Organized at Camp Dick Robinson, Kentucky, September 1, 1861; original companies mustered out at Nashville, September 17, 1864; later recruits organized into 2nd Co. "A" and "B", January 2, 1865; mustered out at Nashville, August 3, 1865.
Robert K. Byrd served as colonel of the regiment until mustered out September 17, 1864, and also served as brigade commander for two different periods. Lieutenant Colonel James G. Spears was commissioned brigadier general March 5, 1862. Major James T. Shelley became colonel, 5th Tennessee Infantry February 27, 1862. Adjutant Edward Maynard became lieutenant colonel, 6th Tennessee Infantry March 15, 1862. 1st Lieutenant Leonidas C. Houk became colonel, 3rd Tennessee Infantry January 15, 1862. Captain Isham Young became lieutenant colonel, 8th Tennessee Infantry May 15, 1863, and was commissioned as colonel, 11th Tennessee Cavalry September 30, 1863, but so far as the records show, never actually served with that organization. Captain Joseph A. Cooper became colonel, 6th Tennessee Infantry, and later brigadier-general, U.S.A.
The regiment was organized by Colonel Byrd at Camp Dick Robinson, Kentucky, with refugees from Tennessee. On August 28, 1861, Brigadier General A. Schoepf ordered the 1st Tennessee to occupy London, Kentucky. On October 10, 1861, Lieutenant Samuel P. Carter, U. S. Navy, was assigned as acting brigadier general to the 1st and 2nd East Tennessee Regiments. These two regiments served together most of the time until August 6, 1863. Carter remained in command of the brigade for some time. On December 6, 1861, Carter's Brigade was designated as the 12th Brigade, of Brigadier General George H. Thomas' 1st Division. It served at London and Somerset, Kentucky, and in front of Cumberland Gap, until the battle of Fishing Creek, or Logan's Cross Roads, on January 19, 1862. In this affair, the 1st Tennessee, although present, was not heavily engaged.
It then returned to duty at London, and along the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Colonel Byrd was wounded and incapacitated for about a month in a skirmish near Cumberland Gap. On March 14, Company "A", under Captain Cooper formed part of a force which surprised and captured two companies of the 1st East Tennessee Cavalry, CSA, at Jacksboro, Campbell County, Tennessee. On March 21-23, the regiment took part in skirmishes near Cumberland Gap.
On April 14, 1862, the regiment was assigned to Brigadier General S. P. Carter's 24th Brigade, Brigadier General George W. Morgan's 7th Division, of the Army of the Ohio. On June 18, General Morgan's forces occupied Cumberland Gap, and the regiment was involved in numerous small actions in that area. On September 17, 1862, Morgan evacuated Cumberland Gap, and withdrew to Greenup, Kentucky. On October 31, Morgan was in command of the District of Western Virginia, and the regiment was reported in Brigadier General Carter's 3rd Brigade of that District.
On November 14, 1862, at Cincinnati, orders were issued for the 1st and 2nd Tennessee Regiments, on arrival at Cincinnati, to proceed via Bowling Green, Kentucky, to report to Major General W. S. Rosecrans at Nashville. General Carter was separated from the brigade for special assignment. On December 4, these two regiments were reported at Louisville, Kentucky, with Brigadier General I. G. Spears, awaiting transportation. On December 19 they were assigned to the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, XIV Corps, Department of the Cumberland. The regiment was at Nashville when the battle of Murfreesboro, or Ston&s River, began on December 31, 1862.
General Spears assumed command of the brigade on January A and with it, on January 3, escorted a supply train from Nashville to the army outside Murfreesboro. On arrival, his troops replaced those in the front lines of Major General George Thomas's Division, and, in an action lasting from 6 to 8 P.M. drove Confederate forces from a woods in their front. General Spears reported the 1st Tennessee, with 400 men, was engaged in this operation, and that Colonel Byrd and Lieutenant Colonel Phillips distinguished themselves. On January 5, pursuing out the Manchester Pike, Brigadier General J. S. Negley, commanding the Division, reported that about five miles from Murfreesboro, his troops encountered three regiments of cavalry and one battery. "Colonel Byrd fearlessly charged this unequal force of the enemy, driving him from his position, with a loss of four killed and 12 wounded." For the Murfreesboro campaign, the regiment reported a total of 19 casualties.
