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4th Michigan Cavalry
in the American Civil War

Regimental History
Fourth Michigan Cavalry. Col., Robert H. G. Minty; Lieut.-Cols., Josiah B. Parke, Benjamin D. Pritchard; Majs., Josiah B. Parke, William H. Dickinson, Horace Gray, Frank W. Mix, Horace D. Grant, Richard B. Robbins, Lansingh B. Eldridge, Robert Burns. This regiment was organized at Detroit and was mustered in Aug. 29, 1862. It left the state Sept. 26 for Louisville, thence to Tennessee, and was engaged at Stanford, Gallatin, Lebanon, Rural hill, Baird's mill, Hollow Tree gap, Wilson's creek road, Franklin, Laurel hill, Wilson's creek, La Vergne, Jefferson pike bridge, Nashville pike, Dec. 30, and Stone's river before the close of the year. On Dec. 15 Capt. Abeel and a detail of 40 men were captured while under a flag of truce. One battalion under Capt. Mix drove a regiment from a bridge at Jefferson pike and held it against a brigade. The regiment was in successful charges at Stone's river against superior forces. In Jan. and Feb., 1863, it fought at La Vergne, Manchester pike, Harpeth river, Cumberland shoals, Bradyville, Woodbury, Rover, Charlotte and Auburn, and at Liberty drove Morgan's cavalry for 6 miles. Corporal Ketchum of Co. A and 4 men, with their revolving rifles, drove back a detachment of 41 Confederate cavalry with a loss of 6 killed and several wounded after the lieutenant in command had given an order to retreat. Lieut. Rexford and 40 men while on picket in front of Murfreesboro were forced to fall back by an attack made by Bushrod Johnson's brigade of mounted infantry, but made a saber charge and drove the enemy for 5 miles in great confusion. The regiment was next engaged at Unionville, Thompson's station, Rutherford creek, Duck river, Prosperity Church, Liberty, Snow Hill, McMinnville, Statesville, Alexandria, Wartrace and Middletown. At the latter place it charged and drove the enemy, capturing and destroying a large quantity of ordnance stores and camp equipage, and the standard of the 1st Ala. cavalry. At Shelbyville it assisted in a charge when 599 prisoners and 3 pieces of artillery were taken, and the enemy was driven out in confusion, the Union forces being 1,500 and the enemy's over 4,000. A large body was driven into the river, from which over 200 bodies were taken. Through the summer of 1863 the regiment was engaged at Hickory creek, Tullahoma, Rock island, Sparta, Sperry's mill, Smith's cross-roads, Reed's bridge, the battle of Chickamauga, Rossville and Cotton Port. At Chickamauga its brigade, with less than 1,000 men in line, fought 7,000 from 7 o'clock in the morning until 5 o'clock in the evening, falling back in order for 5 miles. Lieut. Simpson and one squadron, cut off at the river, fought off overwhelming numbers and swam the river, with every man safe. The regiment was in action at Smith's cross-roads, Hill creek and McMinnville in October, and was in camp at Maysville from the latter part of October until Nov. 17. It fought at Chattanooga and at Missionary ridge and Cleveland captured 90 wagons, 260 prisoners, 480 mules and 275 hogs. It burned the railroad bridge at the Etowah river and the depot, iron works and rolling mill at Cleveland. From Jan. to March, 1864 it took part in the operations about Tunnel Hill and on the Dalton road, and remained in camp at the Etowah until March 29, when it was ordered to Nashville and attached to the 2nd cavalry division. In May it defeated a brigade at Farmer's bridge, fought at Arundel creek, and was surrounded at Kingston, but cut its way out. On the Atlanta campaign it fought at Dallas, Villa Rica, Lost mountain, Big Shanty, McAfee's cross-roads, Noonday creek and Kennesaw mountain. At Latimar's mill on Noonday creek a force less than 1,000 received the attack of 4,500 of Wheeler's cavalry and fell back, but being reinforced by three regiments the enemy was in turn repulsed. The 4th Mich. repulsed three charges by two regiments and gained new laurels. It was engaged at Roswell, Lebanon mills, Stone mountain, Covington, Flat Rock, in siege of Atlanta, Fair Oaks, Jonesboro, Lovejoy's Station and McDonough. At Jonesboro the entire division was surrounded and Minty's brigade, to which the 4th was attached, made one of the greatest charges of the war, broke the enclosing lines in superb manner, thus opening a way for Kilpatrick's forces to break from the cordon, and captured 3 stands of colors. After the fall of Atlanta the regiment was engaged at Roswell, Sweetwater, Nose's creek, Lost mountain, New Hope Church, Stilesboro, Rome and Blue Pond. On one of these occasions a detail of 50 men, guarding a forage train, twice repulsed four times their number. At another time, a detail of 23 under Corp. Bickford defended a blockhouse against 8,000 of Wheeler's cavalry with 3 pieces of artillery, compelling the artillery to change position seven times, and finally forcing the enemy to leave. In the latter part of October the regiment was ordered to Nashville, thence to Louisville, where it was newly mounted and equipped. It marched to Gravelly springs, arriving Jan. 25, 1865, and remained there until early March. Moving south from Eastport, it became engaged at Selma, Ala., where it joined in the assault and captured the works under terrific fire, Col. Minty being the first to enter alive. The result of this daring affair was the capture of a strongly fortified city, nearly 100 pieces of artillery, 2,700 prisoners and a large amount of ammunition and stores. At Double bridges, one battalion of the 4th made a saber charge, capturing every man of the Confederate detachment which had been left to destroy the bridges. At Macon, where the enemy surrendered 350 commissioned officers, 1,995 men, 60 pieces of artillery, a number of arsenals, foundries and machine shops, those making the assault were only 700 in number. On May 7, Lieut. -Col. Pritchard was ordered to proceed with the regiment and picket the Ocmulgee river for the purpose of preventing the escape of Jefferson Davis, who was supposed to be in that section. With 135 picked men he proceeded to Irwinsville, reaching there about 3 a. m. on the 10th almost simultaneously with another party under Lieut. -Col. Harnden of the 1st Wis. cavalry and the two exchanged shots in the darkness, each thinking the other party to be some of the enemy. During the encounter some of Pritchard's men surrounded the enemy's camp and captured Mr. and Mrs. Davis and four children; John H. Reagan, the Confederate postmaster-general ; Cols. Johnson and Lubbock, his aides-de-camp; Burton N. Harrison, his private secretary; Maj. Maurand, Capt. Moody and Lieut. Hathaway; Jeff D. Howell, a midshipman in the Confederate navy; 13 private soldiers; Miss Maggie Howell (sister of Mrs. Davis), two waiting maids and several servants. The party proceeded to Macon, from which point Pritchard with escort and train guard, conveyed his prisoners to Fortress Monroe. On the 21st the regiment was ordered to Nashville and was mustered out July 1, 1865. Its original strength was 1,233; gain, 984; total, 2,217. Loss by death, 375.

Regimental history taken from "The Union Army" by Federal Publishing Company, 1908 - Volume 3

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