Organized in the fall of 1863 within Federal lines in West Tennessee; consolidated with other similar organizations February, 1864 to form the 21st (usually called 16th) Tennessee Cavalry Regiment.
This regiment is not to be confused with Wilson’s 21st (16th) Tennessee Cavalry Regiment of which Andrew N. Wilson was later colonel. Andrew N. Wilson was first a captain, and later major of the 52nd Tennessee Infantry, but was not re-elected when the 52nd Regiment was reorganized in April, 1863. Wilson was authorized by Brigadier General Gideon 3. Pillow, Superintendent of Volunteer and Conscription Bureau, to raise a new command in West Tennessee within the Federal lines. This organization was the result of those efforts, but it was never officially recognized by the Adjutant and Inspector General’s Office, and no muster rolls of the organization were found. Personal papers of Wilson state he was elected colonel of Wilson’s Regiment August 25, 1863. Prisoner of War rolls, and miscellaneous records show the following as company commanders: James F. Franldin, formerly 1st Lieutenant Co. “C”, 52nd Tennessee Infantry; Dock Wharton, formerly in 13th Tennessee Infantry, killed July, 1863; John Wharton; James Stinnett, formerly 2nd Lieutenant, 27th Tennessee Infantry; John J. Rice, formerly 2nd Lieutenant, 13th Infantry; Henry; Price; Carson; Sowell; Penn and Robert Arnold.
FIELD OFFICERS in addition to Colonel Wilson were Lieutenant Colonel D. M. Wisdom, later lieutenant colonel of Jeffrey E. Forrest’s Alabama Cavalry Regiment, and finally lieutenant colonel of the 18th (Newsom’s) Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, Major M. G. Stegall, formerly 1st lieutenant Co. “I”, 13th Tennessee Infantry.
On August 10, 1863, Colonel R. V. Richardson, Chief Agent for Bureau of Conscription in West Tennessee, in a report of conditions when he went into West Tennessee early in July 1863, stated among other things: “At Cotton Grove (now Lake County) I met with Colonel Jeffrey Forrest and Colonel Wilson, with about 200 men each, both belonging to Colonel (now General) Roddy’s command, who had just come into West Tennessee for the purpose of recruiting and completing their regiments. Their men were well armed.”
On July 27, Union General G. M. Dodge reported; “Biffle, Wilson, Newsom, and Forrest (Jeffrey) have crossed the Tennessee river at Swallow’s Bluff and Point Pleasant and are making toward Jackson.” On September 16, another report stated: “Learned that Wilson, Newsom and others were to concentrate their force at or near Jack’s Creek on the 12th and 13th, and gather up their conscripts preparatory to crossing the river.”
On October 23, 1863, General Gideon J. Pillow reported, among others, Wilson’s command, 300 strong, with the comment: “Every man of them has been brought from within the enemy lines, and raised by the work of this bureau. These officers all now report to me.
During September, October, November, and December, Federal reports made frequent references to Wilson’s and other similar commands as being in various parts of West Tennessee recruiting and raiding. On December 13, Newsom, Bell and Wilson, with about 2000 men, mostly unarmed, were reported by the Federals as near Jackson, with the report that they were going to Tupelo to get arms. This was during the time General Forrest was engaged in his famous raid into West Tennessee during December, 1863. On January 8, 1864, Federal General Dodge reported “I think Forrest has gone out of Tennessee, leaving Newsom’s, Wilson’s and Norton’s (?) regiments, which were reported in West Tennessee.”
On January 25, at Como, Mississippi, in the organization of Forrest’s command, Colonel T. H. Bell was reported in command of the 3rd Brigade, composed of Russelrs, Greer’s, Newsom’s, Barteau’s and Wilson’s Regiments. Shortly after this, these irregular regiments were broken up and consolidated, and on February 4, 1864 Colonel Wilson was given command of the 21st (also called 16th) Tennessee Cavalry, which served in Forrest’s command until the end.
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.