7th (1861-1865) United States. Army. Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment.

History and roster of the Seventh Pa. Cavalry Veteran Volunteers online

. (page 1 of 21)
Online Library7th (1861-1865) United States. Army. Pennsylvania Cavalry RegimentHistory and roster of the Seventh Pa. Cavalry Veteran Volunteers → online text (page 1 of 21)
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Historical Sketch of Regiment

The autliority to raise this regiment was "iven on the 2Tth
of August, 1801, to William B. Sipes, of Philadelphia, by the
Hon. [Simon Cameron, Secretary of War. Companies A and F
were recruited in Schuylkill county, B in Lycoming and Tioga,
C in Tioga and Bradford, D in Northumberland and Montour,
E in Clinton and Centre, G in Chester, H in Montour and Lu-
zerne, I in Dauphin, K in Cumberland, L in Berks, and M in
Allegheny. The companies were recruited, for the most part,
by their officers and at their expense, the grade of their commis-
sions depending, as a general rule, upon their success in secur-
ing men. Their military experience was in general limited to
the three months' service. The companies rendezvoused at
Camp Cameron, near Harrisburg, where a regimental organiza-
tion was effected, and the following field officers were commis-
sioned: George C. Wynkoop, of Pottsville, Colonel; William
B. Sipes, of Philadelphia, Lieutenant Colonel; James J. Seibert,
of Philadelphia, James Given, of West Chester, and John E.
Wynkoop, of Pottsville, Majors. Colonel Wynkoop had been
connected with the State militia, as an officer of cavalry, for
more than twenty years, had served as Brigadier General of Vol-
unteers in the three months' service, and it was by the active
exertions of Lieutenant Colonel Sipes, who had little military
experience beyond that of the three months' service, that he was
selected to lead the regiment. Clothing was promptly issued
to the men upon entering camp, and the regiment was regularly
exercised in dismounted drill. Side arms were received while
at Camp Cameron, and horses were supplied, but not issued un-
til after leaving it.

On the 18th of December, the colors were presented by
Governor Curtin, from the steps of the State Capitol, and on
the following day, in pursuance of orders from the Secretary
of War, the regiment started for Louisville, Kentucky, where,
upon its arrival, it reported to General Buell, in command of
the Department of the Cumberland, and was placed in camp of
instruction at Jeffersonville, Indiana, Belgian Kifles were is-
sued, but were soon after condemned and turned in, and subse-
quently the Smith and Burnside carbines were given.

Towards the close of January, 1862, the regiment broke

oamp, ami, moving leisurely soiitlnvard, throngh Kentucky, ar-
riyed at Nasliyille, Tennessee, soon after its occupation by Union
forces. Here tlie tliree battalions were separated, tlie first, under
Major Wynkoop, being assigned to General Negley's Brigade,
and sent with him to Columbia; the second, under Colonel
Wynkoop, to the command of General Dumont, garrisoning
Nashyille; and the third, under Major Giyen, to Colonel Duf-
field's command, two companies being stationed at ^Nlurfrees-
boro, and two at Lebanon. The duty imposed, at this time,
consisted in scouting in Western and Middle Tennessee, and as
far east as the Cumberland Mountains.

