Book Review: Small But Important Riots



Small But Important Riots: The Cavalry Battles of Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville. Robert F. O’Neill. January 2023: Potomac Books, 360 pages.

This book provides a definitive account of five days of fighting in the Loudoun Valley during the Gettysburg campaign. O’Neill’s master work not only covers a multitude of engagements, but is able to link them all together coherently while maintaining each in its own context. His analysis includes the larger tactical picture and the intent of the commanders on both sides. The work not only examines the moves of Stuart, Pleasonton and Hooker, but the reasoning behind them that led to the engagements happening where and when they did. In Pleasonton’s case in particular, there are keen insights into why he employed his cavalry corps the way he did.

Small But Important Riots is so exhaustively researched that in some places I spent nearly as much time examining the notes as I did reading the text. The author weaves hundreds of personal accounts from soldiers on both sides together to compose his narrative, many of them previously unpublished.

The plentiful use of Julie Krick’s excellent maps makes it easy for the reader to follow and understand the numerous engagements spread over a large area. The appendices provide additional details concerning order of battle and unit losses. His final appendix on horses and ordnance is so well organized that it could be expanded into a book of its own.

This book should be on the shelf of anyone interested in Civil War cavalry or the Gettysburg campaign.

Levi Bailey Croy, 6th U.S. Cavalry


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Photo courtesy of John Boggs, Jr.

Reader John Boggs, Jr. was kind enough to share this picture and letter of his ancestor. This is the first censored letter that I have seen from a regular soldier. A biographical sketch follows the letter. Levi Croy is mentioned numerous times in S.M. Davis’ Uncommon Soldier, Common War as well as in our book on the 6th U.S. Cavalry. I have preserved the letter’s original spelling and punctuation.

“Sixth U.S. Cavalry

Col. Emory Commanding

Letter No. 1, Aug. 2, 1862

My dear family; I rec’d yours of 27 of July, today. I had not rec’d any for so long I began to be uneasy. I was glad to learn of your health & sympathise with you very much in regard to your potatoes. I am very glad to hear you have a cow. Please let me know who of your neighbours was so kind. What did cow cost. I saw young Alexander today in the 10th Pa. reserves. He is well. Nite before last we had a nice spree the rebbels came down on the opposite side of the river & planted 6 or 8 guns & blazed away at our camps. I tell you they threw the shells & solid shot in fast. They had a cross fire on our camp & don no damage but kild one horse & riddled two tents not a man hurt the shell flew about 2 miles as far as the Pennsylvania reserves. A good many horses were kild in different camps but very few men. Our seage guns & gun boats got in action in a few minutes & made them skedaddle in short meetee. We have a heavy force (censored) river. Now I think (censored) no danger of another (censored). You asked when the war (censored). That is a question I am (censored) to answer but I am afraid be some time. However I think we will make a move before long I had made up my mind there would be nothing don this month. But it is my belief now we will haf to fight soon or give it up for a bad job but I believe if they let McClelan have his own way he will take Richmond & do it pretty easy. Pope is in the Shenandoey valley & I have more faith in him than all the others except McClelan he is the pet of the Army of the Potomac. Since writing the above our Regt has bin ordered out whare or for what purpos I don’t know. I am so bothered by diareahe that I have remaind in camp it is dark and I will quit for tonite. – Aug. 3rd a beautiful morn. Our Regt returned about 3 o’clock this morning was out mearly on a reconnaissance. All quiet so far as they went or seen. Our camps has not been disturbed since. I think there will be a move soon& I will be able to send the glad news to you that the Army of the Potomac is in Richmond. I am expecting our pay every day & as there is a chance to send the money by express I will wait a while & send you $25 at once it will cost the same.  I don’t think you receive all my letters so I have numbered this & will continue to no. them as I write. You do the same & still mention the no. of the ones you receive & I will do the same then we can tell if any is miscarried. I have asked you in several letters if you ever recd the letter containing the $5 in & have got no answer. I sent you a book most a month ago & put 2 post stamps on & was told by the P.M. it would go. I have asked you in 2 letters if it came to hand I have got no answer. I got the book at the Battle of Hanover Courthouse as it was taken by me from the nap sack of a fallen rebel & would be very interesting to the children also beneficial to them. I hope it has reached you safe. I recd the stamps and am much obliged for them. I am out again & would be glad if you could send me som more as they cant be had here only as friends sends them. I am glad to hear of Roberts situation what salery does he get. I think you try to get as small sheets of paper as possible & don’t fill them either. I understand there will be drafts made do you think Mercer Co. will rase its quota without. I hope so I would be very sorry to have my native place compeld to draft soldiers to protect its country. If Thomas wishes I will write him a scetch of the proceedings of the army so far as it has come under my my own observation for Publication. But I suppose he has plenty of others. Give my Respects to all the friends & tell Beccy Peirce I am obliged to her & when I com home I shal surely call for the chicken & I am sure if I had it here I would make quick havoc with a verry large one. I had some butter for supper last nite the first I have tasted for months. Please let me receive no. one letter soon. I remain your affectionate


