Sixth Kentucky (Union) Cavalry

Published in Capt. Thomas Speed, 1897, The Union regiments of Kentucky. Courier-Journal Job Printing Co., Louisville, Kentucky.

Roster (at another site)

The 1st Battalion of this regiment, being Companies A, B, C, D and E, was organized at Lexington during the month of October, 1861, under Maj. Reuben Mundy, and for a considerable time served independently, being known as Mundy's Battalion. It was mustered into service at Camp Irvine, near Louisville, by Maj. W. H. Sidell. It was immediately assigned to the division of the Army of the Ohio, commanded by Gen. Geo. W. Morgan.
In the first days of January, 1862, this battalion, being in Gen. Carter's brigade of Gen. Geo. W. Morgan's command, went on an expedition from Central Kentucky in the direction of Cumberland Gap. With this brigade was the 16th Ohio, Col. DeCourcy, and the 49th Ind., Col. Ray. The march was by way of London and Cumberland Ford [Pineville]. Mundy's battalion was the cavalry force of the expedition. In February it made its way near to the Gap, and, February 14th, Mundy's cavalry made an attack on the enemy at the Gap, inflicting loss and taking some prisoners. March 23d, Gen. Carter's force moved in the direction of Big Creek Gap. Then, co-operating with Gen. Morgan's other forces, Cumberland Gap was taken June 18, 1862. Mundy's battalion remained on duty in that section during the summer of 1862; in the latter part of the summer and in September, Gen. Bragg made his invasion into Kentucky; and at the same time Gen. Kirby Smith entered by way of Barboursville, and Humphrey Marshall in the eastern part.
These movements compelled Gen. Morgan to give up Cumberland Gap, and move across Eastern Kentucky to the Ohio river. October 12th, Gen. Morgan reports Mundy's battalion still with him, "though worn down with hard service." He further says: "The Kentucky regiments are all well commanded and in good condition, and will do good service wherever they are tried." He had in his command the 3d, 14th, 19th and 22d Infantry, Mundy's battalion and Neville's battery. This battalion being the only organized cavalry in this division, the duties were very arduous, being scouting, picketing, conveying dispatches, making reconnoissances [sic throughout], all of which were difficult and dangerous in that mountain region.
From Cumberland Gap the march was across the country, and Mundy's battalion, after accompanying the infantry nearly to the Ohio, was sent toward Richmond, reaching Big Hill and Rogersville before the enemy, and participated in the fighting at those places, and materially aided in the retreat of Metcalf's 7th Ky. Cavalry and other troops to Lexington, and thence to Louisville.
During the summer of 1862 the other battalions of the 6th Cavalry were organized in the central part of Kentucky, under Col. D. J. Hallisy. In September, Companies F, G, H, I, K, L and M were nominally consolidated with Mundy's battalion, thus making the 6th Cavalry; D. J. Hallisy being colonel and Reuben Mundy lieutenant-colonel. At that time the 1st Battalion, under Maj. W. H. Fidler, was sent to Leitchfield, Ky., and skirmished with the cavalry of Bragg's army. The 2d Battalion, under Col. Hallisy, went to Bardstown, and there encountered Morgan's Confederate cavalry. The 3d, under Maj. L. A. Gratz, went to Stanford, and was instrumental in capturing prisoners from Bragg's army. It also broke up a band of guerrillas infesting that section.
In November the 1st Battalion was ordered to Louisa to report to Col. Cranor; December 9th it was ordered to Mt. Sterling.
Thus the 6th Cavalry in the first part of its service operated by battalions and the 1st engaged in a number of severe fights, among them Tazewell, Tenn., Cumberland Gap and Richmond.
December, 1962, the regiment was all together at Lebanon, Ky., and in the latter part of the month was engaged in the pursuit of Morgan, who then invaded Kentucky. At this time Col. Hoskins, of the 12th Ky. Infantry, commanded a considerable force at Lebanon and vicinity, having under him the 6th Cavalry. He reports Col. Hallisy pursuing Morgan from Springfield, through Lebanon, in the direction of Columbia and Burksville. At New Market, a little town near Campbellsville, a fight occurred in which Col. Hallisy was killed, December 31, 1862. But for this unfortunate event greater damage would have been done to Morgan; as it was, about 200 of his men were captured and 500 horses.