On the 1st of May, Captain Newlin, with Company F.
while scouting on the Tennessee and Alabama Pike, was met by
a party of the enemy, under the rebel chieftain Morgan, near
Pulaski, and was driven back in the direction of Columbia, with
a loss of two taken prisoners. Halting at Pulaski for a day,
Morgan moved in the direction of Murfreesboro, and was met
by the Third Battalion and driven in the direction of Lebanon.
On the afternoon of the 4th, the Third was reinforced by the
Second Battalion, and some Kentucky troops, and con-
tinued the pursuit to Lebanon. At daybreak of the 5th, it hav-
ing been ascertained that Morgan was comfortably housed in
the town, General Dumont, who was in command, determined
to attack. Moving forward with as little noise as possible, the
Second Battalion in advance, the pickets were met about a mile
from town, and the charge sounded. Morgan was taken entirely
by surprise, but, throwing his men into the Court House,
Academy, and buildings surrounding the square, which com-
manded the principal streets, offered obstinate resistance. The
contest lasted nearly two hours, during which repeated charges
were made with the sabre. Morgan was finally compelled to
yield, drawing off the remnant of his command I'emaining, re-
treated rapidly towards Carthage, hotly pursued by the Sev-
enth. One hundred and seventy prisoners were taken. The loss
in the Seventh was three killed, thirteen wounded, and three
taken prisoners. Major Given was among the prisoners, and
Adjutant R. F. Mosen among the wounded.

On the 1st of June, the First Battalion, under Major Wyn-
koop, moved with Negley's ><'olumn for Chattanooga. At Swe-
den's Cove a skirmish ensued, in which the rebel cavalry was
routed. After demonstrating in front of Chattanooga, with the
design of drawing rebel troops from Cumberland Gap, the com-
mand returned to Shelbyville. On the 6th, the Third Battalion
was sent out from Murfreesboro, encountered the enemy under

Forrest, near McMinnville, and drove him into the Cumberland
Mountains. About two weeks later, this battalion, with two
companies of the Fourth Kentucky Cavalry, were met by Forrest
at Readyville, and were driven back in the direction of Mur-
freesboro, with a loss of six taken prisoners. Takino" advantage
of the information gained from some Union scouts whom he had
captured, Forrest made a sudden dash uiwn Murfreesboro, on
the 13th of July, surprised the garrison, consisting of Compa-
nies B, G, L and M, under Major Seibert, the Ninth Michigan
.Infantry, Second Minnesota Infantry, and the Fourth Kentucky
Battery, all under command of General Crittenden, and, after
a hard contest, lasting nearly eight hours, compelled its sur-
]-ender. A court of inquiry, appointed by an order from head-
quarters of the Department of the Cumberland, reported, after
a careful examination, ^^that the Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry
was immediately overpowered. Officers and men who were able
to reach the infantry joined and fought in the ranks."

The cavalry was now kept actively employed in defending
the flanks of the army against the irregular bands of the enemy's
horse that were jirowling on every hand. On the 1st of July,
the First Battalion, under command of Major Wynkoop, mov-
ing with General Smith's Brigade, occupied Manchester. On
the following day, Captain C. C. Davis, of Company I, with
nine men, was captured while on the picket line. Early in
July, the Second and Third Battalions, under Lieutenant Col-
onel Sipe>s, led the advance of General Dumont's expedition,
across the Cumberland Mountains, to Pikeville, where the ene-
my was met and routed. Shortly afterwards, the same bat-
talions formed part of General Nelson's command in his ad-
vance from ]\rcMinnville to Sparta. At Calf Killer River, For-
rest was overtaken and a sharp engagement ensued, in which
the battalion lost three men taken prisoners.

The enemy's cavalry having become very troublesome, Gen-
eral Richard Johnson was ordered to move, with a provisional
brigade, consisting of the Second Battalion of the Seventh, the
Fourth Kentucky Cavalry, and two companies of the Third Indi-
ana Cavalry in pursuit. Following him up for about ten days, lie
was overtaken at Gallatin, on the morning of the 21st of August.
The forces of Morgan and Forrest were united, and greatly out-
numbered the Union command. A member of the Seventh thus
describes the battle which ensued: "General Johnson, steadily
repressing the desire of his subordinate officers to charge vigor-
ously, formed his men instead, in line, under fire, after the man-
ner of infantry; in a few minutes ordered a retrograde move-


