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.
Until the year 1833 our cavalry had an uncertain existence, the troops being raised for emergencies and disbanded when their services were no longer necessary. After the Revolutionary War, the first mounted troops to be organized in this country were four companies of light dragoons in 1792. This was later reduced to two companies and then under the act of 1798 increased to a regiment of eight companies. But this was short lived, for it was reduced again to two companies in 1800 which were mustered out in 1802. Another regiment of light dragoons was organized in 1808, and in 1812 a second regiment was organized. In 1814 these two regiments were consolidated into one, and in 1815 the men and officers retained were merged with the artillery. The cavalry ceased to exist until the First Dragoons was organized in 1833. At this time a system of promotion was established whereby officers could expect to remain permanently in the service and gain increased rank with the passing years.
To augment the force being assembled in Florida to fight the Seminole Indians, the Second Dragoons was organized in 1836. Following is an extract from the act of Congress raising the new regiment:
An Act authorizing the President of the United States to accept the services of volunteers, and to raise an additional regiment of dragoons or mounted riflemen….
Sec. 6 And be it further enacted, That there shall be raised and organized, under the direction of the President of the United States, one additional regiment of dragoons or mounted riflemen, to be composed of the same number and rank of the officers, non-commissioned officers, musicians, and privates composing the regiment of dragoons now in the service of the United States, who shall receive the same pay and allowances, be subject to the same rules and regulations, and be engaged for the like term and upon the same conditions, in all respects whatsoever, as are stipulated for the said regiment of dragoons now in the service.
Sec. 7 And be it further enacted, That the President of the United States may disband the said regiment, whenever, in his opinion, the public interest no longer requires their service; and the sum of $300,000, required to carry into effect the provisions of this act, is hereby appropriated out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated….
Approved May 23, 1836.
Officers were appointed and later assigned to companies as follows:
Colonel David E. TWIGGS
Lieutenant Colonel Wharton RECTOR
Major William S. HARNEY
Major Thomas T. FAUNTLEROY
First Lieutenant Lloyd J. BEALL, Adjutant
Co. A – Captain William GORDON; First Lieutenant Thornton GRIMSLEY; Second Lieutenant William H. WARD
Co. B – Captain John DOUGHERTY; First Lieutenant Horatio GROOMS; Second Lieutenant Croghan KER
Co. C – Captain John F. LANE; First Lieutenant John GRAHAM; Second Lieutenant Zebulon M. P. MAURY
Co. D – Captain James A. ASHBY; First Lieutenant Charles SPALDING; Second Lieutenant Seth THORNTON
Co. E – Captain Jonathan L. BEAN; First Lieutenant James W. HAMILTON; Second Lieutenant William GILPIN
Co. F – Captain Samuel H. ANDERSON; First Lieutenant Marshal S. HOWE; Second Lieutenant John W. S. McNEIL
Co. G – Captain William W. TOMPKINS; First Lieutenant George A. H. BLAKE; Second Lieutenant John H. P. O’NEALE
Co. H – Captain Henry W. FOWLER; First Lieutenant Townshend DADE; Second Lieutenant Charles A. MAY
Co. I – Captain Benjamin L. BEALL; First Lieutenant Erasmus D. BULLOCK; Second Lieutenant George FORSYTH
Co. K – Captain Edward S. WINDER; First Lieutenant Thomas S. BRYANT; Second Lieutenant Charles E. KINGSBURY
Theophilus H. HOLMES, unassigned
Wharton Rector declined the appointment to lieutenant colonel and the vacancy was given to Major Harney; other officers declining the appointment were Dougherty, Holmes, Grimsley, and Ward.
Colonel Twiggs, a native of Augusta, Georgia, was a veteran of the war of 1812 and since that time had served in the infantry, having attained the rank of lieutenant colonel in that branch. He was second in command of the expedition into Florida under General Gaines in the early part of the year 1836. Of a definite and positive nature, he impressed his personality upon the regiment, originated certain regimental characteristics and customs, and developed an admirable esprit de corps. Lieutenant Colonel Harney, a native of Louisiana, and later colonel of the regiment, had nearly twenty years’ service, part of which was in the Black Hawk War under General Zachary Taylor. He had a fine physique and was a good horseman and an experienced Indian fighter.
Regimental Headquarters of the Second Dragoons was organized in June, 1836, and took station in Washington D.C. Companies A and I began recruiting and assembling recruits in the vicinity of Fort Monroe, Virginia. Company B obtained recruits in Virginia and Louisiana and established camp at Washington D.C. Company C secured the new men in Tennessee and also brought them to Washington. Company D was organized from a detachment of the First Dragoons in Florida and began active service at once. Companies E, F, G, and H got their recruits mostly from New York and assembled them at Fort Columbus, N.Y. Company K was not organized until March, 1837, at New Orleans, La. Although recruiting began at once for them, Companies B and C were not listed on the regimental returns as active until April, 1837.
Headquarters of the Army, A. G. O.
Washington, D. C., June 15 1836
GENERAL ORDERS No. 38
I. The Second Regiment of Dragoons will be recruited and organized with as little delay as practicable, and the several officers appointed will report for orders and recruiting instructions to the Colonel of the regiment, who will establish his recruiting headquarters at some central position and report to the Adjutant-General.
The lieutenant colonel and the compliment of officers for three companies will recruit west of the mountains; the major and officers for three companies will recruit in Virginia; and the other captains and subalterns will recruit under the immediate instructions of the colonel, except Captain J. A. Ashby, First Lieutenant Chas. Spalding, and Second Lieutenant S. Thornton, who will proceed to Fort Drane, Florida, and there receive the detachment of dragoons serving in that Territory from the officer of the First Regiment, which will be organized, armed, and equipped as one of the companies of the Second Regiment of Dragoons.
II. The organization of companies and final assignment of officers will be made by the colonel at the proper time, with due regard to the interests of the service. The established recruiting regulations will be strictly observed by all officers, and all the required returns, muster and descriptive rolls, reports, etc., will be regularly made and transmitted, through the proper officer, to the Adjutant-General, who will furnish the required blanks.
IV. The officers appointed will immediately assume their respective duties and proceed in the discharge of them. It is expected that the regiment will be recruited, organized, instructed, and equipped for service in the field by the earliest day practicable.
By order of