By Joseph I. Lambert, Major, Second Cavalry
Copyright 1939 Commanding Officer, Second Cavalry, Fort Riley, Kansas
Capper Printing Company, Inc.

CW2General Sheridan was relieved from command of the cavalry corps of the Army of the Potomac on August 1, 1864, and placed in command of the Army of the Shenandoah. This was done by Grant as a result of the panic created by Early’s two invasions of the north, during one of which the cavalry under McCausland burned the town of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. It was decided not only to crush Early’s command, but to lay waste the fertile valley of the Shenandoah so that the Confederates could not use it as a base of supplies.

General Torbert, who had commanded the First Cavalry Division, was placed in command of all the cavalry in Sheridan’s army. The cavalry in this sector now consisted of the First Division, under General Merritt, the Third Division under Wilson, and the First and Second West Virginia Divisions. Merritt’s and Wilson’s divisions were brought from the Army of the Potomac where they formed a part of Sheridan’s cavalry corps. The Second Cavalry was a part of the Reserve Brigade of the First Division, in which it had served since the cavalry corps was formed early in 1863.

The regiment was moved from the Peninsula by transport and disembarked at Giesborough Point opposite Alexandria, Virginia, on August 3, 1864. It marched through Washington to Harper’s Ferry, where it crossed the Potomac August 8 and went into camp at Halltown with the rest of the Army of the Shenandoah.

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