ment over an open field; dismonnted the men, and ordered aa
advance on foot, each man leading liis horse; monnted them
again to fall back; divided the eonnnand and sent each companj^
to a detached and isolated position, all nuder fire of the entire
rebel force, and held them thns nntil nearly snrronnded, when
he drew all together and ordered a retreat. At this stage of the
battle I was shot and left on the field, but, from reliable sources,
I learn that after retreating about two miles, the command was
halted, dismounted, formed in line and held the enemy in
check until the flanks were turned, when another retreat wa?5
ordered, in which Lieutenant Nicholas A. Wynkoop, son of the
Colonel, Battalion Adjutant, and, at the time, acting Aid-de-
Camp to General Johnson, was killed. Ai-rived near the Cum-
berland Eiver, another line was formed, dismounted, and the
flanks being entirely unguarded, INIorgan was enabled to throw
forces to the rear to cut" off retreat, and pressed heavily on all
sides, when General Johnson surrendered. When it became
manifest that the General purposed to yield to the enemy, Col-
onel Wynkoop gathered together such of his command as he
could mount, and, with the Colonel of the Third Indiana, as-
suming a bold front, succeeding in cutting his way out, and
reached Nashville. Tlie loss in the brigade was al)out forty
killed, and three hundred wounded and cai^tured. The weathoi'
being very warm, many of the wounded died in rebel hands,
though, so far as my experience and observation extended, every,
possible care and attention to our wounded was given by the
rebel surgeons, and citizens of the place."

When Buell, in SeiDtember, made his retrograde movement
through Kentucky, and subsequently his advance, the First Bat-
talion, under Major Wynkoop, accompanied him, participating
in the battle of Perryville, losing four men wounded, and three
taken prisoners. The Second and Third Battalions remained
with the garrison at Nashville, and was attached to General
Negley's command. They were employed in scouting and for-
aging, and in assisting to defend the city.

Early in November, 1862, General Bosecrans, who had su-
perseded General Buell in command of the Army of the Cum-
berland, made a complete re-organization. Up to this time the
cavalry had not been formed in brigades and divisions, but had
been scattered over Tennessee, Kentucky, and a portion of Ala-
bama, doing very hard duty but accomplishing very little.
General D. S. Stanley was now assigned to the command of the
cavalry, and made a thorough organization of it for eificieut
service, the Seventh being assigned to the First Brigade of the

Second Division. Little of importance transpired to break the
monotony of the piclvet and outpost duty, except that foraging
was always accompanied by fighting, until the 26th of December,
when the army advanced on the enemy at Murfreesboro. The
First Brigade led the centre on the Nashville and Murfreesboro
Pike, the regiments alternating daily, which brought the Seventii
at the head of the column on "the 2Tth. The entire march from
Nashville to Stone River was a continuous battle, between the
cavalry of the two armies. Upon the arrival of the division at
Stone Kiver, on the 29th, the resistance was found too strong
for the cavalry to move, and it was withdrawn to the right
flank and rear. On the 30th, a battalion of the Seventh Penn-
sylvania, and one of the Third Kentucky, formed a chain of
videttes in rear of the line of battle, with orders to drive up all
stragglers. On the same day, Wheeler captured the train of the
Twenty-eighth Brigade, on the Jefferson Pike, between Stew-
art's Creek and Lavergne. Taking a battalion of the Seventh
and the Fourth Michigan, Colonel Minty moved to its relief.
''J met the enemy,'' says Colonel Minty in his report, "who were
chiefly dressed in our uniforms. The Seventh Pennsylvania
drove them until after dark.'' On the 31st the brigade, now re-
duced to about nine hundretl and fifty men, took position, aftec
crossing Overall's Creek, about three quarters of a mile from
the Murfreesboro and Nashville Pike, Captain Jenning's Bat-
talion being posted in the woods near the right of the Fourth
Michigan. ''The enemy'', says Colonel Minty, "advanced rapid-
ly with two thousand five hundred cavalry, mounted and dis-
mounted, and three pieces of artillery, all under command of
Oenerals Wheeler, Wharton and Buford. They drove back the
Fourth Michigan to the line of the First Tenuesee skirmishers,
and then attacked the Seventh Pennsylvania with great fury,
but met with a determined resistance. I went forward to the
line of dismounted skirmishers, and endeavored to move it to
the right to strengthen the Seventh Pennsylvania, but the mo-
ment the right of the line showed itself from behind the fence
where it was posted, the whole of the enemy's fire was directeil
on it, turning it completely around. At this moment the Fif-
teenth Pennsylvania gave way and retreated rapidly, leaving
the battalion of the vSeventh Pennsylvania, and the dismounted
men, entirely unsupported, and leaving them no alternative but
to retreat.'' When, on tliis day, the right wing of the army was
driven back in confusion, many of the men of the battalion, on
the line of the videttes, were captured by the enemy while en-
deavoring to drive forward the straggling infantrv. After the

