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.
Units formed in Ohio served for varying lengths of time, averaging one hundred days to three years. During the summer of 1861, Secretary of War Simon Cameron authorized the creation of twelve cavalry companies, with each company coming from a different state. Colonel Josiah Harlan was to organize Ohio's company, but United States law prohibited the establishment of single companies from individual states. As a result of this prohibition, after Harlan's Light Cavalry mustered into service on August 31, 1861, officials assigned the company to the 11th Regiment Pennsylvania Cavalry, which was stationed at Hesterville, Pennsylvania. The members of Harlan's company became Company M of the 11th and consisted of recruits primarily from Marion, Crawford, Meigs, and Wyandot Counties, Ohio.
Upon joining the 11th, Harlan's Light Cavalry and the rest of the regiment left Hesterville for Ball's Crossroads, Virginia, where the Northerners remained until November 1861. The regiment then moved to Annapolis, Maryland, where the soldiers boarded transports for Fort Monroe, Virginia. Harlan's Cavalry remained at Fort Monroe for nearly six months before moving to Newport News, Virginia, where the company remained until the autumn of 1862. On September 15, 1862, Harlan's cavalry began to patrol actively the area between the James River and Albemarle Sound. From April 1, 1863 to April 11, 1863, the company participated in the Siege of Suffolk, Virginia.
On June 21, 1863, the 11th moved to Portsmouth, Virginia, where the organization boarded transports for White House, Virginia on the Pamunkey River. The regiment advanced to the Virginia Central Railroad bridge over the South Anna River near Hanover Court House, Virginia, arriving on June 26, 1863. That day, the 11th, including Harlan's company, attacked a Confederate force under the command of W.H.F. Lee. The Northerners captured Lee, 125 other prisoners, seven hundred horses and mules, and eighty wagons. On July 4, 1863, Companies M and G of the 11th destroyed the railroad bridge. For the remainder of 1863, the regiment conducted various raids towards Richmond, Virginia and into North Carolina. In late 1863, many of Harlan's company's members reenlisted and received a furlough back to their homes in Ohio.
Following the furlough, Harlan's cavalry returned to Virginia in February 1864. The 11th, including Harlan's company, next participated in Brigadier-General Isaac Wistar's unsuccessful attack on Richmond. The regiment then moved to Portsmouth, Virginia and, on May 5, 1864, began raids on the Danville Railroad and the Weldon Railroad, with Company M one man killed and eleven wounded at Jarrett's Station, Virginia. On June 10, 1864, the regiment attacked Petersburg, Virginia, securing a portion of the Confederate works guarding the city. Six days later, in another assault, the 11th captured additional Southern defenses. Company M and the rest of the 11th next conducted attacks on the Danville Railroad and on the South Side Railroads. In one of these expeditions, Harlan's cavalry had one man killed and three captured. The three captives eventually perished in Southern prison camps. The 11th also continued its assaults on the Weldon Railroad, engaging Confederate forces for three continuous days at Ream's Station, Virginia. On August 29, 1864, the regiment along with other Union cavalry forces unsuccessfully attacked Richmond from the north. On October 7, 1864, the Confederate forces at Petersburg turned the Union right flank. The 11th spent the remainder of 1864 and the first months of 1865 strengthening the Northern right.
In March 1865, the 11th Regiment, including Harlan's company, joined General Philip Sheridan's command. The addition of Sheridan's force in the vicinity of Petersburg finally allowed the Union military to end its siege of the city. The regiment fought in the Battle of Five Forks on April 1, 1865. Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia evacuated Petersburg and the Confederate capital of Richmond. The 11th participated in the Union's pursuit of the withdrawing Confederates. On April 9, 1865, the regiment attacked Lee's army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, resulting in the Confederates' surrender. The next day, the 11th captured fifty-four artillery pieces at Red Oak Church, Virginia.
Officials mustered Harlan's Light Cavalry out of service on April 19, 1865 at Camp Cadwallader, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Cite this Entry
"Harlan's Light Cavalry," Ohio Civil War Central, 2022, Ohio Civil War Central. 19 Aug 2022 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=713>
"Harlan's Light Cavalry." (2022) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved August 19, 2022, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=713