1st Mississippi Cavalry

(Lindsay’s/Pinson’s)

 

(from Dunbar Rowland’s "Military History of Mississippi, 1803-1898"; company listing courtesy of H. Grady Howell’s "For Dixie Land, I’ll Take My Stand’)

 

Company A -- Carroll Rangers (raised in Carroll County, MS)

Company B -- Thompson Cavalry (raised in Lafayette County, MS)

Company C -- Panola Cavalry (raised in Panola County, MS)

Company D -- Tillatoba Grays (raised in Tallahatchie & Yalobusha Counties, MS)

Company E -- Polk Rangers (raised in Calhoun, Lafayette, & Pontotoc Counties, MS)

Company F -- Darden Rangers, also the Noxubee Troopers (raised in Noxubee County, MS)

Company G -- Noxubee Cavalry Company (raised in Noxubee County, MS)

Company H -- Bolivar Troop (raised in Bolivar County, MS)

Company I -- Pontotoc Dragoons (raised in Pontotoc County, MS)

Company K -- Pontotoc Dragoons No. 2 (raised in Pontotoc County, MS)

 

Colonels -- Andrew J. Lindsay, R. A. Pinson. Lieutenant-Colonels -- John H. Miller, resigned; F. A. Montgomery. Majors -- D. C. Herndon, of battalion; John. S. Simmons, E. G. Wheeler Adjutant -- W. E. Beasley.

The First Battalion of Mississippi cavalry was organized in the spring of 1861 at Union City, Tenn., under the command of Capt. John H. Miller, who had long before been Captain of the Pontotoc Dragoons, winning a sword offered by Governor Brown to the best drilled company in the State, and later pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Pontotoc. His old company, reorganized by him, and the company from Tallahatchie County, where he had also preached, were the nucleus of the battalion. The official reports indicate that the command was on duty near New Madrid, Mo., in August, 1861, in General Pillow's "Army of Liberation"; participated in an expedition to Commerce, August 18, and was slightly in action. The separate cavalry companies of Capts. Hudson, Cole and Klein were added to Miller's Battalion in September, and Major Miller promoted to Lieutenant- Colonel, and Captain Herndon to Major. October 14, Capt. F. A. Montgomery, Company A, with thirty-four men defeated Lieutenant Tufts, with twenty-six men of the First Illinois cavalry, near Bird's Point, with the loss of 1 wounded, the Illinois party having 1 killed and several wounded. The Mississippians were armed with Maynard rifles. Subsequently the battalion was attached to General Cheatham's Division of General Polk's Army, at Columbus, Ky., but the Thompson cavalry, Capt. A. J. Bowles, and the Bolivar troop, Lieut. L. Jones, were left on the west side of the river, with Tappan's Arkansas Regiment and Beltzhoover's Battery, at Belmont, where they were attacked by General Grant, November 7, 1861. They did gallant service in this battle, receiving the first attack on the skirmish line, and later dismounted, and under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Miller, who had crossed over, aiding effectively in throwing Grant's troops into confusion, and attacking the gunboats. Miller's horse was killed under him.

In January, 1862, the battalion was stationed at Camp Beauregard, near Paris, Tenn. February, 1861[2?], Capt. R. A. Pinson was commanding at Camp Beauregard, with his own and Captain Clay's companies, also a portion of Major King's Battalion and Captain Stock's company, all under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Miller. Paget's, Houston's and Hubbard's companies lost their tents and all supplies at Fort Heinman, February, 1862, and were in a desperate condition. On the 13th Hill's and Herndon’s Battalions skirmished with Federal cavalry near Fort Heinman, losing 3 wounded.

Hudson's company was on duty at Madrid Bend during the bombardment March 15-17, 1862, and afterward at Island No. 10. They escaped across the ferry at Reelfoot Lake, at the time of the surrender.

