Second Kentucky Cavalry

Second Kentucky Cavalry

Contributed by Department of Kentucky, SUVCW, member Tim Downey.

The two most noted points where the first enlistments of Kentucky volunteers were made, were Camp Dick Robinson, and Camp Jo. Holt. The former is mentioned in the account of the 1st. Ky. Cavalry, and other regiments. Camp Jo. Holt is mentioned in the account of the 5th Ky. Infantry. It was established in July, 1861, on the Indiana side of the Ohio river, immediately opposite Louisville. At that time it was thought inconsistent with the neutrality of Kentucky to open a camp of enlistment within the borders of the state, consequently the volunteers from Louisville and vicinity assembled at Camp Jo. Holt. They were at first under the general leadership of Gen. Lovell H. Rousseau, and were in numbers sufficient for the formation of several separate organizations. One of these organizations became the 2d Ky. Cavalry. The officers prominent in the formation of this regiment were Col. Buckner Board, Lieut. Col. Thos. B. Cochran, and Maj. Thos. P. Nicholas. After the war Col. Cochran became the able and well known chancellor of the Louisville Chancery Court. Thos. P. Nicholas was the son of the eminent jurist of Kentucky, Judge S. S. Nicholas. The regiment was mustered into service September l, 1861 at Camp Jo. Holt, and at once took the field, where it remained on constant active duty, always at the front for almost full four years.

One of the captains in the first organization was E. S. Watts, who later became lieutenant-colonel, and commanded the regiment during part of its career. From him the writer has obtained a statement from which the following quotation is made:

On the 17th of September, 1861. Confederate Gen. Buckner had seized the Louisville & Nashville railroad and started for Louisville. At 9 o'clock that evening the "long roll" startled Camp Jo. Holt. The command broke camp and at midnight marched to Jeffersonville; crossed on the ferry to Louisville where, even at that hour a large number of people had assembled on the streets, peering into faces, greeting acquaintances and bidding them good-bye. Taking trains on the Nashville railroad in the gray dawn, the command reached Lebanon Junction in the early forenoon. Leaving the cars, the troops were formed on the right of the bridge just burned, and still smoking. There for the first time they loaded their muskets.

Prompt action in sending Rousseau's command to the front and the celerity with which it was accomplished prevented the march to, and occupation of the city of Louisville by the Confederates. Some weeks were spent at Muldraugh's Hill guarding the trestles south of Colesburg, and in the advance to Elizabethtown, to Camp Nevin and Camp Wood.

In that time the 2d Cavalry with two additional companies, Capt. Craddock's and Capt. McCullough's, assigned to it, was fully organized and mounted, and armed with sabre and revolver, still retaining the muskets drawn at Camp Jo. Holt.

The officers at that time were: Col. Buckner Board, Lieut.-Col. Thomas B. Cochran, Maj. Thos. P. Nicholas, Adjt. Geo. W. Griffith, Capts. E. S. Watts, H. E. Collins, H. G. Thomas, J. J. Craddock, O. T. Booth, E. J. Mitchell, M. R. McCullough, T. C. Wiley and A. C. Van Dyke. During the winter, while at Camp Wood, two other companies joined, commanded by Lieut. J. Griswold and Capt. M. Bateman.

In the month of January, 1862, the men suffered with sickness, incident to exposure in camp. In February and March they were employed in scouting, and on guard duty along the railroad, being assigned to McCook's Division of Buell's Army.

The 2d Cavalry accompanied Buell's army from Nashville to Pittsburgh Landing, taking part in the second day's battle, and following in pursuit of the Confederates to Corinth. During the engagement, Capt. John W. Wickliffe, of Company A, served on the staff of Gen. Rousseau, who compliments him in his report for his efficient service on the field.

During the spring and summer of 1862 the 2d Cavalry was on constant duty with Buells' army in all it operations in Tennessee and Alabama. So active was it, that the reports, instead of locating it, only mention its being in the field. When Buell's army entered upon its march to Kentucky, the 2d moved with it, being engaged in scouting and reconnoitering and skirmishing with the enemy. One of the incidents which occurred at the beginning of that march was moving to Bowling Green with Gen. Sooy Smith's command, making its way through the enemy's lines in doing so. Reaching Louisville in September, the 2d Cavalry advanced from thence, when the movement against Bragg commenced, October 1st. It led the way out the Bardstown turnpike, and soon began skirmishing with the enemy's cavalry. One of these skirmishes was at Hay's Spring, 10 miles from Louisville, and another at Mt. Washington. Moving on to Perryville, it had several encounters. Near Bardstown in a charge upon the enemy it suffered severely in killed and wounded, and in a counter charge, Maj. Watts, Capt. Bateman and Lieut. Arthur were captured.

