkansas(2nd Battalion); August 3 Jackson, Langnelle's Ferry, and Scatterville; At Cape Girardeau until October 3; August 20-27 Scout to Wayne, Stoddard, and Dunklin Counties (Detachment); August 29 Bloomfield; September 11 Bloomfield; October 3 Moved to Greenville; October 19 Moved to Patterson; Expedition after Greene's guerrillas October 20-November 3; Duty at Patterson until January, 1863)4
On 17 March 1862 the regiment started for St. Louis. Arriving in St. Louis they were quartered in Benton Barracks until 28 April when, having been furnished with horses and other equipment, they embarked for Cape Girardeau, Missouri. [The regiment moved down the Mississippi on transports to Cape Girardeau. From Cape Girardeau, the headquarters was moved to Bloomfield, Missouri fifty miles south-west. The Regimental Adjutant, Charles Burbanks was mustered out on 25 March 1862 and Lieutenant Stephen Shipman of Company G acted as Adjutant. Colonel Daniels was placed in command of the post.]
[On 10 May 1862, a force of six squadrons proceeded to Bloomfield, Missouri. Major Henry Pomeroy was then placed in command of the post and was appointed Provost Marshal. From this time until the regiment left South Missouri, they were engaged in scouting in various directions repeatedly encountering the rebels. Ten miles south of Bloomfield, a rebel camp was broken up. A few days later, Confederate Colonel Phelan and about 100 men were captured.]
[Henry La Fever of Company K and Oscar F. Willis of Company I were lost in early May, Henry on 01 May and Oscar on 03 May.]
Confederates Jeffries and Miller, with their followers, were pursued into Arkansas across the St Francis River to Chalk Bluff. On 15 May 1862 eighty of the Confederates made a stand against twenty members of the regiment from Companies A and D under the command of Major Oscar La Grange and the Confederates were driven off. Killed in this action were Solomon Howard of Company D. Two of Company A who died of their wounds were Lieutenant William Phillips on 18 May and Daniel McCloughry on 22 May. Four were wounded among them Lieutenant Fernando Merrell of Company D who received several wounds. Dr. Horatio Gregory, the regimental surgeon, soon after was shot while watering his horse and he died on 09 June 1862.
On 21 May 1862 a detachment under the Command of Colonel Daniels proceeded to Kennett in Dunklin County. There they learned a Confederate steamer loaded with supplies was in the vicinity. The detachment penetrated the swamps of the "Panhandle" reaching Little River at Homersville where they captured the steamer Daniel B. Miller loaded with sugar, molasses, whiskey, and fifty Confederate soldiers, who were made prisoners.
From Bloomfield, as a residence of rendezvous, the regiment was scattered in various scouting expeditions.
On 08 July 1862, Colonel Daniels with Lieutenant La Grange, Major Torrey and six squadrons of troops, along with a train of 30 wagons left Bloomfield in the direction of Arkansas. Garrisons remained at Bloomfield (fifty men under the command of Captain Hyde) and Cape Girardeau (sixty men under the command of Lieutenant Shipman). A handful of men were assigned to guard the stores left at camp in West Prairie. [Of the latter group Edward Houes of Company B was killed on 23 July.]
Following Crowley's Ridge, the regiment came to Scatterville on 10 July 1862 where Company I under the command of Captain Harnden attacked and routed a detachment from Confederate Colonel Allen's command. Some twelve Confederates were killed, twenty wounded and twenty-five taken prisoner. The remainder of the 200 men were driven beyond the White River. Other Confederates were dislodged from Greenboro, Jonesboro, Harrisburg, Taylor's Creek, and Madison.
[On 19 July 1862 Daniel Pasko of Company B was lost near Wittsburg, Arkansas.]
When the unit was between Wittsburg and Madison on 29 July 1862, Captain Porter of Company I was ordered to detach twenty-three men and take the sick, who had been left on the march, and return with them to Bloomfield. On 01 August 1863 Company I surprised a Confederate encampment of eighty-five men under Confederate Captain Adair which, after a few shots, fled leaving behind horses, arms, camp equipment and eleven men were taken prisoner. By daylight the next morning the Confederates returned with reinforcements and Captain Porter was obliged to surrender losing five killed, two wounded, eight became prisoners and eight were missing. [Soldiers lost from Company I were Frank Obermeier, Benjamin Rattell, Peter Schucke, John Sourby, and Edward Stanley.] Of the rebels, seventeen were killed, four of them lieutenants and four wounded including one captain and one lieutenant.
