8th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry (1864-1865)

Also Known As: Eighth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry

Updated: January 21, 2014

In the American Civil War, Ohio provided the federal government with 260 regiments of men, including infantry, artillery, and cavalry units. Ohioans also served in several other regiments from other states, most notably from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Massachusetts, as well as in federal units. Almost 330,000 Ohio men, including 5,092 African Americans, served in the Union military during the conflict.

In the American Civil War, Ohio provided the federal government with 260 regiments of men, including infantry, artillery, and cavalry units. Ohioans also served in several other regiments from other states, most notably from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Massachusetts, as well as in federal units. Almost 330,000 Ohio men, including 5,092 African Americans, served in the Union military during the conflict.

Cavalry regiments established in Ohio were known as regiments of Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. Regiments formed in Ohio served for varying lengths of time, averaging one hundred days to three years. On March 28, 1864, the 8th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry mustered into service at Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, Ohio. The men in the regiment were to serve for three years, and most of these soldiers had previously served in the 44th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

On April 26, 1864, six companies of the 8th Ohio traveled to Charleston, West Virginia. These men had no horses due to a shortage. On May 10, 1864, the regiment's four remaining companies departed Camp Dennison for Charleston. Equipped with horses, including some for the already departed companies traveled to Cincinnati, where they boarded a steamer for Charleston. These men disembarked at Guyandotte, West Virginia two days later and rode the remainder of the way to Charleston, arriving on May 14. At this city, the horsemen received arms and saddles and, on May 29, 1864, rode to Lewisburg, West Virginia.

On June 3, 1864, the 8th Ohio departed Lewisburg with a Union force on a raid towards Lynchburg, Virginia. These soldiers arrived at Staunton, Virginia six days later. Two cavalry brigades, including the Ohio regiment, proceeded to Buckhannon, West Virginia, where a Confederate force fled as the Northerners approached. The 8th remained at Buckhannon until June 15, 1864, when the regiment proceeded towards Lynchburg. On this advance, two of the 8th's companies engaged an enemy force at Otter Creek Bridge on June 16, driving the Southerners from the field. On the next day, the entire Union force, including both cavalry and infantry forces, battled the enemy to a standstill. Confederate reinforcements arrived that evening, and when the Battle of Lynchburg resumed the next day, the Southerners forced the Union command to retreat. The 8th Ohio served as the rearguard for the retreating Northerners. The Ohioans drove off a Confederate cavalry detachment, having seventy-one men killed, wounded, or captured. The regiment also successfully protected an artillery battery that Confederate forces attacked during the retreat.

Upon the 8th Ohio reaching the Greenbrier River near Lewisburg, officials ordered the regiment to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. At this location authorities dispatched the organization's dismounted men to Charleston and the mounted men to Beverly, West Virginia. The mounted soldiers arrived at Beverly on June 30, 1864 and proceeded to garrison several surrounding towns. On August 23, 1864, Confederates captured Companies C, H, and K--approximately eighty men--at Huttonsville, West Virginia. The captors released the men but took the Northerners arms, horses and other supplies. A short time later, the enemy captured Company A but, again, released most of the men after taking their possessions, except for the companies captain and a few other men, who were imprisoned at Richmond, Virginia.

On October 29, 1864, Rebels attacked the 8th's main camp at Beverly. A fierce hand-to-hand fight resulted, with the Northerners eventually forcing the Southerners to flee. In this engagement, the 8th Ohio had eight men killed, twenty-five wounded, and thirteen men captured, while the Confederates lost seventeen men killed, twenty-seven wounded, and ninety-two soldiers captured. On December 1, 1864, a detachment from the 8th Ohio, including Colonel Alpheus Moore, the organization's commanding officer, returned to Beverly from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. These men had been engaging Confederate General Jubal Early's army during the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864. These Ohioans engaged the enemy at the Battles of Winchester, Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek. At this time, the 8th Regiment had five mounted companies. To secure adequate forage for the horses, officials ordered four of the companies to Philippi, West Virginia.

On January 11, 1865, a Confederate force attacked Beverly, capturing 583 men, including eight officers. The enemy took the captives to Richmond, Virginia and imprisoned the men in Libby Prison. Confederate officials exchanged some of these men on February 15, 1865. These released men proceeded to Columbus, Ohio, where they were officially paroled. Those men healthy enough for continued duty joined the four mounted companies that had been stationed at Philippi at Clarksburg, West Virginia. During the spring and summer of 1865, these four companies participated in several expeditions across West Virginia and into western Virginia. The 8th's officers issued the following reports regarding these excursions:

PHILIPPI, W. VA., March 16, 1865--6 p.m.

