Organized at Trenton, November 14, 1862; mustered out at Nashville, August 9, 1865.
The muster-in roll of the field and staff dated November 14, 1862 bears a note: "Six companies of this regiment were organized and mustered in by Major Hays, mustering officer, by special orders approved by Major General Grant, commanding Department." The muster-out roll bears the following note: "The 7th Tenn. Cav., Vols. was originally organized and made up of nine (9) companies, was captured by the enemy and afterwards the companies were consolidated by transfer in accordance with special order No. 104, dated Hdq. Dist. Western Kentucky, June the 18th, 1864. There were never any regular transfer rolls of the companies made out. Officers and men were taken upon muster for payrolls of the four organized companies as they escaped and returned from rebel prisons. The regimental and company records were all either lost or destroyed at the time of the capture of the regiment." The four companies thus referred to were called "A", "B", "C" and "I". However, original muster-in rolls for companies "C", "G", and "K" were found, and individual service records gave further information about other companies. Based on these sources, the original organization of the regiment was as follows:
The first mention of the regiment in the Official Records was on November 10, 1862, when, in a list of troops in the District of Jackson, the 7th Tennessee, Lieutenant Colonel Isaac R. Hawkins, was listed in the infantry, and "Hawkins' Horse" was listed in the cavalry. On December 15, 1862, at the time of Brigadier General N. B. Forrest's first raid into West Tennessee, the regiment was stationed at Trenton, where Lieutenant Colonel Hawkins, with all his effective strength, was ordered to report to Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll, who with the 11th Illinois Cavalry, was at Lexington. Ingersoll reported that he was joined there on December 17 by Colonel Hawkins, with 272 men. In his report of the fight with Confederate forces under Colonel George G. Dibrell, which took place the following day, he stated: "The force on the Lower Road (2nd West Tennessee) came back in confusion, and on the full run, pursued by the enemy. It was impossible to stop them." * * "I endeavoured to bring the 2nd West Tennessee to the right of the guns, but found it impossible. They were not very well equipped, and had never been under fire before. They were rallied three times, but did not succeed in making a stand. Had they held the right for only a minute or two, the guns could have been brought off."
Colonel Hawkins returned to Trenton with some of his men on the 19th, just in time to be captured when General Forrest took that place on the 20th. Colonel Hawkins, Captain Belew., and Lieutenants Hawkins, Robinson and Allender were paroled. According to a letter from Governor Andrew Johnson to President Lincoln dated August 9, 1863, about 300 men from the regiment were still in the camp for paroled prisoners at Camp Chase, Ohio at that time.
One company of the 2nd West Tennessee, under Sergeant Doss, joined Brigadier General Mason Brayman outside of Jackson, in time for the fighting around that place on December 19. Companies "A" and "B" under Captain Thompson, were with Colonel George P. Ihrie when the Federal forces recaptured Humboldt on December 22, 1862.
On January 31, 1863, what was left of the regiment, under Captain James M. Martin, was reported in Colonel John K. Mizner's Cavalry Brigade, District of Jackson. On February 17, 14 men, under Sergeant Mize, were with the 3rd Michigan Cavalry in a surprise attack on Clifton, Tennessee, in which Colonel J. F. Newson, seven officers and 60 men were captured. 80 men were with Colonel Hatch on a scout from La Grange into North Mississippi from April 29 to May 5, 1863.
On April 30, eight companies, under Captain Asa N. Hays, were reported as part of the XVI Army Corps, unassigned. On June 9, Colonel Mizner was given command of the 1st Division, and the 2nd West Tennessee placed in the 4th Brigade, under Lieutenant Colonel Basil D. Meek. At this time, the regiment, with 200 men, was at Grand Junction, Tennessee.
On August 20, the Cavalry Corps was reorganized, and the 7th Tennessee assigned to Colonel L. F. McCrillis's 2nd Brigade. As part of this brigade it took part in the operations against Brigadier General James R. Chalmers October 5-15, 1863, and had returned to Saulsbury, Tennessee on October 19. On November 1, a battalion from the regiment was with the 7th Illinois in an engagement at Collierville, Tennessee.
On October 26, 1863, Major General Stephen A. Hurlbut, Commanding XVI Army Corps, advised Brigadier General A. J. Smith, Commanding 6th Division at Columbus, Kentucky, "The 7th Tennessee is ordered to move up to Union City to report to you, as the nucleus of recruiting. Lieutenant Colonel Hawkins is a very inferior officer, and should be got rid of."
Just at this time, there was a large movement of troops from West Tennessee in the build-up of Federal forces at Chattanooga, and Brigadier General Grenville M. Dodge requested that the 6th and 7th Tennessee Cavalry be held at La Grange, where they were then located, to protect the railroad until the movement was completed, and General Hurlbut instructed him to hold them as suggested. Colonel Hurst, 6th Tennessee Cavalry, in command at that point, moved away despite the orders of General Dodge, and on November 7, 1863, General Hurlbut wrote: "Both the 6th and 7th Tennessee have behaved badly. I have ordered the 7th Tennessee in here (Memphis), and will make something of them or break them." On November 18, Colonel Hawkins and his regiment were ordered from Memphis on a scout to Hernando, Mississippi. Finally, on November 24, General Hurlbut advised General Smith, "The 7th Tennessee Cavalry, 175 men, leave here tomorrow for Columbus."
On January 11, 1864, Colonel Hawkins, at Paris, Tennessee, advised General Smith at Columbus, Kentucky: "When I left Union City I had 262 men. I now have 364, and with sufficient force to hold the country, I could recruit a regiment in a short time." On January 15, the regiment was ordered to Dresden, but on March 14, was back at Union City.
Here, on March 24, 1864, it was attacked by the 7th Tennessee Cavalry, C.S.A. under Colonel Duckworth. After repelling four assaults, with a loss of only one killed and two or three wounded, Colonel Hawkins was bluffed into an unconditional surrender by Colonel Duckworth when a Federal force of some 2000 men marching to his assistance was only six miles away. The force surrendered totaled 16 officers and about 500 men. Captains John W. Beatty and T. P. Gray were surrendered, but escaped a few days later. Captain Beatty's report stated: "When we found that Colonel Hawkins had made an unconditional surrender, the officers and men cried like a whipped child. They also cursed Colonel Hawkins, and said he was a traitor, and that they would never serve under him again."
The remnant of the regiment served the rest of the war on garrison duty at Paducah and Columbus, Kentucky. On May 31, 1864, a detachment under Captain James Martin was reported at Paducah. On July 17, Lieutenant Robert Y. Bradford led a scout from Columbus to Hickman, Kentucky; on August 31, three companies under Captain Martin were at Columbus; on September 3, Lieutenant Murray and 70 men, were in a skirmish near Union City, Tennessee; on September 30, a detachment under Captain Beatty was at Paducah; on October 31, the detachment at Paducah was reported as commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Isaac R. Hawkins, who by that time had been exchanged.
On December 13, 1864, the 7th Tennessee and 3rd Illinois Cavalry, at Paducah, were reported with a combined strength of 171 men. On February 28, 1865, four companies, under Lieutenant Colonel Hawkins, were reported at Paducah. On March 7, 1865, 25 men under Lieutenant Neely were reported at Columbus. On May 2, 1865, the 7th Tennessee was ordered to Eddyville, Kentucky, to pursue a band of 120 Confederates who were reported in that area.
On June 27, 1865, the 7th Tennessee was relieved from duty at
Paducah, and ordered to Rockville, on the Tennessee River. The regiment was
mustered out of service August 9, 1865.
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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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