battle was over, and the enemy was making- the best of his way
from the field, the cavalry was sent in pursuit. "About six miles
out," says Colonel Minty, "we met the enemy in force; a sharp
skirmish ensued. The Fourth Cavalry, First Tennessee Infan-
try, and the Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, having to bear the
brunt of the fight on our side; the enemy was driven from the
field with heavy loss, and we returned to within a mile and a
half of Murfreesboro and went into camp." The loss of the regi-
ment, in this entire battle, was two killed, nine wounded, and
fifty missing.

On the 31st of January, the First Brigade was ordered to
proceed to Rover and break up a rebel outpost. Arriving near
the place, his pickets were encountered and driven in by the
Fourth Michigan, when the Seventh Pennsylvania was ordered
to draw sabre and charge, which was executed with a cheer,
breaking the rebel line and utterly routing his entire command.
The pursuit was maintained for ten miles, causing a loss of half
his force. After scouting inside the rebel lines for two weeks,
inflicting considerable damage upon the enemy, the brigade re-
turned to camp at Murfreesboro. Shortly afterward, learning
that the enemy had re-occupied Eover in force, and had strength-
ened it by an intrenched infantry and artillery camp at Union-
ville, a town five miles from Eover, and sixteen from Shelbyville,
where a large part of the rebel army was in camp, General Sher-
idan was ordered to move with his division to Eagleville, three
miles west of Eover, for a diversion in favor of the cavalry.
When, therefore, at sunrise on the 4th, the First Brigade attack-
ed the enemy at Rover, the surprise was complete. After ;i
sharp skirmish the pickets were driven in, and the Seventh was
ordered to charge with the sabre. It was made in column, half
platoon front, and received the concentrated fire of over two
thousand rifles; but without faltering, being supported by the
Fourth United States on the right, and the Fourth Michigan on
the left as carbineers, it dashed forward, broke the centre of the
rebel line, and drove it in confusion towards Unionville. Not
satisfied with his success. Colonel Minty threw the flanking
regiments into columns, on roads parallel with the pike on
which the Seventh was moving, and, sounding the charge along
the whole line, burst upon the astonished rebels at Unionville,
entering their camp on the heels of the flying fugitives from
Rover. But little resistance was offered, only one regiment of
infantry attempting to form line, the artillery having been
moved the day before to resist the threatened advance of Sheri-.
dan. The Seventh charged through the camp, and then gave


chase to the rebel cavalry retreating towards Shelbyville. The
loss of the Seveuth was two killed and seven wounded.

From Unionville the command marched, the same day, to
Eagleville, where it joined Sheridan, and with him proceeded to
Franklin, then to Cohimbia, skirmishing with Van Dorn and
Forrest at Spring Hill, and Rutherford Creek, and returned to
Murfreesboro via Franklin, reaching camp on the 15th of
March. The command was engaged with Morgan at Snow Hill,
near Liberty, on the 3rd of April, with a loss of one killed and
one wounded ; fought Duke's Brigade on the 20th ; assisted in
the capture of McMinnville, May 6; repelled a rebel demonstra-
tion on Murfreesboro on the 14th; and fought Morgan at Alex-
andria on the 3rd of June, in all of which the Union forces were
i/ictorious except the last. A little later Colonel Wynkoop waw
honorably discharged, and Lieutenant Colonel Sipes was com-
missioned to succeed him.

