Tennesseans in the Civil War
Federal Cavalry Units



This regiment had as its forerunner five companies of cavalry originally known as the 5th East Tennessee Cavalry. Other companies were later added to the original five, and the organization came to be called the 8th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment some time in August, 1863. On February 6, 1864, an incomplete organization known as the 10th East Tennessee Cavalry Regiment was consolidated with this organization, and the consolidated regiment continued to be called the 8th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, U. S. A.

In this history, a sketch of the two subsidiary organizations is given first, followed by a history of the regiment after it came to be known as the 8th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment.





The first record of this regiment found in the Official Record was dated May 14, 1863, at which time the 5th East Tennessee Cavalry, with 97 effectives, was shown in a list of the effectives in the District of Central Kentucky. On June 30, the 5th East Tennessee Cavalry, Colonel Jesse H. Strickland, was reported in the 2nd Brigade, 4th Division, XXIII Army Corps, Department of the Ohio.

On July 5, 1863, at the time of Brigadier General John H. Morgan's raid into Ohio, Major General George L. Hartsuff, Commanding at Lexington, Kentucky, reported: "The 5th Tennessee Cavalry have no sabres or pistols. Can they be sent immediately about 300 of each?" At the time of Colonel John S. Scott's raid into Kentucky with a brigade of Confederate cavalry, McFall's, Galyon's and Lane's companies, under Major M. Sawyers, left Lexington July 29 as part of the troops under Colonel W. P. Sanders, and took part in the fighting which resulted in Scott's repulse and withdrawal into Tennessee. On July 31, the 5th Tennessee Cavalry (four companies) was again reported in the same brigade. The fourth company was probably Captain Kirk's.

On August 6, 1863, Brigadier General S. P. Carter was given command of the 4th Cavalry Division, and the 5th Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry Regiment was assigned to the 2nd Brigade, under Brigadier General E. H. Hobson. The 2nd Brigade was ordered to rendezvous at Glasgow, Kentucky. Those men fit to march from the four companies under Major Sawyers arrived at Glasgow on August 14; at Celina, Tennessee, August 21; skirmished near Montgomery, Tennessee, August 30; and entered Knoxville September 1, 1863, as the advance of the forces under Major General Ambrose E. Burnside. On August 31, 1863 they were reported as the 8th Tennessee Cavalry (four companies) Major John M. Sawyers, in the 2nd Brigade, 4th Division. They are sometimes referred to as the 1st Battalion, or Sawyers' Battalion, 8th Tennessee Cavalry.

Those men unfit to march when this battalion left for Glasgow remained at Camp Nelson under Captain F. M. McFall. While there, other companies were organized, and all of them, under Lieutenant Colonel Thomas J. Capps, left Camp Nelson for Cumberland Gap as part of a brigade commanded by Colonel John F. DeCourcy. They were referred to by Colonel DeCourcy as the 8th Tennessee Cavalry, when, on August 24, at Crab Orchard, Kentucky, he reported: "The 8th Tennessee Cavalry will probably be here tonight. The cavalry and infantry are principally composed of raw, undisciplined troops." Although Colonel Jesse H. Strickland was reported as commanding the regiment on June 30, and again on July 31, 1863, he seems never to have commanded it while in the field, and he disappeared from the records at this time. For further history of the organization, see the history of the 8th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment U.S. A.



Organized in East Tennessee on authority of Major General A. E. Burnside; mustered in at Camp Nelson, Kentucky, December 31, 1863.



The regiment saw some active service in East Tennessee under Brigadier Generals James M. Shackelford and Orlando B. Willcox in September, October and November, 1863. It was stationed for a short time at Mossy Creek, Morristown, Whitesburg, Rogersville, Kyker's Mills, and Limestone Depot.

