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5th Tennessee Cavalry
(1st Middle Tennessee Cavalry)
Company C and Company F

      Col. STOKES


       Companies C and F fought with  

    distinction throughout the Civil War,    

             including the following

STONES RIVER........31 Dec. 1862 - 2 Jan. 1863

The TULLAHOMA CAMPAIGN..........................          ...................................23 June - 7 July 1863

MISSIONARY RIDGE, TN...............22 Sept. 1863


   Plus Reconnaissance, Scouting, and Various

Operations throughout Middle Tennessee

       The 5th TN Cavalry lost        245 men during the War:



        69 were killed in action or      mortally wounded


176 died of disease




Yes, there WAS a fighting force from Tennessee on the side of the Union during the Civil War. There was even a Cavalry unit within that force .  The 1st Middle Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry, as it was called, was organized on 15 July 1862 by William Brickly Stokes (1814 - 1897), a local politician with strong loyalties to the Union.  


The Regiment was based in Nashville, although men from all over the state signed on for the three-year enlistment.  It boasted a force of almost 1800 men on paper, and would eventually be organized into 12 companies.  The Battle of Stones River was the first real test of its abilities, and it operated as part of the Reserve Cavalry under Maj Gen David S Stanley.  However, the year 1863 brought some important changes.  First, there was a change in its name:  the Regiment would now be called The 5th Tennessee Cavalry, or more commonly referred to as "Stokes' Cavalry".  Also, the Regiment would be divided into independent detachments as needed.  These might take the form of anything from a small party of a dozen men to a group made up of one or two companies.   Accordingly, in May of 1863, Cruft's Brigade at Camp Cripple Creek was joined by a cavalry detach-ment made up of Company C and Company F of the 5th TN Cavalry. 


There were some difficulties with this arrangement.  The new guys were bivouacked on the other side of the Creek, away from the rest of the Brigade.  The other regiments of Cruft's Brigade had developed a sense of camaraderie that had been forged by several months of fighting and living side-by-side.  It would seem that this feeling never extended to include the newcomers.  The men in the cavalry were Middle Tennesseeans, while the rest of the men were Midwesterners who were a long way from their homes and loved ones.  The cavalry boys were practically in their own backyards, coming mainly from Bedford and Dekalb Counties.  For a time, their familiarity with the area was an advantage that the rest of the men at Cripple Creek did not have.  Unfortunately, in the months to come, that familiarity would work against them, especially when the temptation to ride by their own homes and farms to keep an eye on things led to widespread absenteeism.


When the rest of Cruft's Brigade left Cripple Creek on 24 June 64 and moved south as part of the Tullahoma Campaign, the Cavalry detachment was sent to patrol the area around Fayetteville and Shelbyviile.  The area was plagued by threats from Confederate raiders, such as Morgan and Forrest, as well as from deserters from both armies who were engaging in guerrilla warfare and bushwhacking military personnel and civilians alike.  This exacerbated a bad situation into something worse.  At times, it was hard to say who posed the worst threat:  the Confederates, the bushwhackers, or the TN Cavalry.  On 2 Aug 63, Brig-Gen W. C. Whitaker wrote to Asst Adj-Gen W. C. Russell concerning this cavalry unit that had been placed under his charge:  


"...The Tennessee Cavalry of Col Galbraith is giving me excessive trouble and worrying and plundering...[throughout]...the country whenever they go out.  They are under no control or discipline, as far as I can learn.  Several instances have come to my hearing of their insulting unprotected females.  I could not learn the names of the guilty parties..."  


Military officials, including Maj Gen George H Thomas, felt the best solution would be to permanently separate Company C and Company F, but Col Stokes was opposed to this idea and appealed to Tennessee Governor Andrew Johnson.  I am not sure why Stokes opposed this move, since there appeared to be a power struggle between him and Robert Galbraith as to who would control the unit made up of their combined companies.   Never-theless, by Feb 64, Stokes and a force of about 200 men had been sent to Sparta, TN, while the rest of what had been the combined detachment were detailed in Nashville.  In time , Stokes shifted his concern to the need for horses and rifles, without which, his men were limited in what they could do.  His requests were cheerfully ignored.  Brig-Gen William Sooy Smith told him:


"You have no idea of the demands made upon our Government for horses to remount our cavalry. No one Government--not all the Governments of the world--could keep so much cavalry mounted while animals are so recklessly destroyed...I will gladly aid you in any way I can to keep your command in good shape, but horses are absolutely out of the question. You must find and take them in the country you traverse...Galbraith was ordered to join you with all the men he had with him, and I will endeavor as far as possible to keep your whole regiment at all times within your immediate control. Now pitch in, Colonel, and help yourself to horses; keep your powder dry and give the guerrillas thunder wherever you can find them."


