Davis’ Tennessee Cavalry Battalion

Organized as a battalion in Confederate service at Bardstown, Kentucky, September 27, 1862; merged into 8th, also called 4th, (Baxter Smith’s) Tennessee Cavalry Regiment at Shelbyville, Tennessee January 27, 1863. This battalion was composed of four companies which had been organized in June and July, 1862, as follows:


  • Major-John R. Davis


  • J. M. Phillips’ Company. Organized June 25, 1862. Men from DeKaIb and Wilson County. Became “D”, 8th or 4th, (Baxter Smith’s) Regiment.
  • H. A. Wiley’s Company. Organized July 28, 1862. Men from Cannon County. Became “E”, 8th or 4th (Baxter Smith’s) Regiment.
  • James R. Lester’s Company. Organized June 25, 1862. Men from Wilson County. Became “F”, 8th or 4th (Baxter Smith’s) Regiment.
  • Jonathan W. Nichol’s Company. Organized June 25, 1862. Men from Cannon and Rutherford Counties. Became “G”, 8th or 4th (Baxter Smith’s) Regiment.

No muster rolls of the battalion were found, and the place of organization of these companies is not known.

The first mention of the battalion in the Official Records was November 27, 1862, when Brigadier General Joseph Wheeler, Chief of Cavalry at Lavergne, Tennessee was advised: “Major Davis’ Battalion will report as soon as relieved by Lieutenant General E. Kirby Smith.” On November 30, an order was issued: “Major Davis’ Battalion, now on duty at McMinnville, will, on being relieved by a battalion from Smith’s Corps, report to Brigadier General Wheeler at LaVergne, for duty with Brigadier General Wharton. “On December 7, it was reported: “Major Davis’ Battalion of Cavalry is relieved at McMinnville, and will report at once to Brigadier General Wharton.”

On December 12, General Wharton advised: “The enemy attacked Franklin this morning just before daylight. Colonel Baxter Smith, who was there with 400 men, engaged them, but was forced to retire. * * *General Cleburne is now moving on Franklin on the Triune and Franklin dirt road, and I have sent Colonel Thomas Harrison with his Rangers, and John R. Davis’ Battalion of Cavalry on the Franklin and Nashville Pike, to hold the enemy in check until the arrival of General Cleburne’s forces.”

In the Battle of Murfreesboro, December 31, 1862, Davis’s Battalion was in Brigadier General John A. Wharton’s Brigade, of General Wheeler’s Cavalry Corps. About a month later, on January 27, 1863, at Shelbyville, Tennessee the battalion was merged into Colonel Baxter Smith’s Regiment which was usually called the 4th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, but officially designated the 8th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment.

On March 21, 1863, the battalion was reported in a force under the command of Brigadier General John H. Morgan which attacked Federal troops at Milton, Tennessee. Of course, by this time, the battalion was officially in the 8th 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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