The regiment remained in the Nashville area until March 11, 1863, when it left Nashville by boat for Lexington, Kentucky. On May 14, 1863, at Camp Dick Ribinson, near Lexington, it was reported with 616 effectives. Here it was mounted, and served as mounted infantry until early 1864. It was assigned to Brigadier General S. P. Carter's 1st Brigade, Brigadier General Samuel D. Sturgis' 1st Division, XXIII Army Corps.
On June 14, 1863, Colonel W P. Sanders, 5th Kentucky Cavalry, left Mount Vernon, Kentucky, with 1500 mounted men, of whom 700 were from the 1st East Tennessee Mounted Infantry, as the regiment was now known. The expedition swept through Wartburg, Loudon, Lenoir Station, near Knoxville, to Strawberry Plains, Flat Creek, Mossy Creek, and back into Kentucky through Rogers Gap on June 24, destroying railroads, burning bridges, and generally creating havoc with the Confederate lines of communication. It returned with 461 prisoners, and reported a loss of only two killed, four wounded, and 13 missing. Those captured were from Brigadier General John Pegram's cavalry command. Colonel Sanders, in his report of the expedition, stated that much of the success was due to Colonel Byrd, and the guides furnished from his regiment.
On July 2, 1863, the regiment was reported at Camp Sanders, Kentucky; on July 18 Major Ellis, with 500 1st Tennessee Mounted Infantry was reported at Lebanon, Kentucky; on July 28 "Byrd's mounted men" were reported at Camp Nelson, Kentucky. On July 29 Colonel Sanders was ordered to assume command of all mounted men near Lexington, and drive from the State the Confederate raiders under Colonel J. S. Scott.
On August 6, 1863, in a reorganization of the XXIII Corps, the 1st and 2nd Tennessee Regiments were separated, and the 1st Tennessee placed in the 1st Brigade, of Brigadier General S. P. Carter's 4th Division (Cavalry). The regiment now described as the 1st East Tennessee Volunteer Mounted Infantry, was ordered to concentrate at Stanford, Kentucky. On August 31, Colonel Byrd was reported in command of the brigade, and Major Ellis of the regiment. The brigade participated in Major General A. E. Burnside's East Tennessee Campaign during the balance of the year.
On August 28, the regiment captured 48 Confederates at Jacksboro, Tennessee; in September operated around Athens, Calhoun, and Charleston, Tennessee; in October around Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Sweetwater, Tennessee. October 31, 1863, Brigadier General James M. Shackelford was reported in command of the 4th Division; Lieutenant Colonel Emery S. Bond of the 2nd Brigade, and Major John Ellis of the regiment. Colonel Byrd, about this time, was assigned to command of the post at Kingston, Tennessee.
On December 3, 1863, Brigadier General Spears, commanding 1st East Tennessee Infantry Brigade, arrived at Kingston, and assumed command of the 1st Brigade, 4th Cavalry Division. He reported he left Colonel Byrd, with the 1st East Tennessee Mounted Infantry at Kingston, with instructions to see to the unloading and forwarding of cargo from a steamer loaded with supplies which was stuck on the shoals below Kingston. Instead of unloading it, Colonel Byrd sent the steamer back to Chattanooga to transfer the load to a lighter draft boat, of which General Spears did not approve, as it left him short of supplies.
On December 15, 1863, Colonel Byrd, still at Kingston, reported that Company "E", at White's Creek, had a skirmish with about 40 rebels attempting to cross to the south bank of the Tennessee River, and that 12 succeeded in crossing, one of whom was thought to be General John Hunt Morgan. On December 19, the 1st East Tennessee Mounted Infantry with 600 men was reported at Dandridge, Tennessee. On December 29, one company from the regiment was reported with Colonel Palmer's 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry in an engagement between Federal troops under Brigadier General S. D. Sturgis and Confederates under Generals Martin and Armstrong, at Mossy Creek, Tennessee. On December 31, the regiment, under Major Ellis, was reported in Colonel Bond's 1st Brigade, Colonel Frank Wolford's 1st Division, of Sturgis' Cavalry Corps, at Mossy Creek.