SIR: In obedience to instructions from you, I proceeded on an expedition to Red Creek. Leaving this place at 4 p.m. on the 14th instant I proceeded to Meadowville. After passing through I halted, fed, and rested for two hours, then took up the march for Carrick's Ford, crossing the road from Beverly to Saint George. Arriving as the ford at 8 a.m. on the morning of the 15th, I found the river so swollen and the current so swift that I deemed it dangerous to cross. However, not wishing to give it up without a trial, I selected four men on the best horses, and started them across. As soon as they got into the channel two of the horses were taken off their feet and swept down the stream, and both men and horses were with difficulty saved from drowning. I then went farther up and tried to cross at other fords, but met with no better results. I then returned to Clover Run, where there was forage, and camped for the night, leaving three men to watch and see whether the river feel enough through the night to admit of a crossing the next morning.

Early in the morning of the 16th the men came in and reported the river still rising; also that the cause of the rising was the melting of the snow in the mountains and not the rain that had been pouring down in torrents the previous night and day; therefore, I concluded not to cross, for had I succeeded in doing so, with the addition of the falling rain, I would have become water-bound and had to remain in a country that would not subsist man nor horses. Accordingly I set out on my return, having marched up to this time forty miles and farther, the roads being greatly obstructed by falling timber and slides, which made it very hard travelling, thus making it impossible to have reached Red Creek by the time laid down.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

GEO. W. CABLE, First Lieut., Cmdg. Expedition.

Maj. A. DOTZE, Cmdg. Eighth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry.

PHILIPPI, W. VA., April 23, 1865.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of a detachment of 150 men of the Eighth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, sent our under my command, by Special Orders, No. 32, dated headquarters Eighth Ohio Volunteers Cavalry, Philippic, W. Va., April 15, 1865: The command consisted of detailed men from different companies and was divided into four parties--Lieut. McConkey, 45 men; Lieut. Rockafield, 45; Lieut. Daltion, 30; Lieut. Swain, 30. The arms consisted of 40 Spencer carbines, 60 rounds of ammunition each; 110 Burnside carbines, 100 rounds each; 150 sabers, and a very few revolvers.

Saturday, April 15, received orders at 2 p.m.; marched at 3. Intended to march term miles stop for night. It remained hard and the night promised to be had. I concluded to march through to Beverly where men could get shelter for themselves and horses. Before sundown stopped an hour and a half for feed and supper.

Sunday, 16th, reached Beverly at 1 a.m. During forenoon all i formation I could gather induced me to believe we could accomplish more by marching via Huntersville toward Warn Springs, taking Monterey and Hightown in rear on our return, than by marching direct to Hightown. Telegraphed to the general commanding at Clarksburg asking permission to take the Huntersville route. Request granted. Drew one day's rations and marched at 2 p.m. At sundown bivouacked three miles from Huttonsville on the direct road to Hightown, and did what I could to create the impression that we were going on that route in strong force. Thirty men on picket.

Monday, 17th, marched very quietly at 2 a.m. across the neck of country between the Hightown and Lewisburg roads, fording Tygart River and coming into the latter road four miles above Huttonsville. An hour after sunrise stopped for breakfast, and fed. Moved steadily all day, stopping at sundown the north foot of Elk Mountain, within eight miles of Marlin's Bottom bridge. Forty-five men on picket. Had heard that Joe Gay hands a few bushwhackers and horse thieves about Stony Creek, Marlin's Bottom, and Huntersville before daylight; but hearing that Capt. McNeill, a noted guerrilla, was at his home near Huntersville, I concluded to send at once and secure him if possible. dispatched Sergeant Walker, of Company I, at 10 a.m., with fifteen men, to get thin and pick up every one about Huntersville, waiting the till I came up.

