The First Cavalry commenced recruiting on August 21, 1861, at Camp Lyon, near Detroit, the place of rendezvous, the organization of the Regiment being under the direction of Thornton F. Brodhead who had been appointed its Colonel. It was mustered into United States service on the 13th. of September, with 1144 officers and men on its rolls.
The First, while in Camp Lyon, was presented a flag from the citizens of Springwells. This flag was of blue silk, heavily fringed, with the national arms on both sides, under which, was emblazoned in gold letters "First Michigan Cavalry". On the 29th. of September the Regiment left camp, under the command of Colonel Brodhead, with orders to proceed to Washington.
They lay in camp at Frederick, Maryland a considerable portion of the winter, its principal service being on the Upper Potomac River, in the Shenandoah Valley and near the Eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In February 1862, General Banks was in command of the Union troops on the Maryland side of the Potomac, the Regiment composed a part of this force. To Banks had been assigned the task of guarding the Potomac line, from Manassas Junction to Washington City. While repairing the rail line near Manassas Junction the Confederates evacuated the area, retiring to Mount Jackson, about 40 miles north of Winchester.
Banks had sent a force, under General Geary to re-occupy Harpers Ferry as the first step to establishing control over the Shenandoah Valley. The First marched with this force to Charlestown, then to Berryville, reaching that place on the 10th. of March, continuing to move towards Winchester. The Confederate General Jackson, assuming the federals to be weak and extended, attacked them at Kernstown. Pressed repeatedly the Federals retreated back to the Potomac, opposite Williamsport.
The Regiment remained at Williamsport until June 12th., when it again entered Virginia, moving via Martinsburg to Front Royal, reaching there on the 16th. They soon entered on the Pope Campaign, joining that part of Pope's army then under Banks. They were engaged with the Confederates at Orange Court House, July 16th., then at Cedar Mountain on August 9th., where an engagement took place between Banks force and the superior forces of Jackson, Ewell and A.P. Hill, suffering heavily.
Moving to Centerville the Regiment was then heavily engaged at the famous battle at Manassas, or Bull Run, on the 30th. of August, loosing 7 men killed, 13 wounded, 7 captured with 106 missing, Colonel Brodhead being among the mortally wounded, who died the following 5th. of September.
After the battle of Mannassas, during the early part of 1863, the Regiment was engaged in guard duty in front of the defenses of Washington on a line extending from Edward's Ferry to the mouth of the Opequan.
This duty was most arduous and as difficult as the Regiment had been ordered to perform, requiring incessant vigilance and watchfulness. The Regiment lost thirty men during this period to repeated attacks by Mosby's Guerrillas. In February, the Confederates felt for a weakness in the federal line, probing at Opequan Creek. The Regiment sent out a detachment of 56 men to watch his movements. Seeing the small force, Stuart attacked. The detachment retired after killing 15 of Stuarts men, but with no loss to themselves.
In June, the Regiment set out in pursuit of Lee's forces, then moving north into Maryland and Pennsylvania.
When the Union command was re-organized near the end of June 1863, the Regiment was re- assigned to the Michigan Brigade, where I have thought it best to continue their history with that of the "Michigan Brigade".
|Winchester, Va||Middletown, Va||Strasburg, Va|
|Harrisonburg, Va||Orange Court House, Va||Cedar Mountain, Va|
|2nd.Manassas, Va||Opequan, Va||Thorofare Gap, Va|
Organized at Detroit, Mich., August 21 to September 6, 1861.
Mustered in September 13, and left State for Washington, D.C., September. 29, 1861.
Attached to Cavalry Brigade, Army of the Potomac to December, 1861.
Cavalry, Banks' Division, Army of the Potomac to March, 1862.
Cavalry, 1st Division, Banks' 5th Corps to April, 1862.
Hatch's Cavalry Brigade, Dept. of the Shenandoah to June, 1862.
Cavalry Brigade, 2nd Corps, Army of Virginia to September, 1862.
Unassigned, Alexandria, Va. September, 1862.
Price's Cavalry Brigade, Military District of Washington to February, 1863.
22nd Army Corps, Dept. of Washington to March, 1863.
1st Brigade, Stahel's Cavalry Division, 22nd Army Corps to June, 1863.
2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac to March, 1864.
1st Brigade, 1st Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac to August, 1864.
Army of the Shenandoah, Middle Military Division to March, 1865.
Army of the Potomac to June, 1865.
Dept. of Missouri to August, 1865.
District of the Plains, Dept. of Missouri to September, 1865.
District of Dakota, Dept. of Missouri to December, 1865.
District of Utah, Dept. of Missouri to March, 1866.
|Killed in Action||96|
|Died of Wounds||52|
|Missing in Action||40|
|Died in Confederate Prisons||58|
|Died of Disease||172|
|Killed buy Indians||1|
|Discharged from Wounds||209|
|Total Casualty Rate||25.3%|