William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


[TOC] [part 5] [part 3] [Cutler's History]


The Second Kansas Cavalry was evolved through several regimental changes, the military history of its formation being somewhat complicated.

The organization which proved to be the germ of the Second Kansas Cavalry was effected through the labors of Mason C. Davis, of Wyandotte County, Kan., who, in October, 1861, obtained authority from Maj. Gen. Fremont, then Commander of the Western Department, to raise a regiment of cavalry in the State of Kansas, such regiment to be designated the Twelfth Kansas Volunteers, with place of rendezvous at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. The organization, as commenced, consisted of the following officers: C. L. Gorton. Adjutant; Julius G. Fisk, Quartermaster; J. B. Welborne, Surgeon. The dates of the organization of the several companies were as follows: Company A, Captain Samuel A. Williams, November 22, 1861; Company B, Captain Henry Hopkins, December 9, 1861; Company C, Captain Daniel S. Whittenhall, December 11, 1861; Company D, Captain Amaziah Moore, December 11, 1861; Company E, Captain John Gardner, December 15, 1861.

December 26, by order of the Governor, Companies F, G, H and I, of Nugent's Regiment of Missouri Home Guards, were attached to the organization, and its designation was changed to "Ninth Kansas Volunteers." December 31, 1861, Joseph P. Root was mustered in as Surgeon, vice J. B. Welborne. January 4, 1862, Owen A. Bassett was mustered in as lieutenant Colonel, Julius G. Fisk as Major, and Luther H. Wood as Quartermaster. January 7, Thomas B. Eldridge was mustered in as Major and Rev. Charles Reynolds as Chaplain. On the same day, Company K, Captain Austin W. Mathews, was organized. January 9, Alson C. Davis was mustered in as Colonel and Dr. George B. Wood as Assistant Surgeon, completing the organization of the Ninth Kansas Volunteers, as follows: Colonel, Alson C. Davis, of Wyandotte County; Lieutenant Colonel, Owen A. Bassett, Douglas County; Major, Julius G. Fisk, Wyandotte County; Major, Thomas B. Eldridge, Douglas County; Adjutant, C. L. Gorton, Leavenworth County; Quartermaster, Luther H. Wood, Wyandotte County; Surgeon, Dr. Joseph P. Root, Wyandotte County; Chaplain, Rev. Charles Reynolds, Douglas County. The following were the company officers: Company A, Captain, S. A. Williams, Bourbon County; Company B, Captain, Henry Hopkins, Leavenworth County; Company C, Captain, D. S. Whittenhall, Doniphan County; Company D, Captain, Amaziah Moore, Atchison County; Company E, Captain, John Gardner, Leavenworth County; Company F,* Captain. A. Thomas; Company G,* Captain. C Lovejoy; Company H,* Captain, B. F. Simpson; Company I,* Captain, C. Hill; Company K, Captain, Austin W. Mathews, Leavenworth County.


* Of Nugent's Regiment.


The regiment left Fort Leavenworth on the 20th of January, 1862, with orders to establish winter quarters at Quindaro.

On the 4th of February, the four companies formerly attached to Nugent's Regiment were mustered out, their enlistment being for home service, thus reducing the regiment to six companies. The Ninth now being below regulation size, Col. Davis resigned, and Maj. Eldridge was, at his own request, mustered out. Company K, from this time was designated Company F.

On the 28th of February, 1862, Maj. Gen. Hunter, commanding Department of Kansas, assigned to the Ninth Kansas Volunteers the following officers and companies formerly belonging to the Second Kansas Volunteer Infantry: Col. Robert B. Mitchell, Maj. Charles W. Blair and Maj. William F. Cloud. John Pratt was appointed Adjutant; Cyrus L. Gorton, Quartermaster; Luther H. Wood, First Battalion Quartermaster, and David C. Coleman, First Battalion Adjutant.

