The Fourth Cavalry was authorized about the 1st of July,
1862, with Colonel R. Minty, of Detroit, Lt.Colonel of the Third
Cavalry as commander, being ordered into rendezvous at Detroit,
on the 29th. of July. It was mustered into the service of the
United States on the 29th. of August, with the maximum force,
being composed of companies recruited in various parts of the
State. When they left Michigan on the 26th. of September, it had
on its rolls the names of 1233 officers and men. They were fully
armed and equipped, their destination being, Louisville,KY.
The Fourth, under the command of Colonel Minty, marched from Louisville on October the 10th., being in the advance on Stanford,KY, where the confederate Morgan was stationed with 2500 men, two pieces of artillery. Attacking and driving Morgan as far as Crab Orchard, killing a Lieutenant Colonel, taking a Major and 11 men prisoners, the Regiment marched back to Mumfordsville. On November 1st., it marched, 543 strong, from this point, with the cavalry division, via Bowling Green, South Union, Springfield and Mitchellville, to Galatin,TN, there reporting to Major General Crittenden, on November 8th. Crossing the Cumberland River, it met and drove back Morgan's pickets, next morning marched to Lebanon, again driving in his pickets, then at a gallop entered that town, two miles in advance of the Infantry, attacking and driving Morgan, with his force of 750 men, his two pieces of artillery, capturing a large number of mules, commissary stores and clothing, rejoining Crittenden at Silver Springs, where they engaged in scouting the surrounding countryside.
On the 19th, they escorted the 14th. Brigade from Rural Hill to Stewart's Ferry, where they continued on scouting duty, when on the 9th., they reported to General Stanley, Chief of Cavalry, then marched to Camp Rosecrans, near Nashville, where they were again engaged in scouting, having lost 3 men wounded, during October and November. At 7 O'Clock on the morning of December the 4th., Colonel Minty, with 302 officers and men, moved from Nashville on a reconnaissance in the direction of Franklin. When about eight miles from Nashville, they encountered the confederate pickets, driving them back on both Wilson Creek and Franklin Pikes, to their reserve, posted at Hollow Tree Gap, naturally an exceedingly strong position. Dislodging the confederates at this point, they advanced to within one mile of Franklin, where a large confederate force was stationed., thence they returned to camp at Nashville, not having sustained any loss. On the 17th., the Regiment, as part of a larger cavalry force, under the command of General D.S. Stanley, moved towards Triune, engaging the confederates about eight miles out, on the Wilson Creek Pike, driving them back to within three miles of Triune. Learning that the southerners were in force at that point, under Buckner and Hardee, General Stanley withdrew three miles and halted on a crossroad to Franklin, the horses remain saddled all of the night. Before daybreak, they moved on, arriving at Franklin about 7 A.M. Finding the confederates 1300 strong, well posted, under cover of houses along the bank of the river, Colonel Minty advanced with the Regiment at a gallop to a shallow ford, the bridge having been destroyed, where, with his revolving rifles, he succeeded in forcing a crossing, capturing the rebel pickets and dislodging the force behind them. He pursued them three miles, keeping well in advance of the mounted force, killing one Captain and four men, wounding six, and capturing a stand of colors along with seventeen prisoners, two of whom were officers. Then returning to Franklin, they destroyed a large supply of flour and other stores. Notwithstanding the Regiment was much exposed to hostile fire, they suffered no casualties. They then returned to camp at Nashville.
On the 15th., Captain Abeel, with a picket of 40 men, stationed on the Murfreesboro Pike, was approached by a flag of truce, then while negotiating with a rebel officer, who accompanied it, was surprised and captured with his entire command.
On the 20th., they fought at Laurel Hill. On the 21st., Captain Mix, with 50 men moved out of camp, with orders to scout in the direction of Franklin, on both sides of Wilson Creek Pike, to obtain all information possible. About 2 miles out, he met Colonel Stanley, in charge of a forage train, with two regiments of infantry, a section of artillery, and a detachment of 30 men of the 4th. Kentucky cavalry. The Colonel informed Captain Mix that the Kentuckians were skirmishing with the confederates, and directed him to join them, assume command, then act as his judgement might dictate. Dismounting his men, but failing to dislodge the rebels, strongly posted behind a stone wall, the Captain remounted his force, then charged, causing a precipitate retreat of the defenders, only after they fired two volleys, wounding Sergeant McIntire of Company "B", while the confederates lost 7 killed, with 10 captured.