Levi Bailey Croy was born on May 16, 1826 in Butler County, Pennsylvania. He was the second son and fifth of seven children. His father was a merchant in Shenango, Pennsylvania in 1850, according to census data. Levi lived worked as a trader and lived with his parents. He married Jennie Irwin the same year and the two had four children prior to the outbreak of the Civil War.

Lieutenant Hancock McLean enlisted Levi into Company F, 6th U.S. Cavalry on July 3, 1861 in Pittsburgh. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’ 10” tall, with gray eyes, light hair and a fair complexion.

Levi served ably through the regiment’s initial campaigns, earning promotions to corporal and sergeant. He was captured at the battle of Fairfield and later imprisoned at Belle Isle. He was fortunate enough to be paroled in late September and was not sent to Andersonville like some of his companions. He returned to the regiment and continued to serve until the expiration of his term of service in the field on July 3, 1864.

Levi returned to his family in Pennsylvania. According to census data, by 1870 he worked as an engineer at oil wells in Venango County. The family now included six children, and they added a seventh before the 1880 census. By 1880 the family settled near the city of Beaver in Clarion County, where Levi worked as a farmer.

Levi Bailey Croy died on August 8, 1880 at the age of 54. He is buried in St. Paul’s Union Cemetery, Beaver, Clarion County. Pennsylvania.

George Hollister, 6th U.S. Cavalry



George Newton Hollister was born in Hartford, Connecticut on September 27, 1843. During his childhood he moved with his family to St. Anthony, Minnesota.

George answered his state’s first call for volunteers at the outbreak of the Civil War. Captain George Morgan enlisted him as a private into Company E, 1st Minnesota Infantry at Fort Snelling, Minnesota on April 29, 1861. He served through all of the regiment’s engagements during the next year and a half. He remained unwounded after 1st Bull Run and Antietam, where the regiment suffered 20% and 28% casualties respectively.

After the battle of Antietam, George was one of several members of the 1st Minnesota to transfer to the regular cavalry. Lieutenant Ira Claflin enlisted him into Company F, 6th U.S. Cavalry on October 28, 1862 in Knoxville, Maryland. His enlistment documents describe him as 19 years old, 5′ 6″ tall, with hazel eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion.

Private Hollister served the remainder of his enlistment with the 6th U.S. Cavalry. After time in the regiment’s dismounted camp to learn his new trade, he participated in Stoneman’s Raid, Brandy Station, the Gettysburg campaign and picket duty during the winter of 1863. He was extremely fortunate, avoiding wounds and capture in the regiment’s fighting at Fairfield and Funkstown. He was discharged at the expiration of his term of service at the 6th Cavalry’s camp on April 29, 1864.