On the 11th of March, Col. Mitchell assumed command of the Ninth Kansas, and on the 12th the regiment left winter quarters at Quindaro, and, pursuant to orders, moved to Shawneetown.

On March 15 the name of the regiment was changed to Second Kansas Volunteers, and again changed, on the 27th of the same month, to the name by which it was thereafter known: Second Kansas Cavalry. The officers of the regiment were the following:

Field and Staff. Robert B. Mitchell, Colonel, Mansfield; Owen A. Bassett, Lieutenant Colonel, Lawrence; Charles W. Blair, Major, Fort Scott; John Pratt, Adjutant, Lawrence; David R. Coleman, Battalion Adjutant, Paris; Cyrus L. Gorton, Quartermaster, Leavenworth; Joseph P. Root, Surgeon, Wyandotte; Charles Reynolds, Chaplain, Fort Riley.

Line Officers. Company A, Samuel J. Crawford, Captain, Garnett; John Johnson, First Lieutenant, Garnett; Samuel K. Cross, Second Lieutenant, Topeka. Company B, Elias S. Stover, Captain, Junction City; William P. Phillips, First Lieutenant, Topeka; Robert D. Watts, Second Lieutenant, Ottawa. Company C, Daniel S. Whittenhall, Captain, St. Louis; Samuel C. Harrison, First Lieutenant, Leavenworth County; William M. Hook, Second Lieutenant, Leavenworth County. Company D, Amaziah Moore, Captain, Lawrence; Robert White, First Lieutenant, Eden; Horace L. Moore, Second Lieutenant, Lawrence. Company E, John Gardner, Captain, Leavenworth; Elias S. Stover, First Lieutenant, Junction City; Augustus T. Lovelette, Second Lieutenant, Leavenworth County. Company F, Hugh Cameron, Captain, Leavenworth; James C. French. First Lieutenant, Leavenworth; Albert Schroder, Second Lieutenant, Leavenworth. Company G, Austin Matthews, Captain, Brownsville, Neb.; Patrick Cosgrove, First Lieutenant, Olathe; Gideon M. Waugh, Second Lieutenant, Olathe. Company H, Arthur Gunther, Captain, Lawrence; David E. Ballard, First Lieutenant, Marysville; John K. Rankin, Second Lieutenant, Lawrence. Company I, Samuel A. Williams, Captain, Bourbon County; Robert H. Hunt, First Lieutenant, Davis County; Harvey A. Smith, Second Lieutenant, Linn County. Company K, Avra P. Russell, Captain, Leavenworth; Parnett B. Mitchell, First Lieutenant, Lawrence; John M. Mentzer, Second Lieutenant, Leavenworth.

The veteran companies of the Second Kansas Cavalry were organized under the following officers:

New Company C, Edgar A. Barker, Captain, Junction City; George W. Stabler, First Lieutenant, Monrovia; Edward Ross, Second Lieutenant, Leavenworth. New Company D, John A. Lee, Captain, Topeka; George W. Morgan. First Lieutenant, Leavenworth; Philander W. Straw, Second Lieutenant, Brownsville, Neb.

The regiment was ordered to Fort Riley, to join the New Mexico expedition then organizing, and left Shawneetown on the 20th of April.

Col. Robert B. Mitchell having been promoted to Brigadier General, April 8, 1862, with command of the New Mexico expedition, on the 1st of June Col. William F. Cloud, of the Tenth Kansas Infantry, was assigned to the command of the Second Kansas Cavalry.

On May 18, Capt. Henry Hopkins, First Lieut. Robert H. Hunt, Second Lieut. John K. Rankin and Second Lieut. Joseph Cracklin, with a detail of privates, were assigned to Hopkins' (formerly Hollister's) Battery, and were ordered, with the brigade of Gen. Mitchell, to Tennessee. Maj. Julius G. Fisk, with Squadrons A and D, was ordered, on the same day, to New Mexico.

