Sunday, July 6, 2008

Rebuilding a Unit History

In August of 1864, Mosby’s guerrillas captured and destroyed the regimental trains of the Reserve Brigade. These trains contained the regimental and company records and the personal effects of some officers. Some of the regiments’ wagons were saved and with them some of the records, but the majority of the regiments’ historical records for the 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th U.S. Cavalry were lost.

After the war, the 6th U.S. Cavalry attempted to recapture those parts of its history that hadn’t reached the Adjutant General’s Office in Washington. On May 18, 1866, regimental adjutant Captain Adna R. Chaffee issued a circular to all of the companies directing them to report their activities during the war. Fortunately, many of the junior officers were still serving with the regiment. Captain Chaffee then compiled these company histories into a history of the regiment during the Civil War.

Many of these company histories have been lost, but I’ve been fortunate enough to acquire copies of several of them. In many instances, the officers submitting the reports were serving in the regiment as junior officers and sergeants during the war. There aren’t reports from the Greggs, Lowell and Kautz, but there are reports from McLean, Whitside and Irwin. It will take some time to work through them, but there have already been some intriguing tidbits of information.


Anonymous said...

What a terrific find you made. Are these records then the only histories available for the unit? And where did you find these if you are able to say? Are there any Harpers Ferry tidbits for the Maryland Campaign 2-20 September 1862?

Larry Freiheit

Don said...


Thanks for the comment, sorry for the long delay in answering. I haven't seen any Harper's Ferry tidbits as yet, other than the regiment going there for a day or two just after the campaign.