Reaching Perryville October 8th, it participated in that battle, and its services are honorably mentioned in the reports, particularly those of Gens. McCook and Rousseau. From Perryville the 2d engaged in the pursuit of Bragg, scouting and skirmishing. It then marched to Nashville, performing guard duty on the way.

The battle of Murfreesboro occurred on December 31st and January 1st and 2d. At that time the 2d was in command of Col. Nicholas, and was in Gen. R. S. Granger's division, it was severely engaged, and suffered serious losses. Among the killed was Capt. McCullough.

Col. Nicholas continued in command of the 2d for about a year. During the winter and spring of 1863, he was on duty with Rosecran's army at Murfreesboro, being attached to the 14th Army Corps. In that spring the cavalry corps was organized under Gen. D. S. Stanley, and the 2d was placed in Col. Eli. Long's brigade, of Crook's division in that corps. In the months following it was constantly at the front, in daily activity, moving from place to place in Tennessee and Alabama.

Col. Watts, in his narrative, says:

June 23, 1863, breaking camp at Murfreesboro on a general movement of the army, the 2d Kentucky moved toward Manchester with the division. The following day the 2d Battalion was detached and ordered to report to Gen. Sheridan for duty, and during the Tullahoma campaign remained with him, being the first National troops to enter Tullahoma; meantime participating in constant work, scouting and skirmishing, especially at Elk river and Winchester, Tenn. At the same time the1st Battalion had an experience in an affair near Elk river. Lieut. W. G. Jenkins, a gallant officer, being killed in action. The regiment reunited at Winchester, Tenn., the division being under command or Gen. George Crook, and another period of camp life intervened, during which a stand of colors was presented to the regiment by the ladies of Newport, KY., under most happy auspices and conditions.

Forward once again in the Chattanooga campaign; march to Stevenson and Bridgeport. The regiment fording Tennessee river in the dawn of morning, the horses swimming. Safely over, ascend Sand mountain; cross and descend the eastern face, charging into Trenton. Ga., being the first Federal troops to reach that point; return, again ford the river. Reaching camp near Bridgeport, September 6th. Once again ford the river, in company with the division this time; cross the mountain by another pass, debouch into Will's valley, at Valley Head. On the 9th ascend Lookout mountain, cross it on the 10th and descend into Alpine, Ga., engaging the enemy's cavalry with a loss of fourteen killed and wounded of the 2d Ky., but driving the enemy from the field. A vivid incident on the mountain was the murder of John Smith of Troop A, by a prowling Confederate soldier, revenged by burning the house and contents.

At Alpine much scouting and skirmishing: developing Bragg's position at Lafayette, when he was supposed to be retreating south. After this important discovery, moved 45 miles to the left wing of the army; a hasty retreat up the mountain by McCook's corps, followed by the cavalry, which halts at Doherty's Gap - the insection of Pigeon mountain with Lookout, where the cavalry arrived September14. On the 18th. at Doherty's Gap, the cavalry were in sound of the guns in the preliminary engagement between Thomas and Bragg. On the 19th it was much more evident, the distant guns announcing the opening of the battle of Chickamauga. At noon an order was received and hurried preparations and rapid march toward the sound of the guns, by way of McLemore's Cove; a night march, a short bivouac, the march resumed at daylight: arrived at 9 a. m. Under fire all morning of the enemy's outposts at Crawfish Springs, where Adjt. Griffiths was wounded. A short halt and again forward, a rocky road to the right through the Cedars. Met the 2d Mich. Cavalry coming back form line of battle on the brow of a hill with orders to protect the Chicago Board of Trade Battery, which unlimbered and actively engaged an the right of the 2d Cavalry. The determined onset of the enemy up through the field and woods to the left was met by the determined resistance of the 2d, until doubled hack on the left it was forced to retreat, but not until the battery was safe. This engagement cost the regiment 53 men killed and wounded.

The retreat was by stages to Chattanooga; across the Tennessee river to the north bank, two days' rest, march to Washington, Tenn.. guarding Cottonport and other fords, forcible crossing of Wheeler's Confederates, the hurried concentration of the cavalry division, the chase of Wheeler over two mountain ranges. The affair near and the charge of the 2d at McMinnville (called in the reports a brilliant charge). The death of the gallant Capt. Hosmer of Troop A, the march to Murfreesboro, thence to Shelbyville, the charge at and battle of Farmington, rout of the enemy and his escape across the Tennessee at Rogersville. Return of the regiment to the army and assigned to duty with Gen. Jo. Hooker in Lookout Valley.