Back to the main group.
[Richard Hill of Company E was lost on 31 July 1862 crossing the L'Anguille River.]
The train left Wittsburg on 02 August 1862 marching to L'Anguille Ferry and camped on the north shore of the stream. On Sunday morning 03 August 1862, Major Eggleston with one hundred-thirty men, at Hodges' Ferry on the L'Anguille River, between Madison and Helena were attacked by a Confederate party of 500 Texas Rangers under the command of Colonel Parsons. Thirty-eight of the rebels were killed and some wounded. Major Eggleston lost fifteen men killed: [Captain George W. Dunmore, Company B: Mathias J. Bushnell, Bradley B. Brown, Samuel W, Banker, Francis W. Hazzard, Erastus F. Mead, William P. Ware; Company E: William F. Mills; Company F: Edward Ochaner; Company I: William H. Abell; Company K: Philander Truesdell; Company L: Nicholas Friddel, Carey Webb; Company M: Enoch Young. Charles Hoag of Comapny E and Adrian Horton of Company I died later of their wounds; Charles on 20 November and Adrian on 05 August 1863.] Thirty were wounded.
Early in August, the expedition reached Helena, where, diminished by deaths and replenished by recruits, it remained until 22 September 1862 when it was ordered back to Cape Girardeau. Scarcely were they back when the regiment was ordered to Greenville seventy-five miles west under the command of Captain Algernon S. Seaton.
[In Helena, Arkansas, Sergeant William Ramsdale was killed on 08 August 1862, and Charles Skinner died on 22 October of wounds he received that day. In September of 1862 Abner Hiland of Company E and Henry Van Valen of Company H were killed in Bloomfield.]
On 19 October 1862 they moved to Patterson ten miles distant. On the next day, a scouting party was formed consisting of the Twelfth Missouri, a battery, a company of infantry, and the First Wisconsin Cavalry. On the second day out, reports came that Colonel Boone, with a company of six hundred men was encamped ten miles distant. The force went in immediate pursuit. For the next several days, they pursued, prepared to attacked, but no rebels.
Attached to Cavalry Brigade, General Benton's Division of Southeast Missouri to June, 1863
On 22 November 1862 the regiment was inspected by Brigadier General Davidson to whose command it had been attached. Soon thereafter, a battalion was ordered out under the command of Major Torrey to march against Colonel Phelan who was reported to be near Boomfield, Missouri. The colonel was surprised with his body guard of thirteen men asleep on the floor of his own house by Sergeant Milton Martin of Company F. Having secured their prisoners, the troops charged into Bloomfield after the main body, but the Confederates had retreated. This was the second time Colonel Phelan was captured by the First Wisconsin Cavalry.
On 11 December 1862 the brigade was ordered out with five days rations. Under heavy rains and bad roads they went to Centerville and Boonesville erecting fortifications and gathering corn for provision trains between Pilot Knob and Van Buren.
About 28 December 1862 a small party of infantry, 20 men with wagons, had been sent out by General Benson to gather corn. Confederates in large numbers surrounded them, took them prisoner and started for Pocahontas. The news reaching camp, 200 infantry and eighty cavalry started in pursuit. The cavalry included men from companies D and M of the first Wisconsin under Captain Jones and men from the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry under Colonel Hartman. Contact was not made.
02 January 1863 the regiment received marching orders to Van Buren which they reached on 07 January. The regiment was ordered to meet General Davidson at Alton. With an episode to Thomasville, and back to Alton, the regiment reached West Plains where the divisions of General Davidson and Benton were already encamped. The combined force was some 17,000 strong. The First Wisconsin was detached from General Benton's force and sent on in advance to Pilot Knob. Here the men were paid four months dues. Almost immediately Major Pomeroy was ordered by General Davidson to proceed with a regiment of cavalry to St. Genevieve and occupy that point as a military post surveying camping grounds for the remainder of the Army. The First Wisconsin were selected to do so.
On 10 March 1863, the First Wisconsin, via transports, was sent to Cape Girardeau.
The First Wisconsin was now attached to General McNeil's command and stationed at Bloomfield, Missouri. Confederate Jeff Thompson's forces were to the east and General Marmaduke's forces were at St. Francis at Chalk Bluff.