Like many veterans, George travelled west after the war. He spent most of his postwar years on the border of Washington and Idaho. He married Elmira Camp in Waitsburg, Washington on November 5, 1872. They had three daughters together before she died in 1914.

George Hollister died in Lewiston, Idaho on November 30, 1926 at the age of 83. He is buried in the Genesee City Cemetery, Genesee, Idaho, next to his wife.

1862 in Review – 1st U.S. Cavalry



I spent a lot of time with the 1st U.S. Cavalry this year, so it only seems fitting to highlight their year 160 years ago. They are the only regular regiment of the Reserve Brigade without a published history, so I have been cobbling one together for them.

January found the majority of the regiment finally closing on Camp Sprague in Washington, D.C. Companies A, B, F and K arrived in December. By January 19th, Companies C and E arrived on the steam ship Sonora and Companies H and I on the steamship Light. The regiment’s field and staff was at its full strength of 4 officers and 14 enlisted men. The 8 line companies included 9 officers and 344 enlisted men, an average of 43 per company. Companies D and G remained in New Mexico, with no officers present and 49 ad 54 enlisted men respectively. Unbeknownst to the rest of the regiment, First Sergeants Reuben Bernard of Company D and William Pennock of Company G were appointed acting second lieutenants by Brigadier General George Crook on January 5th. Desperately short of officers, he was forced to appoint his own until they could be approved by the War Department. The two companies served as his escort in January, then functioned as a squadron when active campaigning began the following month.

On February 1st Colonel Benjamin Beall retired. Colonel George A. H. Blake succeeded him, and almost immediately departed to command the 2nd Brigade of the Cavalry Reserve. Lt. Col. William N. Grier assumed command of the regiment. An experienced cavalryman and Mexican War veteran brevetted for gallantry, Grier had served in the regiment since his graduation from West Point in 1831.

In February the majority of the regiment drilled at Camp Sprague when they were not performing provost guard duty.  

Companies D and G skirmished near Fort Craig, NM on February 19th and fought in the battle of Valverde on February 21st. The Confederates killed Private William Monroe of Company D and wounded 2 men of Company D and 7 men of Company G . The two companies fought at the battle of Glorietta Pass neat Santa Fe in late March, but suffered no casualties.

The regiment departed Camp Sprague in groups during the month of March, consolidating again in a camp near Alexandria at the end of the month. The companies boarded schooners and arrived at Hampton, Virginia on April 3rd. After a week at Kentucky Farm, they established camp with the rest of the Cavalry Reserve at Ship Point on the York River. On April 24th they moved to Camp Winfield Scott, on Cheeseman’s Creek closer to Yorktown.

At Williamsburg, May 4, 1862, the 1st and 6th U.S. Cavalry fought in a skirmish outside of Williamsburg. The 1st U.S. served as support for Capt. Gibson’s Company C, 3rd U.S. Artillery, positioned in marshy ground. After orders to withdraw, one gun and several caissons mired in the mud. Hoping to capture the materiel, the Confederate cavalry charged. The trail squadron, commanded by Captain Benjamin F. Davis, wheeled about by fours and countercharged. They captured a regimental standard and a captain in the hand to hand fighting. Lt. Col. Grier was slightly wounded, and the regiment lost 13 men. Several weeks of scouting and picket duty followed.

Prior to the battle of Hanover Court House on May 27th, the 1st U.S. Cavalry gathered the following intelligence for the advancing Union infantry:

“My advance guard drove in the enemy’s pickets to within about 3 miles of Hanover Court House. One of the pickets wounded and taken prisoner. All white persons and negroes I found were questioned with regard to the movements of the enemy and their strength at or near Hanover Court House. The results of my examination of them was to the effect there are several regiments stationed at or near Hanover Court House, artillery, cavalry, and infantry. General Branch is said to be in command. I am inclined to think that 5,000 or 6,000 is, as yet, the maximum number of troops stationed there. “

During General Stuart’s ride around the Army of the Potomac in mid June, the regiment participated in the Union forces’ unsuccessful pursuit. The Confederates destroyed the regimental supply train under Lieutenant Joseph Hoyer near Garlick’s Landing, but did not capture any of the escort.