There was a general advance of the Army of the Cumberland from Nashville, on the 26th, towards Lavernge. The Regiment, in command on Lieutenant Colonel Dickinson, as a part of Minty's Brigade, met the confederates about 10 miles out, on the Murfreesboro Pike. After sharp skirmishing, the rebels fell back, being steadily reinforced until reaching Lavernge, where they made a stand with 2500 cavalry and mounted infantry, with four pieces of artillery, under the command of General Wheeler. Here the fighting continued until dark, when the Regiment bivouacked, having lost one wounded. On the morning of the 27th., the rebels having fallen back, Minty's Brigade moved forward, with the exception of one battalion of the 4th., under the command of Captain Mix, who was sent to the left in advance of the brigade, to report to General Hazen, on the Jefferson Pike. General Hazen directed Captain Mix to gain possession of a bridge, about two miles in front of him, to prevent its destruction. He pushed forward, when he was immediately confronted by a force of rebel cavalry. He charged, then in less than fifteen minutes, had possession of the bridge, having driven an entire rebel regiment of cavalry before them. He was in turn attacked by the whole force of the brigade, but held his position, for an hour and a half, when General Hazen came up with his infantry, when the confederates fell back. Captain Mix had two men wounded with three taken as prisoners.
On the afternoon of the 31st., the Regiment having moved rapidly across the country from Lavernge, whither it had been sent the night before to operate against General Wheeler, rejoined the brigade, which took up a position on the right flank of General McCook, at Stone River, and nearly parallel to, and about three-fourths of a mile from, the Nashville and Murfreesboro Pike.
Here the Regiment,formed a line of dismounted skirmishers, close to the edge of a wood, out of which had been driven a large force of confederate cavalry. Colonel Minty, with his brigade, was here driven back by an overwhelming force of dismounted cavalry, with four pieces of artillery, just at sundown. The rebels remounted, then advancing from the woods, formed four lines. After falling back to the cover of a small knoll, the Colonel reformed the brigade, then ordered a charge, General Stanley leading two companies of the 4th., along with 50 men of the 15th. Pennsylvania, routing the confederates, while capturing four stands of colors. At the same time, Colonel Minty charged the first line in his front, and with the balance of the 4th., along with the 1st. Tennessee, driving it back, then again reforming, dashed at the second line of rebels, which in turn broke and ran, retreating from the field. During the engagement the Regiment lost 5 wounded, 3 prisoners with 2 missing, while in the whole operations surrounding the Battle of Stone River, lost 12 horses killed, 3 wounded and 8 captured. While the loss to the confederates appears to have been very great in prisoners, as Minty's Brigade alone captured 192.
The Regiment, with its brigade, moved out from Murfreesboro on the evening of the 9th., returning to Nashville, scouting the area in between the two cities, to return on the 19th. Early in February the Regiment set out on a scouting mission to gain information and hinder the confederates operating under General's Wheeler and Forrest. During this scout the Regiment marched over 250 miles in much privation, due to the rainey cold weather, but returned with 145 prisoners, including 2 Colonels and 14 other commissioned officers.
The Regiment remained in the Tennessee area, continually scouting and skirmishing with the rebels, until April of 1864, when 800 strong and well equipped, now armed with the Spencer repeating carbine, they left Nashville, under the command of Colonel Park, marching to Columbia, where they became part of the 2nd. Cavalry Division. They then moved through Shelbyville, Tullahoma and Dechard, over the Cumberland Mountains to Stevenson, then Bridgeport, crossed the Tennessee River, to Shell Mound, crossed Raccoon Ridge, Lookout Valley, Lookout Mountain, Pigeon Mountain to Lafayette, then across Taylor's Ridge to Vilanon,GA. They then participated in all of the movements of the army, in the March to Atlanta, where scouting and skirmishing became almost a daily occurrence, in addition to the patrols needed to locate the defensive positions of the retreating confederates. When the Regiment reached Atlanta, in August, its men and mounts had been worked to the limits of endurance.
During the past 12 months, the Regiment had marched over 2600 miles, when they were ordered back to Nashville for re-mounting and re-equipping. On the 12th. of January, 1865, they again moved out, to conduct operations in the Alabama and Georgia areas.
