First Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry
Three Years

Acton men who served in the 1st Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry:

Daniel R. Briggs, Co. B (discharged for disability)

Horace E. Dupee, Co. K

George M. Pike, Co. B

William E. Pike, Co. B (deserted)

Augustus Severance, Co. C (P.O.W., died of diease)


Regimental history from Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War, compiled and published by the Adjutant General:

The genesis of the 1st Regt. Mass. Vol. Cav. is found in Special Order No. 419, dated Sept. 3, 1861, in which Marcus A. Moore, Lucius Richmond, and others were authorized to raise squadrons of cavalry. As fast as the companies were raised they were forwarded to Camp Brigham, Readville, Mass., and were there organized into a regiment of twelve companies. The men were mustered in on various dates mostly from Sept. 12 to Oct. 31, 1861. Colonel Robert Williams of Virginia, an old Regular Army officer, was appointed to command the regiment. It was organized into three battalions of four companies each, commanded respectively by Majors Greely S. Curtis, John H. Edson, and William F. White.

These three battalions left for the seat of war on Dec. 25, 27, and 29 respectively. The 1st Battalion under Major Curtis proceeded to Annapolis, Md., where it went into camp for a month or more. The 2d and 3d Battalions were detained at New York until January 13, 1862, when they were sent to Hilton Head as a part of the force under Genl. T. W. Sherman. The 1st Battalion came down to Hilton Head in February, 1862, but before it arrived the 2d Battalion had been sent to Beaufort, S. C. This left the 1st and 3d Battalions at Hilton Head. In May the 1st and parts of the 2d and 3d Battalions under Major Curtis took part in the James Island demonstration against Charleston, S. C. About Aug. 19, the 1st and 2d Battalions were ordered to Fort Monroe and thence via Aquia Creek to Alexandria. Thereafter they were attached to the Army of the Potomac.

In July, 1862, Major Atherton A. Stevens was placed in command of the 3d Battalion -- Co's "I", "K", "L", and "M" -- which was left at Beaufort and Hilton Head, S. C. Major Stevens' command operated on the South Carolina coast as a detached bat­talion of the 1st Mass. Cavalry until Aug. 4, 1863, when by Special Order No. 346, War Department, it was permanently detached and made an Independent Battalion, Mass. Cavalry. As such it operated until the latter part of the following winter when by Special Order No. 70, War Department, dated Feb. 12, 1864, it was assigned to the 4th Regt. Mass. Cavalry becoming the 1st Battalion of that regiment.

The 1st and 2d Battalions of the 1st Regt. Mass. Cavalry debarked at Alexandria, Va., Sept. 2, 1862, both men and horses being in very poor condition, the men being im­properly clothed and many of the horses unshod. With such part of his command as was fit for the field Colonel Williams participated in the Antietam campaign, losing 40 men as prisoners at Poolesville, Sept. 5. About Oct. 1 the regiment proceeded to St. James' College near Hagerstown, Md. Here it was attached to General Averill's Cavalry Brigade. While the greater part of four companies remained at St. James' College refit­ting and recuperating, two squadrons - Co's "B ", "E ", "F ", and "G" - under Lieut. Col. H. B. Sargent, were detached Oct. 19, and crossed the Potomac with the 5th Corps. These squadrons were engaged with loss at Snicker's Ferry, Nov. 3, and did not rejoin the rest of the regiment until the last of November.

Colonel Williams resigned and left the regiment Nov. 2. Lieut. Col. Sargent now became colonel and Major Greely S. Curtis lieutenant colonel, while the majors were now S.E. Chamberlain and H.L. Higginson. The inactive part of the regiment remained at Hagerstown until Nov. 14, when it marched via Frederick City to Washington, D.C., arriving on the 16th. On the 27th the bulk of the regiment was reunited at Potomac Creek, Colonel Sargent having arrived with his detachment.

During the Fredericksburg campaign Co. "F" was on duty at General Hooker's headquarters, but the regiment as a whole was not engaged, In Jany., 1863, the regiment participated in Burnside's" Mud March," then returned to Potomac Creek and went into winter quarters.

