Originally 4th Tennessee Infantry Regiment.
Organized at Camp Garber, Flat Lick, Kentucky in April, 1862; mustered out at Nashville, April and June, 1865. Men from Bradley, Cocke, Knox, Union, Grainger, Jefferson, Greene, Hawkins and Hancock Counties.
This regiment was originally organized as the 4th Tennessee Infantry at Camp Garber, near Flat Lick, Kentucky, during November, 1861. It was first reported in the Official Record on April 30, 1862, as part of Brigadier General J. G. Spears' 25th Brigade, of Brigadier General George W. Morgan's 7th Division, Army of the Ohio. Other members of the brigade were the 3rd, 5th, and 6th Tennessee Infantry Regiments.
On May 21, 1862 it was at Cumberland Ford, Kentucky, temporarily attached to Brigadier General Samuel P. Carter's 24th Brigade. It left Cumberland Ford with Carter's Brigade on June 8, with much labor crossed over Pine Mountain to Big Creek Gap, where the regiment joined Spears' Brigade on June 15, 1862. With General Spears' Brigade it occupied Cumberland Gap on June 18, 1862, where it remained for some time. On July 28, a Confederate report estimated the regiment with 160 men at Cumberland Gap.
On July 30, 1862 General Morgan wrote "I have received the following telegram from Colonel Swords: 'Governor Johnson telegraphed that the Secretary of War has advised the purchase of horses for Colonel Johnson's Regiment. Do you want them purchased?' I have no instructions on the subject of converting the 4th Tennessee to cavalry. Governor Johnson has authorized the organization of two other regiments of cavalry which would be useful. A greater force could not be fed. What action shall I take?" To which Major General D. C. Buell replied: "No order for converting Johnson's regiment into cavalry. Best not to mount Johnson."
The regiment remained in the Cumberland Gap area until the evacuation of that point by General Morgan on September 17, 1862, and went with Morgan on his withdrawal to the Ohio River, and thence into western Virginia. On October 12, 1862, General Morgan, at Portland, Ohio, reporting on the organization of his forces, listed the 4th Tennessee Infantry, Colonel Johnson, with 748 men. On October 31, the regiment was still reported in General Spears' Brigade, then known as the 1st Brigade of General Morgan's District of Western Virginia. At this time there was another regiment known as the 1st East Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, Colonel R. M. Edwards, which was also reported in Morgan's District of Western Virginia. Colonel Edwards' regiment later became the 4th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, and should not be confused with Colonel Johnson's regiment.
About November 1, 1862, the designation of Johnson's regiment was changed from the 4th Tennessee Infantry to the 1st Tennessee Cavalry Regiment. At about the same time, another regiment of infantry was in process of organization under Colonel Daniel Stover, which became the 4th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, but it had no connection with this regiment.
On December 28, 1862, about 800 strong, not fully armed and equipped, Johnson's regiment was ordered to Louisville, Kentucky, where Brigadier General Jeremiah T. Boyle was urged to take the offensive as quickly as possible against Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, who had captured Elizabethtown, Kentucky, on December 27, and penetrated as far as Bardstown. Before such an expedition could be mounted, the 1st Tennessee Cavalry on January 5, 1863, was ordered to Nashville, Tennessee, to join Major General William S. Rosecrans. It reached Nashville January 28, 1863, where it was immediately engaged in numerous skirmishes with the Confederate cavalry forces around Franklin and Triune, Tennessee. Until the organization of the Cavalry Corps, the regiment was attached to Brigadier General James B. Steedman's 3rd Division, XIV Corps. About June 1, Brigadier General Robert B. Mitchell was placed in command of the Cavalry Corps, Army of the Cumberland, and the regiment was placed in Colonel A. P. Campbell's 1st Brigade of Colonel Edward M. McCook's 1st Division. It served in the same brigade and division throughout the war, although in different Military Districts.
The regiment remained around Triune until June 23, 1863, when General Rosecrans began the operations which resulted in the withdrawal of the Confederate Army under General Bragg to Chattanooga. It reported engagements at Rover, Middleton, Guy's Gap, Shelbyville and Cowan's Station; It then moved down into Alabama, and across Sand Mountain into Georgia, where it had skirmishes near Rome and LaFayette. It then moved up to Chickamauga, Georgia, but was not actively engaged in that battle on September 19-20, 1863. With other troops it formed a line of battle across Chattanooga Valley until the wagon trains and a column of wounded had passed, and retired into Chattanooga on September 22.
It moved to Bridgeport, Alabama, on September 25, and from here, on October 1, started in pursuit of Major General Joseph Wheeler, in the raid which he made around the Federal Army. It marched 350 miles in 14 days, had a fight with Brigadier General Philip D. Roddey's Division in Alabama, and wound up at Winchester, Tennessee on October 15.
