Forrest's Cavalry Corps 1864 - Organization & Equipment

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Big Sarge

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This thread will cover the organization and equipment of Forrest's Cavalry Corps (aka Forrest’s Cavalry Department) in 1864. All are welcome to contribute, I only ask that you restrict your posts to cover up to the end of Feb of 1864. This will take us through the Battles of Okolona and Ellis Bridge. After we have covered this period, I’ll post an ok to move on to the next segment. Sorry to be a pain, but there is so much to cover and I don’t want us jumping all over the timeline.

We will start a new thread for 1865. If anyone wishes to start that thread, you can go ahead or wait till 1864 is completed. I want to recognize the contributions made by @2nd Alabama Cavalry in other threads that have been of great assistance and hope to see him continue in this thread.
 

Big Sarge

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After the Battle of Chickamauga, Gen Nathan Bedford Forrest was infuriated with Gen Braxton Bragg over his treatment/assignments. Forrest traveled to Bragg’s headquarters at Missionary Ridge and told Bragg just what he thought of that vacillating, indecisive officer after Bragg had twice “tampered with” Forrest’s cavalry command. The confrontation occurred at Bragg’s headquarters on Missionary Ridge during the ridiculous Confederate siege of Chattanooga. Forrest said: “I have stood your meanness as long as I intend to. You have played the part of a ****ed scoundrel, and are a coward, and if you were any part of a man, I would slap your jaws and force you to resent it…. If you ever again try to interfere with me or cross my path, it will be at the peril of your life.”

Forrest left and Bragg never made an issue of the incident. Forrest requested a transfer, with an appeal to President Jefferson Davis, and to take his escort, the 2nd Kentucky Cav, and the 3rd Tenn Cav (McDonald's) with a battery of guns. This was approved by President Davis. However, he was given his escort, the 3rd Tenn Cav (McDonald's), Forrest's Al Regiment, and Morton's battery. On Nov 7th in Atlanta, Forrest wrote he was going to allow Forrest's Al Regiment to remain with Bragg. Forrest mistakenly thought Col Jeffery Forrest had been killed and the unit would be unwilling to transfer. On the same day, General S D Lee told Forrest that Col Forrest had been wounded and paroled. S D Lee assigned Forrest's Al Regiment, Richardson's West Tenn Brigade, and Greer's Regiment to Forrest.

Forrest made a raid/recruiting drive into Tennesse in December and brought back an additional 2,500 troops for his command. Gen S D Lee transferring additional troops to Forrest’s command which resulted in this organization:

Forrest’s Cavalry Department Staff – effective January 24, 1864 at Como, MS

Maj J P Strange, assistant adjutant general

Capt C W Anderson, aide de camp

Lieut W M Forrest, aide de camp

Dr J B Cowan, chief surgeon

Maj C S Severson, chief quartermaster

Maj G V Rambaut, chief of subsistence

Lieut T S Tate, jr, assistant inspector general

Capt George Dashiell, chief paymaster

Capt J P Russell, chief of ordnance



Forrest’s Cavalry Department organization of command – effective January 25, 1864, at Como, MS

***Note – troop designations are as Maj J P Strange listed in General Order #3

First Brigade Brig Gen R V Richardson

12th Tenn Cav Regiment

Marshall’s Regiment

Bennet’s Battalion

15th Tenn Regiment

Street’s Battalion

Collin’s Command

14th Tenn Regiment

16th Tenn Regiment



2nd Brigade Col Robert McCulloch

2nd Mo Regiment

Willis’ Texas Battalion

Faulkner’s Kentucky Regiment

Chalmer’s Battalion

Kizer’s Battalion

2nd Ark Cavalry

Franklin’s Battalion



3rd Brigade Col T H Bell

Russell’s Regiment

Greer’s Regiment

Newsom’s Regiment

Barteau’s Regiment

Wison’s Regiment



4th Brigade Col J E Forrest

Forrest’s Regiment

Duckworth’s Regiment

5th Miss Regiment

McGuirk’s Regiment

Duff’s Battalion



The 2nd and 4th Brigades will be organized into a division to be known and designated as the First Division, Forrest’s Cavalry Department, under the command of Brig Gen J R Chalmers.