It would be difficult to add to this graphic picture, but it is proper to say that in Gen. Crook's report of the operation of his cavalry division during the month of September, 1863, he describes the various marches and encounters in the enemy country about Chattanooga, and in the direction of Rome and Lafayette and Crawfish Springs. His force at Crawfish, he says, consisted of Col. Eli. Long's brigade only, and in the severe fight which occurred he states the loss of the 2d Ky. Cavalry at 11 killed and 50 wounded, among the wounded being Adjt. Griffith, Lieut. E. B. Agers, Capt. Charles A. Zackary and Lieut. B. P. Brooks.

When Gen. Hooker stormed Lookout mountain, November 25, 1863, the 2d Ky. Cavalry was on duty guarding Hooker's left flank in the valley, and when Gen. Grant's success was complete in storming Missionary Ridge, the 2d Cavalry was sent to the relief of Knoxville, Tenn., where Gen. Burnside was besieged by Longstreet. Being in Gen. Eli. Long's brigade, it led the advance of Sherman's relieving column, and approached Knoxville from the direction of Maryville. The siege being raised, the 2d returned, and spent the winter at Bridgeport, Ala., Col. E. S. Watts being in command.

At that place the 2d re-enlisted in the veteran organization, and was assigned to Kilpatrick's Division of Gen. Elliott's cavalry corps, organized for the opening of the Atlanta campaign of 1864. The 2d entered upon the first stages of this campaign, taking part in the advance to Rocky Face, Ringgold, Buzzard Roost, Taylor's Ridge and Dalton. It was then ordered to Nashville, where it reported to Gen. Rousseau. This officer had been engaged in protecting the line of the railroad in Tennessee from the raids of Confederate cavalry, and was directed in July, 1864, to perform a most important duty. With a force of cavalry, including the 2d Ky., commanded then by Maj. Owen Starr, he proceeded to Decatur, Ala., and starting from thence July 10, 1864, he traversed 300 miles in nine days, going as far south as Montgomery, destroying many miles of railroad, and large military stores, and depots of supplies. He proceeded 100 miles south of Johnston's army, and safely joined Sherman in Georgia. The 2d Cavalry reached Marietta, July 23d. It then participated in another raid by Gen. McCook, and yet another by Gen. Kilpatrick, each time passing entirely around the Confederate army. These raids are historic, and space does not admit of a detail of them in this place.

After the fall of Atlanta, the 2d Cavalry continued with Sherman's army, still being on active duty, through the months of September and October.

In November Gen. Sherman prepared for his great march to the sea. The 2d Cavalry was chosen among others to accompany that movement. With the cavalry force it led the way through to Savannah, fighting and skirmishing at many points. After the capture of Savannah, the 2d accompanied Sherman's march across the Carolinas. In this campaign the work of the cavalry was peculiarly arduous. It was employed in the advance, and in protecting the flanks of the infantry columns. The 2d was engaged in many encounters, notably at Sister's Ferry, Bentonville and Averysboro. In March, 1861, it was at Mt. Olive, N. C., in April at Durham. In May, June and July, it moved to different places in North Carolina, being part of the time at Lexington.

July 17, 1865, four years from the time it had first organized at Camp Jo. Holt, the 2d Ky. Cavalry was mustered out of the service at Lexington, N. C. It engaged in the first contests in Kentucky in 1861, and ended its career with the last battles in 1865.

From Lexington, N. C., it was ordered to proceed to Louisville, Ky., to be finally discharged.

It participated in 56 engagements, in which loss was sustained. Among these may be mentioned: Woodburn, Ky., September 10, 1862; Bardstown, October 4, 1862; Perryville, October 8, 1862; Stone's River, Hillsboro Pike, June 29, 1863; Neal's Clap, Ga., September 17, 1863; Chickamauga, McMinnville, October 2, 1863; Washington, Tenn., October 2, 1863; Dalton, Ga., May 27, 1864; Kennesaw, June 23, 1864; Smith's Cross Roads, July 29, 1864; Newmans, Ga., July 30, 1864; Triune, Tenn., September 3, 1864, when Col. Eifort was killed; Waynesboro, Ga., November 27, 1864; Averysboro, N. C., March 16, 1865.

Among its losses were five officers killed and many wounded. No regiment in the service was more faithful or efficient. Its motto was "Always ready."


From Dyer's Compendium:

2nd Regiment Cavalry

Organized at Camp Joe Holt and Muldraugh's Hill, Ky., September 9, 1861; to February 13, 1862. Attached to Rousseau's Brigade, McCook's Command, Army of the Ohio, October, 1861, to December, 1861. 2nd Division, Army of the Ohio, to September, 1862. Unattached Cavalry, 1st Corps, Army Ohio, to November, 1862. Cavalry, 1st Division, Center 14th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland, to January, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Division, Army of the Cumberland, to April, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Cumberland, to October, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, Cavalry Corps, Military Division Mississippi, to November, 1864. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, Cavalry Corps, M.D. M., to July, 1865.