On June 27th, the regiment participated in the battle of Gaines Mill.  They were shifted to multiple positions, frequently while under artillery fire. Lt. Col. Grier’s report included the following description of the regiment:

“The whole strength of the regiment on that day consisted of two small squadrons, about 125 enlisted men, Captain Reno, First Cavalry, commanding one squadron, and Lieutenant Kellogg commanding the other. During the day the regiment was kept moving from one point to another until in the afternoon it was placed, together with the Fifth U.S. Cavalry and Rush’s Lancers, on the extreme left, in the support of our artillery.”

Since the Fifth U.S. Cavalry’s charge failed to disrupt the Confederate attack. The regiment “withdrew in good order at a walk in rear of our artillery.” The regiment lost 26 men over the course of the day, including Lieutenant Robert Allen, Jr. He died on July 27th from complications following the amputation of his leg.

After the army shifted operations to the James River, the 1st U.S. Cavalry operated from a camp near Harrison’s Landing. The months of June and July consisted of escort, provost guard and picket duty.

In July, the regiment’s rapidly decreasing manpower prompted Lt. Col. Grier to recommend breaking up some or all of the regiment.


I respectfully desire to call your attention to the accompanying statement of the present strength of the 1st Regiment of U.S. Cavalry and its further reductio in numbers (by reason of discharge for expiration of service)by the 25th of September next. And that the Regiment may be kept up with a reasonable prospect of efficiency (as to numbers) I would respectfully urge, first, that the available privates now serving with the Army of the Potomac be transferred to another regiment (the 5th or 6th) and the officers and non commissioned officers be sent on the recruiting service, or, secondly, that four of the eight companies be broken up and the privates transferred to fill up the other four companies, and the officers and noncommissioned officers of the companies thus broken up be sent on the recruiting service.”

Decision on the recommendation went all the way to General McClellan, who selected the second option. The privates of companies A, E, F and K, were redistributed among the other companies, bringing their average strength to 74. Company F was completely dissolved. The 21 noncommissioned officers of the other three companies travelled to Carlisle Barracks to recruit and reconstitute the companies. Sick with dysentery, Lt. Col. Grier accompanied them. He never returned to the regiment. The remaining two squadrons were assigned to escort duty at Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, command shifting amongst the four officers present for duty. A number of new officers were appointed in late July, many from the regiment’s enlisted ranks, but they had not yet joined.

As the Army of the Potomac withdrew from the peninsula, the 1st U.S. Cavalry comprised part of the screen under the command of Major Alfred Pleasonton to cover the movement. Among the last regiments to depart from Fortress Monroe in August, the regiment missed the battle of Second Manassas. They functioned as the army’s quartermaster guard during the Antietam campaign.   

The regiment, like all the regular cavalry regiments, benefitted greatly from Adjutant General Order No. 154, which permitted soldiers to transfer from volunteer regiments to regular units. Hundreds of soldiers from volunteer units, especially those who suffered heavy casualties at Antietam, flocked to recruiting officers from regular cavalry and artillery units. Unfortunately, these men initially served in dismounted camps to learn the cavalry trade and were not available for duty.

In October, the regiment, mustering only 120 sabers, participated in a reconnaissance in force to Charlestown, West Virginia. They skirmished with Col. Thomas Munford’s brigade of Confederate cavalry there on the 16th, suffering no casualties. They remained in the vicinity of Harpers Ferry for the rest of the month. Companies D and G remained in New Mexico.

November saw the regiment establish a camp near Falmouth with the rest of the Army of the Potomac. The regiment played no significant role in the battle of Fredericksburg, and the camp remained their home throughout the winter. Average company strength in the field was 60 men. Recruiting continued at Carlisle Barracks for the four disbanded companies. Company A, now 80 men strong, began its journey to rejoin the regiment in late December.