In February, 1863, the Cavalry Corps was reorganized, the 1st Massachusetts becom­ing a part of Duffie's (1st) Brigade, Averill's (2d) Division. A portion of the regiment was on picket or on special duty most of the time during the late winter and early spring. Its first engagement of note in the spring of 1863 was Kelly's Ford, fought March 17. At Brandy Station, June 9, it was engaged with loss.

The battle of Aldie, Va., fought June 17, 1863, was the most severe engagement in which the regiment ever participated. Here it lost 24 killed, 42 wounded, and 88 pris­oners. Among the killed was Lieut. Hugh Carey, and among the severely wounded were Maj. H. L. Higginson, Capt. L. M. Sargent, and Lieut. G. M. Fillebrown. At Gettys­burg a fortnight later the 1st Mass. Cavalry was not in action. It was employed on the second day in bringing up the 6th Corps, and on the third day as provost guard at army headquarters in stopping stragglers and in guarding prisoners. In the pursuit of the Con­federates the regiment was engaged at Jones' Cross Roads, July 11, with slight loss. Dur­ing August, September, and October it was occupied in outpost duty along the Rappahan­nock, being engaged with the enemy at Culpepper, Sept. 13, and Auburn, Oct. 14, with loss. In the Mine Run campaign in late November it was in action near New Hope Church and at Parker's Store with heavy loss.

All through the trying experiences of the summer and fall of 1863 the regiment had formed a part of the 1st Brigade of Gregg's (2d) Division, Cavalry Corps.

About Dec. 11 the regiment settled down into winter quarters at Warrenton, Va., but all through the winter season detachments were engaged in outpost duty, and early in January the entire regiment went on an expedition through Chester Gap to Front Royal in the Shenandoah returning at the end of the fourth day by way of Manassas Gap and Salem to Warrenton. Here the command remained until the latter part of April when the Wilderness campaign was about to begin.

During the fall of 1863 and the succeeding winter a new battalion of four companies was recruited in Massachusetts. The new Co. "I" was mustered in Dec. 5, 1863; Co. "K", Dec. 29; Co. "L", Jany. 6, 1864; and Co. "M", Jany.14. The new battalion was in command of Maj. L. M. Sargent, and it reached the camp at Warrenton, March 24 in a driving snowstorm. General Davies now commanded the 1st Brigade.

On May 4, 1864, the regiment crossed the Rapidan at Ely's Ford, helping to cover the advance of the 2d Corps. Proceeding southward to Todd's Tavern the regiment was there engaged on the 5th losing 3 killed, 25 wounded, and 6 missing.

Due to a disagreement between Generals Meade and Sheridan, on May 9 the entire Cavalry Corps was sent on a raid toward Richmond, in the rear of Lee's army. In a sharp engagement at Ashland, May 11, Lieut. Edward Payson Hopkins was killed, 10 men wounded, and 12 captured. Not being in sufficient force to take Richmond, the cavalry diverged to the left and the raid ended in the clover fields on the James.

Rejoining the Army of the Potomac, on May 28 it met the enemy at Hawes' Shop losing Lieut. Wardwell and one man killed and several wounded. After being engaged at Cold Harbor the 1st to the 3d of June, on the 6th it started on the Trevilian raid. At St. Mary’s Church it was engaged with slight loss. Crossing the James June 25, it proceeded to Prince George Court House. Recrossing in July it operated in the region of Malvern Hill and Charles City Cross Roads during the Deep Bottom campaigns. Moving south of the James again on Aug 19, it was active in the region south of Petersburg until Nov. 18 when it went into winter quarters near the Westbrook House. During this period it was engaged with loss at Vaughan road, Oct. 1, and Boydton road, Oct. 27.

About Sept. 30 Lieut. Col. S. E. Chamberlain became colonel and Maj. L. M. Sar­gent lieutenant colonel. On Oct. 25 the original members who had not re-enlisted were discharged, and the regiment was reduced to a battalion of seven companies. In a raid down the Weldon Railroad, at Bellfield, Dec. 9, Lieut. Col. Sargent was killed by a shell. Maj. John Tewksbury now became lieutenant colonel.

