In the Spring of 1863, James I. Neely, who had previously been captain, Co. "B" 6th (Logwood's) Tennessee Cavalry Battalion, was authorized by Major General Sterling Price, with the authorization approved by Major General Earl Van Dorn, to raise a regiment of cavalry within the Federal lines in West Tennessee. He reported he had raised 10 companies by the latter part of June, and was commissioned colonel to rank from July 1, 1863. As opportunity presented, he sent the men out in small parties, and by August, 1863 had about 400 men at Okolona, Mississippi, where the regiment was organized by the election of field officers. Many of his men were captured before they could reach the Confederate lines.
Colonel-James J. Neely
Lieutenant Colonel-Raleigh R. White
Major-J. Gwynne Thurmond
CAPTAINS-Raleigh R. White (to lieutenant colonel), S. I. Cox, Co. "A". "White's Guerillas." Organized February, 1862 at Ripley, Mississippi, with men from Hardeman County, Tennessee. Formerly 2nd Co. "G", 1st Mississippi Partisan Rangers Regiment.
Thomas Henry Turner (to surgeon), John H. Deberry, Co. "B". Organized July, 1863 in Gibson County.
Zilman Voss, Co. "C". Organized July 10, 1863 at Medon, Madison County. "Tennessee Mounted Riflemen."
G. T. Nowell, L. A. Thomas, Co. "D". Organized June 8, 1863 at Jones Depot, Haywood County, and Bell's Depot, Crockett County, with some men from Fayette County.
Charles R. Harris, Co. "E". Organized July 20, 1863 at Gadsden, Crockett County.
Hugh D. Greer, Co. "F". Organized July 8, 1863 at Denmark, Madison County.
J. Gwynn Thurmond, E. W. Jacobs, Co. "G". Organized July 6, 1863 in Hardeman County.
A. C. Reid, Co. "H". Men from Madison County.
L. A. Thomas, Co. "I". Organized June 20, 1863 at Dancyville, Haywood County. "The Dancyville Grays."
_____ Ray, Co. "K". No rolls. Cut off by evacuation of West Tennessee.
W. J. Hall, 2nd Co. "K". Organized September 1, 1863 in Hardeman County, and assigned to regiment to replace 1st Company "K".
At the reorganization February 4, 1864, the following changes were made:Co. "E" Broken up. Captain Harris deprived of command. Some men to Co. "B".
Co. "F" Broken up. Captain Greer deprived of command. Some men to Co. "C".
Co. "G" Became 2nd Co. "E".
Co. "H" Became 2nd Co. "G".
Co. "I" Broken up. Captain Thomas and men transferred to Co. "D".
2nd Co. "K" Became 2nd Co. "F".
The following companies were added:2nd Co. "H" Captain James Gwyne. From 17th (Marshall's) Regiment. Men from Moscow and Somerville, Fayette County.
2nd Co. "I" Captain E. S. Elliott. Organized February, 1864, composed of men recruited by Colonel Neely in November, 1863. Men from Brownsville, Haywood County.
3rd Co. "K" Captain E.G. Owen. From 17th (Marshall's) Regiment. Recruited in October, 1863 from Brownsville and Dancyville, Haywood County.
The regiment was a part of Colonel R. V. Richardson's West Tennessee Brigade, which, like this regiment, had been raised within the Federal lines. Toward the last of September, 1863, Colonel Richardson was ordered to report with his brigade to Brigadier General J. R. Chalmers.
Prior to the withdrawal into Mississippi, Federal records had spoken of Neely's band as operating in West Tennessee as early as April 17, and on May 27 reported the capture of Captain Reid near Bolivar, Tennessee.
Richardson's Brigade was composed of the 12th (Green's), 14th (Neely's), 15th (Stewart's) Tennessee Regiments, 12th Mississippi, and two batteries, totaling 950 men. It fought at New Albany, Mississippi October 5; joined Chalmers for his raid into West Tennessee at Salem, October 8; took part in the attack on Collierville October 11; fought at Byhalia, Mississippi October 12, and at Wyatt, Mississippi October 13, then withdrew to Water Valley, Mississippi.
On October 22, General Chalmers, in reporfing on the organization of his forces listed Richardson's Brigade as the 12th Tennessee, 300 men, the 14th Tennessee, 200 men, and 4th Mississippi Battalion, 403 men, totaling 903 men. On November 23, the 12th Mississippi Regiment was reported instead of the 4th Mississippi Battalion. On November 7, a detachment under Colonel Neely destroyed the Federal depot, barracks and stockade at Middleton, Tennessee.
In December, 1863, General N. B. Forrest moved into West Tennessee to assume command, and was joined there bv Richardson's Brigade. A Federal report on December 6, stated "Forrest, Neely and Richardson crossed the Hatchie River with about 2000 men. They said they were going to Jackson, Tennessee to make a stand, and hold West Tennessee; were armed with Mississippi rifles, and poorly clad." On December 31, another report said two regiments of Richardson's command, cut off at La Fayette Station, were near Somerville, under Colonels Neely and Logwood, and that most of Forrest's train was with them.
Forrest succeeded in withdrawing most of his command into Mississippi, and on January 25, 1864 made his first move toward reorganizing his forces. He placed in Richardson 5 Brigade the 12th Tennessee, Marshall's (17th), Bennett's Battalion, 15th (Stewart's), Street's Battalion, Collins' Command, 14th (Neely's) and 16th (Logwood's) Regiments. On February 4, the 14th and Marshall's Regiments were consolidated and reorganized as outlined above.
