16th Cavalry Regiment

Nickname: Sprague Light Cavalry

Left the State in detachments: June 19 to October 23, 1863
Consolidated with the 13th regiment of cavalry and designated 3rd provisional regiment of cavalry: August 17, 1865

The following is taken from New York in the War of the Rebellion, 3rd ed. Frederick Phisterer. Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, 1912.

January 17, 1863, Col. Spencer H. Olmstead, succeeded September 3, 1863, by Col. Henry M. Lazelle, received authority to recruit the Sprague Cavalry. July 27, 1863, Col. W. W. Hammill received authority to recruit the Washington Light Cavalry. July 29, 1863, Col. E. Schnepf received authority to reorganize the 20th N. Y. Volunteer Infantry, discharged by reason of the expiration of its term of service. October 14, 1863, these organizations were consolidated and the 16th Regiment of Cavalry formed, with Henry M. Lazelle as Colonel. The regiment was organized at Plattsburg, and the companies were mustered in the service of the United States for three years, at Plattsburg, A, B, C and D June 19th; E, G and H August 13th; and F August 1, 1863; at Staten Island, I September 2d; K September 22d; L October 18th, and M September 5, 1863. October 22, 1863, some of the men recruited for this, were transferred to the 18th Regiment of Cavalry.

The companies' were recruited principally: A at Plattsburg, Syracuse, Massena, Mooers, Champlain and New York city; B, C and D at Buffalo; E at Plattsburg, Buffalo and Massena; F at Troy, Ogdensburg, Plattsburg and Albany; G at Rochester, Plattsburg, Oswego and Buffalo; H at Plattsburg, Buffalo and New York city; I at New York city, Buffalo and Plattsburg; K at New York city, Mt. Pleasant, Yonkers, Greenburg, Rochester and Troy; L at New York city, Buffalo, Brooklyn, Greenburg, Schoharie and White Plains; and M at New York city and Greenburg.

Companies A, B, C and D left the State June 19, 1863; and took part in the Pennsylvania Campaign in June and July, 1863; Companies E, F, G and H, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Olmstead, left the State August 19, 1863; Companies I, K and L in September, and M October 23, 1863; the regiment served in the Cavalry Brigade of the 22d Corps, defenses of Washington, D. C., until August 17, 1865, when, commanded by Col. Nelson B. Sweitzer, it was consolidated with the 13th N. Y. Volunteer Cavalry; the new organization receiving the designation, 3d Provisional Regiment, N. Y. Volunteer Cavalry; the companies of the 16th Cavalry forming part of the companies of the consolidated force, as follows: A of H, B of C, C of I, D of K, E of D, F of B, G of A, H of L, I of E, K of M, L of F, and M of G.

During its service, the regiment lost by death, killed in action, 1 officer, 12 enlisted men; of wounds received in action, 8 enlisted men; of disease and other causes, 119 enlisted men; total, 1 officer, 139 enlisted men; aggregate, 140; of whom 44 enlisted men died in the hands of the enemy.

The following is taken from The Union army: a history of military affairs in the loyal states, 1861-65 -- records of the regiments in the Union army -- cyclopedia of battles -- memoirs of commanders and soldiers, Volume II: New York, Maryland, West Virginia and Ohio. Madison, WI: Federal Pub. Co., 1908.