April 2, 1862, after Grant had advanced to Pittsburg Landing, Lieutenant-Colonel Miller was in command of nine companies of cavalry at Lexington, Tenn., when General Polk ordered Col. A. J. Lindsay to take command. Col. Andrew Jackson Lindsay was an Alabamian, a graduate of West Point, and captain of mounted rifles, United States army, in the war with Mexico, who had resigned to enter the Confederate service, and had been commissioned Colonel of cavalry. He now had instructions to cover the front, in touch with Brewer's Battalion, while Johnston's army marched up from Corinth. On the first day of the battle of Shiloh, April 6, they advanced on the left flank of Cheatham's Division. After other assignments they reached the place where Prentiss surrendered and Lindsay was given command of all the cavalry with orders to cut off the Federal retreat to the river. Miller rode at once with the regiment on this mission, and came suddenly in view of a battery with horses attached, ready for retreat. They seemed about to unlimber to defend themselves when Miller charged and captured every horse, man and gun (four guns and twenty-seven men, according to the Federal report). The prize was taken to the rear by Major Herndon, with a detachment of Capt. A. B. Cole's Pontotoc Dragoons, and delivered to General Bragg. This was Ross' Michigan Battery, which had been for some time in an artillery duel with Smith's Chickasawhay Battery. Lindsay, rejoining the regiment, having failed to find any more cavalry, took Foote's company and made a daring but unsuccessful attempt to take another battery. On the next day the regiment covered the retreat of Hardee's corps and were the last to leave the field. Casualties 5 wounded.

After the retreat they occupied advanced posts during the movement of Halleck's army toward Corinth, with orders to protect the railroads as long as practicable. (See Fourth Battalion).

The siege of Corinth followed, and the retreat of Beauregard to Tupelo, during which operations the regiment was in active service. The regiment was reorganized with R. A. Pinson as Colonel, and F. A. Montgomery Lieutenant-Colonel. After the battle of Shiloh LieutenantColonel Miller had resigned. March 22, 1863, "Colonel Miller, formerly Major of a Mississippi cavalry battalion, was killed by the enemy near Ripley." He was there for the purpose of organizing independent State companies into a regiment. After his death General Gholson was sent there for the same purpose, which was the origin of Gholson's Brigade.

June 18, 1862, the regiment was ordered by General Bragg, at Tupelo, to report at Oxford to co-operate with General Chalmers in an expedition into West Tennessee to cut the railroad. Chalmers was relieved of command by Col. Joseph Wheeler, who started on the 25th with parts of Jackson's, Wade's, Pinson's and Slemon's Regiments, in all about 1,000 men, from Holly Springs, but Jackson was ordered back, leaving but 500. Wheeler and his men burned 200 bales of cotton at Grand Junction and a large amount around Bolivar, during the entire expedition about 3,000 bales, Wheeler reported. A detachment under Col. Pinson burned the railroad bridge across Clover Creek. The enemy was defeated near Middleburg and in several other encounters. Wheeler and his 500, after these exploits, returned to Holly Springs August 1.

The regiment was included, according to Federal reports, in the force under General Armstrong, who raided and cut the railroad between Bolivar and Jackson, Tenn., skirmished near Bolivar August 30, and on September 1, at Britton's lane, near Denmark, attacked the Illinois command of Col. E. S. Dennis, in a battle of four hours. Dennis reported that his command of 800 lost 5 killed and 55 wounded, and that Armstrong withdrew, leaving 179 dead on the field and many wounded. Armstrong reported that he took 213 prisoners and that his loss was small. September 9, the regiment dismounted with Jackson’s Regiment, fought at Cockrum's cross roads, near the Coldwater, resisting the attack of Grierson’s cavalry, a stubborn fight, in which the losses were considerable.

During the Corinth campaign of October they were under the brigade command of Col. W. H. Jackson, his Tennessee Regiment and the First, under Lieut.-Col. F. A. Montgomery, constituting the brigade. Part of the command engaged the Federal cavalry, and the whole command was in action before the fortifications at College Hill, and covered the retreat of the infantry. They skirmished near Pocahontas, during the fight at Davis bridge, and aided in saving the wagon train. Covering the rear of the army, they skirmished all the way to Ripley, going without food three days. Jackson complimented the conduct of Capt. Gadi Herron, Lieutenant Craven and Lieutenant Foote, particularly distinguished in checking the pursuit.