Tuesday, 18th, marched at 2 a.m. Had twenty men, under Fist Sergeant Nelson, Company I, scour Stony Creek for a distance of four miles for Gay's men; to join me at the bridge over Greebrier. He found on one. Moved on the Huntersville. Sergeant Walker had picket up several stragglers and deserters. McNeill had left home the day before. Put up here one of the telegrams, and told all people I saw the terms on which rebels could come in and be paroled. They seemed gratified. Moved on toward Warm Springs, Lieut. Swain's party, armed with Spencers, in advance. At Knap's Creek, seven miles beyond Huntersville, he hears of some rebels up the valley, and went to find them. I moved one mile spats Knap's Creek, and halted for him to join me. Before halting I had picked up a few fellows, from whom I learned at that Jackson's command was disbanded at Buchanan on Saturday last, and the men were on their way home in squads, some coming on the road that we were moving on. Met a family of refugees, the women of which were frightened, and reported they had heard the at party of 300 of Jackson's men, armed and partly mounted, left Warm Springs this morning going to Huntersville, whence they were going to disperse to their homes. Heard different stories of their strength, all the way from 50 to 400, but the persons from whom I got the reports were panicky, and I placed no reliance in the report of any of one party so large. Thought there might be different squads of from twenty to forty, possibly fifth men. While waiting for Lieut. Swain, and in less than an hour after I had heard these reports, my advance, under First Sergeant Lewellyn, Company F, was suddenly and furiously attacked. The attack was so sharp and came so soon after the reports of a large party of the enemy, that I was a little suspicious; so I immediately threw my there companies into a sharp to make a strong fight if the enemy were in force, and to pursue instantly if he were not, also to give him an exaggerated idea of our number if it were simply a party of obstruction. Send for Lieut. Swain to join me as soon as possible; then galloped forward to see what it was. All this had occupied but a very few minutes. I found the enemy were running up the side of the mountain o getaway. Told Lieut. McConkey to take his company instantly up the hill after them and shove them at top speed. Told Sergeant Llewellyn to dash ahead after a few who had run back on the road by which they came. He captured one, who said it was a squared of twenty-five, with Maj. Hutton, Capt. Marshall, and Capt. Harding, going to their homes. As soon as Lieut. Sweain came up I moved only. Lieut. McConkey joined me in two hours, having chased them four miles across the mountains. They tried to fight him, But he pushed so hard that part of them had to abandon their horses and run on foot through places where a horse could not follow. Moved ahead till toward evening, when I got the command into a secreted place, where I feed and got supper, on e company at a time. I knew they would watch and see what route we took from Gaterwood's, perhaps gather enough men to bushwhack the road on which they expected us. At Gatewoods', ten miles this side of Warm Springs, the road for Monterey and Hightown runs north up Grat Back Creek,. The pike to Warm Springs turns south and follows down the creek three miles, then crosses it and passes over a high mountain into the Jackson River valley. At Gatewood's a few fellows tried to skirmish with the advance, but were easily chased. The only benefit they derived was to gain the impression that we had 700 or 800 men. I managed to pass the forks of the road a little before dark, and pushed ahead on the Warm Springs road, going as far as the ford, three miles. It then being completely dark, went into a large field and lay down to sleep, whole command saddled and bridled. No fire., Fifty men on picket. At 12 midnight got the command up quietly and marched in perfect silence back past Gatewood's and up the road for Monterey, distant thirty-eight miles.

Wednesday, 19th, by daylight had marched sixteen miles from Gatewoods', searching every houses for rebel stragglers. Found a little grain in some places, which was the first we had picked up. The people all up the valley of Back Creek were completely surprised. They had heard during the night that we had marched to Warm Springs. The story had spared that we were a strong force of calvary gain through by forced marches to join Gen. Grant at Staunton or somewhere else. Within seven miles of Monterey the road forks, left-hand going to Crab Botton. The horses were a good deal third, and I concluded not to move the while command around that way. Send a party of thirty men to search that part, and join me at Crab Bottom. Picked up several rebels along the road to Crab Bottom, and within a few miles of that place captured Maj. Armesy, Thirty-third [Battalion] Virginia [Cavalry], commander of reserve of three counties. He was trying to run up a hill and escape us. Reached Hevener's farm, in Crab Bottom, just after dark. By this time the horses were a good deal exhausted from scant forage and constant going, and the men very much so from the loss of sleep; therefore concluded to rest all night. Whole command saddled and bridled. Fifty men on picket.

