Second Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry
Three Years

Acton men who served in the 2nd Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry:

George Desmond, Co. G (prisoner)

Harry F. Gibbs, Co. H

Samuel C. Hanscom, Co. A (killed)


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

The 2d Regt. Mass. Vol. Cav. was recruited during the fall of 1862 and the winter following. The first company, "A", was raised in California by Capt. J. Sewell Reed, and was known as the "California Hundred". This company was mustered in at San Francisco, Dec. 10, 1862. It arrived in Boston, Jany. 3, 1863, and was assigned to the quota of Boston. Later four more companies were raised in California by Major Thomp­son, "E", "F", "L", and" M", and became known as the "California Battalion". The remaining companies were raised largely in Boston and other places in the easterly part of Massachusetts, the last company, "H", not being mustered in until June 20, 1863. The regiment rendezvoused at Camp Meigs, Readville. Charles Russell Lowell, Jr., who had been a captain in the 6th Regt. U. S. Cavalry, and had served on the staff of Maj. Genl. George B. McClellan from July to November, 1862, was commissioned colonel of the regiment.

Companies "A", "B", "C", "D", and "K" left for Baltimore, Md., Feb. 12, 1863, and proceeded thence to Fort Monroe and from there to Gloucester Point, opposite York­town, Va. This battalion under Maj. Caspar Crowninshield was engaged in various raids and expeditions in southeastern Virginia until Aug. 6, when it reported to Colonel Lowell who was at Centreville with the main body of the regiment.

The main body of the regiment left Readville, Mass. for the seat of war May 11, pro­ceeding to Washington and camping near that city until July 19, during which period it was engaged in raids and scouting expeditions in the region between Washington and the Blue Ridge.

Having been joined by Major Crowninshield's Battalion, Aug. 6, the career of the regiment as a unit began. At Coyle Tavern near Fairfax Court House, Aug. 24, 1863, in a fight with Mosby's Battalion the 2d Cavalry lost two killed, two wounded, and sev­eral prisoners. About Sept. 15 the 3d Battalion under Major Thompson was transferred to Muddy Brook, Md., where it did picket and patrol duty during the fall and winter. The 1st and 2d Battalions at Centreville were commanded by Major Forbes and Captain Reed, Major Crowninshield commanding the regiment and Colonel Lowell the brigade. These battalions were transferred to Vienna in October and spent the following winter guarding against forays by guerilla bands.

The first severe engagement of the regiment was at Dranesville, Feb. 22, 1864, where Captain Reed and about 125 of his men were surprised and defeated, the captain and nine men being killed, seven wounded, and 57 captured. When spring opened several line officers were discharged to accept commissions in the 4th and 5th Regiments of Massa­chusetts Cavalry. The 2d Regiment was active all through the spring of 1864 doing patrol duty and making raids in the northern part of Virginia. On April 24 its camp was moved to Falls Church. In June a detachment went to the Wilderness battlefield and brought off about fifty wounded men who had been left there.

On July 6, Major Forbes, commanding a detachment of about 150 men, was defeated by Mosby's men in a fight at Mount Zion Church near Aldie, Va., losing eight killed, nine wounded, and 38 prisoners including Major Forbes himself and Chaplain Humphreys. Captain Stone was mortally wounded in this action.

Operating against General Early in July, 1864, during the latter’s raid toward Washington, the 2nd Cavalry was engaged at Fort Stevens on July 12, and at Rockville, Md. on the 13th, suffering a loss of six killed and about 100 wounded or captured. The regiment followed with General Wright’s (6th) Corps in pursuit of the enemy until Early’s force had retired across the Shenandoah River, then returned to its camp at Falls Church. Again reporting to General Wright at Rockville, Md., July 26, the regiment was soon after as­signed to the 3d Brigade, 1st Division, Cavalry Corps, but about Sept. 9 it was transferred to the Reserve Brigade of the same Division, the Brigade being commanded by Colonel Lowell. For twenty-one consecutive days in the month of August the regiment was under fire. Captain Phillips was wounded on the 22d, Captain Eigenbrodt was killed on the 25th at Halltown near Harper's Ferry, Lieutenant Meader was killed on the 26th near Charlestown, and during the month the regiment lost six men killed, 28 wounded, and 20 prisoners. In reconnaissances on Opequan Creek between Sept. 7 and 13 it was frequently engaged with loss, on the 13th at Locke's Ford losing four men mortally wounded and four wounded, not mortally. At Winchester, Sept. 19, its loss was slight. Pursuing the enemy as far as Waynesboro, here on Sept. 28 it had three killed, five wounded, and two captured. It was engaged at Round Top Mountain, Oct. 8, at Tom's Brook, Oct. 9, and in the battle of Cedar Creek, October 19, losing in the latter action 10 killed, and 22 wounded. Here Colonel Lowell fell mortally wounded, dying the next morning in Middletown. Captain Smith also died of wounds on the evening after the battle. Lieutenant Colonel Crownin­shield now became colonel, Major Forbes, lieutenant colonel, and Captain Rumery, major.

