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1st Massachusetts Cavalry
in the Civil War

Regimental History
First Cavalry. — Cols., Robert Williams, Horace B. Sargent, Samuel E. Chamberlain; Lieut.-Cols., Horace B. Sargent, Greely S. Curtis, Samuel E. Chamberlain, Lucius M. Sargent, Jr., John Tewksbury; Majs., William F. White, John H. Edson, Greely S. Curtis, Henry Lee Higginson, Atherton H. Stevens, Jr., Samuel E. Chamberlain, Lucius M. Sargent, Jr., T. Lawrence Motley, Benjamin W. Crowninshield, John Tewksbury, Charles G. Davis, Edward A. Flint, Amos L. Hopkins, George H. Teague. This regiment was largely composed of volunteers from existing militia organizations and embraced men from the Boston Lancers, Waltham Dragoons, North Bridgewater Dragoons, and Springfield Horseguards. It was rendezvoused at Camp Brigham, Readville, where the men began to arrive early in Sept., 1861. By Nov. 1 its ranks were filled, and it was mustered into service for three years. Col. Williams was a regular army officer and was recommended to the governor by Gen. Winfield Scott. The 1st battalion, composed of Cos. A. B, C and D, under Maj. Greely S. Curtis, left the state for Annapolis, Md., on Dec. 25. The 2nd and 3d battalions left on Dec. 26 and 28, proceeding to Hilton Head, N. C, after a halt of 10 days en route in New York. They were joined here in Feb., 1862, by the 1st battalion. The first active service of the regiment was on the Charleston expedition in May. On Aug. 19 the 1st and 2nd battalions joined the Army of the Potomac in Virginia, the 3d being left behind and never rejoined the regiment. Under command of Maj. Stevens it was engaged for several months in the performance of picket and patrol duty at Beaufort and Hilton Head, a detachment sharing in the reconnaissance to Pocotaligo Oct. 22, 1862. During the siege of Fort Sumter in April, 1863, part of the battalion was on duty on Folly and Morris islands. On Aug. 4, 1863, it was permanently detached from the regiment and was called the independent battalion, Mass. cavalry, under which name it engaged in the expedition to St. John's river, Fla. It continued to serve as an independent battalion until Feb. 12, 1864, when it became the 1st battalion, 4th Mass. cavalry, and its subsequent history will be given with that regiment. The 1st and 2nd battalions, with the Army of the Potomac, took part in the marches and skirmishes which preceded the battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg, but was not actively engaged in either battle. Meanwhile, Col. Williams had returned to service in the regular army, and 238 recruits had been received from Massachusetts. After the battle of Fredericksburg, it went into winter quarters on Potomac creek. It shared in the action at Kelly's ford in March, 1863, and was attached to the cavalry under Gen. Stoneman during the Chancellorsville campaign. It was engaged at Rapidan Station, and Warrenton road, and Brandy Station, and served as rear-guard at the opening of the Gettysburg campaign. It was heavily engaged at Aldie Court House, losing 24 killed, 41 wounded and 89 missing, accompanied the 6th corps on its march to Gettysburg, and after the battle returned to Westminster with a body of Confederate prisoners. During the remainder of the year it was almost incessantly on the move, scouting, skirmishing, and engaging in the exacting and arduous duties demanded of this arm of the service. In September it met with some loss at Rapidan Station, where it was exposed to a severe artillery fire, and as a part of Gregg's division, it was active in the Mine Run campaign, engaging the enemy's cavalry at New Hope Church and at Parker's store. It covered the withdrawal of the infantry on the abandonment of this campaign and was on outpost duty at Warrenton until April 21, 1864. In March, 1864, a new battalion of four companies joined the regiment to take the place of the 3d battalion, which had been detached. The regiment was once more active throughout the trying campaign of 1864 as part of the cavalry corps under Gen. Sheridan, being attached to the 1st brigade, 2nd division. A list of its engagements during the year includes : Todd's tavern, Ashland, Salem Church, Trevilian Station, St. Mary's Church, New Market, Lee's mills, Malvern hill, Deep Bottom, Reams' station, Jerusalem road, Vaughan road, and Bellefield Station. The term of enlistment of the original members expired in Sept., 1864, and on Oct. 25, all who had not reenlisted left for home to be mustered out. The veterans and recruits, including the new battalion, were reorganized and continued to serve with its old brigade and division. It spent the winter of 1864-65 in winter quarters at Westbrook house, being detached March 17, 1865, for provost duty at City Point. On May 27, it reported for escort duty to Gen. Davies in command of the cavalry corps in the defenses of Washington, where it remained until mustered out on June 26, 1865. It reached Readville June 29, where the men were finally paid and discharged on July 24. The total enrolment of the regiment was 107 officers and 2,132 enlisted men. Its losses during service were 7 officers and 92 enlisted men, killed or died of wounds; 2 missing; 88 died by accident or disease; 57 died as prisoners.

Regimental history taken from "The Union Army" by Federal Publishing Company, 1908 - Volume 1

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