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1st Maryland Cavalry

Unit History

         After some time operating under the 1st VA Cavalry, when the option for the several Marylanders in the unit came to reenlist in May of 1862, they decided that there would be enough interest to warrant having their own regiment. After returning to their home towns they quickly set to recruitment, though only the first company was formed before being sent to help in the Shenandoah Valley, being attached once again to another Virginia unit until they could build enough numbers for themselves. Along with the 2nd VA, they acquitted themselves well at the battle of Harrisonburg when they went up against the 1st New Jersey Cavalry, and supporting their 1st Maryland Infantry comrades at Cross Keys. 

By November 25th, 1862, enough of the other companies (B, C, and D) had been formed to officially create the battalion, with Captain Brown promoted to Major for the overall command. Another two companies joined shortly after that.

During the winter of 1862, they mostly operated as pickets and patrols throughout the Valley, and as the spring thawed out the winter snows it did not take long to again find trouble, engaging in various skirmishes with enemy pickets. On April 21st, 1863, the battalion set out to raid Greenland Pass but was stymied by a Federal garrison that held up in a church which had a commanding view of the area. During the night they made use of the cover of darkness to sneak up and burn the church which they hadn't had any luck earlier in the day taking. 

After returning to the Valley, the regiment engaged in various other smaller battles along with the rest of the Maryland Line before getting to the Gettysburg Campaign. During the campaign, Co. A mostly served as couriers and reconnaissance to General Ewell, while the rest of the command were temporarily attached to Major Harry Gilmor. Once they arrived at the town on July 1st, the Marylanders were set to act as provosts and supports for the artillery until the army was set to retreat.

The retreat action certainly made up for their earlier, less glamorous assignment, where they acted to guard General Ewell's vulnerable wagon train. Company B stood alone against all of the Union General Kilpatrick's cavalry, with only fifty men and one cannon stemming the tide of blue. Eventually, Company G was able to reinforce them, but even with the additional men, they could not hold out forever. General Kilpatrick and his men were finally able to brush them aside after several grueling hours of skirmishing in the early morning hours. During the ensuing days, the 1st Maryland continued to shine as they participated in several other skirmishes, and at battles like Morton's Ford and Brandy Station.

The official "Maryland Line" was formed at Hanover Junction while the armies were camped down for the winter of 1863, where they were formed under Colonel Bradley Johnson, along with the various Maryland Artillery units, the 2nd and 4th cavalry units, and the 2nd Maryland Infantry.

By the spring of 1864, this entire brigade was then assigned under General Lomax, then engaged in the defense of Richmond from various cavalry raids by their old rival, General Kilpatrick. With their small numbers, it was unwise to do a full attack against a much superior force, so Colonel Johnson instead resorted to sniping attacks at the enemy's flanks and rear, fading away and never revealing their full strength when directly challenged by Kilpatrick. They repeated these tactics when Sheridan made similar attacks around Richmond in May, and the regiment found itself in several skirmishes throughout the ensuing months, including the battle of Pollard's Farm, where they saved the 5th North Carolina Infantry from encirclement, but found themselves trapped in a fenced area, taking many losses for their bravery, but allowing the infantrymen to escape.

After the winter of 1864, the remnants of the 2nd Maryland joined Wade Hampton and his men in their attacks along the Potomac from the Shenandoah Valley, even crossing into Maryland as Early made an unsuccessful attempt at Washington. During this attempt, Johnson (now a General) was part of raids through Maryland and southern Pennsylvania and was ordered along with a force under General McCausland to ransom Chambersburg, PA. When the town refused, the Confederates burnt the town to the ground, much to the dismay of General Johnson. When General McCausland attempted to also ransom the town of Hancock, Johnson argued against it due to the town having a history of pro-Confederate sentiment and many citizens who had helped

them over the years. When McCausland refused to change his mind, Johnson ordered the 1st and 2nd MD cavalry to post two men at each building under orders to shoot anyone under McCausland that attempted to harm the place. Here the two parted ways, particularly when Union cavalry entered the fray. Both groups were scattered by the avenging Federal troops, and they were forced to rendezvous back under Early's command in one's and two's through the mountains and forests. Once both Generals had returned, both demanded a court-martial of the other for negligence of duty, though no trial took place since Early was busy in the midst of his retreat from his brief siege of Washington. During this retreat, the 2nd acted as rearguards against the hotly pursuing Union. 

During Early's ill-fated Valley Campaign of 1864, their numbers had dwindled to the point that Early ordered the 1st and 2nd MD to consolidate, along with Company K of the 1st CA cavalry to beef up their numbers, while the latter's captain, Captain Gustavus Dorsey, was promoted to Lt. Colonel of the regiment, and set as their new commander. His tenure was brief, however, when he was grievously wounded at Fisher's Hill when the regiment charged a unit of dismounted Federal cavalry. From there, their attempts at foraging and recuperating was rudely interrupted by Custer's Michigan troopers, which harrowed their every step in a running retreat along with members of Jackson's cavalry and Breathed's Horse Artillery.

