21st (Wilson’s) Tennessee Cavalry Regiment

Also called 16th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment

Organized February 4, 1864 as a consolidation of various irregular organizations. The regiment was organized with eleven companies, “A” to “L”.


  • Colonel-Andrew L. Wilson
  • Lieutenant Colonel-Jesse A. Forrest
  • Major-William T. Parham, M. G. Stegall


  • J. A. Russell, Co. “A”. Formerly of Wilson’s Regiment. Organized July 1, 1863, of men from Hardin County
  • Ezekiel D. Polk, Co. “B”. Formerly of Wilson’s Regiment. Organized June 15, 1863, of men from Hardin County.
  • J. I. Rice, Co. “C”. Formerly of Wilson’s Regiment. Organized July 1, 1863, of men from Chester and Henderson Counties.
  • William H. Bray, Co. “D”. Formerly of Wilson’s Regiment. Organized May 10, 1863, of men from Chester County.
  • William H. Simmons, Co. “E”. Formerly Captain Kizer’s Company. Organized July 1, 1863, of men from Madison County. Many of the men of this company were also mustered with Newsom’s Regiment in November, 1863.
  • James Stinnett, Co. “F”. Formerly of Wilson’s Regiment. Organized July 1, 1863, of men from Chester, Hardin, Henderson and McNairy Counties.
  • Jason W. Fussell, Co. “C”. Organized July 13, 1863, by Lieutenant Colonel Williams, of men from Madison County. Many of the men in this company were also mustered November, 1863, in Newsom’s Regiment.
  • W. B. Hayes, Co. “H”. Organized July 1, 1863, of men from Madison County. Disappeared from the regiment and unaccounted for.
  • John W. Carroll, 2nd Co. “H”. Formerly Co. “I”, of Wilson’s Regiment. Organized July 1, 1863, of men from Chester County.
  • James C. Gooch, 2nd Co. “I”. Formerly Co. “K”, of Wilson’s Regiment. Organized July 1, 1863, of men from Madison County.
  • Robert E. Dudley, 2nd Co. “K”. Formerly Co. “L”, of Wilson’s Regiment. Organized September 20, 1863, of men from Carroll County.
  • On February 20-21-22, the regiment took part in Forrest’s battle with Major General William Sooy Smith’s forces near Okolona, Mississippi, and reported 11 casualties.

On March 7, 1864, at Columbus, Mississippi, in the reorganization of Forrest’s Cavalry Corps, the regiment was placed in the brigade commanded by Colonel (later Brigadier General) Tyree H. Bell, of Brigadier General Abraham Buford’s Division. Other regiments in the brigade were Russell’s and Barteau 5. About a month later, the brigade, in Brigadier General J. R. Chalmers’ Division, took part in the capture of Fort Pillow, on April 11, 1864. On April 15, General Forrest, then at Jackson, advised General Chalmers that he had ordered “200 men of Colonel Wilson’s Regiment, now here, to move to join you at La Grange, Tennessee.”

In the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads, June 10, 1864, General Forrest reported that Wilson’s regiment was dismounted as skirmishers, and that “The advance of Colonel Wilson’s regiment and my escort was spirited and determined.” In this engagement, Wilson’s regiment reported 54 casualties.

On July 13-15, in the Battle of Harrisburg, with Federal General Andrew J. Smith, the regiment suffered 134 casualties. Newsom’s regiment (the 18th) had by this time been added to the brigade. In the capture of Athens, Alabama, September 23-24, the regiment was a part of General Forrest’s forces, and Forrest referred to it as “this gallant regiment.” Here Lieutenant Colonel Jesse A. Forrest was wounded. It accompanied Forrest on his subsequent raid into ‘Middle Tennessee, where in two weeks he captured 1200 men, 800 horses, 700 guns, and so disrupted the Federal communications that General Sherman was forced to send General Thomas with two divisions back to Tennessee. When overwhelming forces had been mustered against him, Forrest found the Tennessee River in flood, and assigned to Colonel Wilson and his regiment the task of holding off the Federal advance until he could ferry the rest of his troops across the river. Of this operation, Forrest reported: “Colonel Wilson was ordered to remain with his regiment and skirmish with the enemy. Colonel Wilson is entitled to the commendation of his government, and the lasting gratitude for the faithful manner in which he performed this important and hazardous trust.”

On October 27, Lieutenant Colonel Jesse Forrest was in command at the bold attack on the Steamer Belle of Saint Louis, at Fort Randolph, Tennessee.

The regiment was with General Forrest in all his operations in connection with General Hood’s re-invasion of Tennessee in November and December, 1864. On November 29, at Spring Hill, where Forrest had thrown his troops ahead of General Schofield, retreating from Columbia, Forrest reported: “Colonel Wilson at the head of his splendid regiment, made a gallant charge through an open field.

He received three wounds, but refused to leave his command.” During the months of November and December the 21st reported 42 casualties. In February, 1865, the regiment was consolidated with the 22nd (Barteau’s) Regiment.

On May 3, 1865, just before the final surrender, the consolidated regiment, still in Bell’s Brigade, reported 31 officers, 317 men present for duty, effective total present 260, aggregate present 423, aggregate present and absent, 641. At this time the brigade was reported as consisting of the 9th (Biffle’s), 10th and 11th Consolidated, l0th and 20th Consolidated, 2nd and 21st Consolidated. The 2nd was of course Barteau’s Regiment whose official designation was the 22nd and Biffle’s regiment was officially the 19th. As part of this consolidated regiment, at last correctly designated as the 21st and 22nd Tennessee Cavalry Regiments, Consolidated, the regiment was paroled at Gainesville, Alabama in May, 1865.

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.

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