SERVICE--At Bacon Creek and Green River, Ky., until February, 1862. March to Nashville, Tenn., February 10-25, thence to Savannah, Tenn., March 31-April 7. Battle of Shiloh, Tenn., April 7-8. Advance on and siege of Corinth, Miss., April 29-May 30. Duty at Corinth until June 10. Buell's Campaign in Northern Alabama and Middle Tennessee June to August. March to Louisville, Ky., in pursuit of Bragg August 21-September 26. Woodburn, Ky., September 10. Pursuit of Bragg into Kentucky October 1-22. Near Bardstown October 4. Battle of Perryville October 8. Pursuit to Loudon October 10-22. Bloomfield October 18. March to Nashville, Tenn., October 22-November 7. Duty there until December 26. Nolensville December 20. Advance on Murfreesboro December 26-30. Battle of Stone's River December 30-31, 1862, and January 1-3, 1863. At Murfreesboro until June. Expedition to McMinnville April 20-30. Wartrace Road June 13. Middle Tennessee or Tullahoma Campaign June 24-July 7. Near Hillsborough June 29. Tullahoma July 1. Bob's Cross Roads July 1. Moore's Ford and Rock Creek Ford, Elk River, July 2. Boiling Fork, near Winchester, July 3. Expedition to Huntsville July 13-22. Passage of Cumberland Mountains and Tennessee River, and Chickamauga (Ga.) Campaign August 16-September 22. Alpine, Ga., September 3 and 8. Reconnaissance toward LaFayette September 10. Neal's Gap September 17. Battle of Chickamauga September 19-21. Near Philadelphia September 27. Operations against Wheeler and Roddy September 30-October 17. Pitt's Cross Roads, Sequatchie Valley, October 2. Hill's Gap, Thompson's Cove, October 3. Murfreesboro Road, near McMinnville, October 4. McMinnville October 4. Farmington October 7. Sim's Farm, near Shelbyville, October 7. Lookout Mountain November 24 (Detachment). Mission Ridge November 25 (Detachment). March to relief of Knoxville November 28-December 8. At Bridgeport, Ala., until May, 1864. Scouts to Caperton's Ferry March 28 (Detachment). Atlanta Campaign May to September. Near Resaca May 13. Battle of Resaca May 14-15. Kingston May 24. Dalton May 27. Rousseau's Raid from Decatur on West Point & Montgomery Railroad July 10-22. Ten Island Ford, Coosa River, July 14. Siege of Atlanta July 22-August 25. McCook's Raid on Atlanta and West Point and Macon & Western Railroad July 27-31. Lovejoy Station and Smith's Cross Roads July 29. Clear Creek and near Newman's July 30. Kilpatrick's Raid around Atlanta August 18-22. Camp Creek August 18. Jonesboro August 19. Lovejoy Station August 20. Flank movement on Jonesboro August 25-30. Flint River Station August 30. Battle of Jonesboro August 31-September 1. Lovejoy's Station September 2-6. Operations against Hood in North Carolina and North Alabama September 29-November 3. Camp Creek September 30. Sweetwater and Noyes Creek, near Powder Springs, October 1-3. Van Wert October 9-10. Marietta November 6. March to the sea November 15-December 10. Lovejoy Station November 16. Griswoldsville November 22. Sylvan Grove and near Waynesboro November 27. Waynesboro November 27-28. Near Waynesboro November 28. Near Louisville November 30. Millen or Shady Grove December 1. Waynesboro December 4. Siege of Savannah December 10-21. Campaign of the Carolinas January to April, 1865. Blackville, S.C., February 7. Williston February 8. Johnson's Station February 10. Phillips Cross Roads, N. C., March 4. Monroe's Cross Roads March 8. Averysboro, Taylor's Hole Creek, N. C., March 16. Battle of Bentonville March 19-21. Occupation of Raleigh and Moresville April 13. Chapel Hill April 15. Bennett's House April 26. Surrender of Johnston and his army. Duty at Mt. Olive, Lexington and Durham, N. C., until July. Mustered out at Camp Joe Holt, Ky., July 9-27, 1865.

Regiment lost during service 5 Officers and 51 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 1 Officer and 122 Enlisted men by disease. Total 179.

Copyright 2000-2009, Robert M. Baker, Timothy Downey, and the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Kentucky Dept.


Additional Resources:

2nd Kentucky Veteran Cavalry Rosters

2nd Kentucky Cavalry Roster


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