The Second Mass and Its Fighting Californians
A Reference site of images, articles, artifacts of the Second Massachusetts Cavalry including the Cal 100 and the Cal Battalion.
Second Mass Cavalry History
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from Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Civil War:
Having been joined by Major Crowinshield’s Battalion, August 6, the career of the regiment as a unit began. At Coyle Tavern near Fairfax Courthouse, Aug. 24, 1863, in a fight with Mosby’s Battalion the 2nd Cavalry lost two killed, two wounded, and several prisoners. About Sept. 15 the 3d Battalion under Major Thompson was transferred to Muddy Branch, Md., where it did picket and patrol duty during the fall and winter. The 1st and 2nd Battalions were transferred to Vienna in October and spent the following winter guarding against forays by guerilla bands.
The first severe engagement of the regiment was at Dranesville, Feb. 22, 1864, where Captain Reed and about 125 of his men were surprised and defeated, the captain and nine men being killed, seven wounded, and 57 captured. When Spring opened, several line officers were discharged to accept commissions in the 4th and 5th Regiments of Massachusetts Cavalry. The 2nd Regiment was active through the Spring of 1864 doing patrol duty and making raids in the northern part of Virginia. On April 24 its camp was moved to Falls Church. In June a detachment went to the Wilderness battlefield and brought off about fifty wounded men who had been left there.
On July 6, Major Forbes, commanding a detachment of about 150 men, was defeated by Mosby’s men at a fight at Zion Church near Aldie, Va., losing eight killed, nine wounded, and 38 prisoners including Major Forbes himself and Chaplain Humphreys. Captain Stone was mortally wounded in this action.
Operating against General Early in July, 1864, during the latter's raid toward Washington, the 2d Cavalry was engaged at Fort Stevens on July 12, and at Rockville, Md. on the 13th, suffering a loss of six killed and about 100 wounded or captured. The regiment followed with General Wright's (6th) Corps in pursuit of the enemy until Early's force had retired across the Shenandoah River, then returned to its camp at Falls Church.
Again reporting to General Wright at Rockville, Md., July 26, the regiment was soon after assigned to the 3d Brigade, 1st Division, Cavalry Corps, but about Sept. 9 it was transferred to the Reserve Brigade of the same Division, the Brigade being commanded by Colonel Lowell. For twenty-one consecutive days in the month of August the regiment was under fire. Captain Phillips was wounded on the 22d, Captain Eigenbrodt was killed on the 25th at Halltown near Harper's Ferry, Lieutenant Meader was killed on the 26th near Charlestown, and during the month the regiment lost six men killed, 28 wounded, and 20 prisoners.
In reconnaissances on Opequan Creek between Sept. 7 and 13 it was frequently engaged with loss, on the 13th at Locke's Ford losing four men mortally wounded and four wounded, not mortally. At Winchester, Sept. 19, its loss was slight. Pursuing the enemy as far as Waynesboro, here on Sept. 28 it had three killed, five wounded, and two captured.
It was engaged at Round Top Mountain, Oct. 8, at Tom's Brook, Oct. 9, and in the battle of Cedar Creek, October 19, losing in the latter action 10 killed, and 22 wounded. Here Colonel Lowell fell mortally wounded, dying the next morning in Middletown. Captain Smith also died of wounds on the evening after the battle.
Lieutenant Colonel Crowninshield now became colonel, Major Forbes, lieutenant colonel, and Captain Rumery, major. During the rest of the fall the regiment was active in the lower valley, and the close of the year found it in camp on the Front Royal road a few miles south of Winchester. Late in February, 1865, it left the Valley and proceeded to join the Army of the Potomac before Petersburg.
Outpost, scouting duty and an operation from Winchester occupied the regiment until the last of March. On February 27, a column that included the 2nd rode south up the valley, then thru Rockfish Gap, and east along the north side of the James River, disrupting the James River Canal and destroying millions of dollars of Confederate factories, supplies, bridges, etc. They arrived at White House March 18 after 19 days of hard marching. On March 31, and April 1 the 2d Cavalry was sharply engaged at Dinwiddie Court House and Five Forks, losing on the 31st Lieutenant Munger killed, and Lieutenants Papanti and Thompson wounded. Lieutenant Tucker was wounded April 1. In all on these two days the regiment lost about 20 officers and men in killed, wounded, and missing.
These engagements broke the Confederate right, uncovered the Southside Railroad, and insured the fall of Petersburg. Following in pursuit of the enemy, after the evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, on the 6th of April it participated in the battle of Sailor's Creek in which Generals Ewell, Kershaw, and Custis Lee were captured and Ewell's Corps broken up.
On the evening of April 8 it assisted in the capture of Lee's supply trains at Appomattox Station, and on the following morning was with the troops which stopped the further progress of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House.
Returning to Petersburg, April 18, six days later it started for North Carolina to operate against Johnston's army, but, that force surrendering April 26, the 2d Cavalry soon returned to the north side of the Appomattox River.
On May 10, it started northward, reaching Washington, D. C., May 21. After the Grand Review, May 23, the regiment went into camp near Cloud's Mill and later at Fairfax Court House. Here, on the 20th of July, it was mustered out of the United States service. Two days later it started for Massachusetts, returning to its old rendezvous at Camp Meigs, Readville, where, on August 3, 1865, the men were paid off and the regiment disbanded.
Source: Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors & Marines in the Civil War, vol. VI, p. 228
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