Sixteenth Cavalry.—Cols., Henry M. Lazelle, Nelson B. Sweitzer; Lieut. -Cols., Spencer H. Olmstead, George S. HoUister, John Nicholson; Majs., Morris Hazzard, George B. Bosworth, Giles G. Horton, John Nicholson. Lawrence Leahy. The i6th, known as the Sprague Light Cavalry, was organized at Plattsburg, the companies of which it was composed being recruited in the counties of Clinton, Erie, New York, Westchester, Monroe, Oswego, Rensselaer and St. Lawrence. The first eight companies were mustered into the U. S. service at Plattsburg from June 19 to Aug. i, 1863, for three years; I, K, L and M were mustered in at Staten island from Sept. 2 to Oct. 18, 1863. On Aug. 17, 1865, the regiment commanded by Col. Sweitzer, was consolidated with the 13th N. Y. cavalry, and the new organization was designated the 3d provisional regiment, N. Y. volunteer cavalry. Cos. A, B, C and D left the state on June 19, 1863, and took part in the Gettysburg campaign; E, F, G and H, under Lieut.-Col. Olmstead left on Aug. 19, 1863; I, K and L left in September, and M on Oct. 23. The regiment was assigned to the cavalry brigade, 22nd corps, defenses of Washington, until the period of its consolidation with the 13th. In 1863 it engaged with loss at Lewinsville; was active at Bristoe Station and near the Blue ridge. In 1864 it was repeatedly in action, its principal engagements and casualties being as follows: Centerville, loss 39; Falls Church, 23; Rapidan Station, 13; Lewinsville, 16. It saw its last fighting in March, 1865, at Warrenton, Fairfax Court House and Vienna. The regiment lost during service i officer and 20 men killed and mortally wounded; 119 men died of disease, accidents, in prison, etc.—total deaths 140. Capt. James H. Fleming was killed at Fairfax Station and was the only commissioned officer lost by the regiment.


16th Regiment Cavalry, NY Volunteers | Flank Markers | Civil War

The NYS Battle Flag Collection includes two flank markers carried by the 16th Regiment Cavalry, NY Volunteers. Both flags feature painted inscriptions…


16th Regiment Cavalry, NY Volunteers | Standard | Civil War

The standard carried by the 16th Cavalry features, in paint, the Arms of the United States with 13 gold stars and a red ribbon with the regiment's…

NYSMM Online Resources

Battles and Casualties from Phisterer (pdf)
Battles and Casualties from Phisterer (spreadsheet)

Civil War Newspaper Clippings

Muster Roll

Unit Roster

Search the Museum catalog for this unit

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Other Resources

This is meant to be a comprehensive list. If, however, you know of a resource that is not listed below, please send an email to ng.ny.nyarng.list.historians@army.mil with the name of the resource and where it is located. This can include photographs, letters, articles and other non-book materials. Also, if you have any materials in your possession that you would like to donate, the museum is always looking for items specific to New York's military heritage. Thank you.

      Carson, James O. Vienna Cavalry Timeline 1861 - 1865. 2012
Contributed by the author.

      Carson, James. Chasing Mosby, Killing Booth:The 16th New York Volunteer Cavalry. McFarland & Com., Inc. Publishers,Jefferson, NC, 2017.
An in-depth regimental history that draws on personal letters, diaries and memoirs by men of the 16th, and the recollections of Mosby’s men. The book covers the regiment’s service from its initial mustering and training through its operations against John Mosby’s Confederate Rangers while participating in the defenses of Washington, DC, and the capture of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth by a patrol of the 16th New York.

      Corbett, Boston. “Boston Corbett-George A. Huron collection, 1855-1972 (bulk 1866-1877).” Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/cgi-bin/zgate?present+51380434+Default+27+1+F+1.2.840.10003.5.10+27+/cgi-bin/zgate%3fACTION%3dINIT%26FORM_HOST_PORT%3d/prod/www/data/z3950/oclcmss3.html,zcat.oclc.org,210%26AUTH%3doclcmss.

      Corbett, Boston. “Boston Corbett Papers.” Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/cgi-bin/zgate?present+51380434+Default+74+1+F+1.2.840.10003.5.10+84+/cgi-bin/zgate%3fACTION%3dINIT%26FORM_HOST_PORT%3d/prod/www/data/z3950/oclcmss3.html,zcat.oclc.org,210%26AUTH%3doclcmss.

      Corbett, Boston. “Boston Corbett signature and related note, undated.” Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/cgi-bin/zgate?present+43057256+Default+2+1+F+1.2.840.10003.5.10+2+/cgi-bin/zgate%3fACTION%3dINIT%26FORM_HOST_PORT%3d/prod/www/data/z3950/oclcmss3.html,zcat.oclc.org,210%26AUTH%3doclcmss.