As General Grant advanced from Memphis in December to Oxford and Water Valley, his advance cavalry pushing ahead to Coffeeville, General Pemberton put VanDorn in command of the cavalry. The famous Mississippian had three brigades, Texans under Griffith, Tennesseans under Jackson and McCullough’s Brigade, which included the First Mississippi and Second Missouri. From the Yalobusha River VanDorn set out December 17 with about 2,500 men, to strike a blow at Grant's line of supply along the railroad. Moving through Pontotoc and toward Ripley to create the impression that he was going into Tennessee, he advanced rapidly on Holly Springs by the Ripley road and attacked at dawn, December 20, 1862, the First Mississippi in the advance of McCullough's Brigade, Lieut. S. B. Day in command of the advance guard. They rode through an infantry camp on the gallop, rousing the troops and losing some men and horses under the fire that was opened, and pushed on toward the fair grounds in search of the enemy's cavalry. The Second Illinois hastily mounted and charged them, and a fierce cavalry melee followed. Major Wheeler lost a thumb in a saber duel. Sergt. D. S. Purvine, of Company I, was badly wounded and saved by the ready pistol of Adjutant Beasley. Lawrence Yates, Assistant Adjutant, was seriously hurt but killed his antagonist with a bullet. "The First Mississippi met a foe worthy of their steel in the Second Illinois Nerve was required to make and nerve required to receive that furious charge. Pistols in the hands of the Mississippians proved superior to sabers wielded by the hardy sons of Illinois, and the gallant Pinson, with his reckless Mississippians, finally vanquished and drove from the field the rough riders of Illinois." (Dr. J. G. Deupree, Miss. Hist. Soc., Vol. iv.) The remainder of VanDorn's command was likewise successful, and they set about the work of destroying the immense stores of supplies for Grant's army and the cotton that had been collected there, which occupied them until four in the evening. "On leaving Holly Springs, our command was the best equipped body of cavalry in the Confederate States service." They pushed on and made demonstrations against the posts at Davis' Mill, Coldwater and Middleburg, but could not capture them without artillery. VanDorn and his troopers then returned by way of Ripley, New Albany and Pontotoc, skirmishing frequently with the cavalry commands pursuing him, and reaching Grenada safely after an absence of thirteen days. This brilliant performance, with Forrest's operations further north, persuaded Grant to abandon his attempt to advance into the interior of Mississippi in support of Sherman's direct attack on the Vicksburg forces.

In January, 1863, the regiment, with the Fourth and Twenty-eighth Cavalry and Balch's Battalion, constituted Cosby's Brigade of Martin's Division of VanDorn's cavalry, about 7,500 strong, the First Regiment being 275 effective. In parting with the regiment at Okolona, February 6, 1863, Gem W. H. Jackson, in special orders, expressed his "heartfelt thanks to the officers and men for their cheerfulness and attention to every duty, the hearty co-operation at all times displayed by them, and his admiration of their cool, determined courage in every engagement while under his command, also his regrets at losing them from his division."

VanDorn's command moved into Tennessee in February and the regiment was frequently engaged in March and April, 1863. (See Twenty-eighth Regiment.) March 5, at Spring Hill or Thompson's Station, VanDorn engaged and captured, after a stubborn fight, the Federal cavalry brigade of Gen. John Coburn. General Martin, with Cosby's Brigade, reached the field in time to cut off the last avenue of retreat for Coburn. When the Federal brigade, assailed by Jackson, Armstrong and Whitfield, attempted to escape the rear attack by Forrest's Brigade, "Pinson's Regiment was moved in a direction to counteract this effort to escape. The enemy, upon this demonstration, returned to the crest of the hill," wrote General Martin, "when a courier informed me that the enemy had surrendered." In General Orders April 10, 1863, after the attack on Franklin, that day, Gen. W. H. Jackson said, "High mention is due the officers and men of the First Regiment Mississippi Cavalry for the dashing manner in which they charged and drove the enemy into their fortifications."