On March 17, 1865, the regiment was sent to City Point to do provost duty. Dur­ing the assault on Petersburg, April 2, it was on duty in the rear of the 9th Corps. It was active during April in arresting deserters and stragglers in the region west of Petersburg. On May 2 it started for Washington, reached Arlington Heights about the middle of the month, and participated in the Grand Review May 23. It did escort duty until June 26 when it was mustered out and started for Massachusetts. Arriving at Readville, Mass., June 29, the men were furloughed until July 18 when they reassembled and were paid off and disbanded.

Regimental history from A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, by Frederick Dyer:

      Organized at Camp Brigham, Reedville, and duty there till December 25, 1861. Companies "A," "B," "C" and "D" left State for Annapolis, Md., December 25, 1861; thence moved to Hilton Head, S. C., February, 1862, and join Regiment. Second Battalion left State for New York December 27, and Third Battalion December 29 for same point; thence sailed for Hilton Head, S. C., January 13, arriving .January 20, 1862. Attached to Department of the South to April, 1862. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, Dept. of the South, to August, 1862. Companies "A" to "H" moved to Fort Monroe August 19, 1862; thence to Washington, D. C., and join Pleasanton's Cavalry, Army of the Potomac, at Tenallytown, September 3. Attached to Pleasanton's Cavalry, Army of the Potomac, to October, 1862. Averill's Brigade, Cavalry Division, Army of the Potomac, to January, 1863. 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac, to April, 1865. (4 new Companies, "I," "K," "L," "M," organized December 5, 1863, to January 14, 1864.) Provost Marshal's Command, Army of the Potomac, to May, 1865. Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, to June, 1865.

