Condensed History of the 1st Louisiana Cavalry Regiment, CSA
In June, 1861, Colonel John Simms Scott, native son of East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, serving as a Scout, for General Magruder's Confederate Command in Virginia, was ordered back to Louisiana to raise a regiment of cavalry for the Southern Cause.
Colonel Scott immediately returned to Louisiana and began recruiting his regiment. Advertisements were run in the state's newspapers and in a short period, the ten companies were complete. The organizational date for the 1st Regiment Louisiana Cavalry was September 11, 1861. The regiment consisted of 10 companies and was enlisted into Confederate service October 4, 1861.
The newly organized companies were sent to various camps throughout Louisiana for drill and training and then remustered at Baton Rouge Barracks on October 31, 1861. The total strength of the regiment was 900 officers and enlisted men. Attached to the regiment was the Regimental Battery Howitzer Battery or sometimes referred to as the Louisiana Horse or Mountain Artillery. ( In the summer of 1863, former members of Wheat's Louisiana Tiger Battalion were added to the battery to make it a full company).
The 1st Louisiana Cavalry Regiment was one of the most heavily endowed regiments, receiving some $500,000.00, largely from Louisiana planters, as many of the troopers of the regiment were sons of planters or their relatives. A requirement of the Troopers of the 1st. Louisiana Cavalry was that they provide their own horse and tack.
The regiment was ordered to report to Headquarters, Western Department, CSA on November 6, 1861. The 1st Louisiana Cavalry loaded onto riverboats, the Magnolia, Vicksburg, and others and traveled from Baton Rouge to Memphis, Tennessee. From there, rail loaded to Nashville, Tennessee and then marched to Bowling Green, Kentucky and reported to General Albert Sidney Johnston, Commander of the Western District.
While in camp in Russellville, the regiment was decimated with the measles, killing many of the troopers and others were sent home, only to die from the illness. The regiment was ordered back to Bowling Green and went into winter quarters.
In February, 1862, Brigadier General Buckner ordered the 1st Louisiana Cavalry to operate on the north side of the Cumberland River, opposite Fort Donelson, to prevent any Union artillery from establishing across from the Fort. From this assignment until April, 1864, the 1st Louisiana Cavalry Regiment fought exclusively outside of their home state.
After the fall of Ft. Donelson, the regiment was ordered back to Nashville and remained there until Union forces started showing up on both sides of the river. The regiment was then ordered Franklin, Tennessee and to serve as the rear guard. While in route, Capt. G. Scott and a detachment of 40 men were sent to halt the harassment of a Union cavalry unit that was following. At Granny White's Pike, Capt. Scott and his detachment attacked the 100 man detachment of the 4th Ohio Cavalry, killing 12, routing the troopers and burned their tents. The 1st La. Cavalry detachment lost 1 killed and 1 mortally wounded. The remainder of the trip to Franklin was uneventful and marked the first engagement of a long record of engagements for the regiment.
At Shiloh, the 1st La. Cavalry was a part of Col. Nathan B. Forrest's Cavalry on the extreme right of the Confederate line. Repulsed the opening attacks on the 7th of April but had to finally give way to reinforcements of fresh troops of the Union forces.
On May 1, 1862, Col. Scott's 1st Louisiana Cavalry Regiment attacked the guard outposts on the bridges on the Athens and Decatur Road. Secured the bridges and attacked the main body of Col. Stanley's 18th Ohio Regiment, garrisoned in Athens. The 18th Ohio panicked and fled Athens, leaving behind all their tents, equipment and weapons.
Col. Stanley sent a cavalry unit to Athens on May 2 but the 1st Louisiana Cavalry had already left. In retaliation against the townspeople of Athens, Col. Turchin, formally Ivan Vasilevitch Turchininoff of the Czar of Russia's Imperial Guard, turned loose the 18th Ohio, 19th Illinois, 24th Illinois, and the 37th Indiana regiments on the citizens and town to do as they pleased. The results were the burning of the town, theft of property and rape of 20 of the town's women. The brutal attack, better known as the "Sack of Athens", was reported across the North and South.
The Union cavalry regiment caught up with the 1st Louisiana as it was crossing the Elk River, with over half his command across the river, Col. Scott caused the enemy to retreat until he got the remainder of his command across the river. Col. Scott chose not to mount a retaliatory attack and recrossed the river that night and went on to Courtland, Tenn.
Following the skirmish at Elks River, eight of the ten company commanders of the 1st Louisiana Cavalry went to Gen. Beauregard's Headquarters and made a formal complaint against Col. Scott for "improperly and imprudently ordering a retreat to avoid a fight with the enemy". The tables were turned on the company commanders when Gen. Beauregard ordered them arrested for "insubordinate conduct and abandoning their commands in the face of the enemy".
In October, 1862, the Secretary of War ordered the Officers of the 1st Louisiana Cavalry returned to Col. Scott's command. All, save Capt. Ditto, resigned their commissions. Capt. Ditto was returned to Co. K, again as their commander.
On August 4, 1862, General Kirby Smith placed Col. Scott in charge of a brigade of cavalry that consisted of the 1st Louisiana Cavalry, 1st Georgia Cavalry, 1st Louisiana Mountain Howitzers, and the Buckner Guards, to be known as the Kirby Smith Brigade of Cavalry. The brigade, with a strength of 896 officers and troopers, left Tennessee as the scouts for Smith's Army of 9,000 men, beginning their expedition into Kentucky.