Two companies, Lester's and Herron's, were not in the Tennessee campaign, being then on duty in Eastern Louisiana, under Lieut.-Col. H. H. Miller and Colonel Simonton, commanding at Ponchatoula. April 7, 1863, at Camp Ruggles, Capt. Gadi Herron, Company H, in command of squadron, detailed Corporal Davidson with eight men, who went to the mouth of the Amite River and attacked the Federal armored gunboat Barataria, of one gun, that had run aground on the east bank of the river. Captain Herron was directed to take his whole squadron and capture the boat, but on arrival they found the boat blown and burned. A few days later Captain Herron made an expedition with a schooner to secure guns from the wreck and captured a yacht load of Federal soldiers sent out to intercept him. Lieutenants Elliott and Allen, Company H, of the First, and a company of the Second Arkansas Cavalry were in this affair. Later in April Captain Herron, commanding a detachment of fifty men of the First Cavalry, participated in the operations against Grierson's raid in Southern Mississippi.

After General Grant had invested Vicksburg Gen. W. H. Jackson hastily returned from Tennessee with what was left of VanDorn's Cavalry Corps and took position along the Big Black River. They covered the retreat of Johnston to Jackson, skirmishing with the advance of Sherman. According to Federal information Cosby's Brigade in July, 1863, had this strength: First Mississippi, 400; Fourth Mississippi, 200; Starke's Regiment, 800; Wirt Adams, 1,000; volunteer regiment, 400; forming the main part of W. H. Jackson's command in the Jackson campaign.

General Cosby, July 22, reported the capture of thirty-five prisoners six miles from Jackson, on the lower Brandon road, by Captain Herren's squadron, composed of Herren’s and Lester's companies. The Federal casualties were 4 killed, 6 wounded. Part of the regiment was in a skirmish at Ingraham's plantation, near Port Gibson, October 10, 1863. Captain Herren's squadron was with French's infantry command before the Meridian campaign, when it rejoined the regiment west of Jackson.

The regiment was brigaded with Starke's and Ballentine's Regiments, under the command of Colonel Starke, in Jackson's Division of Gen. S. D. Lee's Cavalry Corps, January, 1864. When Sherman's Corps crossed the Big Black on the expedition from Vicksburg to Meridian, February 3, 1864, Starke's Brigade resisted one column which marched on the Messinger's ferry road, and kept up the skirmishing as far as Jackson, when the cavalry fell back on the Canton road. The first attack was made by Colonel Pinson and his regiment with one piece of artillery, February 4, at Col. Joseph Davis' place, and a spirited fight resulted. General Jackson, with Starke's Brigade, hung upon the rear of the enemy as they advanced toward Meridian, the First Regiment being engaged in an attack near Meridian on the 14th, then moved toward Columbus to reinforce Forrest, then back towards Sherman's army at Canton. February 27, at Sharon, Starke's Brigade "encountered the enemy and fought them in gallant style." Jackson mentioned Pinson's Regiment as very successful in picking up the Federal foraging parties, bringing off nine wagons and fifteen prisoners. They followed Sherman as far as the Big Black, and then fell back near Livingston.

General Sherman reported that in the whole expedition he lost no wagons but these nine.

The First, with the Second, Twenty-eighth and Ballentine's Mississippi Regiment, formed the brigade of Gen. Frank C. Armstrong, with Jackson's cavalry in the Atlanta campaign. They were at Tuscaloosa, Ala., in April, 1864, arrived at Rome, Ga., May 14, and after that were constantly engaged until after the evacuation of Atlanta. (See Twenty-eighth Regiment for service of brigade.) Fighting as infantry, and ordered forward to feel the position of the enemy in their front, near Dallas, May 28, the First was distinguished in the daring charge against the Federal breastworks. They captured four pieces of artillery but were exposed to such a destructive fire that the whole brigade was compelled to make a hasty retreat. Captains Turner and Herren were killed, and the loss of the brigade was 171.

In October they took part in Hood's campaign toward Chattanooga. Captain Taylor, with twenty-five men, was detailed to take up rails near the Etowah bridge to delay reinforcements for Allatoona during French's attack, October 5, 1864.

Adjutant Beasley was mortally wounded in an engagement near Tuscumbia, Ala., October 29, 1864, and Capt. J. A. King and Lieut. G. N. Hendley were killed near Florence November 9.