    SERVICE--Duty at Hilton Head, S. C., till May, 1862. Moved to Edisto Island, S. C., May (Cos. "E" to "M"). Operations on James Island, S. C., June 1-28. Action James Island June 8. Battle of Secessionville June 16 (Cos. "H"). Evacuation of James Island and movement to Hilton Head .June 28-.July 7. Poolesville, Md., September 4-5. Sugar Loaf Mountain September 10-11. South Mountain September 14. Battle of Antietam September 16-17. Shepherdstown, W. Va., September 19. Kearneysville, Shephardstown and Smithfield October 16-17. 4 Companies with 5th Corps October 30-Novembel' 25. 4 Companies near Hagerstown, Md., till November 16, thence moved to Washington November 1625, and duty there refitting till December 13. Bloomfield November 2-3. Snicker's Gap November 3-4. Markham Station November 4. Manassas Gap November 5-6. Reconnoissance to Grove Church December 1. Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., December 12-15. Reconnoissance toward Warrenton December 21-22. Expedition to Richard's and Ellis' Fords December 29-30. Reconnissance to Catlett's and Rappahannock Station January 8-10, 1863. Elk Run, Catlett's Station, January 9. Near Grove Church January 9. Destruction of Rappahannock Bridge February 5. Hartwood Church February 25. Kelly's Ford March 17. Bealeton March 17. Chancellorsville Campaign, Stoneman's Raid, April 29May 6. Rapidan Station May 1. Near Fayetteville June 3. Kelly's Ford, Brandy Station and Stevens burg June 9. Aldie June 17. Upperville June 21. Battle of Gettysburg, Pa., July 2-3. Emmettsburg July 4. WilUamsport July 6-7. Near Harper's Ferry, W. Va., July 14. Old Antietam Forge, near Leitersburg, July 10. Jones' Cross Roads July 12. Shepherdstown July 16. Near Aldie JUly 31. Scout to Hazel River August 4. Rixeyville August 5. Welford's Ford August 9. Scout to Barbee's Cross Roads August 24. Scout to Middleburg September 10-11. Advance from the Rappahannock to the Rapidan September 13-17. Culpeper C. H. September 13. Rapidan Station September 13-14-15. Bristoe Campaign October 9-22. Warrenton (or White Sulphur Springs) October 12. Auburn and Bristoe October 14. Brentsville October 14. Picket near Warrenton till November 22. Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2. New Hope Church November 27. Scout and picket duty at Warrenton till April 21, 1864. Kilpatrick's Raid On Richmond February 28-March 4. Fortifications of Richmond March 1. (Cos. "C," "D" at Headquarters Army of the Potomac, April, 1864, to muster out.) Rapidan Campaign May-June. Todd's Tavern May 5-6. Wilderness May 6-7. Todd's Tavern May 7-8. Corbin's Bridge. Spottsylvania, May 8. Davenport Ford May 9. Sheridan's Raid to James River May 9-24. North Anna River May 9-10. Ground Squirrel Church, Ashland and Yellow Tavern May 11. Brooks' Church, or Richmond Fortifications, May 12. Line of the Pamunkey May 26-28. Totopotomoy May 28-31. Cold Harbor May 31-June 1, About Cold Harbor June 1-7, Sumner's Upper Bridge June 2. Sheridan's Trevillian Raid June 7-24. Trevillian Station June 11-12. Newark, or Mallory's Cross Roads, June 12. Black Creek, or Tunstall Station, and White House, or St. Peter's Church, Jnne 21. St. Mary's Church June 24. Camp at Prince George Court House June 27-July 13. Weldon Railroad and Warwick Swamp July 12. At Lee's Mills till July 26. Demonstration on north side of James River July 27-29. Deep Bottom July 27-28. Malvern Hill July 28. Lee's Mills July 30. Scouting duty till August 14. Demonstration north of James River August 14-18. Gravel Hill August 14. Strawberry Plains August 14-18. Charles City Cross Roads August 18. 'Weldon Railroad August 19-21. Dinwiddie Road, near Ream's Station, August 23. Ream's Station August 25. Hawkinsville September 14. Jerusalem Plank Road September 16. Belcher's Mills September 17. Poplar Grove Church September 29-0ctober 2. Davis' Farm September 30. Arthur's Swamp September 30-0ctober 1. Vaughan Road October 1. (Old members left front for Massachusetts October 25, 1864.) Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher's Run, October 27-28. At McCann's Station till November 18. Reconnoissance toward Stony Creek November 7. At Westbrook House till December 1. Stony Creek Station December 1. Bellefield Raid December 7-12. Bellefield December 9-10. At Westbrook House till Marrh 17, 1865. Dabney's Mills, Hatcher's Run, February 5-7. Provost duty at City Point till April 2. Fall of Petersburg April 2. Provost duty till May 27. Duty in the Defences of Washington till June 26. Mustered out June 29, 1865, and discharged at Readville, Mass., July 24, 1865.

    3rd Battallion.-(Cos. "I," "K," "L" and "M.") Duty in District of Beaufort, S. C., till Angust, 1862. Action at Pocotaligo, S. C., May 22, 1862 (Detachment). Patrol and guard duty and picketing Broad River. Expedition to St. John s Bluff, Fla., September 30-0ctober 13, 1862. Expedition to Pocotaligo, S. C., October 2123. Pocotaligo Bridge October 21. Caston and Frampton's Plantation October 22. Attached to 10th Army Corps, Dept. of the South. Company "M" at Hilton Head, S. C., and outpost duty at Lawton's Plantation till August, 1863. A Detachment of Company "I" at Folly Island, S. C., till July, 1863, and Morris Island, S. C., to August, 1863. Balance of Company "I" on outpost duty at Hilton Head, S. C., June to August, 1863. Permanently detached from 1st Cavalry by S. C. 346, War Department, August 4, 1863, and designated Independent Battalion, Massachusetts Cavalry (which see).

    Regiment lost during service 6 Officers and 93 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 140 Enlisted men by disease. Total 239.


See also:

Allen, Stanton. Down in Dixie: life in a Cavalry Regiment in the War Days, from the Wilderness to Appomattox. Boston: D. Lothrop Company, 1893.

Crowninshield, Benjamin W. A History of the First Regiment of Massachusetts Cavalry Volunteers.  Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1891.;

United States National Archives and Records Service. Compiled Records Showing Service of Military Units in Volunteer Union Organizations - Massachusetts First Cavalry through Fourth Cavalry, First Heavy Artillery First Battalion, Heavy Artillery Second Heavy Artillery.