On April 10, 1864, the XXIII Corps was reorganized, and the 1st Tennessee Volunteer Infantry placed in Colonel S. A. Strickland's 3rd Brigade, 4th Division. This brigade was placed along the railroad from Loudon to the Hiwassee River, with instructions to guard the bridges at those points. The order further specified that "the regiment now at Kingston may be left at that place for the protection of quartermaster properties, and such other duties as may be necessary." Although not identified, this was probably the 1st Tennessee, as Colonel Byrd was in command of the post at Kingston. On April 30, the regiment was again reported in the same brigade.
On May 22, 1864, it was one of several regiments listed as enroute to the front, which were directed on arrival at Kingston, Georgia, to report to Brigadier General M. D. Manson to be organized into a provisional brigade. The regiment seems to have been dismounted some time before this date, and served as infantry again for the duration of the war. The regiment left Kingston, for the front on June 2, and on June 4 was assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, XXIII Corps. Colonel Byrd was back with the regiment, and commanded the brigade from June 17 to August 9, 1864. One company of the regiment was reported as capturing the Confederate works between Pine and Lost Mountains on June 15; on July 7, the regiment crossed the Chattahoochee River at Isham's Ferry, and captured the heights on the opposite side. Colonel Byrd reported: "Lieutenant Colonel Ellis, and the regiment, behaved with great gallantry."
On August 10, 1864, Major General Schofield issued the following order: "The term of service of the 1st Regiment East Tennessee Infantry having nearly expired, the regiment will be relieved from duty with the army in the field on the 11th inst., will move by rail, if practicable, to Knoxville, Tennessee, and will there be mustered out of service. This gallant regiment, first among the patriotic men from East Tennessee to take up arms in defense of the Union, has gained an enviable reputation by its three years of faithful, and efficient service, and, especially during the present campaign, has won, together with its comrades of the XXIII Corps, enduring fame. To Colonel Byrd, and the officers and men of his regiment, I tender a soldier's appreciation and regard for soldierly fidelity and gallantry, and bid them farewell, with the hope that they may soon find in their homes in Tennessee the peace and prosperity for which they have fought so long and so well."
On the way home, the regiment ran into some of Major General Joseph Wheeler's forces at Athens, Tennessee, on August 17, and after some skirmishing, withdrew to Loudon, Tennessee.
The regiment was ordered to Knoxville to be mustered out, and yet some elements of it continued to be reported in active service until August, 1865. Perhaps the explanation can be found in some correspondence between Major General Henry W. Halleck, in Washington, and Major General S. G. Burbridge, in Lexington, Kentucky. On August 29, Halleck wrote: "it is reported that the recruits to the 1st Tennessee Infantry, Colonel Byrd, enlisted in East Tennessee for only the unexpired term of the regiment, by your authority, now demand their discharge. Was such authority given to Colonel Byrd?" Burbridge replied: "Concerning 1st Tennessee Infantry, Colonel Byrd never gave any order concerning them." Apparently those men who had served a full three year term of enlistment were mustered out, and the later recruits were consolidated into three companies which continued in service.
On November 17, 1864, Brigadier General J. Ammen, at Knoxville, wrote Colonel II. G. Gibson, at Loudon: "I will try to send a train for 1st Tennessee Infantry. Apparently the regiment had remained at Loudon during the excitement occasioned by General Wheeler's raid, and the withdrawal of a portion of his forces Huder Brigadier General John S. Williams and Colonel Dibrell through East Tennessee.
On December 31, 1864, the 1st Tennessee Infantry under Captain Thomas I. Rogers, was reported in Brigadier General Davis Tillson's 2nd Brigade, District of East Tennessee. On January 28, 1865, Lieutenant Wiley M. Christian, 1st Tennessee Infantry with three officers and 86 men, was reported on a foraging party from Knoxville to Evans' Island. On February 5, 1865, Brigadier General John C. Vaughn, CSA, estimated the 1st and 2nd Tennessee Regiments, at Knoxville, "both not over 275 men." On February 28, and again on March 31, 1865, the 1st Tennessee (three companies), Lieutenant Wiley M. Christian, was reported in Colonel H. G. Gibson's 2nd Brigade, of General Tillson's 4th Division. On March 17, 1865, the 1st and 2nd Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, were ordered to Cumberland Gap, to relieve the 2nd North Carolina Mounted Infantry. On April 30, the 1st Tennessee, with only two companies, under Lieutenant Christian, was still at Cumberland Gap. Dyer's Compendium states they remained on duty at Cumberland Gap until August, and were mustered out August 8, 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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