5th Cavalry Regiment

Nickname: Ira Harris Cavalry; First Ira Harris Guard; De Forrest Cavalry

Left the State: November 18, 1861
Mustered out: July 19, 1865

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

July 26, 1861, Col. Othneil De Forrest received authority from the War Department to recruit a brigade of cavalry for a service of three years. He recruited this regiment, as the Ira Harris Cavalry; after the organization had been turned over to the State, it was, October 16, 1861, designated the First Ira Harris Guard, and after its completion, November 14, 1861, the 5th Regiment of Cavalry. The Bliss Cavalry, an incomplete organization, recruited by Col. W. S. Bliss, was merged into the regiment, which was organized at Camp Scott, Staten Island, where its companies were mustered in the service of the United States: A on August 15, 1861; B on August 21, C on September 3, D on October 1, E on the 7th, and F on the 21st of September, G on the 9th, H on the 28th, and I, K, L and M, on the 31st of October, 1861. At the expiration of its term of service those entitled thereto were discharged and the regiment continued in the service.

The companies were recruited principally: A, B, K — Bliss Cavalry, M — Bliss Cavalry — at New York city; C at New York city, Troy and Kingston; D at Springfield, Mass., and New York city; E at Allegany, Kennedy, Richburgh, Belmont, East Rushford, Friendship, Ellicottsville, Cuba, Black Creek, Little Valley, Scio, Genesee, Farmersville, Great Valley and Wellsville; F at East Pike, East Gainesville, Castile, Attica, Oramel, Wellsville, China, Hume, Sardinia and Freedom; G, intended originally for a so-called Harlan's Cavalry, at Pike, Oswego and Elmira; H at Crown Point; I—Bliss Cavalry—.at Princeton, Passaic and Plainfield, N. J., and Brooklyn and Newburgh; and L at Hudson, Athens and Catskill.

The regiment left the State November 18, 1861, and served in the Department of Annapolis, Md., from November, 1861; in the 5th Corps and Department of the Shenandoah, from March, 1862; in the 2d Corps, Army of Virginia, from June, 1862; in Stahel's Division, defenses of Washington, from September, 1862; in the 3d Brigade, 3d Division, 22d Corps, Department Washington, from March, 1863; in the 1st Brigade, 3d Division, Cavalry, Army of the Potomac, from June 28, 1863; in the 2d Brigade, 3d Division, Cavalry, Army of the Potomac, from August, 1863; in the 1st Brigade, 3d Division, Cavalry, Army of the Potomac, from September, 1863; with the Army of the Potomac, detached in the 9th Corps, part of May, 1864; with the Cavalry Corps again from about end of May, 1864; in the Army of the Shenandoah, from October, 1864, and in the Department of West Virginia, from March, 1865, until July 19, 1865, when, commanded by Col. Amos H. White, it was mustered out and honorably discharged at Winchester, Va.

During its service, the regiment lost by death killed in action, 4 officers, 62 enlisted men; died of wounds received in action, 4 officers, 20 enlisted men; died of disease and other causes, 5 officers, 222 enlisted men; total, 13 officers, 307 enlisted men; aggregate, 320, of whom 104 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.