*Artillery was not listed at this time, but we have other sources that provide that data
 

Big Sarge

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Forrest's command was not the best at submitting paperwork or following the rules of the inspector general. His returns are often missing or lacking, so we are forced to improvise by looking at the returns of other commands to fill in the gaps. In this Dec 24, 1863 report from Gen S D Lee, we find the designations of units that had been listed in Forrest's command structure by name only.

Dec 63 org.jpg
 
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Big Sarge

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Once more we only have 2 brigades reporting and the consolidation is ongoing in January of 1864 returns. Col Slemons is transferred from the command by the following order:


SPECIAL ORDERS,

HDQRS. FORREST'S CAVALRY DEPT.,

Numbers 14.

Near Como, Miss., January 25, 1864.

I. Colonel W. F. Slemons, Second Arkansas Cavalry, is relieved from duty with this command, and will turn over his brigade to the senior officer present and report to Major General N. B. Forrest for orders. In parting with Colonel Slemons, the brigadier-general commanding feels that he has lost a bold and gallant officer, whose long service in the cavalry of this department has won for him the respect and confidence of his commanding officers and the love and obedience of his troops. The officers of his staff will remain on duty until relieved.

By order of Brigadier-General Chalmers:

A. G. MILLS,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General


You can see how this transfer allowed Col Jeffery Forrest to be assigned command of a brigade. Once more we have a partial return still listing Col Slemons

Jan 64 org.jpg
 

Big Sarge

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As much emphasis Forrest placed on artillery later, at this stage he seems to treat his batteries as an afterthought or at least as far as reporting goes. Forrest took Morton's battery (aka Morton's Bullpups) with him when he transferred to raise his command. Following the returns, it would appear Forrest's artillery would consist of

Morton's (Tenn) battery
Buckner's (Miss) battery, aka Holt's
McLendon's (Miss) battery.

Morton's battery was equipped with 4 three inch ordnance rifle variants. Buckner's battery was equipped with 4 rapid fire breechloading Williams guns and a 2.9 inch iron short rifle for cavalry (Is this a type of "pack Parrott"?). McLendon's battery had 2 six pounder bronze guns, thus it was really only a section in strength.

The January 5, 1864 ordnance returns list Forrest's division as having 4 three inch steel rifles and 4 twelve-pounder mountain howitzers. A little digging shows this would be Morton's and the Pettus Flying Artillery (Miss) aka Hudson's aka Hoole's battery. At this time, Chalmer's division was still being reported separate from Forrest's command.

I'm attaching the copies of the ordnance returns for artillery.

jan art part 1.jpg


jan 5 art part 2.jpg
 
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Big Sarge

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**Note - the above artillery organization is transient and will be changed by the Battle of Okolona. I do have the organization for that battle, but I need assistance in finding orders/etc that moved artillery batteries in Jan and Feb of 1864. I am extremely puzzled by the Buckner battery because it seems to vanish at the time of the Battle of Okolona and the Williams guns it has have proven very effective previously in cavalry operations in north Mississippi.

Please post if you have any info
 
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**Note - the above artillery organization is transient and will be changed by the Battle of Okolona. I do have the organization for that battle, but I need assistance in finding orders/etc that moved artillery batteries in Jan and Feb of 1864. I am extremely puzzled by the Buckner battery because it seems to vanish at the time of the Battle of Okolona and the Williams guns it has have proven very effective previously in cavalry operations in north Mississippi.