On the 11th of June, the regiment leaving Squadrons B and C for garrison duty at Fort Riley, moved to Emporia under orders to join the Indian expedition then concentrating at Humboldt. On the 15th, the Second reached Fort Scott, the men were armed with Whitney rifles, and on the 20th, near Baxter Springs, met the Indian expedition, with the commanding officer under arrest. On the 28th, Col. Cloud was assigned to the command of the First Brigade, Indian expedition, and Lieut. Col. Bassett took command of the regiment, then consisting of six squadrons, about 325 men fit for duty. On the 1st of August, the expedition left Baxter Springs, reached Park Hill. Indian Territory, on the 3d, secured the archives, treasure, chief and principal families of the Cherokee nation, and returned to camp on the 8th, marching 210 miles. During the latter part of August, the regiment was engaged in pursuing a party of raiders under Col. Coffey, near the western frontier of Missouri.

Orders were received October 1, at the camp on Cox's Creek, for the regiment to re-enforce Brig. Gen. Soloman, at Sarcoxie, Mo. Arriving at that place on the 3d, it left for Newtonia at 1 o'clock in the morning, where a rebel force was threatening Gen. Soloman. The regiment was to halt at a certain distance from the place, for signals which were to be given at daylight by the other advancing Union forces. The Second, having no knowledge of the country, and marching in the night, did not halt until it met the enemy's pickets.

The pickets fled, and at daylight and for two hours after, the rain fell in torrents. The regiment waited until 10 o'clock for the expected signal, and on hearing it, hurried forward and entered the town, which the enemy had deserted. After various short marches and countermarches, the Second was ordered to the front to ascertain the strength and position of the enemy, preparatory to the advance of the brigade. It succeeded, without loss. In penetrating sufficiently near the enemy's camp at Holcomb Springs, to gain all the information desired, and after an absence of four days, returned to the army, which had in the meantime moved forward to Pea Ridge, Ark. The same evening the division moved from Pea Ridge toward Marysville, via Bentonville, the Second having the advance. About sunrise on the 22d, a halt of an hour was ordered eight miles east of Marysville, and at the expiration of that time Gen. Blunt ordered the column to move forward. Through some misunderstanding or negligence, the order was not properly transmitted to the rear, and on arriving at the point (two miles from Marysville) where the first step was to be taken toward surprising and capturing the rebel camp, it was discovered that the whole division, save its commanding officers, and the Second Kansas, was still six miles in the rear. The delay occasioned by this unfortunate occurrence allowed the enemy's pickets to escape to the camp, four miles beyond Marysville, and give information of the approach of the Union forces. Without waiting for the arrival of the remainder of the column, the Second advanced in the early morning about three miles out on the prairie, beyond Marysville, when it was found that the rebels had selected an advantageous position, planted a battery, and were ready to contest their ground. Two fields extending across the prairie, and about 200 yards wide, divided by a fence, and partially filled with a low growth of bushes, were between the advancing regiment and the road on which the enemy approached. Their first line was formed at the division fence, with their battery in the field behind them.

The Union soldiers, dismounting, speedily cleared the first field of rebel skirmishers, and broke the line beyond the next fence. A charge was then ordered, under Capt. Hopkins, on the rebel battery. The men rushed forward, and soon their cheers announced their victory. The prize consisted of four pieces: three six pounder field pieces, and one twelve pounder howitzer. The enemy made no attempt to recapture their battery, and before the rear of the division arrived, they were in full retreat, leaving the Second masters of the field.

The confederate force was about four thousand, with a battery of four pieces, and a well-selected position. The Union force was 497, and one section of mountain howitzers. Its loss was four killed, and three wounded. The names of those killed were:

Company E, William Landers, Manhattan; Company F, William M. Mitchell, Lawrence; Company G, William F. Ball, Peru, Neb.; Eli Lanker, Brownsville, Neb.