The 1st U.S. Cavalry ended the year with a two-day reconnaissance under General William W. Averell to Morrisville, checking Richards’ and Ellis’ Fords along the Rappahannock River. They would see much more of those fords over the course of the winter.

David Richwine, 1st U.S. Cavalry


Some Union soldiers fought to defend their homes as well.

David Richwine was born in Cumberland, Pennsylvania in 1838. He worked as a laborer on the Sibe family farm near Monroe, Cumberland County by age 13, according to the 1850 census. He eventually became a miller in Carlisle, where he met Anna M. Hoffman. They married on December 12, 1858 in the Second Presbyterian Church of Carlisle. Reverend W.W. Eells performed the service. Their daughter, Mary Catherine, was born six months later.

Like many of his neighbors, David joined a local militia unit at the outbreak of the Civil War. He enlisted as a private in Company H, 1st Pennsylvania Reserve in Carlisle on June 8, 1861. When the regiment was ordered to Baltimore for federal service the week after the first Battle of Bull Run, David was one of twenty men in the company who refused federal service. He remained in Carlisle working as a miller. A son, Edwin, was born in November.

David’s feelings apparently changed after the war came to Carlisle during the Gettysburg campaign. Lieutenant John Johnson enlisted him into Company D, 1st U.S. Cavalry on August 31, 1863. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’7” tall, with blue eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion. His 1st Cavalry squadron, comprised of Companies D and G, arrived at Carlisle the previous month to reconstitute following service in New Mexico since the beginning of the war. In October the squadron moved to Camp Buford at Giesboro Point, Maryland, where it was armed and equipped. On November 6th it departed to rejoin the regiment.

David took to cavalry life well, earning a promotion to corporal before active campaigning resumed in the spring. Sickness struck him in February, eventually requiring evacuation to a hospital in Washington, D.C. until mid May. He returned to the regiment and escaped harm during the heavy fighting at Cold Harbor and Trevillian Station.

The regiment embarked on ships for the initial stage of their journey to the Shenandoah Valley at the beginning of August 1864. Near Fort Washington, Maryland, Corporal Richwine was kicked overboard by a horse and drowned in the Potomac River.

Anna submitted her pension application, which was promptly approved. She received $8 per month, and each of the children $2 per month until age 16. When she remarried in 1867, her new husband’s brother was appointed guardian of the children, and their monthly rate increased to $8 per month each until they turned 16.

Leroy S. Elbert, 3rd U.S. Cavalry


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Leroy S. Elbert was born in Logan County, Ohio on September 4, 1837. His parents moved to Iowa early in his childhood. His father, a prominent doctor, convinced Senator Andrew Hall to nominate Leroy to West Point from Iowa in January 1857. Leroy joined his class there on July 1, 1857.

Elbert graduated  near the bottom of the June class of 1861, only six places ahead of George Custer . He was assigned to the Regiment of Mounted Rifles as a brevet second lieutenant upon graduation, all vacancies in the regiment being full at the Adjutant General’s office. Due to the chaos caused by so many officers resigning and declining appointments, however, he was promoted very rapidly. By the time the smoke cleared with General Order #62 from the Adjutant General’s Office in August, Leroy received his appointment, promoted to second lieutenant in Company L and first lieutenant in Company E effective the day of his graduation, June 24, 1861. Over two years would pass before he joined his regiment.  

First Lieutenant Elbert remained very active in the meantime. Since his regiment was in New Mexico, Leroy hurried directly to Washington, D.C. immediately after graduation like most of his class. He participated in the Manassas campaign and worked through the winter of 1862 drilling troops and seeking a staff position. Since his company was disbanded following the surrender at San Augustine Springs, he saw no compelling need to join his regiment in New Mexico and had no orders to do so.  