Armstrong's Brigade continued with the same organization through the Nashville and Murfreesboro campaign under General Forrest. Armstrong’s was the Mississippi Brigade with Forrest, who had also two Tennessee Brigades (Rucker's including the Fifth Mississippi), one Kentucky and one Texas Brigade. The casualties of the Mississippi Brigade were the largest -- 20 killed, 127 wounded. General Forrest reached Florence, Ala., with Chalmer's and Buford's Divisions and took command also of Armstrong's and Ross' Brigades, Jackson's Division, crossed the river November 16-17, and began the march northward on the 21st, the men elated with the hope of a campaign as far north as the Ohio River. Armstrong led the advance of Jackson's Division and was in action with Federal cavalry at Lawrenceburg and beyond, toward Pulaski. November 22, Armstrong and Ross, supported by Buford's Division, defeated Hatch's Division of cavalry at Campbellsville, after a severe engagement. They invested the works at Columbia until the arrival of the infantry and then, Columbia being evacuated, they moved toward Franklin, Armstrong first developing the Federal position and receiving orders not to attack too vigorously until supported by Chalmers. On the morning of the 29th Forrest brought up his whole command toward Spring Hill, where Armstrong's Mississippians were first put in line of battle. They obeyed Forrest's order to charge, supported by a part of the Kentucky Brigade and a Tennessee Regiment, but the Federal position was found too strong to carry with cavalry, and Forrest dismounted his command and attacked as infantry, soon supported by Cleburne's Division. Meanwhile the Federal wagon trains were moving in sight up the Franklin pike. When the Federal line at this point gave way Armstrong and Ross galloped toward Thompson's Station and struck the front of the Federal column, four miles from Spring Hill, at 11 o’clock at night, producing much confusion. They fought there till near daylight, but receiving no support were compelled to retire after doing some damage to the wagon train. November 30, during the infantry battle of Franklin, Johnson's Division crossed the Harpeth River and attacked the enemy strongly posted on a hill. After this battle they moved to Brentwood and thence to positions investing the Federal army in Nashville. When relieved of this duty by the infantry Forrest attempted the siege of Murfreesboro. Jackson's Division received the surrender of the fort at Laverne, and the outposts were driven into the fortified line of Murfreesboro. December 7, when the garrison moved out on the Salem pike and drove Bates' Division, Forrest hurriedly sent Major Strange of his staff to Armstrong and Ross, "with orders to say to them that everything depended on their cavalry. They proved themselves equal to the emergency by charging on the enemy, thereby checking his further advance." (Forrest's report.) December 13 Jackson captured a train load of rations and 200 of an Illinois regiment south of Murfreesboro. Upon news of the disaster at Nashville, Forrest moved to the rear of Hood's army in retreat, Armstrong taking the Nashville and Columbia pike. The barefooted army moved slowly and Forrest's men were in constant danger. Supported by Walthall’s with infantry, they contested the passage of Duck River at Columbia, then falling back toward Pulaski, fighting at Warfield's, December 23; Richland Creek, December 24, where Armstrong supported six pieces of Forrest's artillery, and crossing the creek to meet the Federal attack on the rear; at Pulaski and King's Hill, December 25, and at Sugar Creek, December 26, when the Federal pursuit was finally and decisively defeated. Forrest reported that his command, in which the Mississippi brigade was one of five, had captured and destroyed sixteen blockhouses and stockades, four locomotives, 100 cars and ten miles of railroad, and taken 1,600 prisoners and brought out three more cannon than they started with. The casualties of the First Mississippi were 4 killed, including Lieut. B. H. Benson, and 47 wounded.

Armstrong's Brigade held the line of works at Selma, Ala., April 2, 1865, which was carried by Wilson's Cavalry expedition at a heavy cost in killed and wounded. The Colonel of the Seventh Indiana reported the capture of "about 300 prisoners, including most of the First Mississippi and a large part of the Tenth." General Forrest's Cavalry were surrounded and a large part of the Tenth. General Forrest's Cavalry were surrendered at Gainesville, Ala., May 22, 1865.

 

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