Friday, June 1, 2007

Volunteer Reinforcements for the 6th US Cavalry, Part I

JD's excellent 'Faded Hoofbeats' post on Samuel Starr a couple of days ago on his blog Hoofbeats and Cold Steel touched off a discussion about the volunteers joining regular regiments. When Starr relinquished commanded of the 5th New Jersey to return to regular service with the 6th US Cavalry in the spring of 1863, 100 soldiers of his volunteer regiment apparently came with him.

I printed the muster rolls for the 6th from January to April 1863 yesterday, and didn't initially see them mentioned (it's a lot of paper) specifically. I'll go through them more thoroughly this weekend. What I did find was the War Department orders authorizing recruiting from volunteer units to bring regular regiments up to strength.

General Orders No. 154, October 9, 1862, orders each Regular Army regiment, battalion and battery commander to "appoint one or more recruiting officers, who are hereby authorized to enlist, with their own consent, the requisite number of efficient volunteers to fill the ranks of their command to the legal standard." Later in the order, it is pointed out that "as an inducement to volunteers to enlist in the Regular Army, it will be remembered that promotion to commissions therein is open by law to its meritorious and distinguished non-commissioned officers; and that many have already been promoted."

So there was additional inspiration to join the regiment besides Starr's scintillating personality. Still 100 soldiers is a lot of folks, especially to follow someone with a reputation as a strict disciplinarian. I haven't checked to see if any of these people commissioned when or after they made the move to the regiment, will check on that next week.

General Orders No. 162, October 21, 1862, provides additional guidance on the recruiting of volunteers. "Enlistments into the Regular Army, under General Orders No. 154, may be made either in the field or in the several States. But not more than ten volunteers will be enlisted from any one company."

I'll have to check whether the 5th New Jersey had ten or twelve companies, but Starr either max'ed this out or came very close.

Early 1863 might be too late. Starr was recalled to the regulars in October 1862, so I probably should have printed the fall 1862 rosters as well (sigh). I found a couple of good websites on New Jersey in the Civil War here and here, so we'll see what turns up. With a little luck I might even turn up the names.

1 comment:

jerseyblues said...

The 5th NJ had 9 companies at this time. At Harrison's Landing, 1 company was disbanded and the new company didn't arrive until mid-November, after Starr left.