12th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment

Mustered in at Nashville, 1863-1864; mustered out at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, October 7, 1865.


  • Colonel-George Spalding.
  • Lieutenant Colonels-George Spalding, Charles C. Hoefling, John S. Kirwan.
  • Majors-John S. Kirwan, Charles C. Hoefling, Sater Boland, Jason A. Bradshaw, James W. Spalding.


  • Drury P. Harrell, George W. Peters, Co. “A”. Mustered August 24, 1863. Men from 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts.
  • Jason A. Bradshaw, David Odell, Co. “B”. Mustered October 31, 1863. Men from 1st Congressional District.
  • John S. Kirwan, John F. Graham, Co. “C”. Mustered October 20 1863. Men from 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th Congressional Districts.
  • Lewis Smith, Sater Boland, Dennis Donahue, Co. “D”. Mustered November 24, 1863. About one fourth of men from other states. Tennesseans from all over the state.
  • John C. Rogers, Jordan W. Creasey, Co. “E”. Mustered December 31, 1863. Men from Middle Tennessee, mainly Davidson.
  • John C. Penoyer, David Odell, John M. Jordan, Co. “F”. Mustered February 18, 1864. Men mainly from other states.
  • Andrew I. Sullivan, James W. Spalding, George B. Colver, Co. “B”. Mustered February 29, 1864. Men mainly from Hickman County.
  • Chester Hoag, Co. “H”. Mustered March 23, 1864. Men mainly from other states.
  • Jacob P. Crooker, Co. “I”. Mustered March 23, 1864. Men mainly from other states.
  • John B. Tope, Wilson C. Jackson, Co. “K”. Mustered April 11, 1864. About one fourth of the men from Monroe County. Balance from other states.
  • Joseph C. Boyer, Co. “L”. Mustered August 10, 1864. Men mainly from other states.
  • John A. Miller, Co. “M”. Mustered August 23, 1864. 66 men enrolled at Decatur, Alabama, August 4, 1864, as re-enlistments from 1st Alabama Cavalry. Balance re-enlistments from 2nd \Vest Tennessee (7th Tennessee) Cavalry.

Recruits for all the companies had been mustered in prior to the dates shown, which are the dates the companies were considered complete, and captains appointed.

This regiment has no connection with Colonel John K. Miller’s regiment, which was originally called the 12th, but later designated the 13th Regiment. Although it was begun in August, 1863, it was not until February 22, 1864 that as many as six companies had been mustered; it was at this time that George Spalding was commissioned lieutenant colonel. He was commissioned colonel when the regiment’s 12th company was organized in August, 1864. All of the original field officers and many of the company officers had seen previous Service in other units from north of the Ohio River. Colonel Spaldmg had previously been lieutenant colonel, 18th Michigan Infantry; Lieutenant Colonel Hoeflinger and Major Kirwan came from the 4th U. S. Cavalry.

On January 31, 1864, the 12th Tennessee Cavalry, Captain John S. Kirwan, was reported in Brigadier General Alvan C. Gillem’s command, which was stationed along the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad. At that time, the regiment consisted of only two companies.

The regiment was assigned to the 2nd Brigade, Brigadier General Gillem’s 4th Division, Cavalry Corps, Department of the Cumberland. On April 14, Lieutenant Colonel Spaldmg was given command of the brigade, and Major Kirwan commanded the regiment. The regiment did duty along the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad until May 27, when it returned to Nashville, and on May 31 was reported at Gallatin. In June the brigade was ordered to Tullahoma, and from there to Decherd, on the line of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad. Captain J. C. Rogers, Co. “E”, was killed June 14, in one of the skirmishes in which the regiment was involved. On June 23 the regiment was ordered to Pulaski where it remained stationed for some time.

In August, 1864, the regiment clashed with Brigadier General Philip D. Roddey’s forces near Florence, Alabama, where Lieutenant Cunningham, Co. “L”, was killed; and with Colonel Jacob Biffie’s forces at Clifton, Tennessee. Colonel Spalding assumed command of the division August 18, 1864, General Gillem having gone on an expedition into East Tennessee. On August 31 some detachments were still reported on the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad, but Lieutenant Colonel Hoefling was reported in command of the regiment. The division at that time was in the District of Northern Alabama, of which Brigadier General R. S. Granger was the commanding officer.

On August 26, the regiment moved with the brigade from Pulaski to Tullahoma, where it joined the forces of Major General Robert H. Milroy, in several days’ fighting with Confederate forces under Brigadier General John S. Williams, along the line of railroad from Tullahoma to Nashville, the most serious of which was at Triune on September 5, 1864. From there it moved to Pulaski, and joined Major General Lovell H. Rousseau at Shoal Creek, Alabama, in pursuit of Major General Wheeler, but returned to Pulaski on September 12.