He initially applied in January 1862 to serve as an aide de camp to Brigadier General Curtis in St Louis. Despite an endorsement from President Lincoln, this request was denied by Major General McClellan and the Adjutant General’s Office because regular officers were not permitted to serve as aides for generals of volunteers. He served with Captain William P. Chambliss’ squadron of the 5th U.S. Cavalry during the siege of Yorktown and battle of Williamsburg. At the battle of Hanover Court House he served on Brigadier General Emory’s staff as an acting aide de camp. He later served on the staff of Brigadier General Alfred Pleasonton in the same capacity during the Maryland campaign from September to November 1862.

He transferred to the Artillery Reserve of the Army of the Potomac before the battle of Fredericksburg. Placed in charge of the ammunition, First Lieutenant Elbert provided nearly 5,000 rounds to the batteries on the army’s right. Brigadier General Hunt cited his performance in his report on the battle.

During the spring of 1863, Major General Stoneman selected him for the staff of the Cavalry Corps. He served here as an aide de camp through Stoneman’s Raid and the beginning of the Gettysburg campaign. On June 27th, word of his promotion caught up to him. Promoted to Captain of Company G, 3rd U.S. Cavalry on March 11, 1863, he was ordered to immediately join his regiment in the western theater.

Captain Elbert joined his company at Camp McRae, near Memphis, Tennessee. He served there until September, when he became ill with typhoid fever. The regimental commander, Captain George W. Howland, granted him sick leave to go home to Iowa and recover on September 11th. He didn’t make it home.

Captain Leroy S. Elbert died on the steamboat “City of Alton” on September 13, 1863 while en route to St Louis. Captain Samuel Gilbert of the 2nd Iowa Cavalry was with him and sent his body and belongings home from St Louis. He is buried in Oak Lawn Cemetery, Keosauqua, Van Buren County, Iowa.

Fiddler’s Green: Michael Lawless


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Michael Lawless was born in Waterford, Ireland about 1826. He appears to have emigrated from Galway in 1849 on the brig Clarence with his older sister “Biddy” (Bridget?). He listed his occupation as farmer on the passenger list. They arrived in New York on February 10, 1849, and moved to Boston shortly thereafter.

On December 4, 1849, Michael was enlisted into Company I, 1st Dragoons by Lieutenant Charles Jordan. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’7″ tall, with black hair, hazel eyes and a dark complexion. Lawless was working as a laborer at the time of his enlistment. He left the Army at the end of his enlistment on December 4, 1854 as a private at Fort Thorn, NM.

He soon rejoined the Army, enlisting in Company H of the 2nd Dragoons in St Louis, MO on March 13, 1855. This is roughly the amount of time it would have taken him to travel east on the Santa Fe Trail as a civilian from Fort Thorn. Lawless was more successful this enlistment, with promotions to corporal and sergeant. He re-enlisted into the same company on January 13, 1860 at Camp Floyd, Utah Territory. His company commander was Captain Alfred Pleasonton.

Sergeant Lawless accompanied his regiment on its march east at the outbreak of the Civil War, reaching Cantonment Holt in Washington, D.C. by the end of 1861. He served ably in the company during the campaign on the peninsula, rising to the rank of first sergeant by the summer of 1862. On July 19, 1862, he, the regimental sergeant major and several other first sergeants were recommended for commissions by regimental commander Major Alfred Pleasonton through the provost marshal of the Army of the Potomac.

Lawless was promoted to second lieutenant in the same company on July 17, 1862. Interestingly, this was two days before the date of Pleasonton’s recommendation. Due to the pace of operations within the army that summer, he didn’t learn of his promotion until September, just after the battle of Antietam. He accepted his commission on September 23, 1862 at the regiment’s camp near Sharpsburg, MD. There must have been quite a party in the camp that evening, as the sergeant major, quartermaster sergeant and three first sergeants were all notified of their appointments the same day.