Fifth Cavalry.—Cols., Othneil De Forest, John Hammond, Amos H. White; Lieut. -Cols., Robert Johnstone, John Hammond, William P. Bacon. Amos H. White, Theodore A. Boice; Majs., Philip G. Vaught, Washington Wheeler, John Hammond, Abram H. Krom, Elmer J. Barker, James Davidson, William P. Pratt, Amos H. White, Theodore A. Boice, George H. Gardner, William P. Bacon, James A. Penfield, Tiberly C. Abbott, Henry A. D. Merritt. Authority to recruit this regiment was received by Col. De Forest from the war department on July 26, 1861. The regiment, originally known as the "Ira Harris cavalry," rendezvoused at Camp Scott, Staten island, where it was mustered into the U. S. service from Aug. 15 to Oct 31, 1861. The companies of which it was composed were principally recruited in the counties of New York, Kings, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Wyoming, Tioga, Essex and Greene. A part of Co. D came from Springfield, Mass., and part of Co. I from Princeton, Passaic and Plainfield, N. J. The original members were mustered out by detachments in 1864 and the regiment, composed of veterans and recruits, continued in service until July 19, 1865, when it was mustered out and honorably discharged at Winchester, Va. The regiment left the state, nearly 1,200 strong, Nov. 18, 1861, and was stationed at Annapolis until the spring of 1862. That year it served in the 5th corps, Department of the Shenandoah; in the 2nd corps. Army of Virginia; and in Stahel's division in the defenses of Washington. It started on its first campaign down the Shenandoah Valley in April, 1862, and at Front Royal, Strasburg and Middletown, sustained a loss of 75 killed, wounded and missing. As Gen. Banks fell back before Gen. Jackson, the regiment was cut off at Strasburg, but saved Banks' wagon train and Hampton's battery, and escorted them in safety by a circuitous route through the mountains into Maryland. It lost 24 men at Barnett's ford, and 23 in an action near Orange Court House. In the latter engagement it distinguished itself by driving the 7th Va. cavalry and capturing 47 prisoners, incluring the commanding officer. Maj. Marshall. It took an active part in Gen. Pope's campaign, being selected as body-guard to that general. In 1863 the regiment served in the 3d brigade, 3d division, 22nd corps at Washington; in the ist and 2nd brigades, 3d cavalry division. Army of the Potomac; and was repeatedly in action during the year, its heaviest losses being sustained at Little River turnpike, loss 42; at Hanover, Pa., loss 54; at Hagerstown, loss 91; at Brandy Station, loss 25; and in a second action there, loss 28; at Buckland mills, loss 22. It then served with the cavalry corps. Army of the Potomac, until Oct., 1864; in the Army of the Shenandoah until the opening of the final campaign in 1865; and in the Department of West Virginia from March. 1865. It participated in Kilpatrick's raid to Richmond in the spring of 1864, sustaining considerable loss, Maj. Merritt, being among the captured. It was heavily engaged at the battle of the Wilderness, where it opened the fight at Parker's store, and met with a loss of 63 killed, wounded and missing. Its losses at Spottsylvania Court House were 16; at North Anna 25; at Cold Harbor 43; in the raid to the South Side and Danville railroads in June 98; at Smithfield 19; and at the Opequan 17. The regiment returned home under command of Col. White, with only about 550 men out of a total enrollment of nearly 2,500. It had participated in nearly 175 battles and skirmishes and established a well-earned reputation for gallantry and high soldierly conduct. Its total losses by death were 5 officers and 62 men killed in action; 2 officers and 24 men died of wounds received in action; 4 officers and 222 men died of disease, accident and other causes; a total of 11 officers and 308 men, of whom 99 died in Confederate prisons, a larger loss from this source than was sustained by any other cavalry regiment from the state. Medals of honor were conferred upon three of the regiment by the secretary of war for distinguished gallantry in action, viz.: Sergt. Thomas Burke, for capture of a battleflag at Hanover, Pa.; Sergt. David S. Scofield, for the capture of a flag at Cedar creek, Va. ; and on Corp. John Walsh, for the capture of a flag at the same engagement. 


5th Regiment Cavalry, NY Volunteers | Flank Markers | Civil War

The 5th Regiment Cavalry, or "First Ira Harris Guard," mustered into service for three years during the late summer and fall of 1861. These blue silk…


5th Regiment Cavalry, NY Volunteers | Flank Markers | Civil War

The 5th Regiment Cavalry, or "First Ira Harris Guard," mustered into service for three years during the late summer and fall of 1861. When the term…


5th Regiment Cavalry, NY Volunteers | Standard | Civil War

In November 1861, Miss Mary Blake presented this embroidered silk regimental flag to the 5th Cavalry at Camp Scott, Staten Island. Senator Ira Harris…


5th Regiment Cavalry, NY Volunteers | Standard | Civil War

When the 5th Cavalry’s three-year muster expired in late 1864, the regiment continued in service as a “Veteran Volunteers.” This blue silk…

NYSMM Online Resources

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

Historical Sketch

Civil War Newspaper Clippings

Monument at Gettysburg

Muster Roll

Unit Roster

Corporal Ralph Tolles Collection, Company F' 5th Cavalry, Courtesy Of Bill Wemple And The Attica Historical Society


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.

        Barker, Augustus. “Augustus Barker Letters.” 1862-1863. New York Historical Society, Patricia D. Kinglestein Library. https://bobcat.library.nyu.edu/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=nyu_aleph001451666&context=L&vid=NYHS&lang=en_US&search_scope=nyhs&adaptor=Local%20Search%20Engine&tab=nyhs&query=any,contains,5th%20new%20york%20cavalry&offset=0.