Through November the regiment was employed in holding posts, protecting supplies, and scouting the country in pursuit of bands of raiders. On the 28th, a force of the enemy was encountered near Boonesboro, Ark. The Second was under the command of Maj. Fisk in this engagement; two of the companies served as support to Rabb's Second Indiana Battery, and the others were stationed on hills at the right of the line. The opposing force, under command of Gen. Marmaduke, and consisting of about 3,000 men, with three pieces of artillery, had formed on a wooded hill, opposite the right front of Maj. Fisk's line. Stover's howitzers, and Rabb's battery soon dislodged them, and they retreated down the Cove Creek road, pursued by a portion of the regiment. Maj. Fisk having been severely wounded, was relieved from command; the companies left in support of Rabb's Battery were ordered forward to support that of Capt. Hopkins, which had been sent to the aid of the companies in pursuit of the enemy. The companies that were stationed on the hills to the right of the line, at the beginning of the engagement, rejoined the regiment, which was ordered by Gen. Blunt to pursue the rebels to the town of Newburg. Arriving at that point, the pursuit was continued, forcing the enemy from their position whenever a stand was made, quite to the foot of the mountains toward Van Buren, five miles from their first position. The regiment bivouacked that night in the open field, and the following day returned to Boonesboro, and went into camp.

During the first week of December, 1862, the scouting parties of the Second penetrated the country in the vicinity of Van Buren, and gained much valuable information in regard to the strength and situation of the enemy. It was ascertained that a movement under Gen. Hindman was about to be made; but the uncertainty of its destination rendered the special duty which was assigned the regiment (picket and outpost duty) extremely arduous, and one involving great responsibility. The most advanced outpost was situated on Cove Creek, where the Fayetteville and Cane Hill roads converge. This, if held, would prevent the enemy from advancing to attack the Union force in front, or by flanking to gain its rear, and separate it from Gen. Herron, who was on his march from the northeast with re-enforcements. It was insufficiently guarded, and Capt. Gardner, with his little band of one hundred, was unable to hold it against the attack of the rebels. Representations had been made at headquarters of the inadequacy of his force, and a detail of one hundred men and Lieut. Stover's howitzers were ordered to its re-enforcement, but they were ordered too late to be of service. Before the outpost was reached, Capt. Gardner had fallen back two miles, and the enemy were enabled to flank the division on the left and move on to the northeast to attack Gen. Herron.

On the morning of the 7th of December, 1862, the Second, consisting of eight companies, with twelve line and six regimental officers joined the First Division near Rhea's Mills, and hurried forward on the Fayetteville road to re-enforce Gen. Herron. Passing the infantry and batteries, it reached the battle-field and formed line. After dismounting, the regiment separated, two companies under Capt. Crawford being on the left and the remaining companies on the right of the Eleventh and Thirteenth Kansas Infantry. About half an hour before sunset, the battalion of Capt. Crawford was forced back, after fighting bravely, and losing heavily. The remainder of the regiment afterward gave way with the rest of the line, but after falling back remounted and supported the artillery until dark.

In this battle, Capt. Avra P. Russell, of Company K, was mortally wounded. He died on the 12th of December, 1862.

During the remainder of the winter and through the spring months, the regiment was employed in scouting, picket duty, and in performing various services that required pluck and nerve, but which brought little compensation in the way of fame or renown.

In August, 1863, Capt. Crawford was sent toward the West from the Canadian River, Choctaw, Indian Territory, by order of Gen. Blunt, to destroy the supplies and capture the train of Gen. Cooper at Perryville. At North Fork Town he burned the depot of ordnance supplies, destroyed the warehouse, took all the clothing his soldiers needed, and the next morning arrived at the junction of the road on his way to Perryville. Here he found that the rebels had retreated, having already passed beyond the junction. Joining Gen. Blunt's forces at this point, the enemy was driven through and beyond Perryville, and the command returned to Fort Smith. On the route from Fort Smith to Backbone Mountain, a rebel force was encountered, and Capt. E. C. D. Lines, who was in the advance, was killed with a number of his men.