Lieutenant Lawless served with Company H through the remainder of the 1862 campaigns, as well as Stoneman’s Raid. He fought well at Brandy Station, where he was one of the few officers of the 2nd Cavalry not killed or wounded. Indeed, he was the only one of the five officers he was commissioned with not to be wounded in the battle. He was promoted to first lieutenant in Company A after the battle, with a date of rank of June 9, 1863. He fought with this company for the rest of the year, frequently commanding it in the absence of its assigned captain.

First Lieutenant Lawless opened the 1864 campaign once again commanding Company A. He led it during the fighting at Todd’s Tavern, Sheridan’s “first raid,” and Old Church. in command of the company. The regimental commander cited him as “distinguished for his personal intrepidity in action and other good qualities as a soldier” during the fighting.

On June 11, 1864, during the opening phase of the battle of Trevillian Station, Lieutenant Lawless was killed while leading his company. In his report on the battle, Brigadier General Wesley Merritt said of him, “he was a fearless, honest, and eminently trustworthy soldier, ‘God’s truth’ being the standard by which he measured all of his actions.”

Originally buried on the battlefield, Lawless was later moved to Culpeper National Cemetery. He appears not to have had a next of kin, as I found no record of a pension claim.

Kentucky Farm, Virginia and the 1st U.S. Cavalry


I’ve been spending some quality time with the regimental returns of the 1st U.S. Cavalry of late. They were the only regiment not to publish a regimental history in the latter half of the 19th Century, relying on the chapter provided to The Army of the United States in 1896 for posterity. I was trying to piece together the extent of their participation in the Peninsula Campaign when I came across the following from the April 1862 monthly return:

“Companies A, B, C, F, I + K 1st Cavalry left camp near Alexandria, Va Mar. 29, ’62. Embarked in schooners and arrived at Hampton, Va about the 3rd of April ’62. Left camp April 4th and encamped on Kentucky Farm same day. Companies E + H left camp near Alexandria April 2nd and arrived at Hampton on the 4th, left camp on the 6th and joined the other companies on Kentucky Farm same day. All of the eight companies left camp on the 11th + arrived at Camp near Ship Point same day. Left Camp near Ship Point on the 24th and arrived at this camp same day.”

“This camp” meaning camp Winfield Scott, where they and the other regular cavalry regiments on the peninsula resided during the siege of Yorktown.

I had never heard of Kentucky Farm before, despite living on the peninsula for a couple of years. I checked my General Index to the O.R. — no mention. Then I used a search engine (we won’t discuss what it could mean that I checked the O.R. before a search engine) and discovered that it is still there. At over 180 acres with land worth what it is these days, they must have been quite successful over the years. But for a week in April 1862 it was host to a little over 300 members of the regular cavalry.

Samuel J. Crockett, 1st U.S. Cavalry


Samuel J. Crockett was born in Baltimore, MD in January, 1837. His parents Hugh and Margaret were both Irish immigrants. The family moved to Cayuga County, NY in 1842, where his father was a farmer.

Samuel was working as a school teacher near Chicago in Sterling, Whiteside County, Illinois at the beginning of the Civil War. He initially enlisted as a private in Company B, 127th Illinois Infantry on September 5, 1862. He was discharged at Camp Douglas just a month later on October 15th for undisclosed reasons. Undeterred, he was enlisted into Company A, 1st U.S. Cavalry by Captain John Feilner on November 6, 1862. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’8″ tall, with brown hair, blue eyes and a light complexion. He was twenty five years old.

The details of Samuel’s service in the 1st U.S. Cavalry are chronicled but currently unknown. He was a good soldier, progressing through the enlisted ranks to first sergeant of his company by the summer of 1863. He kept a diary of his wartime experiences that grew to three volumes by the end of the war. Gettysburg National Military Park has an excerpt of this diary for July 3, 1863, but the whereabouts of the rest of the diary is currently unknown. He was wounded at least once at some point during his service, but not seriously enough to keep him from finishing his enlistment.

