4th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry (1861-1865)

Also Known As: Fourth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry

Updated: February 28, 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. In October 1861, the 4th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry organized at Camp Gurley in the Cumminsville neighborhood of Cincinnati. The organization mustered into service at this same location on November 1, 1861. The men in the regiment were to serve for three years.

On November 23, 1861, the 4th moved to Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, Ohio, where the men engaged in drill. On December 6, 1862, the regiment departed camp Dennison for Jeffersonville, Indiana. On December 27, the organization crossed the Ohio River and entered Kentucky, encamping at Bacon Creek. At this location, the 4th joined the Third Division, under the command of General O.M. Mitchel. The cavalry force, with Loomis’s Michigan Battery, advanced southwards to Bowling Green, Kentucky. The Northerners found the town deserted of Confederate soldiers but did succeed in capturing a train loaded with enemy supplies. The 4th continued its advance towards Nashville, Tennessee. At Edgefield, Tennessee, the mayor of Nashville formally surrendered the city to the 4th’s colonel, John Kennett. Union soldiers entered the city, with the Ohio regiment encamping eight miles away in the city’s outskirts.

On March 9, 1862, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan’s cavalry captured the 4th’s forage train, including thirty men and eighty horses. The rest of the regiment quickly raced to the scene, recapturing all but sixteen horses and freeing all but twelve of the men. In mid-March 1862, the 4th advanced to Murfreesboro, Tennessee and next embarked upon a raid to McMinnville, Tennessee, where the Ohioans destroyed a powder mill and a magazine. At McMinnville, the regiment engaged enemy soldiers on three occasions, suffering no casualties.

After destroying the buildings, the 4th advanced to Huntsville, Alabama, where the command captured a train with seventeen locomotives, multiple railroad cars, and eight hundred enemy soldiers as passengers. The regiment next moved to the Alabama communities of Decatur and Athens, before returning to Huntsville. In May 1862, the 4th helped defend Athens from a Confederate cavalry attack, driving the enemy soldiers from the town. The regiment’s division next advanced towards Chattanooga, Tennessee, with the 4th leading the advance. On the march, at Bridgeport, Alabama, the organization fought a Confederate artillery, cavalry, and infantry detachment for two hours, before driving the enemy soldiers from the community. After this expedition, six of the 4th’s companies returned to Huntsville, while the remaining four companies took up a position east of the town.

The six companies at Huntsville, departed this community on August 31, 1862, covering the rear of a Union force on the march to Murfreesboro. The remaining four companies eventually took up a position at Battle Creek, before moving to Bellefonte, Alabama, where the organization captured four head of sheep and cattle after a sharp skirmish with enemy soldiers. After this expedition, in late August, these companies joined the rest of the 4th at Murfreesboro.

In September 1862, the 4th joined the Army of the Ohio's pursuit of Confederate General Braxton Bragg's army, which had launched an invasion of Kentucky and was threatening Ohio's southern border. Upon reaching Elizabethtown, Kentucky, officials ordered the regiment to Brownsville, Kentucky, where the organization escorted the Army of the Ohio’s supply train to the mouth of the Salt River. The 4th next advanced through the Kentucky communities of Shepherdstown, Frankfort, Harrodsburg, and Danville. At this final location, a detachment from the regiment accompanied a Union force towards Lexington, Kentucky. Confederate General John Hunt Morgan’s cavalry captured 250 men from the 4th on this expedition. The remainder of the regiment advanced, via Crab Orchard and Lebanon, to Nashville.

While encamped at Nashville, the 4th participated in two raids against Franklin, Tennessee, destroying a flour mill on one of these expeditions. On December 26, 1862, the regiment joined the Army of the Ohio’s advance against Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee, which was situated at Murfreesboro. On that day, the 4th reconnoitered the enemy’s position from Franklin to Triune, Tennessee. The regiment also participated in the Battle of Stones River (December 31, 1862-January 2, 1863) and joined the Union pursuit of the retreating Confederates as far as Shelbyville, Tennessee, before returning to camp at Murfreesboro. After the Battle of Stones River, officers of the 4th issued the following reports:

IN CAMP, January 6, 1863.

COL.: We left camp, near Nashville, December 26, with the Second Brigade of Cavalry, and marched to Franklin, and assisted in driving out a force of rebel cavalry. Next day remained in camp, and on the 28th ultimo marched for Triune.

