ONE HUNDRED YEARS WITH THE SECOND CAVALRY
By Joseph I. Lambert, Major, Second Cavalry
Copyright 1939 Commanding Officer, Second Cavalry, Fort Riley, Kansas
Capper Printing Company, Inc.
General Burnside succeeded General McClellan November 7, 1862, in command of the Army of the Potomac, and divided his army into three grand parts, right, center, and left. The cavalry was divided into three divisions under Pleasanton, who was formerly an officer in the Second, Bayard, and Averell, and each one of these was attached respectively to the grand divisions of the main army.
The Second Cavalry was again the provost guard at General Headquarters during this campaign. Burnside moved his army south November 15 and reached Falmouth, Virginia, November 20, near Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock River. The cavalry did not take much part in the fighting at Fredericksburg from December 11 to 15, although the four companies of the Second were involved. When Sumner’s grand division crossed the river December 12, Pleasanton’s cavalry division was deployed so as to cover the approaches to the upper bridges. When Franklin crossed below the city, he was preceded by Bayard’s cavalry division, which acted as a reconnaissance force. Most of the time cavalry was used on picket duty forming a protective screen around the army.
Sergeant Hagan, with seven men of the Second Cavalry, was ordered to remain in Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862, to protect the withdrawal of some of the forces until he was relieved. He stayed there until he saw the enemy entering the town, when he started withdrawing after finding out he was the only Union force left. Then, seeing that his men were over the Rappahannock, he plunged in and swam across himself. For his exploit he was decorated with the Congressional Medal of Honor.
[Editors note: Records do not show Sgt. Hagan receiving the Medal of Honor. There is ongoing research to see what happened to the award. As it stands now, Sgt. Hagan is not included on the rolls of the Medal of Honor.]