The regiment, under Lieutenant Colonel White, with Neely in command of the brigade, was a part of Forrest's forces in his engagement with Federal General William Sooy Smith, at Okolona, Mississippi on February 20-21-22. To Neely was assigned the task of guarding the ferries and fords across the Tibbee River.
On March 5, the regiment was with Richardson in the attack on Yazoo City, Mississippi. Here Major Thurmond was killed. Richardson reported: "The 14th Tennessee was under my immediate observation, and it gives me great pleasure to commend the gallantry of both men and officers." Brigadier
General L. S. Ross, whose brigade was also involved, reported: "The hardest and hottest part of the engagement was made by the 14th Tennessee, under Major Thurmond, in driving the enemy and gunboats from the town."
On March 7, Forrest, in a further reorganization, placed the 7th, 12th, 14th and 15th Regiments in Richardson's Brigade, and these regiments remained in the same brigade, under vari6us brigade commanders, until February, 1865, with the exception of a period of about a month, when the 7th was transferred to another brigade. The brigade moved into West Tennessee with Forrest late in March, 1864, and was assigned to make such a demonstration in the neighborhood of Memphis, as to lead the Federal forces to believe Forrest was preparing an attack on that city. On March 29, in carrying out this assignment, Neely attacked the 6th Tennessee Cavalry U.S.A., under Colonel Fielding Hurst, near Bolivar, captured his entire wagon train, and routed and drove him back into Memphis.
On May 10, Colonel Neely was given command of the brigade, and retained it until August 30. There had been numerous complaints that the new cavalry regiments had enrolled many men who were absent without leave from infantry organizations, and on May 21, Forrest had a long list of such men arrested and turned over to the proper authorities. 94 of them were from the 14th Tennessee, and the following day 50 more deserted.
An inspection report dated June 10, described the 12th, 14th, and 15th Tennessee Cavalry Regiments as "the debris of Richardson's Brigade and many other partisan and irregular organizations and commands raised in West Tennessee by authorities claimed to have been derived from the War Department, Generals Johnston, Bragg, Pillow etc." This inspection was made in response to claims that Forrest had exceeded his authority in breaking up and consolidating these fragmentary commands. The report recommended that Forrest's actions be sustained and this the Adjutant and Inspector Generars Office did.
On June 24, Neely's Brigade was with Brigadier General Gideon Pillow in his raid against General Sherman's communications, terminating in an attack on La Fayette, Georgia. On August 21, it was with Forrest in his dash into the heart of Memphis.
On August 30, Forrest placed Colonel E. W. Rucker, former commander of Rucker's Legion (in East Tennessee), in command of the brigade, to which the 26th Battalion (Forrest's Old Regiment) had previously been added. Colonel Neely and his regimental commanders resented having what they considered an outsider placed over them.
On September 12, General Chalmers addressed a communication to Colonels Stewart, Duckworth, Green, Neely and Major Allin, advising them: "Colonel Rucker having reported for duty, you will obey promptly all orders issued by, or coming through him. A copy of the order was sent some days since to Colonel Neely, commanding the Brigade, and it was his duty to have copies of it issued promptly to the different regiments in his command, but the General learns with regret that this duty was neglected, and the order permitted to lie unpublished in his office, a neglect of duty which deserved censure. ** The fact that you have not received official copies of this order affords scarcely a decent pretext for hesitating to obey orders issued by, or coming through Colonel Rucker."
Worse than censure was to follow. Colonels Duckworth, Stewart, Green, Neely, Major Allin, and other officers sent a letter to Colonel Rucker, advising him "for the sake of the country," to decline the commission. The result was that they were placed in arrest, charged with inciting to mutiny, and courtmartialed. Colonel Neely was dismissed the service, and Stewart, Duckworth, Allin and Green suspended from command on October 18, 1864.
Meanwhile, the brigade, under Colonel Rucker, went with Forrest on September 18 on his raid into Middle TennesseQ beginning with the capture of Athens, Alabama, continuing as far north as Spring Hill, Tennessee, and recrossing the Tennessee River south of Lawrenceburg on October 8. It then moved back into Middle Tennessee with Forrest in support of General Hood's invasion, ending with the Battles of Franklin and Nashville. The regiment was at Spring Hill on Novemher 29, the day before the Battle of Franklin, and on the Granny White Pike leading to Franklin, December 16, in the Battle of Nashville. Then followed the protection of General Hood's retreat from Tennessee, and the withdrawal into Mississippi.
On February 13, 1865, General Forrest ordered all the Tennessee troops in his command to report to Brigadier General W. H. Jackson, for consolidation into six regiments, comprising two brigades. In the consolidation which resulted from this order, the 14th was merged into Nixon's Consolidated Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, composed of the 14th, 15th Consolidated, 21st (Carter's) and 22nd (Nixon's) Regiments. This regiment was paroled at Gainesville, Alabama in May, 1865.
This unit history was extracted from Tennesseans in the Civil War, Vol 1. Copyrighted © 1964 by the Civil War Centennial Commission of Tennessee and is published here with their permission. This history may not be republished for any reason without the written permission of the copyright owner.