It was sent from Knoxville to Camp Nelson, Kentucky, in charge of prisoners in December, 1863, where, on December 31, it was reported as the 10th East Tennessee Cavalry. On February 6, 1864, Brigadier General Andrew Johnson, Military Governor of Tennessee, ordered the consolidation of this fractional regiment into the 8th Tennessee Regiment, which was also incomplete. Colonel Samuel K. N. Patton was given command, and Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Brown and Major Willis retained the same offices in the combined regiment. The consolidation was completed at Columbia, Tennessee, where Colonel Patton took command on April 7, 1864.



Organized February 6, 1864 as a merger of the 8th Tennessee Regiment (formerly called 5th East Tennessee Regiment) and the 10th East Tennessee Regiment. Mustered out at Knoxville, Tennessee, September 11, 1865.



Five companies of this regiment were originally called the 5th East Tennessee Cavalry. Some time in August, 1863 they were assigned to the 8th Tennessee Cavalry. At this time, four companies, under Major John M. Sawyers, were marching on Knoxville, as part of Major General A. E. Burnside's forces. They entered Knoxville September 1, 1863. Meanwhile. the remainder of the regiment left Camp Nelson the latter part of August under Lieutenant Colonel Thomas J. Capps, as part of a force under Colonel John F. DeCourcy. On August 24, DeCourcy, at Crab Orchard, Kentucky, reported: "The 8th Tennessee Cavalry will probably be here tonight." Thev arrived at Cumberland Gap n September 8; took part in the operation which resulted in the capture of Cumberland Gap on September 9; and joined Sawyers' battalion at Greeneville, Tennessee, on September 14. 1863. Here the regiment was placed in Colonel John W. Foster's 4th Brigade, of Brigadier General James M. Shackelford's 4th Division. Lieutenant Colonel Capps was not reported in connection with the regiment after this time.

On September 17, a detachment from the regiment under Captains McFall and Kenner were sent on an expedition to attempt to cut the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad near Carter's Depot. It returned to Greeneville September 25, after some skirmishing with the Confederates near Jonesboro. The remainder of the regiment was engaged for about four hours at Hall's Ford, on the Watauga River, near Blountville, on September 22 and returned to Greeneville on September 25.

From Greeneville the regiment moved to Knoxville, and was a participant in several expeditions out of Knoxville during October, including an engagement at Rheatown on October 11, 1863. On October 29, the regiment went into camp at Henderson's Station near Greeneville. Here, on November 2, 1863, Brigadier General Shackelford advised General Burnside: "I would suggest that the horses belonging to the 8th Tennessee Regiment, about 250, be turned over to one of he brigades; and that the regiment, or that part of it that is left, (for want of field officers a large number have deserted and absented themselves from the regiment and the balance are demoralized and inefficient) be sent to Morristown or some other point and be placed in camp of instruction under efficient field officers."

In accordance with this recommendation the regiment was dismounted on November 2, and sent by rail to Knoxville, where it remained on duty during the siege of Knoxville by Confederate General Longstreet. During this time the regiment was commanded by Major Sawyers. On December 15, it left Knoxville and marched to Camp Nelson, Kentucky, in charge of prisoners captured during the siege of Knoxville. It arrived at Camp Nelson December 27, after marching 185 miles.

The regiment was transferred to Nashville during January 1864, where, on February 6, 1864, by order of Governor Andrew Johnson, the 10th East Tennessee Cavalry, an incomplete regiment, was consolidated with it, and the consolidated regiment continued to bear the name of the 8th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment. Colonel S. K. N. Patton was assigned to the command, and assumed command at Columbia about the first of April, 1864.