Colonel Daniels in August of 1862 had been taken with spotted fever and lay helpless until October. He reported to General Curtis in November and started to join his regiment in January of 1863 but the exposure, with feebleness brought on pneumonia, which led to a dangerous chronic disease. He was diagnosed by army surgeons as incurable. His resignation was accepted on 05 February 1863.
With Colonel Daniels' resignation, Lieutenant Colonel La Grange succeeded him in position and command and Major Pomeroy was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
The next movement was to Bloomfield, then to Chalk Bluff, where they had a successful engagement with the rebels and returned to Cape Girardeau.
On 10 April 1863 the unit was on its way back to Bloomfield. On 21 April came marching orders for Dallas, Missouri. Confederate insurgents, in strong force, were marching having attacked Patterson and routing the whole garrison. With the arrival of General McNeil's forces, the column began a rapid march, entering the town at nine o'clock in the morning. Here it was determined that Patterson and Greenville were in possession of the rebels and a strong force was marching upon Fredericktown. To learn the strength and position of the rebels, Company G under the command of Captain Paine was sent to reconnoiter the Fredericktown Road. About 18 miles out, they encountered a small party of rebels, captured twelve, with their horses and mules, and returned to camp. From the prisoners it was learned that 20,000 men under Marmaduke and Burbridge were at Dallas ready to march upon Pilot Point and St. Genevieve. News soon came that Bloomfield and Jackson were also in the Confederate hands.
Being surrounded and with only 1,500 men, a retreat towards Cape Girardeau was ordered and the unit arrived there on 24 April 1863.
[On the 24 April 1863, Company E, under command of Captain Stephen Shipman, was stationed to guard a bridge across Whitewater River located on the Bloomfield Road some sixteen miles from Cape Girardeau. One column of Marmaduke's army which numbering some 3,000 men approached. A body of about 300 men moved above the bridge, some distance, crossed the river, and took possession of the only road through the swamp in the rear of Captain Shipman's position. The Confederate whole force then moved against the bridge, which Captain Shipman found it impossible to hold. He therefore attempted to retreat to Cape Girardeau under cover of the darkness. Falling into an ambuscade set by the rebels, Captain Shipman ordered his men to cut their way through; he and Lieutenant Ogden leading the charge. In the attempt, Captain Shipman was severely wounded having his thighbone badly shattered by a pistol ball. He was taken prisoner with several of his men. Lieutenant Ogden, with twenty-two men, succeeded in cutting their way through and escaped to the Cape. Captain Shipman was paroled and sent into Cape Girardeau under a flag of truce where by superior surgical aid, his life was saved without amputation of the limb. The casualties reported were 4 killed. [Sylvester Corbin and Warren Gale were killed and Henry Barden and Charles Durant died of their wounds; Henry on 15 May and Charles on 11 June 1863.]
The morning of 25 April 1863 the whole available force was drawn up in line of battle. The scouts reported no advance by the Confederates so the remainder of the day was spent at rest. At 11 o'clock in the evening a flag of truce arrived from Marmaduke demanding an unconditional surrender of the town with twelve hours for consideration. General McNeil returned an immediate reply to the effect, "not while a fort remains standing or a soldier lives to defend it." At ten o'clock the next morning, Lieutenant Comstock of Company H, commanding the outpost, discovered the rebels and retired skirmishing with the them until under the protection of Fort B.
The great bell in the cathedral had just ceased it tolling when the loud thunder of the cannons at Fort B, answered by Marmaduke's hostile cannons in the direction of Jackson Road told the story that the battle had begun. General McNeil ordered a reconnaissance on the Jackson Road to determine the exact position of the rebel forces in the woods. Companies I and G of the First Cavalry was ordered to do so. Another battery was posted on the eminence between Fort B and the timber covering the rebels. Its first shot silence the most efficient rebel gun. Every shot thereafter seemed to strike where it was needed most.
To support the battery were placed the First Nebraska Infantry, the First Wisconsin Cavalry, except two or three companies of carbineers who deployed in front as skirmishers. For a time the battle was carried on chiefly by the artillery, the First Nebraska, and the carbineers. At last the Confederates prepared to make a dash upon the battery and Colonel La Grange rode before the line of the First Wisconsin Cavalry preparing them for the charge they were expected to soon make. The withering fire of the Nebraskans proved sufficient to drive the Confederates back.
