First Confederate Cavalry Regiment

Also called 12th Confederate Cavalry Regiment

Organized April, 1862; surrendered at Gainesville, Alabama, May 12, 1865.


  • Colonels-Thomas Claiborne, John T. Lay, H. Clay King, John T. Cox
  • Lieutenant Colonels-James Pell, C. S. Robertson
  • Majors-Moses J. Wicks, A. H. Chalmers, H. C. Bates


  • R. G. Grundy, Co. A. From Major H. C. King’s 1st Kentucky Battalion.
  • James Pell (to Lieutenant colonel), Co. “B”. From Major H. C. King’s 1st Kentucky Battalion.
  • M. Swann, Co. “C”. From Major H. C. King’s 1st Kentucky Battalion.
  • J. H. Guthrie, Co. “D”. From Major H. C. King’s 1st Kentucky Battalion.
  • C. H. Conner, Co. “E”. From Haywood and Lauderdale Counties.
  • M. V. Gray, Co. “F”. From Shelby and Henry Counties.
  • C. S. Robertson (to lieutenant colonel), Co. “G”. From Hardin County.
  • George Carter, Co. “H”. From White and Van Buren Counties.
  • M. J. Wicks, Co. “I”. From Shelby County.
  • J. S. Tyner, Co. “K”. From Hamilton County.


  • Felix G. Boyd
  • J. H. Husbands
  • W. J. Nanny
  • James U. Irwin
  • A. C. Bettis
  • T. S. Jackson

The regiment was organized at Spring Creek, Madison County, Tennessee, about April 1862, by order of General Albert S. Johnston, by the addition of four Tennessee companies and two Alabama companies to Major H. C. King’s Kentucky Battalion. The Alabama companies were the original companies “H” and “K”, which served only temporarily and were later replaced by the two Tennessee companies shown. The original field officers were appointed by General Johnston, but an election was held in the fall of 1862 at which time H. C. King was elected colonel, C. S. Robertson lieutenant colonel, and H. C. Bate major.

The regiment did outpost duty during the campaign succeeding the Battle of Shiloh and the retreat from Corinth. Brigadier General Joseph Wheeler, in reporting on his operations during the Kentucky campaign in the fall of 1862 culminating in the Battle of Perryville, said the First Confederate Regiment, under Lieutenant Colonel Robertson, served with his forces at times, and did good service.

On December 10, 1862, the regiment, under Colonel John T. Cox, with 313 men present, and two companies detached, was reported in Brigadier General John A. Wharton’s Cavalry Brigade. As part of Wharton’s Brigade, it did service with Major General William J. Hardee’s Corps in the Battle of Murfreesboro December 31, 1862.

On January 14, 1863, still in Wharton’s Brigade, with headquarters at Shelbyville, the regiment reported 19 officers, 156 men present for duty, aggregate present 263, present and absent 476, but with only 140 serviceable horses. It continued in Wharton’s Brigade until May 18, 1863, when it was transferred to Brigadier General William T. Martin’s Brigade.

Major General Gordon Granger, U.S.A., in reporting on the Federal capture of Shelbyville on June 27, 1863, and the pursuit of the Confederate troops across the Duck River, which was then in flood, wrote: “in the midst of their confusion, the rebel General Wheeler called upon some of his troops to form and stop our advance. The First Confederate Cavalry volunteered for this duty, and in endeavoring to perform it, saved their general (Wheeler), who escaped by swimming the river, while the whole regiment, save those of it who were killed, was captured by our forces, including the Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel, and Major, and all of the line officers present.” The prisoners were sent to Camp Douglass, Illinois, where on December 26, 1863, a report showed 292 prisoners present.

Captain C. H. Conner assumed command of what was left of the regiment, which on July 31, 1863, was reported in Colonel A. A. Russell’s Brigade, General W. T. Martin’s Division, Wheeler’s Cavalry Corps. As part of this brigade, it took part in the Chickamauga campaign. In the reorganization of the Army of Tennessee after the Battle of Chickamauga, the regiment was placed in Colonel William B. Wade’s Brigade, Brigadier General John H. Kelly’s Division.

On April 30, 1864, at the beginning of the Atlanta Campaign, the regiment was reported as the 12th Confederate, under Captain Conner, in Brigadier General William W. Allen’s Brigade of Kelly’s Division. On July 10, 1864, still as the 12th Confederate, it was reported in Anderson’s Brigade of Kelly’s Division, and continued to be so reported until August 31, 1864.

On that date, it disappeared from the Official Records until January 1, 1865. Major H. C. Bate, in a history of the regiment in Lindsley’s Annals, says the regiment was detached from Wheeler’s Corps at that time, and assigned to special duty with General John B. Hood on his invasion of Tennessee.

On January 1, 1865, Major General Nathan B. Forrest directed Brigadier General J. R. Chalmers to form a temporary consolidation of Holman’s, Biffie’s, Wheeler’s (James T.) regiments, the 9th Tennessee Battalion, the 1st Confederate Regiment, and that portion of the 7th Alabama Regiment having horses into four regiments, to comprise one brigade. This was the last mention of the regiment in the Official Records. Major Bate stated the regiment was assigned to Brigadier General W. H. Jackson’s Division and served with that division until the surrender at Gainesville, Alabama, on May 12, 1865. The regimental books and muster rolls were lost with General Wheeler’s train during the last campaign in North Carolina.

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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