January 30, 1863, the 6th was ordered to join the Army of the Cumberland, at Nashville. February 1st, Louis D. Watkins was commissioned colonel of the regiment. In the organization of the army the 6th was under Maj. Louis A. Gratz, was in Stanley's corps, Granger's division, and in the same brigade with the 4th Ky. Cavalry, Col. Wickliffe Cooper; 5th Ky. Cavalry, Col. Hoblitzell; the 7th Ky. Cavalry, Lieut.-Col. Thos. T. Vimont; Col. Watkins commanding the brigade. During February, March, April and May the 6th was stationed at Franklin and Brentwood, Tenn., engaged in protecting the right flank of Rosecrans' army. In March, Forrest attacked a small force of infantry at Brentwood and captured it. Gen. Granger, whose headquarters were at Franklin, dispatched a cavalry force, under Gen. Green Clay Smith, to the place, and Gen. Smith, in his report, says the enemy were overtaken about 3 ½ miles from Brentwood, where a running fire was begun, and kept up 2 ½ miles, we capturing all the wagons and mules and 500 guns. About six miles from Brentwood he encountered a large force and an engagement took place lasting an hour and a half. Three charges were made on the 6th Ky. And 2d Mich., and all were repulsed; but Gen. Smith, finding he was outnumbered, was compelled to fall back, taking what he had captured. He says in his report: "I can not speak too earnestly of the coolness, courage and daring of Col. L. D. Watkins' 6th Ky. Cavalry; attention is also called to the unexceptionable conduct of Maj. W. H. Fidler and Lieuts. George Williams, Dan Cheatham and Lieut. Mead, 6th Ky."
Gen. Rosecrans, in his report of this affair, says "The cavalry appear to have behaved gallantly. I am glad to observe and call attention to the evidences of its increasing effectiveness."
Also in an order he expressed his "thanks to Gen. Smith and the officers and men under him, for the spirit and gallantry of their behavior." Lieut. Geo. Williams, Sergts. John Fowler and Jonathan McKelvy were mentioned on dress parade for their gallantry on this field.
The service of the 6th was very active in the spring and summer of 1863. March 8th it aided in driving the enemy beyond Thompson's Station; during the month of April the 6th marched from Brentwood to Franklin, and attacked some Texas troops, capturing the camp with its horses, wagons and 120 men. This exploit is mentioned by Gen. Henry M. Cist, in Scribner's Campaigns of the War. He says: "Col. Louis D. Watkins, on the 27th day of April, 1863, made a gallant charge on the Texas Legion, encamped close to Van Dorn's main command, near Spring Hill. Dashing in upon the enemy early in the morning he was among them before they could rally for defense, capturing 128 prisoners, over 300 animals and their camp equipage, without the loss of a man."
Another brush with the enemy occurred near Franklin, May 1st. On the 2d of June the regiment moved from Brentwood and on the 4th was at Triune. There orders were received to hasten to Franklin, where the enemy had appeared. Proceeding in a gallop, with the 2d Mich., they reached Franklin in time to assist the 4th and 7th.
June 20th the command left Franklin and entered upon a series of movements leading up to the Chickamauga campaign.
July 3d Col. Watkins reported his brigade to Gen. Sheridan, at Cowan's Station. Gen. Sheridan had some days previously started from Murfreesboro on an expedition through Hoover's Gap, Tullahoma, Winchester and other places. On the 5th he sent Col. Watkins in the direction of Stevenson, on a reconnoissance. He says in his report: "This reconnoissance was very handsomely executed by Col. Watkins, who drove the enemy about three miles, inflicting loss." Col. Watkins, in his report, says he made a reconnoissance toward University, where he encountered the enemy, losing Lieut. Wm. Murphy and four men killed, and Lieut. Kimbrough and four men wounded. July 5th he proceeded within 20 miles of Bridgeport. Then, passing through Decherd and Salem, remained stationary a short time at Winchester. Through the months of July and August the Confederate forces were steadily pushed, until they crossed the Tennessee river. The cavalry of Rosecrans' army crossed the Tennessee, about the 1st of September, at Caperton's Ferry and continued forcing the enemy in the direction of Chattanooga. September 10th Col. Watkins, with his brigade, moved on the Summerville road, and charged the pickets, taking that place with 16 prisoners. September 12th he was near Alpine, Ga.
