2nd Cav

“The 2nd U.S. Cavalry Regiment in just a few years indelibly inscribed its name on the pages of United States History, not only for its exploits along the Texas border and frontier in the late 1850’s but also for the great number of general officers that it contributed to both armies during the Civil War. The original 2nd Cavalry had a life span of only six years and five months. In August of 1861, the six regular mounted regiments in the United States Army at the time, the 1st and 2nd Dragoons, the Mounted Rifles and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Cavalry were re-numbered as cavalry regiments according to seniority of authorization. In this re-designation of numbers the 2nd Cavalry became the 5th U.S. Cavalry Regiment and has retained this number until the present time.

The 2nd U.S. Cavalry Regiment was authorized by an Act of Congress on March 3, 1855. Often referred to as “Jeff Davis’s Own,” the unit was an elite organization – perhaps the finest regiment to be organized in the American Army. The officers assigned to the 2nd Cavalry were hand picked by Secretary of War Jefferson Davis; the majority of them, like Davis, were Southerners by birth and West Point graduates by education. The noncommissioned officers were specially selected from the other mounted regiments, and the privates were recruited mainly from Mid-Western and Southern States. Horses for the Regiment were purchased by a special team of 2nd Cavalry officers who were authorized to buy the best-blooded stock available in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. For purposes of appearance and to engender esprit de corps each company was assigned horses of one color. In concert with the high standards set in selecting the men and mounts the Regiment was furnished the newest and best arms, accouterments and equipment.

The senior officers appointed to the 2nd Cavalry had outstanding records and the captains and lieutenants were young men of great promise. In order to obtain the best officers possible, several proven leaders were selected from civilian life, most of these, like Albert Brackett, William Chambliss, Walter Jenifer and William Royall had fine Mexican War records. The Texas Rangers were tapped for one man – Charles E. Travis, the only son of the commander of the Alamo, Colonel William Barrett Travis. Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston of Texas was selected to command the Regiment and Lieutenant-Colonel Robert E. Lee of Virginia was designated as the second-in-command. William J. Hardee, a Georgian, was assigned as the senior major and George H. Thomas another Virginian, was appointed the junior major of the Regiment. Earl Van Dorn of Mississippi was the senior captain and commanded Company A. Numbered among the other captains were E. Kirby Smith of Florida and George Stoneman, Jr. of New York. Both Nathan “Shanks” Evans of South Carolina and John Bell Hood of Kentucky were selected as lieutenants in the 2nd Cavalry. Sixteen Civil War generals came from the rolls of the Regiment, eleven fought with the Confederacy and five for the Union. The original 2nd cavalry provided Jefferson Davis with one-half or four of his full generals – A. J. Johnston, Lee, E.K. Smith and Hood.”

Quoted from: Harold B. Simpson, “Cry Comanche – The 2nd U.S. Cavalry in Texas”, Hill Junior College Press, Hillsboro, Texas, 1979