      Corbett, Boston. “Boston Corbett signed declaration, 1865.” Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/cgi-bin/zgate?present+51380434+Default+67+1+F+1.2.840.10003.5.10+77+/cgi-bin/zgate%3fACTION%3dINIT%26FORM_HOST_PORT%3d/prod/www/data/z3950/oclcmss3.html,zcat.oclc.org,210%26AUTH%3doclcmss.


      DeYoung, H. Don. “H. Don DeYoung collection, 1692-1946.” Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/cgi-bin/zgate?present+43057256+Default+12+1+F+1.2.840.10003.5.10+12+/cgi-bin/zgate%3fACTION%3dINIT%26FORM_HOST_PORT%3d/prod/www/data/z3950/oclcmss3.html,zcat.oclc.org,210%26AUTH%3doclcmss.

      Doherty, Edward P. “Copy of letter : Atlanta, Georgia, to [William E.] Robinson, 1868 Feb. 17.” Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. https://researchworks.oclc.org/archivegrid/collection/data/29551815.

      Doherty, Edward P. Papers, 1865.
Description: 19 items.
Note(s): Collection includes other material./ Bio/History: Captain, 16th New York Cavalry, during Civil War; commanded troops who captured John Wilkes Booth and David Herold, Abraham Lincoln's assassins; captain, 5th U.S. Cavalry, 1866-1870.
General Info: Organization: Arrangement: chronological./ Preferred citation: Edward P. Doherty Papers, Illinois State Historical Library./ Original or duplicate materials: Illinois State Historical Library/ Old State Capitol, Springfield, IL 62701.

      Hagadorn, Francis F. “Diary of Francis F. Hagadorn; Co. K, 125th NYV Vol. 1, 1862-63 125th N.Y. volunteers and 16th N.Y. cavalry.” New York State Military Museum. http://catalog.nysmm.org/Presto/content/Detail.aspx?ctID=MWUzZjNjOGQtZjA1My00MDA3LTk0ZDMtN2E5ZmNkZWM1ZWUw&rID=NjY4OQ==&qrs=RmFsc2U=&q=MTZ0aCBuZXcgeW9yayBjYXZhbHJ5&ph=VHJ1ZQ==&bckToL=VHJ1ZQ==&rrtc=VHJ1ZQ==.

      Hagadorn,Francis T. Reminiscences (1863-1864). 2 volumes (3 parts).
125th New York Infantry, Co. K; 13th Connecticut Infantry; 16th New York Cavalry, Co. F.
Held at the New York State Library, Albany, NY
Collection Call Number: BD12212.

      Martelle, Scott. The Madman and the Assassin: the strange life of Boston Corbett, the man who killed John Wilkes Booth. Chicago Review Press Incorporated, 2015.

      Martin, Albert G. Papers, 1863 May 29-1884 May 7.
Abstract: Martin's letters are not particularly eloquent, but are nonetheless interesting for their point of view. The anguish expressed in the first three of his letters is particularly moving, as he attempted to come to grips with the feeling that he had abandoned his mother and to console her and let her know that he intended to behave as a moral man. While in the service, Martin provides two very good, though brief, descriptions of scrapes with Mosby's Rangers, and his reactions to the desertions in his regiment and his thoughts on the war are of interest because they represent the views of a Canadian citizen, rather than a native New Yorker. Finally, the single letter written from Belle Isle stands in stark contrast to the miserable impressions of the prison found in other Union soldiers' letters: "I cant complain of the useage for we get used vary well here all is a fellow cant run about as much is if he was in his own Lines" (1863 November 6).
Located at William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan, Schoff Civil War Collection - Soldiers' Letters 41.

