Napier’s Tennessee Cavalry Battalion

Organized December 1862; consolidated with Cox’s Battalion February 25, 1863 to form 10th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment.

Muster rolls of this battalion show five companies, under Colonel Thomas Alonzo Napier, all mustered in at Waverly, Humphreys County, Tennessee.


  • William E. DeMoss, Co. “A”. Organized December 5, 1862. Men from Davidson County. Became “D”, 10th Regiment.
  • John Minor, Co. “B”. Organized December 7, 1862. Men from Montgomery County. Became “E”, 10th Regiment.
  • W. W. Hobbs, Co. “C”. Organized November 10, 1862. Men from Humphreys County. Became “F”, 10th Regiment.

However, there was an organization known as Napier’s Cavalry in operation before this battalion was organized. The muster rolls of Minor’s and Hobbs’ Companies show they were formerly in “Napier’s Cavalry.” Federal reports as early as July 1862, made mention of cavalry commanded by Napier. Brigadier General J. S. Negley, commanding at Columbia on July 1, 1862, testifying in a court of inquiry as to the operations of the Federal Army in the summer and fall of 1862, stated that when he took command at Columbia, “Napier was raising a regiment in the vicinity of Charlotte and Centerville, nearly west of Columbia.” On August 17, he reported the defeat of Napier’s and Anderson’s guerrillas near Kinderhook. On August 21, 1862, another report stated: “Captain Dougherty, Captain Gilliam and Captain Napier, with about 500 men were on the Tennessee River in Benton County on Monday last. They captured and burned two steamboats, and attacked another, but failed to get it.” On October 29, an engagement near Waverly with Napier’s guerrillas was reported.

On the Confederate side, General Bragg, on November 27, 1862, ordered: “Colonels Biffle and Napier, will, with their commands, report to Brigadier General Wheeler for duty at LaVergne.”

Thomas Alonzo Napier enlisted November 7, 1861, in Benton County. He was captain of Company “I”, 49th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, and was captured at Fort Donelson. While being transferred to Johnson’s Island, he escaped on April 26, 1862. The records of the 49th Tennessee Infantry state he did not re-enlist, but recruited a regiment of cavalry, and was killed at Parker’s Cross Roads, December 31, 1862. The date of his commission as colonel was not found.

When Bragg ordered Colonel Napier, with his command, to report to General Wheeler, on November 27, he was evidently referring to this prior Cavalry organization. Whether Napier actually reported to General Wheeler is not known, but some time about this date, instructions were evidently issued to organize a battalion of cavalry, which was done at Waverly, Tennessee on December 15, 1862. On December 18, 1862, General Grant reported that “Forrest and Napier are now on this side of the river, with five to ten thousand men, near Jackson, Tennessee. Another report said Napier, with 2000 to 3000 men, was crossing the Tennessee River at Carrollsville. A later report stated: “You are mistaken as to Napier’s force. He has 700 men and two pieces of Artillery.”

Captain John Minor, in Lindsley’s Annals, said the battalion joined General Forrest at Middlesburg, Tennessee and met the enemy for the first time at Parker’s Cross Roads, on December 31, 1862, where Colonel Napier was killed, and that Captain DeMoss commanded the battalion from that time until its merger into the 10th Tennessee Regiment. General George G. Dibrell’s account of the Battle of Parker’s Cross Roads speaks of Napier’s Battalion being engaged there.

In January, the battalion, with some of Brigadier General Wheeler’s Cavalry forces, was engaged in patrolling the Cumberland River below Nashville, and on February 3, 1863, took part in the assault on Fort Donelson, at Dover, Tennessee. Following this battle, it moved to Columbia, Tennessee, where on February 25, 1863, it was merged into the 10th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, of which Captain DeMoss became Major and later Colonel.

One minor mystery remains. T. A. Napier was also listed as colonel of the 10th Cavalry Regiment, which was not organized until after his death. The only explanation would seem to be that plans had been made for the organization of the regiment, and he had been promised a commission as colonel, but was killed before the commission could be delivered.

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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