On the 29th, was ordered by you to march on the dirt road leading to Murfreesborough, and to throw out a line of skirmishers to the front and flank, connecting with skirmishers of the Third Ohio, on our left. We had proceeded but 5 or 6 miles until we came onto the enemy's advanced picket, driving them in, and occasionally had slight skirmishes with squads of the enemy's cavalry, who were evidently sent out for the purpose of ascertaining our number. When within 3 or 4 miles of Murfreesborough came on a battery of two pieces of artillery and a support of infantry or dismounted men, posted in a wood, which opened a fire of grape on our advance. In reconnoitering their position we found a body of cavalry was passing on our flank, and soon discovered they were on our rear and flank. I faced the column about and ordered Capt. Johnson to attack a body of cavalry, posted in the road, which he did, driving them into the woods. Then we attacked their whole force posted at the edge of the wood, when a sharp skirmish ensued, resulting in a loss on our part of 2 killed, 7 wounded (one mortally and has since died), and 9 prisoners. We captured 7 prisoners from the enemy. The loss was principally sustained by Companies K and M, Lieut.'s White and Megrue commanding, who behaved themselves admirably, as did all the officers.

On the day following we were, together with the First and Third Ohio, engaged during the day reconnoitering and skirmishing with the enemy.

On the 31st were, by your orders, formed in the field on ----Creek. Had been in our position but a short time when the enemy were discovered advancing, with infantry, cavalry, and artillery, in line of battle, capturing two batteries of our artillery and engaging our infantry, who were soon driven back. Our position now became untenable, and we fell back to another position, and had but just got my line formed when we discovered the enemy's cavalry were outflanking us. We then took a position in the woods adjoining, and charged the enemy's cavalry with Company A, Lieut. Hamilton; Company B, Capt. Teetor; Company C, Capt. Mathews, and Company E, Capt. Gotwald, who succeeded in checking their advance and driving them back a short distance. They were re-enforced, and in turn drove our men from the field.

At this point an aide from Gen. McCook rode up and asked me to from my command so as to protect the train, which I did; but soon was driven away from it by shells from the enemy's guns and by his cavalry. The panic now became so general that our regiment in leaving the field got scattered, but the majority of it were in skirmishes of the afternoon.

On the days of January 1, 2, and 3, was in line of battle all day.

On the 31st, while in line near the train, and on leaving the field, we lost in killed, wounded, missing, and prisoners some 35 or 36 men; also 3 horses killed and 5 wounded. The enemy had also captured some 20 more, who were afterward released by our own men, having been previously disarmed and dismounted.

On the 5th, crossed Stone's River and proceeded to a distance of 3 or 4 miles south of Murfreesborough. Lost 2 men prisoners, being captured by rebel pickets.

Annexed please find a list of killed, wounded, missing, and prisoners. Killed, 7; wounded, 18; missing, 16; prisoners, 15; total, 56.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. L. PUGH, Maj., Cmdg. Fourth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry.

Col. L. ZAHM, Cmdg. Second Brigade.

IN CAMP NEAR MURFREESBOROUGH, TENN., January 12, 1863.

SIR: In the action of Wednesday, December 31, 1862, I take pleasure in calling your especial attention to a brilliant little achievement accomplished by a portion of your command while temporarily and unavoidably detached from your immediate supervision.

While there was apparently a general consternation among other cavalry regiments, you ordered the right of your command to rest at a point commanding a road; and while superintending the alignment, which was very difficult at that time, owing to said confusion, a portion of Tennessee cavalry came pursued hotly up the road upon which your right was resting. A regiment of Texas Rangers were in full pursuit, and were endeavoring also to take two pieces of artillery, one ambulance, six wagons, which were following the fleeing Tennessee cavalry. It was an emergency, and demanded coolness, bravery, and expedition to save the property, as well as change the wavering fortunes of that day. In fact, it was so immensely critical as, for the time being, at least, to waive the precedence of rank of military etiquette of waiting for orders, and seize upon the golden chance of saving the honor of the regiment and, measurably, the fortunes of the day.

Capt. Peter Mathews, being in command of the First Squadron, consisting of Companies A, B, and C, seeing the exigency, and, at the same time, being aware of your attention being preoccupied with the speedy alignment of the left of the regiment, took the authority, ostensibly warranted by the emergency, and ordered his squadron to charge down the road and drive back the enemy, and save the property imperiled. I had the honor to be in charge, and can testify with pride that I saw the enemy severely repulsed, driven back, the two pieces of cannon saved, and the ambulance and the six Government wagons.

In that charge I had 1 man killed, 1 wounded, and 1 taken prisoner, and the other two companies suffered proportionately.

