The 2nd Cavalry Regiment [also called 4th and 42nd Regiment] was organized during the spring of 1863. It was formerly the 47th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, which never completed its organization. Its members were from the counties of Adams, Choctaw, Newton, Lee, Lauderdale, Pontotoc, Kemper, and Hinds. The unit was assigned to W. Adams', Mabry's, and F.C. Armstrong's Brigade. After skirmishing in Mississippi it saw action in various conflicts in North Georgia and Alabama. Some of the men were captured in the fight at Selma, and only a remnant surrendered with the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana.
This regiment was formed upon the nucleus of Gordon's Battalion, which James Gordon organized and was commissioned Lieutenant-Colonel and J. L. Harris Major, May 12, 1862. An undated memorandum of the companies of Captain Gordon's Battalion "rendezvousing at Columbus" shows that the companies of Captains Raney, Love, Perry, McCarty, Harris, Hogan were the first to arrive, followed by W. G. Beck, Ruffin, Pitts and White.
Gordon had been Captain of the Chickasaw Rangers, with which he served in Virginia in the Second Battalion, Maj. W. T. Martin, which was merged in the Jeff Davis legion. Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon drilled his regiment in camp of instruction at Columbus, Miss., summer of 1862.
In July, 1862, when the main Confederate army was moving to Chattanooga, the Union troops occupying Corinth and neighboring posts, with frequent raids through Northern Mississippi, Col. Frank C. Armstrong was assigned to command of all the cavalry attached to the army of Gen. Sterling Price, headquarters at Priceville, Miss. Armstrong organized a brigade at Guntown in August and reported on the 10th: "The Fourth Mississippi Cavalry reported five companies present last evening, but not more than three of them armed. Their horses are in good condition but their officers have seen no service."
Armstrong and W. H. Jackson raided into Tennessee in August and were in battle at Bolivar August 30, and at Britton's lane near Denmark, September 1. Gordon's Regiment accompanied the brigade to Iuka in advance of Price, drove in the Federal pickets September 13, informed Price of the approach of Rosecrans, and covered the retreat after the battle, closely pressed by the Federal cavalry until Gordon prepared an ambuscade which proved successful. After returning to Baldwyn the brigade again advanced, and drove back the Federal cavalry at Chewalla preparatory to the attack on Corinth by the infantry of Price and VanDorn, October 3-4, 1862. In the battle Gordon dismounted his men and charged to the assistance of King's Battery, in danger of capture. On the second day Gordon's Cavalry covered the retreat of Lovell’s Division, and on the 5th they skirmished on Hatchie Creek and until Ripley was passed. The next campaign was during Grant's advance on the Central Railroad in November and December, during which the regiment skirmished at Oxford and Water Valley, and was in the battle of Coffeeville.
The regiment, about 400 strong, was part of General Armstrong's Brigade of Jackson's Division of VanDorn's Cavalry Corps in the Tennessee campaign of 1863, and was particularly distinguished in the battle of Thompson's Station March 5th. The Federal force engaged was Gen. John Coburn's Infantry Brigade and battery and 600 cavalry, in all 2,837 officers and men (Coburn). The cavalry escaped and the infantry surrendered after losing 293 killed and wounded. Coburn first attacked, but was repulsed, after which Forrest advanced in the rear and Armstrong on the left flank, and the Federal cavalry and artillery escaped with the baggage train, leaving the infantry alone, but in a good position on a hill. A charge was made up this hill by Forrest's, Armstrong's and Whitfield's Brigades, dismounted, and after a fierce struggle they were driven back, the Federal countercharge being repelled by King's Battery. Then Forrest attacked in the rear and Martin's Brigade came up, and Coburn surrendered, he said, about 1,050 men, having 60 killed and 233 wounded. VanDorn's loss was 349 killed, wounded and missing, and he reported the capture of about 1 ,300. The casualties of the Second Regiment (called Fourth in the reports) was 9 killed, 37 wounded. Among the wounded were Capt. John Gaddis and Lieut. A. J. Hamilton. In the second charge "the Rev. B. T. Crouch, of Mississippi, my acting Aide-de-camp," said General Jackson, "was killed. He fell while bravely riding along the line, giving an order for Whitfield’s Brigade to charge ."
Col. Wm. L. Utley, Twenty-second Wisconsin, reported: "The prisoners were placed under charge of Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon of Mississippi. It gives me pleasure to say of Colonel Gordon that he treated the officers with extreme kindness and did everything possible for the men. I believe he did everything in his power to furnish the men with suitable rations. They were not to be had and he could not help it. But when we reached Tullahoma the scene changed. Here, to the regret of us all, we had to part with Colonel Gordon and his escort ."
