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.
On the morning of June 19, 1861, the cavalry was attached to various divisions of the main army, Company K being placed with Colonel Hunter’s division. The entire command marched toward Bull Run on the 21st led by Hunter’s division. When the battle began, the cavalry was concentrated on the right, where Company K was protected at first by heavy timber. The presence of these regulars among the volunteers steadied the latter along this part of the line. But the untrained men finally gave way at a time when it looked as if the day was won. After the infantry left, the cavalry formed a line across this part of the field to check the enemy in his pursuit. Finally, when the infantry was gone, the cavalry moved out in good order until they reached Sudley’s Church, where they dismounted. Keeping in rear of the army, the cavalry marched slowly along, occasionally driving away the Rebel horsemen assisted by Arnold’s artillery. General Heintzelman says: “We relied entirely for our protection on one section of artillery and a few companies of cavalry.”
Colonel Porter reports: “The Commanding General then ordered a retreat upon Centerville, at the time directing me to cover it with the battalion of regulars, the cavalry and a section of artillery. The rear guard thus organized followed our panic stricken troops to Centerville, resisting the attacks of the Rebel cavalry and artillery, and saving them from the inevitable destruction which awaited them had not this body been interposed.” Upon reaching Centerville the cavalry returned to their old quarters and unsaddled and fed their horses a meager meal, after which they lay down to sleep using the saddles as pillows. Lieutenant David S. Gordon, recently appointed, was taken prisoner in this action. Sergeant Sacks captured General George H. Steuart, formerly Second Lieutenant Company I, Second Dragoons, and transferred to the First Cavalry when it was organized in 1855, but now a staunch Rebel.