On September 21, Colonel Spalding was ordered to drive General Roddey from the Shoal Creek area, and had started on that mission when Major General Nathan B. Forrest started his raid into Middle Tennessee. Spalding hastily turned in pursuit of Forrest, and the regiment was engaged at Sulphur Branch Trestle on September 26; at Richland Creek September 27 and 28; and at Pulaski September 28. Here the regiment lost two officers wounded, and two men killed, 20 wounded.

On September 30, the regiment, with Major Kirwan in command, was back at Pulaski, where Brigadier General John C. Starkweather was in command of the post. Lieutenant Colonel Clift, 5th Tennessee Cavalry, was at this time in command of the brigade.

On October 12, Major General George Thomas ordered the 10th and 12th Tennessee Cavalry to be remounted, and join Brigadier General John T. Croxton near Florence, Alabama for the purpose of watching General John B. Hood’s Army, and, if possible, preventing its crossing the Tennessee River. On November 5, General Croxton reported: “Colonel Clift, commanding the 10th and 12th Tennessee Cavalry, left the road I had them covering and struck the Huntsville Road in my rear. I sent him back to Lexington (Alabama). On November 7, a scout of 50 men from the 12th Tennessee was sent out to protect the railroad between Columbia and Pulaski.”

On November 10, the regiment was transferred to the 5th Division, Brigadier General Edward Hatch, who was instructed to send the dismounted men to Nashville for remount. On November 26, 258 men of the 12th, having been remounted and re-equipped, left Nashville and arrived at Franklin. General Hatch assigned the regiment to the 2nd Brigade, under Colonel D. E. Coon, and Colonel Spalding returned to command of the regiment. While enroute to join the brigade, the regiment had a severe skirmish near Spring Hill on November 30, but joined the brigade near Franklin in time to take part in heavy fighting with Confederate forces under Generals W. H. Jackson and A. Buford, along the Harpeth River, while the infantry of both armies were waging the battle of Franklin. The regiment in Hatch’s 5th Division took a prominent part in the battle of Nashville, December 15-16, 1864, and in the pursuit that followed. On December 15, on the Harding Pike, the regiment captured the train of Brigadier General J. R. Chalmers; 14 wagons loaded with records, clothing and forage, along with 43 prisoners. On the 16th, after participating in the fighting that broke the Confederate lines, the regiment pursued out the Granny White Pike in an attempt to reach Franklin in advance of the Confederates. “After proceeding about a mile they came upon the enemy’s cavalry under Chalmers, posted across the roads, and behind barricades. The position was charged by the 12th Tennessee Cavalry, Colonel Spalding Commanding, and, the enemy’s lines broken, scattered him in all directions, and capturing quite a number of prisoners, among them Brigadier General E. W. Rucker.” So read General Thomas’s official report.

In this engagement the 12th Tennessee Cavalry U. S. A. clashed with the 12th Tennessee Cavalry C. S. A. Captain Boyer, of the 12th, had a hand-to-hand fight with Colonel Rucker, then commanding a brigade. Each wrested the sabre of the other from his hand. One account says Captain Boyer then drew a pistol and shot Rucker in the arm. Another account says Rucker was shot by an unknown soldier standing near by. The flag of Rucker’s Brigade was also captured.

The regiment took part in the pursuit of Hood’s Army as far as Bambridge, Alabama, on December 28, 1865. In January, it was ordered to Eastport, Mississippi, then to Gravelly Springs, Alabama, where it arrived January 14. On February 7, 1865, it moved back to Eastport, where it remained until May 11, 1865.

On April 18, 1865, Spalding, now a Brigadier General, was given command of the 1st Brigade, 5th Division, and the regiment was transferred from the 2nd Brigade to the 1st Brigade. On May 11 it left Eastport for St. Louis, Missouri, with orders to report to Major General John Pope. At St. Louis, it was remounted and refitted and sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to report to Brigadier General R. B. Mitchell, Commanding District of North Kansas. On June 1, 1865, at Benton Barracks, Missouri, the regiment was reported with 464 enlisted men, horses drawn 485. On June 12, two companies were assigned to garrison duty at Fort Leavenworth, and the balance of the regiment served as escort for a party of surveyors and scouted the country through Southern Nebraska and North Kansas.

On September 3, it was ordered to return to Fort Leavenworth to be mustered out. It was mustered out of service there on October 7, 1865, and returned Nashville for final payment and discharge.

This unit history was extracted from Tennesseans in the Civil War, Vol 1. Copyrighted 1964 by the Civil War Centennial Commission of Tennessee and is published here with their permission. This history may not be republished for any reason without the written permission of the copyright owner.

Comments are closed.