Union General Vanderver was known to be approaching from Pilot Knob and troops from Bird's Point were also on their way. Neither though could arrive to help in the fight that day. Another hour of vigorous cannonading and Marmaduke sent a second summons to surrender receiving the same reply as the first. At this juncture the arrival of a transport at the levee, heralded by he loud whistle, accompanied by the shrieking of fifes and the roll of drums told that succor had at last arrived. Shortly, a long column of blue uniforms appeared at the escarpment of the ridge which flanked Fort B.
Marmaduke made a demonstration in the direction of Fort D and was again repulsed with heavy loss. He then sent his third and final demand for surrender threatening terrible destruction if the demand was not immediately complied with. General McNeils reply in part, "never saw such impudence in a white man". Marmaduke withdrew his forces and retreated on the Jackson and Bloomfield roads.
[At Cape Girardeau, Sergeant Michael O'Neil of Company C and George Bradfield of Company I were killed and Christian Bjornensen and James Clark, both of Company G, died later of their wounds.]
Pursuit was made the next day arriving at the Whitewater River, the advance party under Major Torey found the bridge gone, destroyed by the retreating rebels. The next morning, the Wisconsin boys repaired the bridge in three hours; the engineers determining it would require a day and a half to do the same. By this time the Confederates were five miles away and the distance growing. Heavy rains, felled trees and broken bridges further impeded the progress. By nightfall, the advance unit was within reach of the rebels but a broken bridge near Castor River detained them until morning. Companies G and H repaired the bridge, skirmishing at the same time with sharpshooters on the opposite bank.
Three miles from Bloomfield the Confederate pickets were driven in by the advance guard of Companies G and H, and near Crooked Creek, a sharp skirmish ensued. In the morning the attack was renewed. The Confederates had retreated destroying the bridge and obstructing the creek and leaving a rear guard of sharpshooters to dispute passage. Companies I and M were detailed to clear the creek. The bridge was soon repaired and the troops entered Bloomfield without opposition.
After a few hours of rest, the regiment went on, marched all night, stopped two hours at St. Luke, and then on again. Twice during the day was the rear of the rebels overtaken, engaged, and repulsed. At "Four Mile" both parties seemed determined to make the most of their last opportunity. A fierce battle ensued, the rebels fled, and the Federals still pursued. At St. Francis River, a brisk duel of artillery took place until Marmaduke and his forces crossed the river and were under the protection of Chalk Bluff.
The Union loss during this series of battles was estimated at not more than twenty-five killed and one hundred wounded. [William Fenton of Company H was killed.] The Confederate loss could not have been less than 1,500.
In summary, the regiment joined in the movement of Rosecran's army from Murfreesboro to Chattanooga. Marching toward Murfreesboro to unite with the main army, they shared an engagement with the Confederates near Middleton, and as they came out of it, General R.B. Mitchell, their division commander, said, "The First Wisconsin is by a long odds the best regiment in the division at skirmishing." They took part in the five mile charge and battle near Shelbyville in which the Confederates lost severely and their generals, Wheeler and Martin, escaped only by plunging into the water to cross the river. They accompanied Thomas' corps in the march across the mountains and over the Tennessee River. They ascended Racoon Mountain at an angle of fifty degrees. They took part in the battle of Chickamunga.
On 01 October 1863, with three days rations, they started on a scouting expedition under General McCook to save a supply train in the Sequatchie Valley. Soon after they came upon the Confederates under Wheeler whom they drove and fought and drove and fought and drove again. The Confederates loss was thirty-seven killed and wounded, and forty-two made prisoner. Among the latter were two captains, a lieutenant, and two majors of Wheeler's staff. The Federal's loss was four wounded , one prisoner, and three missing. The pursuit was continued over the Cumberland mountains to Murfreesboro and then south to Shelbyville, Uniontown, and Rogersville. The Federal garrison at McMinnville was captured by the Confederates but before crossing to the south side of the Tennessee River, they were overtaken and defeated with a loss of two hundred and fifty killed and wounded.
On 20 November 1863 the regiment moved by way of Muefreesboro towards East Tennessee, crossed the mountains and the river on 16 December then encamped near Knoxville. From there they went too Strawberry Plains where they forded the Holston River and soon engaged in heavy and successful skirmishing with the Confederates. Proceeding towards Dandridge, they came upon a battle and took part sweeping the rebels from the field, Colonel La Grange heading the brigade in a charge with glittering front, without firing a single carbine.
[In Mossy Creek, Tennessee in late December 1863, Company H lost Jasper Talbert and Company L lost Haton Crook. Christ Rassmessmer of Company D was wounded and died later on 03 January 1864.]