By March of 1865 the regiment was back to their old hit and run tactics as they attacked the flanks of Sheridan's federal command as they defended Richmond, and they were moved first to West Virginia, and then to Petersburg. That night, before they had the chance to sleep more than a few hours, the command was roused and ordered to act as the rear guard to Mahone's division, as the night sky behind them lit up with fire and brimstone from Richmond, burning any of their provisions not able to be carried.

Harried all along their baggage train and flanks, provisions quickly ran dry. Subsisting on the bare minimum of rations, they engaged in several actions at Amelia Springs and the battle at High Bridge. At Appomattox Court House, the last few gallant charges of the 1st were made against several columns of Federal cavalry, before a trooper from the Union carrying a white flag announced that Lee was in the process of surrendering. Hastily drawing a council of war, General Munford suggested to the remaining men of the 1st that they disperse, break through the enemy, and attempt to reconvene with General Johnson in North Carolina. Their hopes were dashed, however, when news reached them that Johnson had also surrendered.

The last men of the 1st Maryland never joined in the surrender at Appomattox, instead returning home individually by drifting off into the night. With little food or water, they managed to return, usually with the hospitality of people along the way.


Equipment and Unit Info

The cavalry is one of the most versatile parts of the armies of both sides, often sent out to plug the lines or get valuable intelligence on the enemy. Below is a list of some of the requirements for taking part, so take a look at our sutler's page to find anything you might need. But please bear in mind before any purchase to check with your assigned guide as to what would be correct or not. The majority of our actions as a unit are done dismounted, but depending on the allowances of the landowners at events, there could be possibilities to be mounted too!



* Kepi or Forage Cap in any cavalry style, or Slouch Hat (not to be confused with a cowboy hat, they are not period)

* Sack coat or shell jacket with solid yellow cavalry trim on the cuffs and collar, in Cadet or Richmond grey. Buttons with either "CSA" or "C" imprint.

* Muslin or homespun shirt

* Sky blue, butternut, or grey mounted-pattern trousers

* Suspenders

* Thick socks, preferably wool

* Knee-high boots preferable (not cowboy boots), brogans also acceptable


* M1858 Sword Belt w/enlisted eagle buckle and silver wreath, with shoulder and saber straps, or plain "CS" belt.

* Cap Box, shield style

* Revolver holster of black leather, worn on the right side

* Canteen (VERY important), with a grey wool cover, cotton sling

* M1860 or "Sharps" Carbine Cartridge Box

* Leather Carbine Strap

* Leather saber knot

Accepted Weaponry:

* (Very optional) M1860 Light Cavalry Saber with steel scabbard.

* M1852 Sharps Carbine

* Any number of carbines or shotguns used at the time, including but not limited to: Remington Revolving carbine, the Cook and Brother carbine or musketoon models, the M1858 Enfield 2-bander, or the Parker Hale 2-bander. 

* M1860 Colt Army Revolver, M1858 Remington Revolver, 1848 Colt Dragoon Revolver or 1846 Colt Walker revolver. 

Camping and other Necessities:

* A-tent or Shelter/Dog Tent (both sides or one half)

* Period-looking seat of some sort, whether stool or full chair

* Mess kit; tin or steel plate and cup, and knife, fork, and spoon.

* Cotton dress gloves

We must note here that any other necessities will depend on your style of camping. Some prefer to have a cot while some prefer to sleep on the ground with a period ground cloth and plenty of blankets for comfort and heat. The inside of the tent is up to you and is not a public space unless you want it to be. Add to this list based on your own needs.

Extras (not needed immediately if at all)

* Mounted-pattern Overcoat 

* For added padding, especially if on horseback, period white drawers are recommended

* Several cloth poke sacks or pouches for putting niceties in.

* A pack of cotton balls for earplugs or flesh-colored modern earplugs

* Cavalry white or off-white gauntlets 

















The Crossland Banner often used by Pro-Confederate Marylanders.




In regards to below, it is again up to you whether to perform your role as a dismounted or mounted trooper. There are only a few events in our area that will allow the admittedly destructive after-effects of horse riding. But if you wish, you can find the required and period-accurate tack below:



* Majorly solid-colored aside from stripes, socks, etc. but no Paints, Appaloosas or other breeds with stand-out colorings and markings. Preferred breeds include Quarter, Morgan, and Canadian.


* M1859 McClellan Saddle with iron hardware, including jappaned or blued iron bar buckles

* Blue wool web girth and surcingle with iron rollers

* Crupper

* Breast straps (not an issued item, but is important for safety today. Black leather, no brass ornamentation.)

* Leather-hooded wood stirrups

* Saddlebags with iron buckle closure

(Later purchase) reproduction Y-back curry comb, brush, and hoof-pick

* Carbine Socket with pinched or "wasp" waist

* US issue black leather halter and bridle, latter of three to six buckles, without rosettes on browband

* M1859 bit, low port

* Leather reins sewed to bridle and in the middle.

* Canvas nosebag either round or flat-bottomed

* Most any horse blanket similar in shape and density to the standard of the period.

Any other type of saddle padding unnecessary and highly discouraged. Great pains should be made to find out the correct fit between horse and saddle to prevent discomfort to the horse.

* (Optional, but suggested) Picket Pin and Lariat   ​​



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