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5th Ohio Cavalry

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It is generally assumed that cavalry units 'didn't do much' at Shiloh/Pittsburg Landing. In fact, one reference I have encountered records the 5th Ohio Cavalry as 'not engaged; remained at Crumps' for its service during Shiloh. Yet, that simplistic dismissal does many cavalry regiments disservice... including the 5th Ohio.

Organized near Cincinnati in Oct/Nov 1861, the unit was designated as the 2nd Ohio Cavalry; but the change to 5th Ohio was ordered by Governor Dennison in November 1861. First assigned to active duty at Paducah (BGen WT Sherman) in March 1862, the regiment is recorded as having participated in the following operations over the course of its career:

  • Shiloh
  • Corinth
  • Davis Mills
  • Chattanooga (courier duties)
  • Siege of Savannah
  • Campaign for the Carolinas

The 5th Ohio Cavalry was mustered out October 30th, 1865; its losses during the war: one officer and 26 enlisted men KIA; three officers and 140 enlisted died from disease, for a total of 170 deaths. [Ohio Adjutant General, Soldiers in the War of the Rebellion, volume 11]

Shortly after arrival at Paducah, the 5th Ohio accompanied General Sherman's expedition up the Tennessee River, tasked with cutting the Memphis & Charleston Railroad... or rather, part of it travelled with Sherman: the cavalry regiment was divided into three battalions of two or three companies each. The 2nd Battalion (Major EG Ricker) accompanied Sherman, and attempted to cut the M & C RR between Iuka and Corinth; the 3rd Batalion (Major Charles Hayes) was detached at Crump's Landing for service with MGen Lew Wallace's 3rd Division. The 3rd Battalion immediately got to work north of Purdy, and tore up half a mile of track (and a trestle over a swamp) belonging to the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, about March 12th. During the last week of March, Major Hayes and his element of the 5th Ohio Cavalry were detailed to repair the Shunpike [including reinforcing Owl Creek Bridge], guided by Lew Wallace's instruction: 'He should be able to send a battery over the completed roadway and bridges, on the run.' [Autobiography of Lew Wallace, pages 452-3] 

During the week leading up to the Battle of Shiloh, the 5th Ohio Cavalry was involved with the following actions:

  • April 1/2   2nd Batt, Major Ricker     Sherman's expedition up the Tennessee against Eastport and Chickasaw
  • April 2/3   2nd Batt Colonel Taylor   overnight reconnaissance four miles south towards Corinth (prisoners taken, believed to be acting as spies)
  • April 4      2nd Batt  Major Ricker     sent to investigate attack on picket post, where a dozen Union troops were taken prisoner (10 men of 1st Alabama Cav captured)

On the morning of April 6, the cavalry regiment was in process of reorganization (of artillery and cavalry units), ordered by General Grant on April 2nd. The 1st and 2nd Battalions were now under Stephen Hurlbut, 4th Division, and ordered to the far left end of his line, with directions: 'Keep back the Rebel cavalry.' Lew Wallace still had possession of the 3rd Battalion: that bit of the 5th Ohio Cavalry accompanied the rest of the 3rd Division on a wander of twelve miles or more, before finally arriving at Pittsburg Landing after sundown. Elements of the 5th Ohio Cavalry were involved in the final action of the battle, at Fallen Timbers, on April 8.




References:   Autobiography of Lew Wallace

Ohio Adjutant General, Soldiers in the War of the Rebellion, volume 11

OR Serial 10 (pages 9, 24, 78-83, 86-92) and Serial 11 (pages 87-90)



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I found the 5th OVC of interest, due to their involvement in strengthening Owl Creek Bridge, rebuilding the Shunpike, and involvement with several of the pre-April 6 skirmishes. In studying this cavalry unit, it appears to have acted as 'a regiment' on occasion; and as 'battalions' on occasion (under separate commanders); and as a grouping of Companies E, H, I, & K in at least one instance. Therefore, in the following list, the '5th Ohio Cavalry' is recorded as 'involved,' but it may not have been the entire regiment... only a battalion or two. (If I could determine what portion of the 5th OVC was engaged, it is indicated.)