Thursday, 20th, the whole picket force deployed in skirmish line around the bivouac from 3 o'clock till after daylight. Got the command up half an hour before day. Feed and breakfast. Marched an hour after daylight. I expected to find that Mr. Harding and friends had gathered a pretty good squall through the mountains to bushwhack us on Greenbrier or about the Gum road, on Cheat Mountain. Therefore place half my Spencers in the advance guard and half in the rear. At the first crossing of Greenbrier found good graying, so stopped two hours, putting out storing pickets and letting one company at a time unsaddle and groom houses half an hour. Moved on, and when near the next fork of the river the rear guard was bushwhacked sharply from the mountain on the south side of the river. Send Lieut. Swain's company ahead to examine the country about the Gum road (two miles ahead). Halted the two rear companies, and had them scatter about 2,00 cartridges all over the face of the hill, which made it so warm that the bushwhackers had to get out of their holes and leave on double-quick. There were four or five of them. Moved on, reaching White's, top of Cheat Mountain. An hour before sundown stopped for supper. Learned that Capt. Harding had passed there in the middle of the [day] with five men armed and on foot, saying he was going to Beverly. He also said my command was returning on the at road, and would reach White's some time that evening. I studied a good deal as to his intentions. His character is such that I felt sure he was not going to surrender. Finally concluded he had gathered up thirty of forty men, had them coming through mountain by Becky's Creek, and either intended to entangle us in a blockade going down the mountain, and cut us up, or to surprise us after we encamped in t he valley. It is eight miles from White's the Stipes' (foot of the mountain). Had Sergeant Knott, Company F, take ten men on foot, with an ax, and [march] fall a mile ahead of the advance guard to look for a blockade. Commenced the descent at 9 a.m., marching the main party three-fourths of a mile behind the advance company. Reach Stipes's without accident, and learned Harding with one man had passed there just at dark, saying he has going to Beverly to give himself up. This left grout of his men unaccounted for, which made me look still more for another party acting with him. Had twenty men, dismounted, go ahead and in two squads search every house and barn within three miles of Huttonsville for Harding and Ward (whose mother lives close by), but found no trace whatever of them. Moved well into the valley and bivouacked near Mrs. Wade's, making as much noise as possible to let the enemy know where we were, it being my wish that he should attempt a surprise. By this time it was but an hour and a half till daylight. Put fifty men on picket, the whole deployed in an infantry skirmish line around the camp from time of stopping till an hour after daylight. Remained up myself to superintend it, and everything remaining quiet, I let the main property sleep till an hour surprise.

Friday's 21st, got breakfast. Gathered enough grain to feed the command. Moved on the Beverly, arriving at 5 p.m. Finding forage that the major commanding had sent there to meet us, I concluded to rest the command for twenty-four horses being much exhausted.

Saturday, 22d, rested at Beverly. Send prisoners on at 2 p.m. with strong guard to march twelve miles. Maj. Armesy tells me he expected to see the command attacked bout Huttonsville, as he was sure there were men thought Pocahontas who would come across and attempt his rescue. As Capt. Harding has not made his appearance nor been heard of at a late hour to-night, I have no doubt he had some design against us. He has no chance.

Sunday, 23d, marched at 7 a.m.; reached Philippi at 4 p.m.

I inclose a sketch of our route, drawn by Lieut. Swain.

I take pleasure in reporting that I received the most hearty co-operation and support from the other officers. I attribute our little expedition going off so well and successfully entirely to this fact. If we had met serious difficulty the spirit that the officers have manifested would have been most valuable to me.

From Beverly I was accompanied by Corpl. Samuel Goodwin, Privates Tomlinson, Golliday, and Hare, all of Company A,. First Virginia Cavalry, and Mr. Frank Farris, a citizens, as guides. They gave me much valuable information in regard to roads and people.

I found the people all through my route completely conquered; Lee's surrendered has finished them. They see no hope in further resistance and are willing to submit on our terms. They seemed gratified when they heard the terms. There are a great many stragglers and deserters all through the country who have no idea of going back to the army, but being afraid of us they run and hide as much as possible. I believe when they understand our terms they will all come in and give the parole. I met several paroled men of Lee's army. I judge from their talk that they will be an army of missionaries all through the South to preach to the people and entire of common sense and the folly of further resistance. From the spirit of submission that seems to have the taken possession of the people since Lee's surrender, I believe that kindness and leniency toward them now would have the most beneficial results. Their only desire seems to be to get back their owns, brothers, and husbands who have been in the army, and live in peace. Before I explained to them they supposed that all who had been in the rebel army would be confined in Northern prisoners for life. I would suggest (in my humble judgment it would do vast good) that to cavalry parties be sent to post up and distribute all over the territory incur front large numbers of all the printed orders that have been promulgated since Lee's surrender in regard to the terms on which both soldiers and people can give up and return to their homes in peace. It would afford me very great pleasure to take 200 men thought the counties of Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Mounroe, Craig, Allegheny, and Bath on such a mission. In a very short time the grass through that country will be such that cavalry can subsist very well. Respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOSEPH BARGER, Capt., Eighth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry.