On 24 January 1864 they moved to Dandridge and on 17 January were suddenly attacked by a portion of Longstreet's forces issuing from the woods. They dismounted, rushed into the timber and cleared it of the foe. But Confederate reserves stood upon a hill beyond, who in overwhelming numbers bore down upon them and pressed them back. The Fourth Indiana came up and the Confederates were forced to take again the brow of the hill. Mounted Confederates charged the Indiana who gave way which in turn caused a general retreat, better put, an unorganized retreat. The regiment clearing the valley and up the hill found their horses to be missing. As soon as darkness made it safe to leave, the First Wisconsin moved quietly to the rear and answered to the roll-call. As the night deepened, many returned, some as stragglers from the fight, some as escaped prisoners until the final loss to the regiment was recorded as thirty-two men killed, wounded, and missing. [Among them was Be Brail of Company L who was killed and Captain Wallace W. La Grange of Company D and Ashur Morgan of Company E who died later of their wounds.] Having as far as possible brought in and cared for their disabled comrades, they started about midnight with the division for Knoxville.
This was the severest engagement in which the First Wisconsin had then participated and the first time they had been compelled to flee before the Confederates.
[On 03 March 1864 in Murphy, North Carolina, Albert Henman and George Potter of Company L were killed.]
At Cleveland on 12 March 1864, the regiment were joined by four hundred recruits from Wisconsin under Lieutenant Colonel Torrey, who assumed command. Colonel La Grange was leading the brigade.
[In Cleveland, Tennessee on 13 April 1864 William Slater and Jared Stevens both of Company L were wounded and later died.]
On 03 May 1864 they advanced to join in Sherman's Atlanta campaign. [On this day, Samuel Greenwood of Company H and Andrew Keller of Company E were killed.] On 09 May they went to Varenell's Station to attack a Confederate force located three miles away. After the battle had continued some time with varying fortune, our troops fighting now on foot and then on horseback, Colonel La Grange ordered a charge, leading it in person. A terrible volley was poured out from concealed earthworks and checked the advance. A regiment of Texas Rangers charged upon the flanks of the retreating column and captured every straggler in an instant. It was here that Colonel La Grange was taken prisoner and also Captain G.O. Clinton and four of his company. Though the engagement continued but two hours, the Union loss was severe: one hundred and thirty-six killed, wounded and prisoners from a brigade of nine hundred; forty-eight from the First Wisconsin alone. They had encountered the whole of Wheeler's cavalry, supported by a division of infantry.
[On 09 May 1864 near Poplar Springs, Georgia Ichabod Howland of Company C, Joseph Gesser of Company G and George Weaver of Company L were killed.]
The First Wisconsin Cavalry were present in line of Battle while Federal forces moved upon Tunnel Hill, Buzzard Roost, and Rocky Face Ridge, and once, on 11 May 1864, the Confederates made a dash at them, and were immediately repulsed. They were also in the skirmish which opened the battle at Resaca.
The First Wisconsin were connected with Mc Cook's division of cavalry. On 07 May 1864, General Thomas moved from Ringgold toward Tunnell Hill, which place was carried by Palmer's corps after a short skirmish. On 08 May 1864, Howard carried a ridge near Buzzard Roost, but found it too narrow for operations to carry the pass near it. On the same day McPherson passed through Snake Creek Gap; on 19 May Hooker followed him, and on the 11 May nearly all the remainder of the army. The objective of this movement was to flank Johnson out of Dalton, rather than meet him in battle at that strongly fortified place. Johnson soon saw that if he remained at Dalton his communication would be cut off, and he therefore left his cherished position on 12 May and retreated on a short line to Resaca, which was eighteen miles further towards Atlanta, on the Western and Atlantic Railroad.
On the morning of 14 May 1864, the Federals pressed upon the Confederates in their Resaca entrenchments. At ten o'clock Palmer undertook to force the Confederates from an elevated position in front. Running into difficulty, it became necessary to retreat, which they made, suffering a loss of 1,000 men. About the same time, a portion of Howard's and Schofield's troops took an important position of the rebels on their outer line. At three o'clock in the afternoon Johnson made an attack, with the view of turning the Federal left flank. Stanley's men were driven back, but Hooker came to the rescue in time to drive the rebels back into the works.