On the 24th, General Rosecrans commenced his advance on
Tullahoma and Shelbyville. The cavalry, under General Stan-
ley, moved on the right flank of the army. On the morning of
the 27th, Colonel Miuty was ordered to charge and carry Guy's
Gap, on the Murfreesboro Pike. With the Fourth ^lichigan
Cavalry- leading the advance, and the First Division supporting
the flanks, he moved rapidly on through the gap, driving
the rebels toward Shelbyville, and making captures oa
every hand. Arrived within five miles of the town, the enemv
opened with artillery from his intrenchments. Colonel ]\Iinty
])romptly deployed the Fourth Michigan, and Fourth United
States, as skirmishers, mounted, and held the Seventh in col-
umn. The advance was sounded, when, from some cause, the
men commenced cheering, the skirmish line charged, and Colonel
Minty, taking advantage of the favorable moment, ordered the
Seventh to charge also. Dashing forward with wild shouts, the
mtrenchments were stormed and taken, with many prisoners,
and nerved by their success, pushed on after the flying foe. A
mile from town a. rebel regiment was hemmed in, in an open
field, and captured, offering little resistance. As tlie troops ad-
vanced towards the town, they were suddenly checked by the
rapid fire from a battery of six pieces, posted in the public
square. Colonel Minty at once bronght up two pieces of artil-
lery, and directing the Fourth United States and the Fourtli
Michigan to take a parallel street to the right, Colonel Jordan
with the Xinth Pennsylvania Cavalry, of the First Division, the
first street to the left, and three companies of the Seventh, under
Captain Davis, to take the centre, the signal to charge was given.


The Seveuth Avas obliged to move' iu the face of the rebel guns,
which were trained full upon it, and were served Avith great
rapidity, at first dealing shot and shell, and then double shotte<l
canister. But, unmindful of the storm, Davis dashed up the
narrow street, tilling it from curb to curb, the sJiouts of the
men ringing above the noise of the battle. As they came near,
they were saluted by a shower of bullets from the rifles and
pistols of the enemy. A short run brought the column hand to
hand with the hostile force, and a brief struggle ensued over the
guns; but the slash of the sabre, and the rapid rounds from
pistols and carbines proved too much for rebel valor. He was
driven in confusion, and the powerful battery was captured, as
few have been, by a direct charge of cavalry. After the loss of
his artillery, a panic seemed to seize the enemy, and he fled in
consternation to the bank of Duck Eiver, a mile away, where he
attempted to form a line to cover the passage of his trains. But
it was a A'ain attempt. Charge after charge was delivered with
an impetuosity inspired of success, and, finally, a wagon having
been overturned upon the bridge, in Avild affright the rebels
l}roke, and threw themselves by hundreds into the river, where
large numbers were drowned. ShelbyAdlle, Avith all its military
stores, fell into Union hands, and a pOAverful impetus Avas giA^en
to the retreat of the entire rebel army. Wheeler's boasted caA-
alry Avas broken, and never afterAvards recovered from the bloAV.
Lieutenants Amos B. Rhoades and Francis W. Reed Avere
among the killed in this engagement.

On the third of July, the regiment Avas engaged in a skir-
mish at Elk liiver, on the 17th of August, at Sparta, and, early
in September, moA^ed with the army on the Chickamauga cam-
paign. The march was wearisome to man and beast, obliged to
moA^e with rapidity, and to cix)ss rugged mountains. From the
18th to the 22nd, in the preliminary operations, and during the
progress of the battle, the regiment Avas iu constant motion, ami
performed important service. On the 1st of August, it marched
Avitli the cavalry in pursuit of Wheeler, passing through East
and Middle Tennessee, into Alabama. This march lasted eigh-
teen consecutiA-e days and nights, Avith little rest, and frequent
running fights.