The regiment moved to Waldron, Ark., on the 1st of December, 1863, and during the month Lieut. Col. Bassett was assigned to the command of the Third Brigade and Maj. Fisk to the command of the regiment. The duties of the soldiers were laborious and disagreeable, as well as dangerous. The weather was cold, the ground was covered with snow, they were on short rations, and being stationed at outposts and engaged in scouting and picket duty in a hostile country, it required all the coolness and resolution they had acquired in their three years' hard discipline to enable them successfully to fulfill the trusts committed to them.

The Second was assigned to Lieut. Col. Bassett's cavalry brigade in March, 1864, and leaving Waldron on the 22d, arrived on the 10th of April at Sulphur Springs, and reported to Gen. Steele, then running his famous race with Gen. Price to gain possession of Camden, Ark. While the two Generals were hurrying their columns forward, an attack was made on the rear of Gen. Steele's army by Marmaduke. The cavalry brigade guarded the rear, Gen. Thayer, commanding the frontier division, formed his line, with the Second Kansas Cavalry on his right, under Maj. Fisk and the Sixth and Fourteenth, under Lieut. Col. Campbell, on his left. On advancing into the prairie, four squadrons of the Second were thrown out to the front, and for a mile to the right, as skirmishers. Marmaduke was completely deceived, supposing the entire army to be covered by the skirmish line. He accordingly declined to attack, and the army passed on without being delayed, loss of time being the one thing most dreaded at that particular juncture. On the 16th, Gen. Steele reached Camden and took possession of the town, being only about four miles ahead of Price. The news of Gen. Banks' reverses on the Red River had given the enemy fresh courage, and the country around Camden was swarming with rebel troops, ready to attack any and every supply train or detached expedition that should be sent out from that place. A train sent out sixteen miles for forage was attacked and captured on the 18th, with heavy loss. A detachment of the Second, under Lieut. Mitchell, formed a part of the escort accompanying the train. Among those captured in this expedition was Henry W. Selig, of Lawrence. Becoming so weakened by his wounds as to be unable to march, he was murdered by his captors before reaching the destined prison at Fort Tyler.

Gen. Steele finding his position Camden untenable, evacuated the town on the 27th and retreated across the Washita. The cavalry regiments were sent forward to Little Rock, and the remainder of the army succeeded, after a terrible struggle at Jenkins' Ferry (crossing of the Saline) also, in reaching that place on May 2. Immediately after the arrival of the main body of the army, the Second was ordered again to Fort Smith, where it was rejoined by Capt. Gardner, with Squadrons E and I), and later by the remainder of Frontier Division under Brig. Gen. Thayer. The different companies of the regiment were detailed for escort, and other duties through the summer - Lieut. Mitchell and Maj. Hopkins to Fort Scott, Capts. Cosgrove, Matthews and Barker to Fort Gibson.

September 19, on his return from Fort Scott, to Fort Gibson, C. N., with a supply train of 800 wagons, Capt. Hopkins had an encounter with the forces of Gen. Gano, at Cabin Creek. Capt. Hopkins had under his command about 600 men, nearly two-thirds being Cherokees. He was attacked in the night by 2,000 rebels, with artillery, two pieces of which were posted in his front, and two opposite his right flank. Guarding his train as well as he was able, Capt. Hopkins defended his position six hours, when the enemy made an advance, and planting their artillery within one hundred yards of his lines, forced him to abandon his train, and fall back to Grand River.

During September, Col. Cloud was assigned to the staff of Maj. Gen. Curtis, and Maj. Fisk resumed command of the regiment. In January, 1865, the Second was ordered to report to regimental headquarters at Clarksville, and then proceed to Little Rock. On the passage down the river, the "Annie Jacobs," on which the regiment embarked, was, with two other transports, fired upon from a rebel battery, and all were forced to run ashore. After two days, the boats were enabled to proceed to Little Rock. During February and March the Second was at Clarksville and Lewisburg.