Meanwhile McPherson carried a hill at the Confederates's left, from which cannon could pour an enfilading fire upon Confederate lines, and command the railroad and trestle bridges. On 15 May 1864, Sherman took measures to capture two hills, commanding each other at the Confederate right. During the night on 15 May, the Confederates quietly evacuated Resaca and retreated toward Kingston, thirty-two miles further south.
The cavalry division under Stoneman and McCook pursued the Confederates in their retreat from Resaca and the whole army quickly followed, crossing the Oostanaula River. At Adairsville, thirteen miles below Resaca, Newton's division , of the fourth corps, had a skirmish with the rebels, and found them in larger force at Kingston on 18 May 1864. At Cassville, five miles from Kingston, the rebels had fortifications; but Sherman flanking process induced Johnson to evacuate on the night of 19 May, crossing the Etowah River, and retreated again towards Atlanta. On the same day General J.C. Johnson, of Palmer's corps, occupied Rome, fifteen miles west of Kingston, and captured forts, heavy guns, stores of supplies, mills, and foundries.
Sherman moved towards Dallas located forty miles below Kingston. The roads were rough and marching was slow. Johnson took a shorter route and with the larger part of his army reached Dallas first.
[William Gerets of Company G was killed on 23 July 1864 in Old Church, Georgia.]
On 25 May 1864 the Federals were engaged in forming their line. From that time until 04 June, when the Confederates evacuated, heavy skirmishes and battles occurred daily along the line, and the firing was nearly incessant, and at times terrific.
On 28 May 1864, the Federals having thrown up defenses four miles from Dallas, they were attacked by the Confederates in force, at General McPhrtson's right. Three times the Confederates attacked and three times they were repulsed. The Confederates retreated leaving 2,000 wounded and killed. This was the principal battle of Dallas occurring on 30 May 1864.
The First Wisconsin Cavalry participated in the advance upon Dallas. On 23 May 1864, their division marched in a southerly direction, fording the river Etowah after a skirmish with the rebels upon its banks. In the middle of the afternoon encountering a Confederate force strongly entrenched on a spur of the Alatoona Hills. To develop their numbers and position, a detachment of the Fourth Indiana Cavalry was sent forward as dismounted skirmishers, followed closely by the First Wisconsin Cavalry in line of battle. Passing over the open field and through a narrow belt of timber, from which the Confederates were soon driven, they had reached the entrenchments when the Confederate batteries opened fire, but dong no harm. Late in the afternoon a charge was made by the Confederates driving back the skirmishers and capturing Company L.
On 26 May 1864, a detachment of the First Wisconsin Cavalry under Captain Comstock was sent to take and hold a small village called Burnt Hickory three miles nearer Dallas. The taking was accomplished without loss, except to the Confederates who had one killed and twenty men taken prisoner. The position was held against the attack of a body of Confederate cavalry until 3 o'clock when the division came up. A scout was then sent farther and reported a considerable Confederate force, both infantry and cavalry and just beyond it a large supply train passing rapidly to the south. To capture or destroy the train, the Second Indiana Cavalry was sent forward as skirmishers supported by one battalion of the First Wisconsin Cavalry, the brigade battery, and the Eighteenth Indiana also accompanying. An attach ensued although the objective was not met. The first Wisconsin Cavalry lost one killed and six wounded. The impact to other Federal forces was not identified. The Confederates lost some 30 killed among them the colonel of the Fourth Georgia, forth-four prisoners, plus a number wounded. Lieutenant Colonel Stewart of the Second Indiana Cavalry, commanding the brigade was taken prisoner and Captain Harnden commanding the First Wisconsin Cavalry battalion was severely wounded.
On 04 June 1864, a detachment of the First Wisconsin Cavalry occupied Ackworth having previously defeated a body of Confederates who held the place. On 06 June with the brigade, they participated in a sharp skirmish and occupied Big Shanty. From there on 09 June they marched on a reconnaissance to the front. On 14 June they were camped in an orchard near Ackworth which they left on 16 June joining with the right wing of thr army in its attack upon Lost Mountain. From this point the Confederates retreated, and on 17 June, the Second Brigade pursuing on the south side of the mountain until ordered to the rear for the protection of communications at Ackworth. They returned on 20 June to a position south of Lost Mountain.
On 01 July 1864 the division was ordered to reconnoiter south of Powder Springs. At the Sweetwater two Confederate brigades were encountered, who retreated and were followed some six miles by Stoneman's cavalry. The first division went into camp at Howell's Ferry on the creek.