Please post if you have any info
I will look into it for you, I remember seeing Buckner`s Battery somewhere else during this time frame. Owen`s Battery was also involved with that move, who were with Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade for some time up until 28 Jan 1864 when Ferguson was ordered to march from Okolona south to Jackson, Ms. by S. D. Lee to oppose Sherman`s "Meridian Expedition", from the Big Black River to Meridian. At that time Owen`s battery was left with Forrest up in Okolona. Then on 18 Feb 1864 while Sherman was in his fourth day of destroying everything around Meridian, Maj. General S. D. Lee was ordered north to Okolona to assist Forrest with Sooy Smith, with the Cavalry division`s of Brig. General William Hicks Jackson and Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson under whom Brig. General Wirt Adams` Cavalry Brigade was temporarily assigned giving Ferguson a division. By the time that they made it there Forrest had already routed Sooy Smith and were chasing him back into Tennessee, so S. D. Lee with Jackson, Ferguson and Adams assisted Forrest for a few days and then returned south to try and catch Sherman on his return march from Meridian to Vicksburg, which they did on 26 Feb 1864 as they were crossing the Pearl River, on their way to Canton.

I saw in the OR wires sent between Forrest, Chalmers, Polk and S. D. Lee about positioning some of the Batteries at Columbus, Ms. during this time from mid January - February 1864. Let me see what I can find for you. The good news is that I have seen the information, I just have to recollect where now. But I will find it for you.

Nice thread by the way, I look forward to the responses that it will generate.
 
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This is what I have listed specifically for Buckner`s Battery for the time frame that you mentioned, after the Ordnance Return from 5 Jan 1864, which you listed above.

"Buckner Battery is probably the only artillery unit to get within 200 yards of General Sherman during the entire war. After Buckner Battery was transferred to Polk's Army, the OR contains a list of all artillery in his army. The list included a total of four(4) cannon described as "1.5625-inch William Gun". After February 1864, there is no mention of Buckner Battery or the Willliams Gun in the OR's except for one reference to two(2) guns used as garrison artillery at Columbus, MS."

Below is another thread from 2009 on the CWT Forum which deals with the William`s Gun, Holt and the Buckner Battery that may be of help.

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/williams-10-ounce-artillery-gun.13171/
 
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Big Sarge

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@2nd Alabama Cavalry I look forward to what you find about the batteries before the Battle of Okolona. I have the OB for the battle for both the cavalry and the artillery, but I am trying to see how we got there before that battle. Also, please double check my brigade organizations. At this point, I have published names straight from reporting but for the battle OB I think I will switch to the unit designations everyone is more familiar with in Forrest's command history.
 
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Battle fought near this area a little NW of Okolona.
Regards
David
Ole Miss is there also a Plaque near the extant town of Prairie Mount, about 5 miles north-west of Okolona where much of the fighting was
done during the Battle of Okolona and reputedly where Col. Jeff Forrest was killed? That was the base camp of Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade, to include the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment, from 27 Aug 1863 until they were ordered to Jackson to oppose the Meridian Expedition on 28 Jan 1864. I know that all that is there now is just a Church.
 
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@2nd Alabama Cavalry the only marker I know is posted above.
Regards
David
Do you know how far that Plaque is from the Church in Prairie Mount? Since you live in the area I am sure that you would know. I have tried to find more specific information on the town and have found numerous records regarding Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade there while they were in camp as well as a few cavalry skirmishes fought near there in the fall 1863 but I have not been able to find the exact site of Ferguson`s Camp there, something that I have been trying to locate for some time.
 
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@Big Sarge, according to this Organization of the Army, during the Meridian Expedition, Commanded by Lt. General Leonidas Polk from 20 Feb 1864, two day`s before of the Battle of Okolona, Buckner Mississippi Battery, under the command of Lt. H. C. Holt was still assigned to Chalmer`s Division, in McCulloch`s Brigade, but then listed as part of the 2nd Missouri directly under Col. Robert McCulloch.