Samuel Crockett returned to civilian life at the expiration of his enlistment in New Orleans, Louisiana on November 6, 1865. After a brief trip home, he attended Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University of Philadelphia, PA. Upon graduation in 1867, Dr. Crockett returned home to nearby Oswego County to practice medicine in the town of Sandy Creek. His invalid pension was approved by the War Department on September 8, 1870. Samuel maintained an interest in the Civil War, contributing an account of the fighting on South Cavalry Field at the battle of Gettysburg to John J. Bachelder.

Samuel married Frances C. Doolittle of Oswego County in 1872. They purchased a home in Sandy Creek shortly before the birth of their son, Robert L. Crockett, in February 1876. Samuel practiced medicine and lived there for the rest of his life. Samuel was the treasurer of the Oswego City Medical Society in the early 1870s. Robert became a doctor as well, eventually starting his own practice in nearby Oneida County.

Dr. Samuel Crockett died on April 3, 1906. Frances moved to Oneida and lived with Robert after Samuel’s death. She filed a widow’s pension and survived him by twenty years. They are buried together in Woodlawn Cemetery, Sandy Creek, Oswego County, New York.

Joseph Frederick, 6th U.S. Cavalry


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Joseph Frederick was born to German immigrants on January 15, 1837 near Pittsburgh, PA. He worked as a barber in Pittsburgh prior to the war.

Jospeh mustered into Company C, 37th Pennsylvania Volunteers on April 17, 1861. Raised in the Pittsburgh area, the regiment was ordered to Washington, D.C. on July 30th, and initially served near Tennallytown, MD. It moved to Camp Pierpont near Langley, VA in October, where it spent the winter. After service near Fredericksburg in the spring of 1862, the regiment moved to White House in early June. It arrived just in time for the Seven Days’ Battles, where it lost 230 men killed, wounded and missing in the course of little more than a week. In August, it moved north to join General John Pope’s army and fought at Groveton and Second Manassas, it lost another 52 men. The regiment lost another 54 at South Mountain, and over 50 more at Antietam.

Joseph had seen enough, and he was not alone. He was one of over a dozen members of the 37th Pennsylvania who joined the 6th U.S. Cavalry over a two week period from the end of October to mid-November. Joseph enlisted into Company G near Knoxville, MD on October 28th. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’9″ tall, with light hair, blue eyes and a light complexion.

After time spent in the regiment’s dismounted camp learning to be a cavalryman, Private Frederick joined the regiment in its winter camp near Belle Plain, VA. He, like the rest of the regiment, spent the winter rootating from the camp to picket duty at various fords along the Rappahannock River.

Jospeh’s first real action as a cavalryman came during Stoneman’s Raid in May 1863, which he weathered without incident. He was not so fortunate the following month during his first cavalry fight at Beverly Ford, becoming a prisoner of war. He was most likely captured during the fighting near the Welford house between his squadron and the 100th Virginia Cavalry of W.H.F. Lee’s brigade on Yew Ridge.

After a relatively short stint in prison on Belle Isle, Frederick was exchanged and returned to his regiment after the Gettysburg campaign. He served with the regiment through the fall and spring campaigns at the headquarters of the Cavalry Corps. Almost a year to the day after being captured, misfortune struck again. The regiment left Private Frederick as a hospital attendant with the wounded following the battle of Trevilian Station. This time he was sent to Andersonville Prison. He was fortunate enough to survive the experience, unlike several of his regimental comrades. To make the experience worse, his enlistment expired on July 29, 1864, but he wasn’t exchanged and released from service until February 13, 1865.

Joseph returned to Pittsburgh after his discharge, where he married Catherine Schneider laterr in the year. They settled in Bridge Street in Etna and he lived there for the rest of his life. In 1905, he returned to Andersonvillle to attend the cermonies at the dedication of a memorial there.

Joseph Frederick died in Etna on August 9, 1915 of arterio sclerosis and hepatic cirrhosis. He is buried nearby in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Sharpsburg, PA.