5th Tennessee Cavalry Battalion

Also called 1st Battalion; also 4th Battalion

Organized August 29, 1861 at Knoxville, Tennessee; reorganized May 1862, and with the exception of two companies merged with 4th (Branner’s) Battalion to form 2nd (Ashby’s) Tennessee Cavalry Regiment.


  • Lieutenant Colonel-George R. McClellan
  • Major-Thomas I. Campbell


  • S. W. Eldredge, Co. “A”. “The Lancers.” Organized August 10, 1861 at Cleveland, Bradley County. Men mostly from Bradley County with some from Polk County. Became Company “A”, 2nd Regiment.
  • C. C. Spiller, Co. “B”. Organized August 11, 1861 at Chattanooga. Men mostly from Hamilton County with some from North Alabama. Later served in Spiller’s Battalion; then as Company “I”, 4th (Murray’s) Regiment; finally as Company “H”, 8th,-usually called 4th- (Baxter Smith’s) Cavalry Regiment.
  • Henry C. Gillespie, Co. “C”. Organized August 12, 1861 at Camp Cummings, near Knoxville. Men from Knox, Union, and Claiborne Counties. Became Company “B”, 2nd Regiment.
  • Henry C. Legg, Co. “D”. Organized August 12, 1861 at Knoxville. Men from Hawkins and Hancock Counties. Became Company “C”, 2nd Regiment.
  • William C. Holland, Co. “E”. Organized August 13, 1861 at Knoxville. Men from Blount County. Became Company “K”, 2nd Regiment.
  • David McClellan, Co. “F”. “The McClellan Troop”. Organized August 14, 1861 at Knoxville. Men from Sullivan County. Became Company “C”, 4th (Murray’s) Regiment; later Company “B”, 4th or 8th, (Baxter Smith’s) Regiment.

Immediately after the organization, Brigadier General Felix K. Zollicoffer, at Knoxville, advised Colonel Baldwin, enroute to Fish Springs, near the Johnson County line, “I expect to start tomorrow Captain McClellan’s Cavalry Company by land to overtake and co-operate with your regiment. He knows the people and roads in Johnson and Carter Counties, and you will employ his company in scouting, getting information, and otherwise as you may deem proper.”

On September 15, Zollicoffer, in listing the troops in his command, estimated McClellan’s Battalion at 540 effectives, 570 present, 600 present and absent. On September 30, a list published by the Adjutant and Inspector General’s Office of the organizations mustered into Confederate Service listed McClellan’s Battalion as the 1st Tennessee Battalion in Zollicoffer’s command.

On October 14, Zollicoffer ordered Mc-Clellan with three companies to Cumberland Ford, Kentucky, leaving the other companies at Knoxville. On October 18, two companies were ordered to Jamestown, Tennessee. Upon their return on the 21st, McClellan, with three companies was ordered back to Jamestown, with instructions to keep scouts out on the road to Kentucky, and promptly report anything of importance, as the enemy was reported to be moving toward Cumberland Gap, but might turn toward Jamestown.

In November, Captain Eldredge’s Company “A” was at the bridge at Loudon, Tennessee, Captain McClellan’s Company “F” was at Watauga Bridge, Washington County, and McClellan, with the balance of the battalion at Camp McGinnis, near Jamestown. On November 20, Zollicoffer, making plans for the crossing of the Cumberland River, ordered Colonels Stanton and Murray, and Lieutenant Colonel McClellan “to make a rapid and stealthy movement to capture the ferryboats at four or five crossings of the Cumberland.” However, they failed to secure any ferryboats, and Zollicoffer prepared to build boats or rafts. On November 28, Captain McClellan’s company was reported at Elizabethton, Carter County, “to hold the disaffected in check.”

By December 1, Zollicoffer was concentrating his forces at Beech Grove, Kentucky, and on that date, ordered McClellan with three companies, and Captain Rowan’s squadron to act as reserve for a force moving against an enemy camp at Waitsborough. On the 26th, he ordered McNairy, Branner, and McClellan, with 650 men, on a scouting expedition down the North side of the Cumberland River towards Burkesville, Kentucky. On the 31st, the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th Battalions, and two Independent Companies of Tennessee Cavalry, totaling 1795 effectives, were reported as comprising the cavalry forces at Beech Grove, Kentucky.

On January 7, 1862, McClellan’s Battalion, five companies, reported 315 present for duty, 469 present and absent, at Beech Grove, Kentucky. Company “F” was still at Elizabethton. At the Battle of Fishing Creek, January 18, 1862, McClellan’s Battalion was listed as part of the Cavalry Reserve, and does not appear to have been actively engaged.

Company reports show the individual companies stationed at Cleveland, Kingston, and Clinton, Tennessee, during the months of March and April. The last record of the battalion was on April 26, when Major General E. Kirby Smith reported: “Branner’s and McClellan’s Cavalry, 700 men, are under orders for General Crittenden’s Command.” A company report for the months of January-February 1862, from Company “F”, was dated June 29 at Loudon, Tennessee.

For the further history of the organization, see the history of the 2nd (Ashby’s) Tennessee Cavalry Regiment.

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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