The First Wisconsin Cavalry served as read guard to the union forces as they clustered around Atlanta having frequent and successful engagements with the rebels. On 27 July 1864 they left their camp at Mason's Church, crossed the Chattahooche River, and constituted a part of McCook's force on his raid south of Atlanta. At Rivertown, McCook, with the main column, passed on to Palmetto. Major Phine with the First Wisconsin was ordered to take the road up the river to Campbelltown, fight their way through by Fairburn and join the command at Fayetteville. The route being several miles nearer the main army of the Confederates and masking the movement of the main column.
Proceeding on the Fairburn Road, at first with but little resistance, the Confederate skirmishers gradually increased until as the force advanced, falling back on their reserves forming in line of battle. It was at this point that Major Paine charged at the head of three companies with such impetuosity as to break through the rebel lines and crush the Confederate's reserve column in wild confusion. While fighting hand to hand, he was shot through the breast and fell giving his last word of command, "forward."
But willing as the troops would have been to obey, it was impossible. The full force of the Confederates, hitherto shut out by the thick chaparral lining the road was now more apparent and from the behind their breast-works such a continued volley was poured in as to sweep down the front ranks and throw all into confusion. The troops retreated to the cover of the thicket.
[In addition to Major Pane, the regiment lost Ellers Brown and John Parsons of Company C.]
Supposing McCooks whole force was engaged, the Confederates contended themselves with continuous firing through the thicket. Here the regiment remained for half and hour then discovering the Confederate's attempt to reach their rear, the regiment fell back and crossed the river. No pursuit was attempted. Deeming it unsafe to join the main column, already six hours in advance, Captain Smith sent forward couriers to report the regiment and proceeded with the pontoon train to Marietta. The Confederate force encountered was afterward found to be Armstrong's cavalry some 2,000 strong. The loss to the regiment was Major Paine and a private killed; Lieutenant Warren wounded and captured; and ten men missing.
The main expedition, with the second brigade under Lieutenant Colonel Torrey of the First Wisconsin as advanced guard, penetrated to Lovejoy's Station on the Macon Railway and destroyed railroad communications and a large amount of Confederate property, besides securing hundreds of prisoners. They were at last interrupted in their work, surrounded, overpowered and compelled to retreat. The prisoners were abandoned and the column, cutting its way to the Chattahoochee River, escaped.
From Marietta the regiment moved ten miles south-west from where they were stationed covering the return stragglers from General McCook's forces doing so until 07 August when they marched to the railroad across the Chattahoochee River. On 10 August 1864 the regiment was put in motion towards Cartersville, on the Etowah, there to rest and remount as fast as possible. They had less than two hundred mounted men, as many more dismounted but otherwise unfit for duty, making only half of the eight hundred that marched out of Cleveland , Tennessee at the opening of the campaign. The greater part of the latter were distributed in hospitals from the Chattahoochee to Madison, Wisconsin.
[The regiment lost Martin Fridersdorf of Company L who was killed in Puiaski, Tennessee on 27 September 1864.]
Hood's plan of campaign to the north having been developed, they left Cantersville, Georgia on 17 October 1864 and reached Louisville on 08 November where they remounted. Under Major Harnden they moved on 04 December for Nashville. At Hopkinsville they shared in a successful engagement with 2,000 Confederate troops under Lyon. Had La Grange been in command of the division instead of McCook, the pursuit would have been so rapid and wise that the rebels would probably been captured. La Grange with a few pushed on and saved Elizabethtown from pillage and fire.
They reached Nashville on 05 January 1865 having marched six hundred and sixty miles since leaving Louisville a month before. Be easy marches they proceeded to Waterloo, Alabama. On 22 March 1865 they moved with General Jameson's large cavalry expedition which soon captured six Southern cities. One portion moved on Tuscaloosa and the other on Selma at that time the principal manufacturing towns of the Confederacy. Here they destroyed a considerable amount of property.
Before reaching Selma, a severed engagement was had with Forrest at Plantersville, and one battalion of the First Wisconsin under Major Shipman put to flight a force at Centerville and captured fifteen prisoners. [In this engagement, the regiment lost Denning Thomas of Company E.]
