Saturday, January 26, 2008

Detachment Returns, 5th Cavalry, August 1861

I stumbled across these returns today while looking for something else, but found them interesting enough to post about. This is the "other" detachment of the 5th (2nd before August 10th) Cavalry, not the one that fought at First Bull Run. If memory serves correctly, they were still serving with Patterson's forces at the time of the return. This was the second group of four companies of this regiment to remount, refit and return to the field following their hasty exodus from Texas, so I found this snapshot interesting.

Detachment commander Captain Charles J. Whiting field the return for his detachment, consisting of Companies A, C, F and K. Of the 295 personnel assigned to the four companies, 209 were present for duty.

Only seven of the twelve assigned officers were present for duty. Captain Whiting commanded Company K and the detachment. Captain Richard W. Johnson commanded Company F, and Captain William B. Royall Company C. First Lieutenant J.J. Sweet of Company K was temporarily attached to and in command of Company A. Second Lieutenant John B. McIntosh of Company F served as the detachment's acting assistant quartermaster and acting assistant commissary. Second Lieutenant Thomas B. Anderson served with his assigned Company C.

Captain McArthur of Company A had been absent without leave since August 25th at the (unstated) time of the return. Four lieutenants were on detached service, one per company. Two of these hadn't yet joined their new companies after being promoted. One was newly appointed from enlisted service and hadn't yet joined the regiment. The last, First Lieutenant Wesley Owens, was teaching at West Point. An assistant surgeon, Robert F. Weir, was assigned to the detachment as well.

Tracking the enlisted men was slightly more difficult. Detachment returns aren't quite as detailed as regimental returns, and it appears Captain Whiting used an older form that was out of date but likely the only one available. A bit more searching and a little math revealed the whereabouts of the missing 81 troopers. 33 were on detached service and 18 were on extra duty away from their companies, the returns don't say where. A total of 21 were sick and 6 were in arrest or confinement. The last three were on leave.

The detachment was fully equipped with decent horseflesh, if short on personnel. Each company had more serviceable horses than troopers to ride them. Only four unserviceable horses were reported of the 313 present.

The futures of the officers present contain a few interesting facts. Captain Whiting would command the regiment during its costly charge at Gaines Mill on the Peninsula the following year. Captain Johnson was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers and distinguished himself as a division commander at Stones River, Chattanooga and Nashville. Captain Royall was a brevet colonel by war's end and eventually commanded the 4th US Cavalry in 1882. Captain Joseph McArthur's absence without leave was actually his duty assisting in raising the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry. He achieved the rank of major before being retired for disability in November 1863. Lieutenant John B. McIntosh commanded a division in the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac later in the war.

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