During the rest of the fall the regiment was active in the lower valley, and the close of the year found it in camp on the Front Royal road a few miles south of Winchester. Late in February, 1865, it left the Valley and proceeded to join the Army of the Potomac before Petersburg. Outpost and scouting duty north and east of Richmond occupied the regiment until the last of March. On March 31, and April 1 the 2d Cavalry was sharply engaged at Dinwiddie Court House and Five Forks, losing on the 31st Lieutenant Munger killed, and Lieutenants Papanti and Thompson wounded. Lieutenant Tucker was wounded April 1. In all on these two days the regiment lost about 20 officers and men killed, wounded, and missing. These engagements broke the Confederate right, uncovered the Southside Railroad, and insured the fall of Petersburg.

Following in pursuit of the enemy, after the evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, on the 6th of April it participated in the battle of Sailor's Creek in which Generals Ewell, Kershaw, and Custis Lee were captured and Ewell's Corps broken up. On the evening of April 8 it assisted in the capture of Lee's supply trains at Appomattox Station, and on the following morning was with the troops which stopped the further progress of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House.

Returning to Petersburg, April 18, six days later it started for North Carolina to operate against Johnston's army, but, that force surrendering April 26, the 2d Cavalry soon returned to the north side of the Appomattox River. On May 10, it started north­ward, reaching Washington, D. C., May 21. After the Grand Review, May 23, the regi­ment went into camp near Cloud's Mill and later at Fairfax Court House. Here, on the 20th of July, it was mustered out of the United States service. Two days later it started for Massachusetts, returning to its old rendezvous at Camp Meigs, Readville, where, on August 3, 1865, the men were paid off and the regiment disbanded.


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

     Company "A" organized at San Francisco, Cal., December 10, 1862. Arrived at Readville, Mass., January 4, 1863. Companies "B," "C," "D," "G," "H," "I" and "K" organized at Camp Meigs, Readville, Mass. Companies "E," "F," "L" and "M" organized at San Francisco, Cal., February and March, 1863. Left San Francisco for Readville. Mass., March 21 and joined Regiment at Readville, Mass., as California Battalion April 16, 1863. Companies "A," "B," "C," "D" and "K" left Massachusetts for Baltimore, Md.; thence moved to Fortress Monroe, Va., February 12-18, 1863; thence moved to Gloucester Point, Va., February 19. Attached to Cavalry Command, 4th Army Corps, Dept. of Virginia. Engaged in picket and outpost duty and scouting until July, 1863. Reconnaissance from Gloucester March 30. Expedition to Gloucester Court House April 7. Companies "A" and "B" moved to Williamsburg, Va., and reconnaissance to White House April 27-May 14. Expedition to King and Queen County May 6. Companies "C," "D" and "K" moved to West Point May 15 and duty there until June 1. Dix's Peninsula Campaign June 24-July 7. Expedition to South Anna Bridge June 23-28. Action at Hanovertown and South Anna Bridge June 26. Expedition from White House to South Anna River July 1-7. Expedition to Gloucester Court House July 25. Moved to Washington, D.C., July 27-29, and joined Regiment at Centreville, Va., August 6. Companies "E," "F," "G," "H," "I," "L" and "M" moved from Readville, Mass., to Washington, D.C., May 11-16, 1863. Attached to Casey's Provisional Troops, 22nd Corps, to August, 1863. King's Division, 22nd Corps, to September, 1863. Cavalry Brigade, 22nd Corps, to August, 1864. Reserve Cavalry Brigade, 1st Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of Shenandoah, Middle Military Division, to September, 1864. 3rd (Reserve) Brigade, 1st Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of Shenandoah and Army of the Potomac, to July, 1865.

