10th NY Cavalry

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Ole Miss

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Dec 9, 2017
North Mississippi
New York was the first state to supply volunteer cavalry regiments to the Union Army, in 1861. The 10th NY Cavalry was one of these early regiments. The 10th NY was nicknamed the "Porter Guards," in honor of Colonel Peter Buel Porter of Niagara Falls NY, who served with distinction during the War of 1812 and later as Secretary of War under President John Quincy Adams.
Recruiting started in western and central New York State in August 1861, and the Tenth received its numerical designation on December 12, 1861. The first 2 battalions (8 companies) took a train to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on Christmas Eve 1861. Here they encamped for 2-1/2 months and received their initial training.
The Tenth New York served in the Army of the Potomac for the duration (they were mustered out in August, 1865) and participated in many of the largest and bloodiest cavalry fights of the war. Their story is full of bravery and heroism, for example: John Ordner, a young German-born captain who was unjustly accused of wrongdoing, and returned to the regiment only to be killed while leading his company in a charge. Noble Preston, a mild-mannered commissary lieutenant who led a decisive charge when a company officer was killed. He was severely wounded during the charge, and was awarded a Medal of Honor for his bravery. Burton Porter, a kind-hearted officer who sent his horse home after it saved his life twice. He was taken prisoner, escaped, was recaptured, and escaped again to find that he had been left for dead and his beloved horse sold. (He found the new owner and bought the horse back.) Their bravery is all the more conspicuous when one remembers that at the start of the war, the men and boys of the Tenth were raw recruits indeed. They were farmers, law and medical students, sign painters, storekeepers, blacksmiths, teachers. Matthew Henry Avery, who commanded the regiment for most of the war, was a minister's son and a bookseller before the war! Many had never ridden a horse before, and most of the officers had never seen military service. Both officers and enlisted men had to develop military skills as they marched and fought.
The Tenth’s total casualties were among the highest experienced in the Union cavalry regiments. Nine officers and 97 enlisted men were killed or mortally wounded in action; 18 officers and 217 enlisted were wounded; 9 officers and 245 enlisted were missing; 120 enlisted died of disease (actually, far less than many cavalry regiments); and one officer and 31 enlisted men died as prisoners of war (many at the infamous Andersonville camp.)

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