Taken from Final Report on the Battlefield of Gettysburg (New York at Gettysburg) by the New York Monuments Commission for the Battlefields of Gettysburg and Chattanooga. Albany, NY: J.B. Lyon Company, 1902.
BY COL. NOBLE D. PRESTON
This regiment was organized with two battalions, at Elmira, N. Y., from September to December, 1861. It was called the " Porter Guards," in honor of Col. Peter B. Porter, of Niagara Falls.
The opposition to the use of cavalry in prosecuting the war, which was manifested about this time, caused the disbanding of the Morgan Cavalry, at the Elmira rendezvous, and the few men who had enrolled their names for that regiment enlisted in the Porter Guards. It was designated as the Tenth New York Cavalry on the I2th of December, 1861. The following constituted the field and staff:
Colonel, John C. Lemmon; lieutenant colonel, William Irvine; major first battalion, M. Henry Avery; major second battalion, John H. Kemper; acting adjutant, William C. Potter; adjutant first battalion, James F. Fitts; adjutant second battalion, William L. Lemmon; acting regimental quartermaster, Henry Field; acting quartermaster first battalion, Benjamin F. Sceva; acting quartermaster second battalion, Luther L. Barney; surgeon, Roger W. Pease; chaplain, Rev. Robert Day.
An excellent band, of ten pieces, was attached to the regiment.
The regiment, numbering 30 officers and 735 enlisted men, left the Elmira depot for Gettysburg, Pa., Christmas eve, 1861. It arrived there the next night and was encamped in the halls, schoolhouses, etc., until barracks were erected, when it moved into them. The men were instructed in the use of the sabre and dismounted movements of a regiment, on ground near which they met the enemy, eighteen months later.
The regiment left Gettysburg for Perryviiie, Md., on the 7th of March, 1862, where it arrived the next day. On the 26th of the same month headquarters were transferred to Havre de Grace, on the opposite side of the Susquehanna River. The regiment was assigned to the guarding of the P. W. & B. R. R., and thence to Baltimore.
On the 4th of April, Company A guarding the bridge over Back River, near Baltimore, made an important capture of a schooner laden with recruits and material for the Southern Confederacy. Regimental headquarters were transferred to Patterson Park, Baltimore, on the 25th of June, where the regiment was quartered, except Companies A, C, and G, which remained to guard the important bridges on the line of the P. W. & B. R. R.
Horses and equipments were issued to the regiment while here, and on the 15th of August it marched to Washington and encamped near Bladensburg, where it received its full complement of horses and arms. From this point a detail was sent to New York State to recruit a third battalion. Companies I, K, and L, of the new battalion, joined the old organization in the field at Brooke's Station, Va., December 5, 1862, and Company M joined at Camp Bayard, near Belle Plain, Va., about a month later.
The regiment had served in Brig. Gen. George D. Bayard's brigade up to the time of the death of that gallant officer at the battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862.
On the organization of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac, in the spring of 1863, the Tenth was brigaded with the First Maine and Second New York (Harris Light) cavalry regiments, commanded by Col. Judson Kilpatrick, of the latter regiment, the division — the Third — being commanded by Brig. Gen. D. McM. Gregg. This brigade achieved a reputation for dash and gallantry which it maintained while the organization continued.
During the winter of 1862-63 and early spring of 1863, the regiment participated in picketing and scouting in the " Northern Neck " Peninsula, King George County, Va., until the opening of the spring campaign of 1863. It accompanied the Cavalry Corps under Stoneman on the raid to the rear of "the Confederate army during the Chancellorsville battle, and did valiant service in that arduous but futile expedition.
In the first great cavalry engagement of the war, Brandy Station, Va., June 9, 1863, the Tenth bore a conspicuous part and suffered severe losses, losing among its commissioned officers Lieutenant Colonel Irvine, taken prisoner. Its gallantry was recognized and mentioned in orders. The loss in the regiment in this conflict in killed, wounded, and prisoners, was 100.
After this brilliant passage at arms, the Cavalry Corps was reorganized. The Tenth became a part of the Third Brigade of the Second Cavalry Division, with Brig. Gen. D. McM. Gregg retained as division commander. Col. J. Irvin Gregg, of the Sixteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, was made brigade commander.
Then followed the Gettysburg campaign, with the cavalry engagements at Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville, Va., while moving northward, which gave additional lustre to our cavalry arms. In each of these the Tenth bore a prominent part, suffering a severe loss at Middleburg.
Gettysburg was reached and position taken by the regiment on the right flank at 2 p. m., July 2, 1863. It was the first cavalry regiment to meet the enemy on the right flank, and it was almost constantly engaged in part or whole, until the Confederates fell back. Gregg's Brigade, of which the Tenth formed a part, was held in reserve, during the battle of the 3d of July, but lost several men, wounded, nevertheless. Its loss during the two days in killed, wounded, and prisoners, was 17.
On the 4th of July the regiment passed through the streets made familiar by its stay in the village in the winter of 1861-62, and out on the Chambersburg Road in pursuit of the Confederates. On the I4th of July, Gregg's Division crossed the Potomac River at Harper's Ferry, the first troops from the Army of the Potomac to again tread Virginia soil. On the 16th of the same month it was attacked by a superior force at Shepherdstown, Va., and the battle continued late into the night, when Gregg adroitly withdrew from his delicate position. The Tenth bore the first shock of the battle and covered the retreat, besides doing excellent service during the battle.