I trust to be pardoned for the vanity I display in calling your particular attention to this glorious little episode of that day. I know well the pride you take in anything done meritorious by your command, and this, in addition to the reflection that there seems to be a design somewhere to detract from the old Fourth's glory, induces me to make mention thus. I, moreover, say that "honor to whom honor is due" should apply in the case in which we are all so much interested; and if the old Fourth did anything creditable, it is my duty and your duty, and every man's duty, to see that she meets not with detraction. In your report of the conduct of the regiment, I deem this may justly take a conspicuous part. I was in all the fight, and I can proudly testify as to the conduct of our regiment, whatever else others may say to the contrary notwithstanding.

I am, sir, with much respect, your obedient servant,

H. B. TEETOR, Capt., Comdg. Company B, Fourth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry.

Lieut. Col. J. L. PUGH, Cmdg. Fourth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry.

While stationed at Murfreesboro, the 4th participated on several raids to various Tennessee communities, including Liberty, Lebanon, and Alexandria, routinely skirmishing with enemy forces, especially Morgan’s cavalry. On April 3, 1863, the organization routed three Confederate cavalry regiments at Snow Hill, Tennessee. The regiment next destroyed some railroad track near McMinnville, Tennessee and, on May 22, 1863, drove enemy soldiers from Middletown, Tennessee.

In late June 1863, the Army of the Cumberland, including the 4th, embarked upon the Tullahoma Campaign (June 24-July 3, 1863), a Union advance into southern Tennessee and northern Alabama. The regiment skirmished with enemy forces at the Elk River. Upon the campaign's conclusion, the regiment encamped at Fayetteville Tennessee, where the organization performed periodic scouting expeditions.

In mid-August 1863, the 4th embarked upon the Army of the Cumberland's advance into northern Georgia. The regiment skirmished repeatedly with Confederate forces belonging to General Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee. On September 9, 1863, the Ohioans fought Confederate General Joseph Wheeler’s cavalry at Alpine, Georgia, driving the enemy from the field. On September 19 and 20, 1863, the two armies fought the Battle of Chickamauga. The 4th remained engaged both days, primarily serving on the Union right and losing thirty-two men killed, wounded, or missing. On the evening of September 20, the entire Army of the Cumberland withdrew to Chattanooga, Tennessee, with the 4th moving into eastern Tennessee to thwart Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry. The regiment engaged the enemy at Farmington and pursued the retreating Southerners through Pulaski, Tennessee to the Tennessee River in northern Alabama.

The 4th spent the remainder of 1863 operating in northern Alabama. On December 27, 1863, one battalion of the regiment returned to Pulaski, Tennessee, where many of the organization’s members reenlisted. A second battalion moved into eastern Tennessee, conducting a raid against Cleveland, where the Northerners captured a number of enemy soldiers and also destroyed a shot, shell, and cap factory. This battalion made an advance towards Knoxville, Tennessee, before pursuing enemy soldiers into western North Carolina. The organization next rode to Calhoun, Tennessee, where many of the battalion’s members reenlisted. All members of the 4th who reenlisted received a thirty-day furlough to their homes in Ohio.

Following the furlough, on May 22, 1864, the 4th returned to the frontlines at Decatur, Alabama. One week later, a Confederate force attacked the Northern units at Decatur. After a stiff fight, the Union soldiers drove the Southerners from the field. The regiment next advanced through Sommerville and Warrenton, Alabama and also Kingston, Cartersville, and Altoona Pass, Georgia, before joining General William T. Sherman’s advance upon Atlanta, Georgia at Kennesaw Mountain. During the Atlanta Campaign, the 4th primarily destroyed railroads and mills, including textile factories at Roswell, Georgia on July 6, 1864 and a portion of the Augusta Railroad near Stone Mountain on July 19, 1864. On a raid to Covington, Georgia, the regiment destroyed two railroad bridges, two locomotives, and two million dollars of cotton. The 4th next participated on General George Stoneman’s raid as far as Flat Rock Bridge, where the regiment engaged enemy forces, while the remainder of the Union force continued upon the expedition. After this skirmish, the regiment entered camp at Buckland, Georgia on July 31, 1864. In mid-August 1864, the 4th joined General General Judson Kirkpatrick’s cavalry raid around Atlanta. On this expedition, the regiment engaged enemy soldiers at Jonesborough and at Lovejoy’s Station. The organization had three men killed, fifteen wounded, and six more missing on this raid. Upon the Atlanta Campaign’s conclusion in early September 1864, the 4th’s commanding officer issued the following report:

HDQRS. FOURTH OHIO VOLUNTEER CAVALRY, In the Field, September 11, 1864.

