Daniel T. Davis is a Senior Education Associate at the American Battlefield Trust. He is a Co-Managing Editor of Emerging Civil War and co-author of six books in Savas Beatie's Emerging Civil War Series. He has also authored or co-authored articles in Blue & Gray Magazine, Civil War Times and Hallowed Ground.
The oldest unit in continuous service in the Virginia National Guard, the 116 th Infantry Regiment was organized on November 3, 1741. Over the course of the next two centuries, the regiment played a major role in America’s armed conflicts. Known initially as the Augusta County Regiment and headquartered at Staunton, the unit’s primary responsibility was patrolling the Virginia frontier. Four companies from the regiment were called into service during the French and Indian War as well as Lord Dunmore’s War.
Following the American Revolution, various artillery units were recruited for service in the United States Army. In 1789, the Battalion of Artillery was organized. It consisted of four companies, one of which, under Maj. John Doughty, had served in the War for Independence. Artillery companies also augmented General Anthony Wayne’s Legion in the Old Northest. Throughout the Early National Period, these units were often combined with Engineers. Four regiments of artillery fought in the War of 1812 at Fort Meigs, Chippewa, Niagara Falls, Fort McHenry, and New Orleans. At the end of the conflict, the regiments were consolidated into the Corps of Artillery.
Known today as the “Fighting Sixth,” the 6 th United States Cavalry was established by President Abraham Lincoln less than a month after the bombardment of Fort Sumter. Originally raised as the 3 rd United States Cavalry, the regiment augmented the five mounted units already serving in the United States Army. With its headquarters located in Pittsburgh, the regiment was recruited from communities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and western New York. Among its original officers were William W. Averell, David M. Gregg, John Irvin Gregg, August Kautz and Charles Russell Lowell.
In March 1833, with the onset of Westward Expansion, President Andrew Jackson authorized the formation of a regiment of United States Dragoons. The Dragoons soon proved to be an invaluable asset on the Great Plains and due to an ongoing war with the Seminoles, Congress authorized the creation of another regiment on May 23, 1836. This new unit was designated the 2nd U.S. Dragoons.
On March 2, 1821, Congress passed legislation to dissolve the United States Army’s Corps of Artillery. In its place, four regiments of artillery were authorized for service. This organization of individual regiments had existed during America’s second struggle with Great Britain, the War of 1812. The artillerists had distinguished themselves at such battles as Chippewa, Fort McHenry, and New Orleans. Nearly three months later, the Fourth Regiment of Artillery was officially organized with its companies stationed along the Florida and Gulf Coasts.
In the spring of 1846, Congress authorized the establishment of a new military unit, the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. Unlike the two existing regiments of United States Dragoons, the primary combat role of the mounted riflemen differed from their Dragoon counterparts. While the Dragoons fought on foot as infantry and could perform the traditional acts of reconnaissance and screening associated with cavalry, the Riflemen would fight dismounted and use their horses as transportation between various points on the battlefield. https://www.battlefields.org/learn/civil-war/battles/battle-gettysburg-facts-summary
Between 1833 and 1846, Congress added three mounted regiments to the United States Army. The success of the First and Second United States Dragoons, along with the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen inspired the adoption of cavalry units. While the Dragoons could fight on foot or horseback and the Riflemen acted as mounted infantry, these new regiments would perform the more traditional roles of reconnaissance and lightning attacks. On March 3, 1855, the 2 nd United States Cavalry was established. Among its officers were Albert Sidney Johnston, Robert E. Lee, George H. Thomas, William J. Hardee, and George Stoneman.
On March 2, 1833, President Andrew Jackson signed a bill that established the regiment of United States Dragoons. Dragoon units were not uncommon to the army. A number had served in the Continental Army, through the early years of the Republic, in the War of 1812 and more recently as the Battalion of Mounted Rangers. With the onset of westward expansion, the burgeoning Nation required a permanent mounted regiment that could function both as infantry and cavalry. Three years later Congress created another Dragoon regiment and the original received the designation of 1st U.S. Dragoons.
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