On the 7th. of May 1865, the Regiment was ordered to proceed, as quickly as possible, to Spaulding,GA, in Irwin County, and picket the Omulgee River, from Hawkinsville to the mouth of the Oconee River, for the purpose of preventing the escape of Jefferson Davis, who was then supposed to be making his way to the coast, and if the Regiment got on his track to follow him wherever he went, then to capture, or kill him without fail. At Abbyville, Colonel Minty became satisfied that Davis had already crossed the Ocmulgee River, then ascertained that the 1st. Wisconsin Cavalry were following him closely in the direction of Irwinsville. With 153 of his best mounted men of the Regiment, he followed the line of the Ocmulgee for some miles, then took a bridle path, or blind road through the woods towards Irwinsville, arriving there about 2 A.M. on the 10th., to find that Davis's party had not yet passed.
Pretending to be a part of his escort, Colonel Pritchard gained information from a citizen that Davis was encamped in the woods about three fourths of a mile north of the town.
The camp in which Davis and his family were found was pleasantly situated, surrounded by a thick pine forest, close to a small swamp, not far from a running brook, affording healthful refreshment for the weary fugitives who rested near its banks. In the camp were standing three wall tents, in line, parallel with the road, facing the opposite direction, while the narrow space between the tents, was occupied by several horses, without equipment. Still beyond, in advance of this line of tents, was a small tent, pitched against a large tree. In this closure of tents, reposing all unconscious of the impending danger, lay Davis and his family, together with his military staff. Nearby was the rest of the camp, which appeared to be troops, with army wagons, ambulances, horses and cavalry equipment. The Regiment charged into the camp just at early dawn, completely surprising them, then making the arrest. A few Michigan men then guarded the tents, while the main force was called to the sound of firing, unfortunately caused by a collision of a portion of the 4th., with the 1st. Wisconsin Cavalry, closing in on the camp simultaneously with the 4th.
The camp was soon broken up, when after breakfast and a brief rest, the male prisoners were mounted on their own horses, Mrs. Davis, her servants and the rest of the family were placed in the ambulances for the trip to Macon. On arriving at Macon, Colonel Pritchard, Captain Hudson and Lieutenant's Stauber and Purinton, with 22 men were detailed to escort Davis to Washington D.C.
There having been a reward, of 100,000 dollars, posted for the capture of Davis, the men of the 4th. were naturally elated at their good fortune, however, the War Department appointed a commission that decided that the men of the 4th. were indeed entitled to the money, but when Congress approved the appropriation, a claim was immediately put forth by the men of the 1st. Wisconsin. It was not until July of 1868 that a bill authorizing the payment was passed, and at that time Congress felt the reward be shared by both the 4th. Michigan and the 1st. Wisconsin.
When the money was distributed, it was shared equally by all men who had participated in the expedition.
The Fourth gained a national reputation, with world wide notoriety, by the capture of Davis. It was an accomplishment of an eminently special and important duty, for the nation, so distinctive and definite in its character, as to render a like service impossible, giving it a place in the history of the war, without parallel.
The Regiment, while feeling its duty was more than aptly performed, and that the war was indeed finally complete, returned to Nashville, on the 1st. of July, where they were mustered out of service and paid off. Returning to Michigan, they arrived at Detroit, where they were disbanded on the 10th.
During their term of Federal service, they were engaged at:
|Cherry Valley,TN||Stone River,TN||Villa Rica,GA|
|Manchester Pike,TN||Arundel Creek,GA||Thompson's Station,TN|
|Shelbyville,TN||Nashville Pike,TN||Lost Mountain,GA|
|Bradyville,TN||Mission Bridge,GA||Rutherford Creek,TN|
|Hickory Creek,TN||Jefferson's Bridge,TN||Big Shanty,GA|
|Woodbury,TN||Tunnel Hill,GA||Duck River,TN|
|Tullahoma,TN||Unionville,TN||McAfee's Cross Roads,GA|
|Rock Island,TN||Liberty,TN||Noonday Creek,GA|
|Sperry Mill,TN||Auburn,TN||Baird's Mill,TN|
|Smith's Cross Roads,TN||Wilson Creek,TN||Kenesaw Mountain,GA|
|Reed's Bridge,TN||Hollow Tree Gap,TN||Prosperity Church,TN Snow Hill,TN|
|Chickamauga,GA||Wilson's Creek Road,TN||Dallas,GA|
|New Hope Church,GA||Fair Oaks,GA||Jonesboro,GA|
|Lebanon Mills,GA||Rome,GA||Lovejoys Station,GA|
|Sweet Water,GA||Flat Rock Creek,GA||Macon,GA|
|Stone Mountain,GA||Blue Pond,GA||McDonough's,GA|
|Rosswell,GA||Covington,GA||The Capture of Jefferson Davis|
|Killed in Action--32|
|Died of Wounds--15|
|Died of Disease--328|
|Total Casualty Rate--16.9%|