CAPT.: I have the honor to forward history of the regiment during the campaign just closed:

The regiment left Columbia, Tenn., May 22. 1864, and, marching via Pulaski, Tenn., and Athens, Ala., reached Decatur, Ala., May 26, 1864. Same day had skirmish with part of Gen. Roddey's force. 29th, at Moulton, Ala., participated in engagement with Gen. Roddey's command; 10 men wounded there, 1 afterward dying. Accompanied Gen. Blair's (Seventeenth) army corps to Rome, Ga., which place we reached June 4. Marched through Kingston, and reached the Second Cavalry Division June 7, 1864, near Cartersville, Ga. From June 10 to July 3 occupied position on left of army in front of Kenesaw Mountain. During that time had 1 man wounded. Marched through Marietta, Ga., and reached Roswell July 8, 1864. On the 9th had 1 man wounded at McAfee's Bridge. Remained near Roswell until the 19th, when we assisted in the destruction of railroad near Stone Mountain. 20th, camped near Decatur, Ga. 21st, started on raid to Covington, Ga., which place we reached on the 22d. Returning, reached Decatur the 24th. 27th, marched to Flat Rock, where, on the 28th, we participated in a skirmish, losing 2 men missing.

Returning, encamped at Buck Head, Ga., July 31, where we remained until August 18, when we joined Gen. Kilpatrick's forces on the raid around Atlanta, at Sandtown. During this raid the regimental loss was 2 commissioned officers wounded and 2 missing, 3 men killed, 15 wounded, and 6 missing. Returning, reached Buck Head August 22, where we remained until the 25th, when the regiment accompanied the army around Atlanta, reaching Decatur September 10, 1864.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

O. P. ROBIE, Lieut.-Col., Comdg. Fourth Ohio Vol. Cav.

On August 22, 1864, the 4th entered camp at Buckhead, Georgia. Three days later, the organization joined Sherman’s advance upon Jonesborough, before entering camp at Cross Keys, Georgia. On September 21, 1864, officials ordered the regiment to Nashville to receive fresh horses, arriving at this location on October 27, 1864. Due to a shortage of mounts, authorities sent the 4th to Louisville, Kentucky, where the regiment’s members finally received fresh horses on December 1, 1864. The organization proceeded back to Nashville, arriving on December 11, 1864. The 4th participated in the Battle of Nashville (December 15-16, 1864), serving as pickets along the Cumberland River. Following this Union victory, the regiment escorted a supply train to Columbia, Tennessee, before entering camp at Nashville on December 25, 1864.

On January 12, 1865, the 4th departed Nashville for Gravelly Springs, Tennessee, where the organization joined a Union advance into Alabama. The Northern force proceeded through Waterloo, Frankfort, Russellville, Jasper, Elyria, Montevallo, Ebenezer Church, and Selma, routinely skirmishing with enemy forces. On April 2, 1865, the Union soldiers, after a harsh fight, seized Selma. After this engagement, the regiment’s commanding officer issued the following report:

HDQRS. FOURTH OHIO VOLUNTEER CAVALRY, Selma, Ala., April 5, 1865.

MAJ.: I have the honor to report that this regiment was not engaged in the action of the 1st instant. On the 2d instant it formed the right of the Second Brigade, Second Division, and was immediately on the left of the First Brigade, Second Division, dismounted. It participated in the charge on the enemy's works, and was among the first to enter them, capturing one gun. Corpl. John H. Booth, Company A, was the first man on the works, and was instantly killed. The regiment continued in the charge after passing the first line of works, assisting in capturing 1 lunette with 2 guns and another with 5. Lieut. Col. George W. Dobb, commanding regiment, was wounded near the works and died shortly after.

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

W. W. SHOEMAKER, Capt., Cmdg. Fourth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry.

Maj. R. BURNS, Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen., Second Brigade.

The 4th next advanced to and captured Montgomery, Columbus, and Macon. At this final location, the regiment performed garrison duty from April 20, 1865 to May 23, 1865, when officials ordered the organization to Nashville. On July 15, 1865, the 4th’s members mustered out of service and returned to their homes in Ohio.  

During the 4th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry's term of service, fifty-five men, including five officers, died from wounds received on the battlefield. An additional 170 men, including one officer, died from disease or accidents.

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"4th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry," Ohio Civil War Central, 2021, Ohio Civil War Central. 19 Sep 2021 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=1296>

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"4th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry." (2021) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved September 19, 2021, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=1296

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