       Beaudry, Louis Napoleon. Historic records of the Fifth New York cavalry, First Ira Harris guard, its organization, marches, raids, scouts, engagements, and general services during the rebellion of 1861-1865, with observations of the author by the way, giving sketches of the Armies of the Potomac and of the Shenandoah. Also, interesting accounts of prison life and of the secret service. Complete lists of its officers and men. By Rev. Louis N. Boudry, Chaplain of the Regiment. Albany: S. R. Gray, 1865. xv, [17]- 358 p.
Available online at: www.archive.org/details/historicrecords00beaurich

      ---Second edition. Albany: S. R. Gray, 1865. xv, [17]-358 p.

      ---Third edition, enlarged. Albany: J. Munsell, 1868. xv, [17]-385 p.
Available online at: www.archive.org/details/cihm_24531

      ---Fourth edition, enlarged. Albany: J. Munsell, 1874. xv, [17]-385, (3) p.

      Beaudry, Louis Napoleon. The Libby Chronicle, devoted to facts and fun, a true copy of the Libby chronicle as written by the prisoners of Libby in 1863. Published by Louis N. Beaudry. Albany: [C. F. Williams print, co., 1889] 46 p.

      Beaudry, Louis N. War journal of Louis N. Beaudry, Fifth New York Cavalry : the diary of a Union chaplain, commencing February 16, 1863. Jefferson, N.C. McFarland, 1996.

      Burns, Vincent L. The Fifth New York Cavalry in the Civil War. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2014.

      Dickenson, Foster S. "The Fifth New York cavalry." Maine bugle campaign I (Rockland, 1894) 147-61, 239-49; II (1895) 11-18, 221-34.

      Green, Augustus P. “Augustus P. Green collection, 1865.” 1888-1889. New York Historical Society. https://bobcat.library.nyu.edu/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=nyu_aleph001703059&context=L&vid=NYHS&lang=en_US&search_scope=nyhs&adaptor=Local%20Search%20Engine&tab=nyhs&query=any,contains,Augustus%20P.%20Green%20collection,%201865,%201888-1899&offset=0.

      Greenleaf, Charles H. "The Greenleaf Civil War Letters." Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin. 26 :3 July 1961. 88-93.

      Hammond, John. Letter, June 3rd 1863. 
Original located at the Penfield Museum, Crown Point, NY.

      Hatch, John Porter. “Letter : Oswego, N.Y., to W.P. Bacon, N.Y.” Nov 13, 1862. University of Chicago -- Special Collections Research Center. https://catalog.lib.uchicago.edu/vufind/Record/4719537.

      John Hammond, died May 28, 1889, at his home, Crown Point, N.Y... Chicago: P. F. Pettibone &.co., printers, 1890. 90 p. "Letters, 1861-4," 47-90. Original Located at the New York Historical Society, New York, NY.
Book was downloaded from Google Books.

     Leavitt, George W. “Lewis Leigh Collection: 5th New York Cavalry Regiment.” Circa 1861. U.S Army Heritage and Education Center.

     Lee, Rowan. “Rowan Lee letters, 1862-1864, undated.” 1862-1864. New York Historical Society. https://bobcat.library.nyu.edu/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=nyu_aleph004324629&context=L&vid=NYHS&lang=en_US&search_scope=nyhs&adaptor=Local%20Search%20Engine&tab=nyhs&query=any,contains,Rowan%20Lee%20letters,%201862-1864,%20undated&offset=0.

     “Lewis Leigh Collection: 5th New York Cavalry Regiment and 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, Cavalry Corps.” Circa 1861-1864. U.S Army Heritage and Education Center.

     Mason, Silas J. Jr. “Silas J. Mason, Jr. Papers, 1862-1864 21228.” New York State Library. http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/msscfa/21228.htm.

     Mills, Mary S. “Papers.” 1861-1865. Duke University -- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library. https://find.library.duke.edu/catalog/DUKE002566280.

     “New York Cavalry, 5th Reg., Co. G. clerk's book.” 1864. University of California, Santa Barbara -- Davison Library. https://ucsb-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=01UCSB_ALMA21205993310003776&context=L&vid=UCSB&lang=en_US&search_scope=default_scope&adaptor=Local%20Search%20Engine&tab=default_tab&query=any,contains,New%20York%20Cavalry,%205th%20Reg.,%20Co.%20G.%20clerk%27s%20book,%201864.