Lieut. E. KELLY, Adjutant Eighth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry.

HDQRS. EIGHTH OHIO CAVALRY VOLUNTEERS, Near Clarksburg, W. Va., June 15, 1865.

SIR: I have the honor to submit for the information of the commanding general the result of an expedition into the interior of West Virginia, made pursuant to instructions from headquarters Department of West Virginia, dated May 28, 1865.

I left here on the 1st of June, with 400 men and horses, and moved in a southeasterly direction, through Philippi and Beverly, in one column. After leaving the latter place I detached a company of reliable men, under Capt. Moores, with instructions to make thorough examinations of every place where arms or other Government property might be concealed or improper persons harbored. This company preceded the main column two hours in time. On reaching Huttonsville I took the direct road to Lewisburg, passing over Elk Mountain, through Mingo Plats, to Marlin's Bottom. I took this route in order to avoid any suspicion of my destination to Huntersville. At Marlin's Bottom, however, I became satisfied that ex-Governor William Smith was not in that neighborhood. I therefore crossed over at Knap's Creek to Huntersville, which I found deserted, but two families living there. A squadron was left at this place to make a thorough search for Government property and particularly concealed arms. Nothing was found. Three miles southeast of Huntersville I detached a squadron, under Capt. Bechtel, to proceed to Gatewood's; thence northeast, through the saltpeter-works, up Back Valley, while I passed over the mountains by Knap's Creek. These two columns joined near Green Hill. From this place I moved to Hightown, send in on the way Lieut. Cable's squadron through Dinwiddie Gap to Galltown, thence through Monterey was also carefully examined. From Hightown I proceeded along the Staunton pike, over Cheat Mountain, by "old man White's," and struck my old trail at Huttonsville.

It will be seen that I made a complete tour through the district where reports of horse stealing originated, viz: Pocahontas, Highland, and Pendleton Counties, Green Hill and Crab Bottom. These were no horse thieves in this country, nor were any complaints of horse stealing. The citizens are well disposed and quiet. Returning rebels are going to work and conduct themselves with propriety.

I picked up on this trip thirteenth horses, one mule, seven saddles and bridles, eleven carbines and rifles, all Government property. Had it not been that a scout of West Virginia troops, under a Capt. Allen, were prowling throwing the neighborhood of my route only a day ahead of me, robbing the people (I know of no other appropriate name to call it), under the pretense of gathering up United States property, it is very likely that I could have found many Government horses and other property; but the people, being warned of my approach, drove all horses to the mountains and concealed effectually all other property. I regret to say that this Capt. Allen did not fall into my hands.

I returned after an absence of twelve days with my horses in better condition than when I left. The delay in forwarding this report is due to my serious illness since my return.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. OWENS, Col. Eighth Ohio Cavalry Volunteers.

Maj. T. MELVIN, Asst. Adjt. Gen., Dept. of West Virginia, Cumberland, Md.

(Through Brigade and Division Hdqrs.)

 HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF WEST VIRGINIA, Cumberland, June 20, 1865.

Respectfully forwarded to Lieut. Col. A. E. King, assistant adjutant-general, Middle Division, for the information of the general-commanding.

So much of this report as relates to Capt. Allen, of the State Scouts, has been submitted to His Excellency the Governor of West Virginia for his information.

W. H. EMORY, Brevet Maj.-Gen., Cmdg.

The remaining men at Libby Prison received their freedom in early April 1865, when Union forces occupied the city. These men, as well as those at Clarksburg, were mustered out of service in June 1865. The remaining companies at Charleston were mustered out of service in August 1865, after traveling to Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati.

During the 8th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry's term of service, fifty-six men, including three officers, died from wounds received on the battlefield. An additional 154 men, including one officer, died from disease or accidents.

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"8th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry." (2017) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved April 29, 2017, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=1206

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