In Mar 64, Lt Col Galbraith resigned.  His men were so upset by this that they petitioned Tennessee's new governor, W. G. Brownlow, to revoke Galbraith's commission, alleging that Galbriath had resigned due to a personal "disagreement" and that his resignation amounted to his desertion of his men just when they needed him most.  It is easy to speculate upon the parties involved in this disagreement (primarily Col Stokes and Lt Col Galbraith), however, the Governor apparently took no action in the matter.  By the following month, Maj William J. Clift was put in command of the 5th Tennessee, while Stokes was obliged to remain in charge of outposts, such as Sparta and Carthage.  Stokes still wanted to be in command of the 5th TN once again, but when another reorganization occurred in Nov 64, Brig-Gen William H. Milroy was given command of the Cavalry.  Milroy was appalled by the lack of discipline among the men--especially the absenteeism.  His suggestion was to let Stokes be in command of what was left of his old regiment, then to send them out of state (away from their homes and loved ones), while bringing in a force of cavalry from another state to do the job the 5th TN was supposed to be doing.  But by this time, the War was all but over and the military officials chose, instead, to let the clock run out, so to speak, and avoid dealing with the problem.  The remnant of the 5th TN were sent to Fayetteville, TN at the end of June 65, and were mustered out on 14 Aug of that year.   

Maj Gen Stanley

Brig-Gen Whitaker

Brig-Gen Smith

  Brig-Gen Milroy

 Maj Gen Thomas

  Maj Clift

FIELD  and  STAFF  OFFICERS  when  the


    DATE             COL             LT  COL             MAJ                          SGT  MAJ                              ADJ                         R QM 

1 May 63      STOKES       GALBRAITH                                           RADFORD                         MURPHY                  BEATON

9 June 63           "                    "                 MURPHY                             "                                PICKERING                      "

Beaton, Thomas A   26  (1837 - 1895)  Born in Athens, OH to parents who immigrated from Scotland;  Promoted to 1 Lt and R QM on 7 Nov 62;  Resigned 6 Jan 65; Owned a Livery Stble in 1870 and operated a Hotel in 1880; Married Laura A. Smith; Filed for an Invalid Pension in 1882; Died and was buried in Columbus, OH



Galbraith, Robert   26  (1837 - 1881)  Described as being 5' 11" tall, fair complexion, blue eyes, light-colored hair;  He was a Merchant by occupation;  Born in Shelbyville, TN, he was appointed as a 2 Lt by Andrew Johnson, the Military Gov of TN;  Commissioned as a Cap by Gov Johnson on 2 Sep 62 and mustered in as Capt of Co C on 17 Oct 62;  Promoted to Maj on

24 Nov 62;  Promoted to Lt. Col on 11 Feb 63;  He became embroiled in a power struggle with Col William B. Stokes of the 5th TN;  

At one point, he wanted to be granted leave in order to meet with Gov Johnson and obtain his permission to organize (and

command) a 2nd TN Cavalry Regiment, but the leave was not granted and the Governor did not come to his aid;  Lt. Col Galbraith would issue orders and Col Stokes would countermand them;  Their superiors either wanted to split them up or to force them to

work together, but it would not come to pass; Galbraith resigned "for the good of the Regiment" on 11 Mar 64;  At one point, his superiors considered bringing him up on charges (I don't know what he would have been charged with), but the War came to an

end and the Military Powers That Be simply wanted to be done with Robert Galbraith once and for all;  He returned to Shelbyville

after the War




Moore, Joseph Benjamin*  46  (1817 - 1864)  Born in Montgomery Co., TN;  Maried Nancy Ann Lane in 1840, who died in 1852--three children;  Married second Emily C. Green in 1855--three children;  Enlisted 1 Dec. 1862; Promoted to Surgeon on 20 Jan 63;  Son, Middleton Moore, was a Maj. with the 1 TN (Union) Infantry;  Joseph was murdered by guerrillas--neighbors who resented his fighting for the Union, they ambushed him within 3 miles of his home in Goodlettesville, TN, and riddled his body with bullets on