      Penfield, James. The 1863-1864 Civil War diary of Captain James Penfield : 5th New York Volunteer Cavalry Company H. Ticonderoga, N.Y. Press of America, Inc., c1999.

      “Regimental History: New York Fifth Cavalry (Three Years).” American Civil War Research Database. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?RegimentHistory?1322&U.

      Rummell, George A. III. Gettysburg Cavalrymen. Bridgeport, 2000.

      Tolles, Ralph. Ralph Tolles Collection, courtesy of Bill Wemple.

      “United States. Army. 5th New York Cavalry Regiment orderly book.” 1861-1862. Library of Congress -- Research and Reference Services. https://catalog.loc.gov/vwebv/search?searchArg=United+States.+Army.+5th+New+York+Cavalry+Regiment+orderly+book%2C+1861-1862&searchCode=GKEY%5E*&searchType=1&limitTo=none&fromYear=&toYear=&limitTo=LOCA%3Dall&limitTo=PLAC%3Dall&limitTo=TYPE%3Dall&limitTo=LANG%3Dall&recCount=25.

      “United States. Army. 5th New York Cavalry Regiment records.” 1861-1862. Library of Congress -- Research and Reference Services. https://catalog.loc.gov/vwebv/search?searchArg1=United+States.+Army.+5th+New+York+Cavalry+Regiment+records%2C+1861-1862&argType1=all&searchCode1=GKEY&searchType=2&combine2=and&searchArg2=&argType2=all&searchCode2=GKEY&combine3=and&searchArg3=&argType3=all&searchCode3=GKEY&year=1521-2021&fromYear=&toYear=&location=all&place=all&type=all&language=all&recCount=25.

      Unknown. Diary.
This was captured by George W.E. Row. A digital copy was donated by his great-grandson, Patrick Sullivan.

      Van Dusen, Charles Theron. Van Dusen Civil War Diary.
A transcription of the diary kept by Charles Theron Van Dusen during the Civil War. The Van Dusens are among the earliest families to have settled in New York City.
Available online through the New York Times:
Resource submitted by Patrick Fultz.

    Wells, William H. “William H. Wells letter to Haray Robinson.” 1861. New York Historical Society. https://bobcat.library.nyu.edu/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=nyu_aleph006017352&con text=L&vid=NYHS&lang=en_US&search_scope=nyhs&adaptor=Local%20Search%20En gine&tab=nyhs&query=any,contains,William%20H.%20Wells%20letter%20to%20Haray %20Robinson,%201861&offset=0.

    Wright, Marvin. “Lewis Leigh Collection.” Circa 1863. U.S Army Heritage and Education Center.


Photographs accessible through 25 USD yearly subscription to the American Civil War Research Database:

     Liberty Constantine Abbott. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1365111. Photo courtesy of Edward Schoenberger.

     William P. Bacon. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&2330152. Photo courtesy of Henry Pomerantz.

     Elmer J. Barker. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1367644. Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Commandery of MOLLUS.

     Alvin Barrett. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1367752. Photo Courtesy of New York State Military Museum.

     Louis N. Boudrye. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1368729. Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Commandery of MOLLUS.

    Jeremiah J. Callannan. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1371311. Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Commandery of MOLLUS.

    Thomas Jefferson Gorton. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1384768. Photo courtesy of Sean Coykendall.

    Monroe L. Hayward. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1387724. Photo Courtesy of New York State Military Museum.

    Abram H. Krom. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1440703. Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Commandery of MOLLUS.

    William D. Lucas. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1442137. Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Commandery of MOLLUS.

    Abner B. Mead. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1474785. Photo Courtesy of New York State Military Museum.

    Henry A. D. Merritt. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1474963. Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Commandery of MOLLUS.

    Thomas O’Kief. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1478943. Photo Courtesy of New York State Military Museum.

    Loren F. Packard. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1479151. Photo courtesy of Steve Meadow. 

    William N. D. Parsons. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1479304. Photo courtesy of Steve Meadow. 

    James Allen Penfield. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1479466.

    Charles T. S. Pierce. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1479694. Photo Courtesy of New York State Military Museum.

    Milton D. Rew. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1483336. Photo courtesy of Steve Meadow.

    Seth B. Ryder. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1484191. Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Commandery of MOLLUS.

    John Greeley Viall. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1488342. Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Commandery of MOLLUS.

    Washington Wheeler. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1490013. Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Commandery of MOLLUS.

    Amos H. White. NY 5th Cavalry. http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1490047. Photo courtesy of Frank Vattelana.