Edward Raymond Hanford was born in Ohio in 1845, the second of three children. He grew up in Allegany County, New York. He worked on the farm of William Guilford near Belfast, New York prior to the Civil War.
Edward enlisted as a private in the 93rd New York Volunteer Infantry at Belmont, New York on a three year enlistment. He was mustered into Company E on January 30, 1862. Although only 16, he listed his age as 21 on his enlistment documents.
After service with his regiment during the New Bern and Antietam campaigns, Edward transferred to the regular army. He was one of more than two dozen members of his regiment to enlist in the 2nd U.S. Cavalry in October 1862. He was enlisted into Company H by regimental adjutant James McQuesten at Harpers Ferry, Virginia on October 22, 1862. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’7” tall, with gray eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion. He again listed his age as 21.
There was nothing particularly noteworthy about Private Hanford’s service over the next two years. He served as a private through all of the grueling campaigns of 1863 and most of 1864 without incident or wound.
This changed in the Shenandoah Valley on October 9, 1864 during fighting near Woodstock, Virginia, or the “Woodstock Races,” as they became known to the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac. Private Hanford captured the flag of the 32d Battalion Virginia Cavalry in hand to hand fighting. In General Orders dated October 14, 1864, Hanford was awarded the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism. Interestingly, he was not promoted following the award.
Private Hanford was discharged from the army at the expiration of his term of service at Hagerstown, Maryland on January 31, 1865. After the war, he moved to Calaveras County, California. In 1880, he roomed at Egan’s Hotel in Sheep Ranch, California, where he worked as a miner. He married Emma Viana Nunes later that year, on November 4th. Records of their life together are scarce, but in 1888 Hanford was registered as a farmer in nearby Rich Gulch.
Edward R. Hanford died in an accident on January 30, 1890 in Calaveras County at the age of 49, leaving behind a wife and four young children. He is buried in the Mokelumne Hill Protestant Cemetery, Calaveras County, California.
California Voter Registers, 1888 (accessed online March 24, 2014).
Lambert, Joseph I. One Hundred Years With the Second Cavalry. San Antonio: Newton Publishing Company, 1999.
NARA, RG 94, Register of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914
NARA, RG 94, U.S. Returns from Regular Regiments, 2nd U.S. Cavalry
Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series I, Volume
Rodenbough, Theophilus F. From Everglade to Canyon with the Second United States Cavalry. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000.
U.S. Census Data, 1850, 1860 and 1880 (accessed online March 24, 2014).
Clark B. Hall said:
Don, thanks for this fine post–one that reminds us both sides were comprised of men who served nobly and anonymously for four long years of war. And in Trooper Hanford’s case, he also served with heroic distinction. All honor to him..
Curious about one thing.. What was the mechanism that enabled an enlisted private to legally transfer to the regular cavalry, thereby voiding (apparently) his original enlistment terms? One assumes he (and others) rendered themselves voluntarily open to such a shift, but one can also imagine many a musket-toter would have rather preferred mounted service.
It seems to me that the 2nd US Cav (in this case) probably needed more troopers and therefore “put out the word,” resulting in Hanford’s professional shift. But one also imagines his infantry officers could not have been pleased at witnessing the “raiding” of their veteran ranks.
General Orders 167 of 1862 permitted members of volunteer units to join regular army units for the remainder of their enlistments. They were volunteer moves, and they joined in droves, particularly with members of infantry units hard hit during the Second Manassas and Antietam campaigns. The 6th US Cavalry picked up nearly 500 volunteers during the fall that we were able to document, and I turned up 125 for the 2nd US Cavalry for the month of October 1862 alone.
The regular regiments absolutely needed the manpower help at this time, as none of them were above 50% strength by this time. The issue was that the majority of these new troopers had no cavalry training, and spent the next several months in “dismount camps” that were of little use to their regiments.
Thanks for stopping by.