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5th Massachusetts Cavalry
in the Civil War

Regimental History
Fifth Cavalry. — Cols., Henry S. Russell, Charles F. Adams, Samuel E. Chamberlain; Lieut.-Cols., Charles F. Adams, Horace N. Weld; Majs., Horace N. Weld, Zabdiel B. Adams, Henry F. Bowditch, Albert R. Howe, Charles C. Parsons, Cyrus C. Emery. This was the only regiment of colored cavalry organized in Massachusetts. It was recruited during the autumn and winter of 1863-64, and was mustered into the U. S. service by companies at dates ranging from Jan. to May, 1864. The total enrolment of the regiment was 61 officers and 1,325 men. Its losses during service were 5 killed, 121 died by accident or disease, and 2 died as prisoners. The 1st battalion, comprising Cos. A, B, C and D, having been mustered in Jan., 1864, left the state for Washington on May 5, under command of Maj. Horace N. Weld, and on the 13th, serving as infantry, reported at Camp Casey, where a provisional brigade of colored troops was being formed for purposes of instruction and discipline. The 2nd battalion, comprising Cos. E, F, G and H, was mustered during February and March, and under Maj. Z. B. Adams left for Washington May 6. The 3d battalion, composed of Cos. I, K, L and M, left the state May 8, under command of Maj. Bowditch, and all three were united at Camp Casey by the middle of May. The regiment was immediately ordered to report to Gen. Butler at Fortress Monroe, where it was equipped as infantry and was assigned to the 3d division, 18th corps at West Point, Va., on the 16th. Here several weeks were spent in drill, guard and picket duty, with occasional expeditions, and the regiment took part in its first serious engagement at Baylor's farm on the Petersburg road, June 15, meeting with a loss of 3 killed and 19 wounded. Among the wounded were Col. Russell and Maj. Adams, and Maj. Bowditch now assumed command of the regiment. It served before Petersburg as part of Wild's brigade, Hinks' division, 18th corps, until June 29, when it was assigned to the 10th corps and served at Point Lookout, Md., as garrison for a camp of Confederate prisoners. It remained on this station until the opening of the final campaign in Feb., 1865. Col. Russell resigned on Feb. 14, 1865, and Lieut.-Col. Adams was promoted to the vacancy. The regiment now had a full complement of officers for the first time and took part in the final siege of Petersburg. After the fall of that stronghold it encamped near City Point until June, when it was ordered to Clarksville, Tex., where it remained until it was mustered out, Oct. 31, 1865. Col. Adams, having resigned on Aug. 1, on account of sickness, Lieut.-Col. Chamberlain, late of the 1st Mass. cavalry, was commissioned to fill the vacancy and at once joined his new command. He did much to improve the sanitary condition of the regiment, as the command had suffered severely in health in the South. After its muster out, the regiment returned to Massachusetts, and was finally paid and discharged from the service in the latter part of November.

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

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