The next serious meeting with the enemy was at Sulphur Springs, October 12, 1863, when Gregg attempted to dispute the passage of the Rappahannock at that place by the Confederate army. It was a bold move and a vigorous effort, but the Confederates greatly outnumbered him. The Tenth, which had been sent across to the south side of the river early in the day, developed the advance of Lee's army, and lost heavily in the engagement and retreat which followed. Two days later, the I4th, the same troops were encountered at Auburn, Va., where a brisk, early morning engagement took place, the Tenth again meeting with considerable loss. And again, on the evening of the same day at Bristoe Station, it skirmished with them. When the Confederate army fell back the Tenth was in close pursuit back to the Rappahannock River.
In an encounter at Grove Church, Va., a detachment from the regiment had a skirmish and lost a number of men taken prisoners. In the Mine Run campaign, November and December, 1863, the regiment saw active and severe service. Winter was passed by the Tenth in comfortable quarters at Turkey Run, near Warrenton, Va. While here three-quarters of the men re-enlisted and returned to New York State on furlough.
Some skirmishing and scouting before the spring campaign resulted in slight losses. In the reorganization of the army in the spring of 1864, the Second Cavalry Division retained its brigade and division commanders. Under the new corps commander, Gen. P. H. Sheridan, vigorous work was in stare for the cavalry. The Tenth bore well its part in all the hard-fought battles which followed, opening with several days in the Wilderness, or Todd's Tavern; the raid to Richmond extending from the 9th to the 25th of May, a march replete with desperate fighting and exhaustive marches. Anderson's Ford, Ground Squirrel Bridge Fortifications of Richmond, etc., were included.
On returning to the army, Gregg's Division was sent to Hawes' Shop, on the 28th of May, where it met the entire Confederate Cavalry Corps, in one of the most stubbornly-contested cavalry engagements of the war. Here the Tenth, fighting dismounted, did valiant service, sustaining a greater loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners than any other regiment in the division. The victory was with Gregg after an all day's contest. Cold Harbor followed, with but slight loss in the regiment, on the 1st of June. Picket and skirmishing continued until the 6th of June, when the Cavalry Corps started out on the " Trevilian Raid." The march to and from Trevilian Station was one continuous skirmish.
The battle of Trevilian Station, June nth and 12th, gave the regiment an opportunity to again display its fighting qualities, and it acquitted itself most creditably. Its loss was severe for the short space of time actually engaged. On the return to White House, Va., brisk skirmishing ensued on the 20th of June, in which several men were wounded in the Tenth.
While guarding the wagon trains of the army from White House to James River, Gregg's Division was viciously assailed at St. Mary's Church, June 24th, and the division was thrown into considerable confusion, the Confederates hoping by their largely superior force to destroy it before assistance Could be brought up. They were foiled in the attempt, however, though the fighting was desperate and the losses heavy. Although the Tenth had become greatly reduced in numbers prior to the battle, its loss was 22 officers and enlisted men. After crossing the James River the Tenth encamped near Fort Powhatan, remaining in that vicinity, doing picket and scouting duty until the latter part of July, when it was engaged in a severe skirmish at Lee's Mills, Va., where it lost several men.
Then followed minor contests, Deep Bottom, Va., August 14th; Reams' Station, Va., August 23d; Poplar Springs Church, October 1st and 2d, where the loss was considerable and the fighting determined; Boydton Plank Road, October 27th and 28th; Prince George Court House, October 30th; Blackwater Creek, November 18th; a hard-fought battle at Stony Creek, December 1st and 2d; Three Creeks, December 9th, and Jarrett's Station, December 10, 1864. Dinwiddie Court House, February 5th, was followed by Hatcher's Run the next day, where Lieutenant Colonel Tremain, of the Tenth, was mortally wounded.
The second Dinwiddie Court House fight was a severe one, the regiment losing 17 men out of about 100; Five Forks, April 1st, and then Sailor's Creek, where so much glory and enthusiasm prevailed that the men seemed to forget the great physical strain they were under and the hard fighting they were doing; Farmville, April 7th, and the closing of the great struggle at Appomattox Court House, April 9th. The return march to Petersburg followed, where the regiment remained in camp a short time before proceeding to Washington overland. The brigade was commanded by Brevet Brig. Gen. M. H. Avery, colonel of the Tenth New York Cavalry. The regiment participated in the Grand Review at Washington on the 23d of May.
By an order of the War Department, dated June 17, 1865, the Tenth and Twenty-fourth New York Cavalry Regiments were consolidated, and the new organization designated the First New York Provisional Cavalry, with M. H. Avery as colonel. This regiment was mustered out of the service at Syracuse, N. Y., August 3 and 4, 1865. The losses in the Tenth New York Cavalry during its entire term of service were as follows:
Killed in action: 5 officers; 54 enlisted men; 59 total
Wounded: 23 officers; 228 enlisted men; 251 total
Captured: 13 officers; 214 enlisted men; 227 total
Its record of engagements participated in, cover every battle in which the Army of the Potomac fought, from the time the regiment crossed the Potomac River into Virginia to the close of the war, besides many purely cavalry engagements and skirmishes.
The number of officers commissioned and mustered in from first to last numbered 154, and the number of men enrolled was 2,101. Of this number, however, quite a large number were enlistments and conscripts near the close of the war. During the active campaigns of 1863 and 1864, its number, for duty, was frequently reduced to from 75 to 250 men. Its record for excellent service is second to no organization sent out by the great Empire State, to aid in suppressing the Rebellion.