September 19th the 6th, with Col. Watkins' other regiments, was desperately engaged in the battle of Chickamauga, at Crawfish Springs. Col. Watkins reports the 6th, under Maj. Gratz, as fighting and slowly falling back, as it was repeatedly flanked. He says: "Too much credit can not be given to the 4th and 6th Ky. Cavalry." The 6th lost two officers, Lieut. Mead killed, and one wounded, and 120 men, including prisoners; six were killed. Chaplain Milton C. Clark was wounded.
September 24th, the 6th was at Sevely Springs, Lieut. Roper commanding; September 28th, at Bellefonte; October 1st, at Caperton's Ferry, where it forded the river to the north side. It remained in that vicinity through October and November.
In the organization of the army in December, after the capture of Mission Ridge, the 6th was in Gen. Ed. McCook's division, Watkins' brigade—that brigade still consisting of the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Ky. In the first part of January, 1864, the 6th re-enlisted in the veteran organization at Rossville, Ga., and the men were granted 30 days furlough. They returned to Kentucky, and rendezvoused on the 22d of February, at Lexington.
In March the regiment moved to Nashville, and in April it was at Chattanooga, preparatory to the Atlanta campaign. It participated with the cavalry in that campaign, but the limits of this sketch do not admit of detailed mention of its services. It was employed to operate against the Confederate cavalry and protect the railroad on which Sherman's army depended. In May it was at Wayhatchie; in Jun at Lafayette. It was engaged in a severe fight at Pigeon mountain; also at Adairville and Calhoun.
On the 24th of June detachments of the 4th, 6th and 7th Ky. Cavalry were at Lafayette, Ga., under Col. Watkins and were attacked by Gen. Pillow, with 3,000 men. About 3 a. m. the enemy charged into the town, but Col. Watkins was on the alert. The 4th Ky. Men, under Capt. Bacon, took possession of the court house, and Watkins, with the 6th Ky. Men, under Maj. W. H. Fidler, met the enemy in the street. Furious fighting occurred. Watkins and the 6th Ky. Men also got into the court house and, barricading the doors and windows, fought off the enemy. Gen. Pillow demanded a surrender, which was declined, and the fighting was renewed with increased fury. In the midst of it another regiment of Kentuckians appeared. Col. Croxton, with the 4th Ky. Mounted Infantry, dashed in upon Pillow's men and caused them to retreat in a manner that was nothing less that a panic. Watkins mounted his men and pursued about 5 miles, capturing a number of prisoners. Of the 6th, four men were killed and six men wounded.
In August, September and October the 6th was at Resaca and vicinity, guarding the railroad. In November it was ordered to Louisville, Ky., to equip, and was in camp a short time on the Bardstown road. The advance of Hood into Tennessee caused it to move hurriedly to Nashville, December 4th, and it camped then at Edgefield until December 12th, being still in the same brigade in the cavalry command of Gen. J. H. Wilson.
At that time Hood was in his lines in front of Nashville, and he sent Gen. Lyon with a large cavalry force to enter Kentucky by way of Hopkinsville, and move to the rear of Gen. Thomas' army, destroying his communications. Against Lyon, Gen. Wilson dispatched Gen. Ed. McCook, with a force of cavalry, including Watkins' brigade. This force moved rapidly through Gallatin, Tenn., Franklin and Russellville, Ky., and met Lyon at Hopkinsville, and caused him to retire from the state.
December 15th and 16th the battle of Nashville was fought, and the whole Confederate force overthrown. By that time Watkins' brigade had returned to Nashville, and joined in the pursuit. January 9th it was at Gravely Springs, Ala., where it remained until the 23d, when it moved to Waterloo. It remained there during February, 1865; it then accompanied Wilson's cavalry on the expedition through Alabama, and to Macon, Ga. In June it returned to Nashville, and went into camp at Edgefield, where it was mustered out of service, July 14, 1865.
The career of this regiment was remarkable for its continuous activity at the front in connection with the large armies, and its record of gallant service is without a flaw from beginning to end.