Organized January 7, 1862; reorganized May 24, 1862 with eight companies; reduced to battalion August 12, 1862, known as Battalion, but officially recognized as 13th Battalion; raised to regiment by addition of two more companies on December 16, 1862, and designated as 5th (McKenzie's) Cavalry Regiment.
Immediately upon organization the regiment was ordered to the Kentucky border to meet the army on its retreat from the Battle of Fishing Creek, and was kept on duty in East Tennessee and the border counties of Kentucky throughout the balance of the year.
A Federal report from Colonel James P. T. Carter, 2nd East Tennessee Regiment, U.S.A. reported that a force under his command, accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel James Keigwin, 49th Indiana Volunteers, numbering about 1300 men, climbed across the Cumberland Mountains on foot during the night of March 13, 1862, and at 6:00 A.M. on the 14th, surprised a Confederate camp at Big Creek Gap, under Lieutenant Colonel John F. White, and after a brisk fight of about five minutes, put it to flight. He reported the Confederate loss at five killed, 15 wounded, and 15 taken prisoner, including Lieutenant Colonel John F. White, and Lieutenant Hoyl. The regimental standard of the 1st East Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, captured in this engagement by the 49th Indiana Volunteers, was returned by the Governor of Indiana to the Governor of Tennessee on May 31, 1962.
On March 15, 1862, Major General E. Kirby Smith reported: "I have the honor to report that the enemy, having passed the Cumberland Mountains, surprised and captured, without the fire of a gun, I believe, the larger number of two companies of the 1st East Tennessee Cavalry near Jacksboro. ** * From what I have learned of the character of the troops from East Tennessee in our service, and of their strong Union proclivities, greatly increased by thefr relationship to, and from intimate association with many citizens who have fled the country to espouse the Union cause, I am satisfied the capture near Jacksboro was the result of treachery."
His strictures as to the quality of the troops from East Tennessee did an injustice to many organizations from that section who had a fine record in the Confederate service, and certainly two companies of cavalry could hardly be expected to stand off an attack by 1300 infantrymen. However that be, instructions were sent to General D. Leadbetter, at Kingston, Tennessee, on March 26; "The Major General directs that the orders regulating the conduct of the cavalry be rigorously enforced. Besides, he wishes you to inspect the companies in that service in your command, especially the First East Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, and report to Headquarters the degree of discipline and efficiency they have attained. If, after making your inspection, it is your opinion that any company, or companies, should be disbanded, you will recommend the adoption of such course and state your reasons in the report you will make. The Department must be purged of every marauding moiinted company. If the men cannot be reformed, they must be disbanded."
Shortly after this, on April 12, 1862, Captain Brock's Company "A" was mustered out of service, although it is not known whether or not this was a result of General Leadbetter's inspection. On May 24, the regiment was reorganized under the conscript act with the election of Captain John B. McLin as Colonel, and for the next several months the regiment was listed in Official Records as 2nd (McLin's) Cavalry Regiment. As such, it was placed in Colonel Benjamin Allston's Brigade, along with the 1st Georgia Regiment, 1st, later called 2nd (Ashby's) Regiment, 3rd (Starnes') Regiment and Huwald's Battery; the brigade was in Brigadier General Henry Heth's Division.
On July 15, four companies of McLin's 2nd Regiment were surprised at Wallace's Crossroads, near Clinton, Tennessee, and suffered a number of casualties, and the loss of all their baggage and stores.
On August 12, 1862, by order of General E. Kirby Smith, John B. MeLin was relieved from duty as colonel, and the command was designated the 2nd Cavalry Battalion, under Lieutenant Colonel George W. McKenzie. However, there was alreadv one 2nd Battalion, and the battalion was officially designated the 13th Battalion.
In October and December, two other companies were ordered to report to the battalion by General Bragg, and on December 16, 1862, by order of the Secretary of War, the battalion was raised to a regiment, and designated the 5th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment under Colonel George W. McKenzie. For the further history of the organization, see the history of 5th (McKenzie's) Tennessee Cavalry Regiment which had a long and honorible record.
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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.
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