    SERVICE.--Duty at East Capital Hill, Defenses of Washington, D.C., until May 30, 1863, and at Camp Brightwood June 1-11. Moved to Poolesville, Md., June 23, and patrol duty in rear of the Army of the Potomac June 23-July 3. Brockville July 1. Scout near Dawsonville July 3-9. Reconnaissance to Ashby's Gap July 11-14. Action at Ashby's Gap July 12. Rockville, Md., July 13. Reconnaissance to Warrenton July 20-21. Skirmishes at Warrenton July 21 and 31. Operations about Fairfax Court House July 28-August 3. Near Aldie July 30. Duty at Centreville, Va., operating against Moseby until October 6. Companies "C," "F," "G" and "I" detached at Muddy Branch September 15, 1863, to March 8, 1864. Warrenton Pike August 17. Coyle's Tavern, near Fairfax Court House, August 24. Expeditions from Centreville August 15-19, September 18-20 and October 2-5. Ordered to Fairfax Court House October 6, thence to Vienna October 9 and duty there until May 24, 1864. Scout to Gum Springs October 12-13, 1863. Near Annandale October 22. Tyson's Cross Roads November 14. Reconnaissance to Blue Ridge Mountains November 18-26. Picket attacks December 12-23. Affair at Germantown December 13 (Detachment). Scout from Vienna to Middleburg December 18-20. Skirmish with Moseby December 29. Near Ellis and Ely's Fords January 17, 1864. Ellis Ford January 26. Scout to Aldie February 4-6. Aldie February 5. Near Circlesville February 21. Dranesville February 22. Scout to Farmwell February 25-26. Companies "B," "D," "E" and "M" relieve Companies "C," "F," "G" and "I" at Muddy Branch March 8. Expedition to Faquier and Loudoun Counties April --. Affair Leesburg April 19 (Detachment). Action with Moseby near Leesburg April 28. Scout to Upperville April 28-May 1. Patrol duty on Orange & Alexandria Railroad May --. Moved to Fall's Church May 24. Escort wounded from the Wilderness June 8-14. Point of Rocks July 5. Action with Moseby at Mr. Zion Church, near Aldie, July 6. Frederick Pike July 7-8. Tennallytown July 10. Fort Reno and near Fort Stevens July 11. Fort Stevens and about Northern Defenses of Washington July 11-12. Rockville, Md., July 13. Poolesville, Md., July 14. Pursuit of Early to Snicker's Gap July 14-28. Snicker's Gap July 17-18. At Rockville July 26-August 9. Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign August to November. Shepherdstown August 10. White Post August 12. Strasburg August 15. Winchester August 17 and 18. Opequan Creek August 18. Near Opequan Creek August 19. Berryville Pike August 20. Summit Point August 21. Charleston August 21-22. Halltown August 22-24. Summit Point August 25-27. Smithfield August 29. Berryville September 3-4. Berryville Pike September 4. Opequan Creek September 7. Locke's Ford, Opequan Creek, September 13. Sevier's Ford, Opequan Creek, September 15. Battle of Opequan, Winchester, September 19. Front Royal and Snake Mountain September 20. Fisher's Hill September 21. Milford September 22, Mill's Ford September 23. Toll Gate, near Front Royal, September 23. Luray Valley September 24. Port Republic September 26-27. Rockfish Gap September 28. Waynesboro September 28, 29 and 30 and October 2. Mt. Crawford October 2. Tom's Brook, "Woodstock Races," October 8-9. Battle of Cedar Creek October 19. Guarding Winchester & Potomac Railroad November 3-28. Near Kernstown November 11. Expedition to Loudoun and Faquier Counties November 28-December 3. Expedition to Gordonsville December 19-28. Madison Court House December 20. Gordonsville December 23. Charlottesville December 24. At Camp Russell, near Winchester, January 1 to February 27, 1865. Sheridan's Raid to White House Landing February 27-May 25. Occupation of Staunton March 2. Waynesborough March 2. Duguidsville March 8. South Anna Bridge March 14. Destruction of Virginia Central Railroad and James River Canal. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. White Oak Road, near Five Forks, March 30. Dinwiddie Court House March 30-31. Five Forks April 1. Scott's Cross Roads April 2. Tabernacle Church or Beaver Pond Creek April 4. Sailor's Creek April 6. Appomattox Station April 8. Appomattox Court House April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. At Nottawny Station until April 19. Expedition to Danville April 23-29. Near Petersburg to May 10. March to Washington, D.C., May 10-16. Grand Review May 23. Near Cloud's Mills May 29-June 26, and at Fairfax Court House until July 20, Mustered out July 20, 1865.

    Regiment lost during service 8 Officers and 82 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 3 Officers and 138 Enlisted men by disease. Total 231.

See also:

Humphreys, Charles A. Field, Camp, Hospital and Prison in the Civil War, 1863-1865; Charles A. Humphreys, Chaplain, Second Massachusetts Cavalry Volunteers. Boston: Press of Geo. H. Ellis Co., 1918.

United State 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.