      Miller, Stephen G. "Lincoln's Adirondack Avengers The men who captured John Wilkes Booth." New York State Military Museum. http://catalog.nysmm.org/Presto/content/Detail.aspx?ctID=MWUzZjNjOGQtZjA1My00MDA3LTk0ZDMtN2E5ZmNkZWM1ZWUw&rID=MTYzMw==&qrs=RmFsc2U=&q=KENhdGFsb2cuQ29uZmxpY3Q6KDE4NjUpKSBBTkQgKENhdGFsb2cuTWlsQ29tcG9uZXQ6KFVuaXRlZCBTdGF0ZXMuIEFybXkuIE5ldyBZb3JrIENhdmFscnkgUmVnaW1lbnQsIDE2dGgpKQ==&qcf=MWUzZjNjOGQtZjA1My00MDA3LTk0ZDMtN2E5ZmNkZWM1ZWUw&ph=VHJ1ZQ==&bckToL=VHJ1ZQ==&rrtc=VHJ1ZQ==.

      Mosby, John Singleton. “Papers of John S. Mosby, 1909-1916.” Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/cgi-bin/zgate?present+51380434+Default+54+1+F+1.2.840.10003.5.10+55+/cgi-bin/zgate%3fACTION%3dINIT%26FORM_HOST_PORT%3d/prod/www/data/z3950/oclcmss3.html,zcat.oclc.org,210%26AUTH%3doclcmss.

      Niderost, Eric. "Mad as a hatter." New York State Military Museumhttp://catalog.nysmm.org/Presto/content/Detail.aspx?ctID=MWUzZjNjOGQtZjA1My00MDA3LTk0ZDMtN2E5ZmNkZWM1ZWUw&rID=ODY5MQ==&qrs=RmFsc2U=&q=KENhdGFsb2cuQ29uZmxpY3Q6KDE4NjUpKSBBTkQgKENhdGFsb2cuTWlsQ29tcG9uZXQ6KFVuaXRlZCBTdGF0ZXMuIEFybXkuIE5ldyBZb3JrIENhdmFscnkgUmVnaW1lbnQsIDE2dGgpKQ==&qcf=MWUzZjNjOGQtZjA1My00MDA3LTk0ZDMtN2E5ZmNkZWM1ZWUw&ph=VHJ1ZQ==&bckToL=VHJ1ZQ==&rrtc=VHJ1ZQ==.

      “New York State Historian Transcriptions of Civil War Records.” New York State Archives. https://iarchives.nysed.gov/xtf/view?docId=ead/findingaids/A0257.xml;query=.

      Reeves, Charles E. “Civil War claim agent papers, 1859-1866.” Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/cgi-bin/zgate?present+43057256+Default+22+1+F+1.2.840.10003.5.10+25+/cgi-bin/zgate%3fACTION%3dINIT%26FORM_HOST_PORT%3d/prod/www/data/z3950/oclcmss3.html,zcat.oclc.org,210%26AUTH%3doclcmss.

      Sheridan, Philip Henry. “Letter, 1864 October 16.” Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/cgi-bin/zgate?present+51380434+Default+44+1+F+1.2.840.10003.5.10+45+/cgi-bin/zgate%3fACTION%3dINIT%26FORM_HOST_PORT%3d/prod/www/data/z3950/oclcmss3.html,zcat.oclc.org,210%26AUTH%3doclcmss. From the description: “Letter addressed to Horatio Seymour, Governor of New York State, recommending the appointment of Nelson B. Sweitzer to the rank of colonel of the 16th New York Cavalry Regiment.”

      “U.S. Civil War collection, 1858-1926.” Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/cgi-bin/zgate?present+51380434+Default+46+1+F+1.2.840.10003.5.10+47+/cgi-bin/zgate%3fACTION%3dINIT%26FORM_HOST_PORT%3d/prod/www/data/z3950/oclcmss3.html,zcat.oclc.org,210%26AUTH%3doclcmss.

Couture, Jan. The men who chased John Wilkes Booth, and their ties to Clinton County. (video)

Photos from the American Civil War Research Database:

Henry Martin Lazelle. 16th New York Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1485759. Photo courtesy of Steve Meadow.

James A. McPherson. 16th New York Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1487552.

Felix Quintal. 16th New York Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1634134. Photo courtesy of David Rambow.

Nelson Bowman Sweitzer. 16th New York Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1634694. Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Commandery of MOLLUS.