Having occupied Montgomery, Alabama Colonel La Grange had command of the second brigade which moved toward West Point. Near that place the Confederates were drawn into a strong fort which, situated on the summit of a hill, overlooked the town. While the Fourth Indiana Cavalry attacked the town, The First Wisconsin, Second Indiana and Seventh Kentucky, having dismounted, advanced upon the fort. The battery and sharp shooters swept the summit of the fort until storming columns crossed the surrounding ditch. Lieutenant Colonel Harnden, commanding the First, and one hundred of his men were the first to pass the ditch where they lay upon the embankments some twenty minutes waiting for others to cross. While waiting they fired at the rebel heads that appeared above the works. When all were ready, they charged the parapet where a desperate hand to hand fight ensued until the Confederate commander, General Tyler was killed and his men then surrendered. Among the loss was Lieutenant Sheldon E. Vosburg, [Godfrey Geurges, Washington Dolph, and Valentine Brandt of Company A, George Condeman and William Carson of Company E and Edgar Wyman of Company H.] Lieutenant Colonel Harnden was wounded in the thigh. The fort was blown up and immense quantity of property were destroyed in the town.
[The Battle of West Point was fought on April 16, 1865 in West Point, Georgia. This battle was fought at Fort Tyler seven days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, making it one of the last battles of the Civil War east of the Mississippi and Fort Tyler the last Confederate fort captured by the Union.]
He next advance was to Macon learning of Lee's surrender along the way.
[Edwin Taylor died crossing the Tennessee River near Chickasaw, Alabama on 05 May 1865.]
On 06 May 1865 Lieutenant Harnden was ordered by General Croxton to proceed in search of Jefferson Davis. He left in the evening with one hundred fifty-two men in his command They marched all day in hot weather and over very dusty roads advancing fifty-five miles to Dublin. Lieutenant Clinton took a side road sixteen miles and rejoined the main unit at eleven at night. They passed many mounted and armed Confederates returning home from Johnston's surrender. When questioned, knowing or not, they would give no information on Davis's party.
At midnight a Negro came to Colonel Harnden and gave him a rational account of Davis and his wife and train. They had passed through the town, Davis going through the outskirts and rejoined the train afterwards. Lieutenant Lane with forty-five men was left at Dublin to watch the vicinity. Harnden moved at early dawn the next morning with his remaining one hundred and six men advancing forty-five miles in the rain partly through swamps. Before light on 09 May 1865, Harnden resumed the march and at Abbeville fell in with Colonel Pritchard of the Fourth Michigan Cavalry. Colonel Pritchard said he was also in search of Davis but had been ordered to camp there and guard the ferry and patrol the river. He further said he had heard nothing of Davis on his way until informed by Colonel Harnden. Colonel Harnden declined Colonel Pritchards offer of additional men and went forward. At nine clock in the even, being satisfied that they were near the Davis party, and afraid of giving him an opportunity to escape in the darkness, Harnden halted until three the next morning. Moving forward then, the advanced guard of the detachment, under Sergeant Hussey, before light, they came upon armed men who ordered them to halt. Supposing them to be Confederate pickets, they retreated and were fired upon. Harnden advanced with a larger force and more firing on both sides followed. Sergeant Howel captured a prisoner from whom it was learned that their foe were Michigan troops who had just arrived and surrounded the train. Three of the Wisconsin had been wounded and two of the Michigan killed and one officer wounded.
Pritchard acknowledged to Harnden that after Harnden left their meeting, he selected some of his best mounted men, took another way, and had just arrived.
[There is much contention regarding the action of Colonel Pritchard regarding the capture of Jefferson Davis. Prichard's memoirs from documents and notes were published in 1964 by John A. Fox. It deals 5 percent on the incident and 95% on Pritchard and hearsay surrounding him. Harnden also published his memories regarding the incident http://ehistory.osu.edu/uscw/library/books/jeffdavis/index.cfm and http://www.suvcw-wi.org/camps/c2_se_2002.pdf. It details 80 percent facts, 19 percent hearsay and 1 percent on Harnden. One needs to read both accounts before they make up their mind as to what happened in the early morning hours of 09 May 1865 and on the day that preceded it.]
The First Wisconsin Cavalry Regiment left Macon, Georgia on 24 May 1865 reaching Nashville, Tennessee 14 June 1865.
[James Coadington of Company E was lost on 25 May 1865 and Louis Mathwig of Company I on 08 June 1865.]
On 19 July 1865, the regiment was mustered out and soon after was paid and disbanded.
The muster out roster was the following:
The following was obtained from the Web site of the Wisconsin Historical Society's