March 18, Company H was mustered out at Little Rock, Ark., and April 14, Company A, at the same place. April 17, Company K was mustered out at Fort Leavenworth. June 22, Companies B, C, D and L were mustered out at Fort Gibson. The men left Fort Gibson on the 2d of July, reached Lawrence on the 14th, and were paid and discharged on the 17th of August.


Company B: Killed by guerrillas, Lorenzo Pearce, Springfield, Mo.; James Reeves, Fort Smith, Ark.

Company C: Killed at Backbone Mountain, Ark., Sept. 1, 1863, William Staatz, Junction City; at Fort Gibson, C N., Sept. 16, 1864, Robert Hampton and Bailey Duval; at Pineville, Mo., Nov. 19, 1862, John Davis, Fort Riley. Died of wounds received at Backbone Mountain, Frank Falkner, Junction City.

Company D: Killed at Little Santa Fe, Mo., March 26, 1862, William T. Wills, Muscotah; at Roseville, Ark., April 4, 1864, Thomas J. Rhoe, Eden.

Company E: Killed at Prairie Grove, Ark., Dec. 7, 1862, Sergt. John S. Rosa, Junction City, and Levi H. Stout, Louisville; at Old Fort Wayne, C. N., Oct. 22, 1862, William Sanders. Died of wounds received at Prairie Grove, John M. Thompson, and John A. Miller, both of Manhattan. Of wounds received at Roseville, Neal C. Robinson, Baldwin City.

Company F: Killed at battle of Old Fort Wayne, Ark., October 22, 1862, William N. Mitchell, Lawrence; at Scullyville, C. N., October 31, 1863, William Nelson, Leavenworth; while on escort duty August 11, 1861, George Potter, Lawrence; killed by captors en route for Fort Tyler, Tex., as prisoner, Henry W. Selig, Lawrence.

Company G: killed at Old Fort Wayne, Corporal William F. Ball, Peru, Neb.; at Boonesboro, Ark., December 6, 1862, Corporal John Dower, Olathe; at Scullyville, C. N., Daniel Flint, Shawnee; at Fort Smith, Ark., July 29, 1864, William Crossman, Shawnee; at Cabin Creek, C. N., September 19, 1864, Henry L. Hall, Brownsville; killed at Scullyville while prisoner, William T. Carpenter, Leavenworth; died of wounds, John Roberts, Shawnee.

Company H: Killed at Van Buren, Ark., December 29, 1862, Henry H. Hiatt, Marysville; in Crawford County, Ark., August 11, 1864, Edward H. Nauman, Washington; at Poison Spring, Ark., April 18, 1864, John C. Blackford, Lawrence; at Fort Smith, Ark., September 1, 1864, Henry Hirch, Topeka; died of wounds, William Root, Fort Smith; Arnold Wittenberg, Marysville, Kan.; Jesse Howard, Marysville, Kan.

Company I: Killed at Prairie Grove, Ark., December 7, 1862, Sergeant Joseph Henderson, McGregor, Iowa, and Thomas Lawrence, John Cunningham, Leroy; at Baxter Springs, January 20, 1861, John Ackerman, McGregor; at Poison Springs, Ark., Francis M. Sullivan, Blooming Grove; killed on picket, near Waldron, Kan., William H. Walker, McGregor.

Company K: Died, December 12, 1862, of wounds received at battle of Prairie Grove, Capt. Avra P. Russell, Leavenworth; killed in action at Cane Hill November 28, 1862, Cyremus M. Adams, Emporia; killed by guerrillas: Scott Maberry and John Clayton, both of Lawrence.

Company L: Killed at Scullyville, C. N., Absalom Gyves, Fort Smith, Ark.

[TOC] [part 5] [part 3] [Cutler's History]