March 9, in line near Thompson's Station, the regiment was attacked by Minty's Cavalry and forced to retreat, with some slight loss. Gen. N. B. Forrest, with his brigade and Jackson's, on March 25, attacked the garrison at Brentwood, commanded by Col. Edward Bloodgood, including his Wisconsin Regiment and Col. William R. Shafter's Michigan Regiment, part of which latter had been captured March 5. The Fourth was not in action there, but immediately afterward Forrest took Companies D, G, H and K, under the command of Colonel Gordon, and the Tenth Tennessee and a battery and captured the stockade fort on Harpeth River, garrisoned by 275 men. All these movements were made in great haste. Before Gordon had proceeded a mile he was attacked by Green Clay Smith's Cavalry. Company D, under Lieut. H. P. L. McGee, checked the pursuit by a volley until Gordon could form on the next hill and the companies of Capt. John Gaddis and Capt. J. T. Pitts (under Lieut. J. Y. Smith) could deliver another volley. McGee's company dismounted and fired from a stone fence. "The enemy here charged me while my guns were empty," said Gordon, "and I was forced to make a precipitate retreat." The killed, wounded and captured were 20. The rest of the command stampeded, and the Mississippians were left alone before they gave way. The regiment was engaged in the unsuccessful attack on Franklin April 10, and had 1 wounded.
Part of the regiment was not in the Tennessee campaign. Capt. R. C. Love's squadron participated creditably in the operations in Southern Mississippi against Grierson's raid, April-May, 1863.
From Tennessee the cavalry made a rapid march to the Big Black River. In the absence of VanDorn, Grierson had raided through the State and Grant had landed at Bruinsburg, marched to Jackson and surrounded Vicksburg. VanDorn had been killed in Tennessee and Gen. W. H. Jackson was in command of cavalry. The regiment was listed Fourth Mississippi, Col. James Gordon, in Cosby's Brigade with Pinson, Starke and Ballentine’s Regiments, Jackson's Division, June, 1863. Companies A and E (Love's squadron) with John Adams' command near Yazoo City, June, 1863. July 30 Maj. J. L. Harris commanding regiment, Company D, Capt. James Ruffin, Provost Guard for General Jackson. The regiment was reported 200 strong in July. Jackson's Cavalry covered the retreat of Johnston's army from the Big Black to Jackson after the surrender of Vicksburg, with frequent skirmishing. After Sherman's return to Vicksburg the cavalry occupied the region between the Pearl and Big Black Rivers. September 16, the regiment was reported on detached duty, Maj. J. L. Harris commanding. Colonel Starke was in command of the brigade in December, 1863; Major Harris commanding the regiment. Company M [misprint -- there was no Co. M], Second Mississippi Cavalry, is reported in parole camp at Enterprise December, 1863. The brigade was in battle with McPherson’s expedition to Clinton in October, 1863, skirmished with the advance of Sherman's expedition to Meridian in February, following Sherman from Jackson to Meridian and moving thence to Starkeville to assist Forrest, who had defeated Sooy Smith, and from there moving to the vicinity of Canton, whither Sherman had marched, skirmishing near Sharon and following Sherman’s column to the Big Black. The regiment is not mentioned in the reports. It was relieved from conscript duty and ordered to report to General Jackson February 15.
Gen. Frank C. Armstrong took command of the Mississippi Cavalry Brigade in Jackson’s Division April 4, 1864, including the First, Second, Twenty-eighth and Ballentine's Regiments. The Second Cavalry was transferred from Mabry's Brigade. They moved from Grenada to Northern Alabama. Maj. J. J. Perry was detailed with a portion of the First and Second Cavalry in Fayette County, Ala., to collect deserters, April, 1864.
The brigade reached Rome, Ga., May 14, and thereafter was constantly engaged until after the evacuation of Atlanta, September 1 (see Twenty-eighth Regiment). May 28, near Dallas, they fought as infantry, making a reconnaissance against the Federal lines, driving in the skirmishers, but encountering a terrific fire of musketry and artillery that caused heavy loss to the brigade. Major Harris, commanding the regiment, was mortally wounded. He was succeeded in command by Major John J. Perry. July 21, 1864, Col. Edward Dillon was assigned to command of the regiment by the War Department.
In the same period, June 1, 1864, the returns show: Second Mississippi, Capt. William A. Rogers, in Mabry's Brigade, Wirt Adams' Cavalry.
The regiment, in Armstrong's Brigade, crossed the Tennessee River at Florence November 5, and soon after began the march into Tennessee under command of Gen. N. B. Forrest. The regiment was in battle on Shoal Creek, at Lawrenceburg, November 21; at Campbellsville, November 22; at Columbia, Hurt's cross roads; at Spring Hill, November 29; at Franklin, November 30; arrived before Nashville December 4, moved to Murfreesboro, in battle at Murfreesboro, December 7; as rear guard of the army on the retreat from Nashville, fought at Columbia, Warfield's, Richland Creek, Pulaski, King's Hill and Sugar Creek December 22 to 26. The casualties of the regiment were 2 killed, 16 wounded. The Second Regiment was in all the fights, skirmishes and marches incident to the service of the brigade in Tennessee (see First Cavalry).
The rolls of December 31, 1864, show the companies at Tuscumbia, Carthage, Fulton and Cotton Gin greatly reduced in numbers. Company E had 19 present for duty, 5 detached, 6 absent without leave, 9 sick and 12 prisoners. Total enrolled, 51. Company I reported four present. Capt. J. F. White, at Cotton Gin, was ordered to bring his command to Columbus February 15.
Armstrong's Brigade held the line of works at Selma, which was carried by Long's Union Division April 12, 1865, after a loss of 300 killed and wounded.
The troops of the department were surrendered by Lieut.-Gen. Richard Taylor at Citronelle May 4, 1865.