Apr-May 1862            Siege of Corinth: 3rd Batt asgn'd 2nd Division; 1st & 2nd Batts to Hurlbut's 4th Div

June-July, 1862          Pittsburg Landing: protection of supply base

Aug-Nov                     Bolivar, Tenn and vicinity: protection of Memphis & Ohio RR

5 Oct                          Metamora, Mississippi  [Tennessee claims ownership]

Nov-Dec                     Memphis: base of operations

9-12 Dec                    Little Bear Creek

18-23 Dec                  Lexington, Tenn.

21 Dec                        Battle of Davis Mills: 1st & 3rd Batts  [may have only been two companies]

early 1863                   Defense of M & C RR and raids into Mississippi

7-10 Jan                     Moscow, Tenn.

March                         Resignation of Major Ricker (led skirmishes at Pittsburg Landing)

8 Apr                           Hernando, Mississippi

19 Apr                        Major Hayes KIA (rebuilt Shunpike and strengthened Owl Creek Bridge)

Jun-July, 1863            Siege of Vicksburg [Companies E, H, I, K under Major Joseph C. Smith]

19 June                      Cold Water, Mississippi

20 June                      Hernando and Rocky Crossing, Miss.

8 August                     Guntown, Miss.  [Resignation of Colonel William Taylor; Thomas Heath appointed Colonel 5th OVC]

5-7 Oct                       Rienzi, Miss.

20-27 Oct                   Clear Creek, Alabama

Oct-Dec                     Chattanooga: courier duties

1864                           Sherman's Atlanta Campaign (beginning in May 1864)

1-2 Feb                      Lebanon, Ala.

19 August                   Red Oak, Georgia

20 Aug                       Jonesboro, Georgia

Sep-Dec                     March to the Sea

2 Dec                         Rocky Creek Church, Georgia

1865                           Carolinas Campaign 

10 March                    Fayetteville, NC

16 March                    Averysboro, NC

Apr-Oct                      Picket duties in North Carolina

30 Oct 1865               North Carolina: muster out of 5th Ohio Cavalry


I trust the above is what you were seeking. See below for references/additional reading.




References:  wikipedia (5th Ohio Cavalry) 

http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112047586075;view=1up;seq=253   Ohio Adj Gen Roster of Ohio Soldiers, vol. 11, pages 239-60.

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82016187/1909-09-09/ed-1/    National Tribune (various) (details from Larry Stevens site, below)

http://www.ohiocivilwar.com/cwc5.html   Larry Stevens site for everything 5th OVC related.





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Just a touch of clarification...

5 October Metamora Miss. This was actually in Tennessee. The 1st and 2nd battalions under majors Hayes and Ricker were involved in the opening fighting at Davis Bridge on the Hatchie River. (Shiloh NMP holds a five acre site at this field which is in a remarkable state of preservation.)

21 Dec Battle of Davis Mills: 1st & 3rd Batts. There were indeed troopers from the 5th Ohio Cav in this fight but not two battalions, just two companies. Companies B & M under the command of Capt. John Henry were part of a tiny defensive force which included six companies of the 25th Indiana Infantry, all under the command of Col. William H. Morgan. A total of 250 Union officers and men held back Van Dorn's mounted force of 3,500 men for several hours and eventually compelled the Confederates to find an alternate crossing of the Wolf River near Moscow. The Confederates suffered 22 killed, 30 wounded captured, 20 unwounded captured, and according to Asst. Surgeon Eugene Blocker of the 3rd Texas Cavalry, an additional 200-300 wounded who rode away from the field. Morgan suffered three lightly wounded.

The October 1863 locations get a bit fuzzy, it depends on the individual companies. Some were here in the Corinth area at Camp Davies, MS on Clear Creek or at Smith's Bridge on the Tuscumbia River, others were near Cherokee, Al, Chickasaw, Al. At least two companies were enroute to join the 15th Corps near Huntsville. In other words, they were all over the place!

The Supplement to the Official Records, Vol. 49, gives a great break down by company as to where they were located throughout the war.

All the best,


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