So two days later they were either still with him at Okolona / Prairie Mount or they were sent to the Garrison at Columbus with Morton and a few other batteries from Forrest`s command.

Below is some information that I bookmarked previously regarding the Buckner Mississippi Battery, Lt. Holt and the William`s gun. A lot of good information there.

http://www.custermen.com/DixieBoys/BucknerBtry.htm

Some of the really interesting things revealed in the link above was:

"The Official Records continued to reference Lt. H. C. Holt and the Williams Gun, but there is no further mention of Lt. Holt after February 1864. Note there was a Lt. Holt serving in General Nathan Bedford Forrest`s Staff, but this is not the same person."

"The Official Records of the war includes a few activities of Buckner Battery. In the service records of Lt. Holt, there are requisition forms for forage for 28 horses/mules which is also stated in Rowland's history of the unit. This would mean the size of the battery was no more than 28 men. Since the William Gun could be operated by only 3 men or less, and the battery contained 4 Williams Guns and one 3-inch Ordnance gun and probably a supply wagon, the congregant of 28 men and horses would be sufficient to move and operate this small battery in the field."

"An order in December 1863, required Lt. Holt to return the men who were on loan from General Ferguson's command. The service records of three of the names mentioned in Rowland's history identified them as members of the 56th Alabama Partisan Rangers who were detached for special service to Buckner Battery. This is why there is no roster for this unit as Buckner Battery was composed of men on detached service from other regiments."

This could solve the mystery as to what happened to the Buckner Mississippi Battery after Okolona. Since they were comprised of men on detached service from other batteries and regiments they could have been dissolved with the men being sent back to their assigned organizations, or they could have been consolidated into other artillery batteries in Forrest`s command. The 56th Alabama Partisan Rangers, mentioned above, along with the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment were both part of Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade.

Below is that Organization from 20 Feb 1864:

Buckner Mississippi Battery 20 Feb 1864....jpg
 
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This thread will cover the organization and equipment of Forrest's Cavalry Corps (aka Forrest’s Cavalry Department) in 1864. All are welcome to contribute, I only ask that you restrict your posts to cover up to the end of Feb of 1864. This will take us through the Battles of Okolona and Ellis Bridge. After we have covered this period, I’ll post an ok to move on to the next segment. Sorry to be a pain, but there is so much to cover and I don’t want us jumping all over the timeline.
@Big Sarge, fantastic information.

Thanks for starting this thread !
 

Ole Miss

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@2nd Alabama Cavalry I don't know the distance from the plaque to the church but it cannot be much more than 2 miles at most. The sign is on Hwy 41 about 4 miles from Okolona and the church/community of Prairie Mount is right by.

Perhaps you might contact @Championhilz for assistance as he works for the Mississippi Department of History and Archives which establishes the road markers. Sorry I could not be of more assistance.
Regards
David
 
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DixieRifles

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Good thread. I will be following this to see what I can learn. It is going quite fast.

Once more we only have 2 brigades reporting and the consolidation is ongoing in January of 1864 returns. Col Slemons is transferred from the command by the following order:
With this post about the Order to return Col. Slemons, the org chart lists the commander of the 5th Mississippi Cavalry as Col. J. Z. George. Was this also dated in January 1864? Just note that Col. George was captured on 3 November 1863 at the 2nd Battle of Collierville. In a an org chart in a previous post, it lists Lt-Col. James Barksdale as the commander. If these two are posted here in order, then I would expect to see him listed as commander in your second chart. I thought that might cause confusion.


I'm attaching the copies of the ordnance returns for artillery.
The 2nd insert is the list of all the artillery under General Polk's command. It is this chart, Buckner Battery is absent even though it had earlier been included in Polk's list of artillery. However note that it records 2 of the Williams Guns being used as garrison duty at Columbus, Miss. It is my opinion that Lt. H. C. Holt had transferred out of the cavalry (or resigned his commission) and the Buckner Battery dissolved at this time.
 
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