5 Sep 64!; Buried in the Nashville City Cemetery





Moyer, Reuben P.   20  (1841 - 1902)   Born in Marion Co, OH;  Employed as a Tinner;  Married three times;  Described as being 5' 9" tall with brown eyes, dark hair, and a fair complexion;  Mustered in as a Pvt in Co B on 9 Sep 62;  Appointed Chief Bugler for the Regiment on 1 Mar 63;  After the War, lived in Jefferson Co, IL and worked again as a Tinner






Murphy, John     (1835 - )  Mustered in as 1 Lt and Adj on 31 Aug 62 ;  Promoted to Maj on 21 Feb 63;  Promoted to Col of 2nd TN Mounted Infantry, Co. M (date not recorded on Muster-Out Roll, but an online source shows he mustered out 6 Jul 1865 in Nashville; this same source shows his brother, Thomas Joseph Murphy of the 2nd TN Mounted Inf, Co. M, was a Lt. and later a QM whose left arm was broken by a rifle shot at the Battle of Nashville in Dec. 1864--he became a physician after the war)  




Pickering, William Blackstone  19  (1844 - 1919)  Born in Athens, OH and lived there until he enlisted in 3 OH Infantry on

12 Jun 1861; He fought at Stones River and 3 OH took part in Streight's Raid near Rome, GA from 26 Apr - 3 May;  Much of the

3 OH was taken prisoner on 3 May--there is no record of Pickering being captured.  Since the 5th Middle Tenn Cavalry also took

part in Streight's Raid, I wonder if Pickering came to the attention of the Cavalry commanders here;   He transferred to 5th TN

Cav was promoted to 1 Lt and Adj on 9 Jun 63, so he apparently was at Cripple Creek, at least for a couple of weeks;  He

mustered out 14 Aug 1865 in Nashville and apparently stayed in TN for the rest of his life;  He married Eliza J. McClairin in 1865

in Smith Co., TN;  He worked in Clerical jobs (Clerk of Court, Bookkeeper, Postmaster) in Carthage, TN;  He married second in

1891 to Henrietta "Etta" Haynie, the daughter of a Confederate Surgeon; William died and was buried in Carthage, TN; 

Note: While William's birthday was 21 Mar 1844, he was not stationed at Cripple Creek, so I do not list it on the Calendar 



Radford, Philip M.   <44>   (<1818> - 1897)  Born in England; He was 5' 6" with fair skin, blue eyes, and brown hair;  He was an Engineer by trade;  He was mustered into Co A as a Pvt on 18 Aug 62;  In Mar 63, he was appointed Regimental Sgt Maj "by

order of Lt Col Galbraith and approved by Maj Gen Rosecrans on 22 Mar 63";  Unfortunately, Radford became part of a political

tug-of-war between Galbraith and Col Stokes, since his promotion was "recalled by order of Col Stokes, 7 May 63";  Radford apparently grew weary of being caught in the middle of this power struggle and was discharged in order to accept a promotion to

1 Lt in the 1 TN Cav on 1 Feb 64;  He lived in Nashville after the War and worked as a Civil Engineer;  He died in Nashville in 1897;  His tombstone records his birth as occurring in 1813, although his enlistment forms list his age as 45 in one place and 43 in

another, making his year of birth 1817 - 1819; likewise the 1870 Census lists his age as 51, making his birth year about 1819 



Stokes, William Brickly  47  (1814 - 1897)  Born in Chatham, NC; Family involved in Agriculture;  Married Paralee (or Parilee) Overall in 1832;  Elected to TN State House from 1849 - 1852 and to State Senate from 1855 - 1856;  He served in US Congress

from 1859 - 1861; Enlisted as a Major in 5th TN Cav 15 May 1862;  Promoted to Col on 8 Apr 63;  See above for the political shenanigans with the 5th TN;  Resigned 10 Mar 65;  He studied law and was admitted to the bar as a Lawyer in 1867;  He served in the US Congress from 1866 - 1871;  He continued to practice Law until his death in Alexandria, TN

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