Primary Source Material
on the Soldiers and the Battles
Home The Armies The Soldiers The Battles Civilians Articles
If this website has been useful to you, please consider making a Donation.

Your support will help keep this website free for everyone, and will allow us to do more research. Thank you for your support!

2nd Massachusetts Cavalry
in the Civil War

Regimental History
Second Cavalry. — Cols., Charles Russell Lowell, Caspar Crowinshield ; Lieut.-Cols., Henry S. Russell, Caspar Crowinshield, William H. Forbes, William H. Rumery; Majs., Caspar Crowninshield, DeWitt C. Thompson, William H. Forbes, George Blagden, Archibald McKendry, William M. Rumery, William C. Manning, John T. Richards, Henry E. Alvord. This regiment was organized during the winter of 1862-63, and was mustered into service at varying dates from Dec, 1862, to May, 1863. Co. A, the first organized, was raised in California by Capt. J. Sewell Read and was mustered in at San Francisco, Dec. 10. It reached Boston on Jan. 3, and was applied on the quota of that city. Four more companies were mustered in at Readville during January and February and the five companies, under the command of Maj. Crowninshield, left the state on Feb. 12, and went into camp at Gloucester Point, opposite Yorktown, Va. Of the remaining seven companies, three more were recruited at Camp Meigs, Readville, during March and April. A battalion of four companies was furnished by California, being raised by Maj. Thompson, and reached the general rendezvous at Readville, April 16. The last of the regiment left for Washington on May 11, moved to Poolesville, Md., on June 23 and went into camp. The total number on the regimental rolls was 91 officers, and 2,000 enlisted men. It lost during service by accident or disease, 2 officers, 69 enlisted men; killed and died of wounds, 8 officers and 66 enlisted men; died as prisoners, 66 — total 211. Pending the formation of the remaining companies, the detachment at Gloucester Point saw considerable active service. Previous to the middle of May, portions of the command were engaged in several raids and reconnoissances and on the 15th, three companies reported to Gen. Gordon at West Point, remaining under his command until June 1. The five companies shared in a rapid raid on the 19th, started on the 24th on an expedition which took them to within 13 miles of Richmond, and in which a large number of prisoners, including Gen. W. H. F. Lee, and a large amount of supplies and stores were captured. After sharing in another raid of a similar nature during the first week in July, with the forces under Gen. Dix, the command finally returned to the old camp at Gloucester Point. On Aug. 6, this detachment joined the main body at Centerville, Va., and the 2nd was united with the 13th and 16th N. Y. cavalry to form a brigade under the command of Col. Lowell. On Sept. 15, the 3d battalion was detached under command of Maj. Thompson, and moved to Muddy brook, Md., where it remained until the following spring. During this time, the 2nd was kept busy guarding the Federal supply trains from the sudden attacks of the daring troopers of Mosby, the severest encounter taking place at Coyle tavern, where the regiment lost several in killed, wounded and prisoners. It then moved to Vienna, Va., and remained there during the succeeding autumn and winter. On Feb. 22, 1864, a scouting party of 125, under Capt. Read, was surprised at Dranesville and lost 10 killed, 7 wounded, and 57 prisoners, Capt. Read being among the slain. On July 6, it suffered another disaster at Mt. Zion Church, near Aldie, when a detachment of 100, under Maj. Forbes, was attacked by Mosby's forces and badly routed, 8 being killed, 9 wounded and 38 captured. Capt. Stone was mortally wounded, and Maj. Forbes was among the prisoners. The Confederate Gen. Early was engaged at this time in his famous raid which threatened Washington and the 2nd was called to the defense of the capital. It was almost constantly in action during August as part of the 3d brigade, 1st cavalry division, and on Sept. 9 was transferred to the reserve brigade of the 1st division, largely composed of regulars, the brigade being commanded by Col. Lowell. It was in numerous skirmishes prior to the battle of Winchester, Va., and was heavily engaged in this action, after which it moved then to the Luray valley, where it captured a battleflag and some prisoners. On Sept. 28 it was again heavily engaged at Waynesboro and in the action near Round Top mountain, Oct. 8, and the following day near Woodstock it performed brilliantly. It won high commendation for its part in the battle of Cedar creek, but met with a sad loss in the fatal wounding of Col. Lowell, who had just been commissioned a brigadier-general. Lieut.-Col. Crowninshield then assumed the command of the brigade, which followed in pursuit of the enemy as far as Mount Jackson. It was engaged in guard and scouting duty, until the close of the year, when it went into winter quarters at Winchester, Va., with 15 officers and about 500 men present for duty. Of the others 200 were in Southern prisons; 200 absent, wounded or sick; and more than 100 absent on detached service. On Jan. 20, 1865, 175 recruits were added to the regiment, and on Feb. 27, it left camp with the rest of the cavalry, under the personal lead of Gen. Sheridan, to join the Army of the Potomac before Petersburg. This move occupied 20 days and was full of exciting incidents for the 2nd. Following the evacuation of Richmond, it moved in pursuit of the enemy until the surrender at Appomattox, then returned to Petersburg and encamped there until April 24, when it started on a movement against Gen. Johnston's army in North Carolina. News of Johnston's surrender was soon received and the regiment moved toward Washington, where, after taking part in the grand review in May, it went into camp in Fairfax county, Va., until July 20, 1865, when it was mustered out at Fairfax Court House. Two days later it left for home, and the men were finally paid and discharged at Readville on Aug. 3, after a period of 30 months spent in the most active and arduous service.

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

Whats New
About Us


Copyright 2010 by
A Division of