From Winchester, detachments were sent into the area around McMinnville and Sparta, Tennessee. On October 28, 1863, Colonel H. C. Gilbert, 19th Michigan Infantry Regiment at McMinnville, reported: "I found the Town in a most deplorable condition. The Rebels robbed the citizens of pretty much all they had; and after they left, the 1st East Tennessee Cavalry were sent here, and from what I learn, were a nuisance hardly inferior to the Rebels. They stabled their horses in the public buildings, and quartered in the houses. The Town was indescribably filthy."
On November 25, at Sparta, Tennessee, the regiment had a sharp engagement with Confederate forces under Colonel John M. Hughs, 25th Tennessee Infantry, who was in that area recruiting and gathering up stragglers.
On November 27, 1863, the brigade was ordered to Kingston, with instructions to harass Lieutenant General James Longstreet, then engaged in the siege of Knoxville. It did not reach Kingston until December 11, by which time Longstreet had been repulsed at Knoxville, and had moved further east.
The regiment, in pursuit of Longstreet, had a sharp engagement at Hay's Ferry near Dandridge, Tennessee on December 24, and another at Mossy Creek on December 29. In these engagements Major Thornburgh and Lieutenant Paul Sturm were killed, and Captain E. J. Cannon and Lieutenant George W. Cox mortally wounded. Colonel Edward M. McCook, reporting on the fight at Mossy Creek, wrote: "The gallant 1st East Tennessee Cavalry, and their brave young commander, Lieutenant Colonel Brownlow, added new laurels to their brilliant reputation by the splendid sabre charge they made." The tribute would seem to have been well deserved, for the division had been entirely surrounded by Confederate forces under Generals Martin, Armstrong and John T. Morgan, and the charge of the 1st Tennessee enabled it to break the ring and escape. It should be stated that from the time the regiment reached Nashville the regiment had been under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Brownlow. Colonel Johnson was never in command of the regiment when it was in active service.
On December 15, 1863, an order was issued transferring the regiment from the 1st Brigade to the 3rd Brigade, which was then around Chattanooga, with a request that the regiment be forwarded as soon as possible. The order must have been rescinded, for on December 31, and in all subsequent reports, the regiment continued to be reported in the 1st Brigade.
After the engagement at Mossy Creek, the regiment reported to Colonel Palmer, 15th Pennsylvania Volunteers, at Dandridge, Tennessee, and remained there scouting and skirmishing in Cocke and Sevier Counties through January 1864. In one of these engagements, at Fair Gardens, on January 27, the regiment was surrounded, and Lieutenant Colonel Brownlow and a number of his men were captured, but escaped the following night, and returned to their own camp.
On April 1, 1864, the Cavalry Corps was re-organized, and all the Tennessee regiments with the exception of the 1st Tennessee were assigned to a division to be commanded by Brigadier General Alvan C. Gillem. The 1st Tennessee, 2nd Michigan and 8th Iowa constituted the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, still commanded by Colonel Edward M. McCook. McCook shortly thereafter was promoted to Brigadier General. On April 30, the 1st Brigade was reported at Cleveland, Tennessee, but left there May 3 to take part in the Atlanta campaign.
Principal actions in the Atlanta campaign in which the regiment took part were at Potato Hill, Georgia on May 8, at Lost Mountain on June 16, and General McCook's raid from Newnan to Lovejoy Station, on the Macon Railroad south of Atlanta, July 27-31. This raid ended in disaster, as the raiders were cut off and surrounded, and only a few managed to cut their way out. Colonel Brownlow reported that he reached Conyers, Georgia, with only 28 men, though others later straggled in. Colonel Brownlow was reported as brigade commander from July 30 to August 12, when Brigadier General John T. Croxton returned to command. Brownlow, about this time, was given a Brevet commission as Brigadier General and the regiment from this time forth was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Calvin Dyer.
It returned to Nashville to be remounted, and formed part of the forces sent out from Nashville to intercept Major General Joseph Wheeler on his raid through Middle Tennessee. It was in action at LaVergne on September 1, and followed Wheeler southward until he crossed the Tennessee River. It did scout duty along the Tennessee River until General John B. Hood crossed the river in the middle of November. On November 30, while the battle of Franklin was going on, Croxton's brigade had an engagement with Forrest's cavalry at Douglas Church, near Franklin.
In the battle of Nashville, December 15-16, 1864, the regiment was stationed on the Charlotte Pike on the 15th, and charged and dislodged a Confederate battery. It was not actively engaged on the 16th, but took part in the pursuit of General Hood's Army until it crossed the Tennessee River in Alabama. On December 24, it captured a battle flag from Brigadier General James R. Chalmers' Division at Richland Creek on the road from Columbia to Pulaski.
On January 27, 1865, the regiment, along with the brigade, was sent to make a reconnaisance as far as Corinth, Mississippi, following which it returned to Waterloo, Alabama. It returned to Nashville on February 10, where it remained on duty until mustered out June 14, 1865.
This unit history was extracted from Tennesseans in the Civil War, Vol 1. Copyrighted © 1964 by the “Civil War Centennial Commission of Tennessee” and is published here with their permission.
This history may not be republished for any reason without the written permission of the copyright owner.
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