Here there occurred some mix-up in the chain of command, for on April 12, 1864, Brigadier General Lovell H. Rousseau, at Nashville, advised Brigadier General K. Garrard, at Columbia, that Columbia was a post within his district, and requested him to refrain from interfering with Colonel Patton, who had been placed in command of the post there. General Garrard sent the protest to Headquarters with the following note: "Under orders from General Thomas and General Sherman I am at this place. It is necessary for me to have the storehouses and shops for my use in this town; it is necessary for me to have my own Provost Guard and regulate the police in the town. The troops of the 8th Tennessee Cavalry are new and not fit for duty. I have no use for them, and notwithstanding the communication I will retain control of this place and order the 8th Tennessee out of town. As I neither wish nor have time at present for a correspondence with General Rousseau, I have the honor to request that the Major General Commanding Department may direct that General Rousseau be instructed that orders require me to guard the railroad from Duck River to Lynnville, and that I am in no way subject to order from the District of Nashville."

The regiment was moved to Franklin on April 18, and on April 30 was reported in Colonel John K. Miller's 3rd Brigade, 4th Division, Cavalry Corps, Department of the Cumberland. On June 6, General Rousseau reported the 8th Tennessee as guarding the railroad between Columbia and Nashville. On June 19, the regiment moved to Gallatin, where it remained until September 24, 1864. On August 31, 1864, the regiment, at Gallatin, was reported in the Governor's Guard, under Brigadier General Alvan C. Gillem, along with the 9th, 10th and 13th Tennessee Cavalry Regiments. The other three regiments had already moved into East Tennessee under General Gillem, and the 8th joined the brigade at McFarlan Cross Roads, Jefferson County, on October 9, 1864.

On October 12, 1864 Confederate General J. C. Vaughn reported the capture of a flag of the regiment in a skirmish near Greeneville. This was the 3rd battalion of the regiment, on a scout under Captains Rush and Denton. On October 28, the brigade was engaged at Morristown, and Brigadier General Gillem reported that Colonels Patton and Brown led their regiments with distinguished gallantry in a sabre charge which broke the enemy's lines and captured McClung's battery

The brigade fell back to Cumberland Gap on November 9, where on November 12, it was attacked by Confederate forces under Brigadier General Basil Duke, of General J. C. Breckinridge's command. The assault was repelled by the 8th and 13th Tennessee Cavalry Regiments; but on November 13, General Gillem, being short of provisions and ammunition, evacuated the Gap and moved toward Morristown. Near Russellville, he reported the rear was attacked, and the men became panic-stricken, and the brigade suffered "a terrible reverse." From here the regiment, with the brigade, moved to Knoxville, Tennessee.

The regiment left Knoxville December 10, 1864, to join Brigadier General Stephen G. Burbridge in an expedition which reached Marion, Virginia, and resulted in the capture and destruction of the Confederate salt works at Saltville, Virginia. It returned to Knoxville on December 29, 1864.

It remained at Knoxville until March 21, 1865, when such portions of the regiment as were mounted joined Major General George Stoneman on his raid into Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. It was engaged in the battle at Salisbury, North Carolina, on April 12, 1865 and was at Hendersonville, North Carolina on April 23, when it received word of the truce, and returned to Greeneville, Tennessee. In this campaign Major Sawyers was in command of the regiment.

On April 27, 1865, the regiment was one of those ordered out on an expedition to intercept President Jefferson Davis, with the wagon-load of gold he was reported to have with him.

The regiment was united at Lenoir Station, Tennessee, in June 1865, where it went into camp. On July 20, 1865 it was placed in the Cavalry Brigade, District of East Tennessee, under Brevet Major General Emory Upton, and was mustered out of service at Knoxville on September 11, 1865.


Return to:

Carter County Homepage
Claiborne County Homepage
Cocke County Homepage
Grainger County Homepage
Greene County Homepage
Hamblen County Homepage
Hancock County Homepage
Hawkins County Homepage
Hamilton County Homepage
Jefferson County Homepage
Knox County Homepage
Sullivan County Homepage
Union County Homepage
Washington County Homepage



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.



©Tennesseans in the Civil War Project

This page was last updated on  Wednesday, September 15, 2004.

©Tennessee and the Civil War Project 2005. All Rights Reserved.
All content found on this site is the property of the Tennessee and the Civil Project and her contributors 
and may not be used without written permission.