Early in the year 1864, Avhile stationed at Huntsville, Ala-
bama, a large part of the regiment re-enlisted and Avas giA-en a
veteran furlough. Upon returning, the numbers having been
SAvelled l>y recruits to about eighteen hundred, rank and file, it
AA'as stationed at Columbia, Avliere it Avas ordered to drill and
make preparation for the opening of the spring campaign.


T^'llile upon furlough, Colonel Sipes drew Spencer carbines, im-
l^roved sabres and horse equipments for the entire regiment,
and, when freshly mounted, as it was at Nashville, it was well
prepared for active service.

On the 30th of April, the regiment, under comniand of
Colonel Sipes, broke camp, and joining Garrad's Division, set
forward with Shernum towards Atlanta. On the 15th of May
it was engaged at liome, and on the 27th, at Dallas and Villa
Rica Road, at the latter place, having a sharp skirmish, losing
three killed, six wounded, and one taken prisoner; at Big
Shanty on June 9th, with one killed, two wounded and two
prisoners; at McAfee Cross Roads, on the 11th, with two killed,
and four prisoners; at Monday Creek, on the 20th, with one
killed, ten wounded, and six prisoners; at Kenesaw Mountain
on the 2Tth; in a raid on the Augusta and Atlanta Railroad
on the 18th of July; in a raid on Covington, and the destruction
of the railroad, oil the 21st; at Flat Rock, on the 28th, with a
loss of two wounded; and on the 1st of August entered the
rrenches in front of Atlanta. On the 17th, it moved with Kil-
patrick on his raid; on the 19th had a skirmish at Fairburn and
Jonesl)oro; and, on the 20th, a sharp engagement at Lovejoy
Station, in which Captain James G. Taylor and Lieutenant
Chauncey C. Hemans were among the killed. The loss in this
raid was five killed, twenty-four wounded, and fifteen missing.
On the 12th of October it was engaged in the battle at Rome,
and, on the following day, made a charge with the sabre on in-
fantry, routing them and ca])turing two pieces of artillery, los-
ing one killed and four wounded. Tavo weeks later it was en-
gaged at Lead's Cross Roads, which closed the campaign.

The regiment having suffered severely in men, horses, and
equipments, during a campaign rarely equalled for severity, was
no longer fit for the field, and was ordered to Louisville, Ken-
tucky, to be remounted, equipped, and prepared again for active
duty. While here, many of the officers, whose three years' term
of service had expired, were mustered out. Promotions were,
accordingly, made, and, as re-organized, the field ¬Ђ.ft1cers were,
rharles (\ IMcCormick, Colonel; James F. Andress, Lieutenant
Colonel; Benjamin S. Dartt, Charles L. Greeno, and Uriah C.
Tlartranft, ^fajors.

After the battle of Nashville, in which General Thomas de-
feated and put to rout the rebel army under Hood, the regiment
was stationed at Gravelly Springs, Alabama, on the Tennessee
River, where it was engaged in drilling and completing its orga-
nization and equipment for the spring campaign of 1805.


On the 22nd of March, it joined the command of General
James H. Wilson, and with it set out on the expedition from
Eastport, Mississippi, across the Gulf States. On the 1st of
April, it was engaged in the battle of Plantersville, Alabama^
and on the following day, arrived in front of Selma. The posi-
tion of the regiment in the line of march for that day, was the
third, in the advance brigade of General Long's Division; buc,
upon arriving near the city, it was ordered to the front to lead

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Online Library7th (1861-1865) United States. Army. Pennsylvania Cavalry RegimentHistory and roster of the Seventh Pa. Cavalry Veteran Volunteers → online text (page 1 of 21)