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5th Cavalry Regiment
Civil War
Ira Harris Cavalry; First Ira Harris Guard; De Forrest Cavalry

The following is taken from New York in the War of the Rebellion, 3rd ed. Frederick Phisterer. Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, 1912.

Left the State: November 18, 1861
Mustered out: July 19, 1865

July 26, 1861, Col. Othneil De Forrest received authority from the War Department to recruit a brigade of cavalry for a service of three years. He recruited this regiment, as the Ira Harris Cavalry; after the organization had been turned over to the State, it was, October 16, 1861, designated the First Ira Harris Guard, and after its completion, November 14, 1861, the 5th Regiment of Cavalry. The Bliss Cavalry, an incomplete organization, recruited by Col. W. S. Bliss, was merged into the regiment, which was organized at Camp Scott, Staten Island, where its companies were mustered in the service of the United States: A on August 15, 1861; B on August 21, C on September 3, D on October 1, E on the 7th, and F on the 21st of September, G on the 9th, H on the 28th, and I, K, L and M, on the 31st of October, 1861. At the expiration of its term of service those entitled thereto were discharged and the regiment continued in the service.

The companies were recruited principally: A, B, K — Bliss Cavalry, M — Bliss Cavalry — at New York city; C at New York city, Troy and Kingston; D at Springfield, Mass., and New York city; E at Allegany, Kennedy, Richburgh, Belmont, East Rushford, Friendship, Ellicottsville, Cuba, Black Creek, Little Valley, Scio, Genesee, Farmersville, Great Valley and Wellsville; F at East Pike, East Gainesville, Castile, Attica, Oramel, Wellsville, China, Hume, Sardinia and Freedom; G, intended originally for a so-called Harlan's Cavalry, at Pike, Oswego and Elmira; H at Crown Point; I—Bliss Cavalry—.at Princeton, Passaic and Plainfield, N. J., and Brooklyn and Newburgh; and L at Hudson, Athens and Catskill.

The regiment left the State November 18, 1861, and served in the Department of Annapolis, Md., from November, 1861; in the 5th Corps and Department of the Shenandoah, from March, 1862; in the 2d Corps, Army of Virginia, from June, 1862; in Stahel's Division, defenses of Washington, from September, 1862; in the 3d Brigade, 3d Division, 22d Corps, Department Washington, from March, 1863; in the 1st Brigade, 3d Division, Cavalry, Army of the Potomac, from June 28, 1863; in the 2d Brigade, 3d Division, Cavalry, Army of the Potomac, from August, 1863; in the 1st Brigade, 3d Division, Cavalry, Army of the Potomac, from September, 1863; with the Army of the Potomac, detached in the 9th Corps, part of May, 1864; with the Cavalry Corps again from about end of May, 1864; in the Army of the Shenandoah, from October, 1864, and in the Department of West Virginia, from March, 1865, until July 19, 1865, when, commanded by Col. Amos H. White, it was mustered out and honorably discharged at Winchester, Va.

During its service, the regiment lost by death killed in action, 4 officers, 62 enlisted men; died of wounds received in action, 4 officers, 20 enlisted men; died of disease and other causes, 5 officers, 222 enlisted men; total, 13 officers, 307 enlisted men; aggregate, 320, of whom 104 enlisted men died in the hands of the enemy.

Battles and Casualties Table from Phisterer

Historical Sketch

Civil War Newspaper Clippings

Monument at Gettysburg

5th Cavalry Standard 5th Cavalry Standard

5th Cavalry Flank Marker - Early War 5th Cavalry Flank Marker - Early War

5th Cavalry Flank Marker - Late War 5th Cavalry Flank Markers - Late War

Muster Roll

Unit Roster

Further Reading
This is meant to be a comprehensive list. If, however, you know of a resource that is not listed below, please send an email to with the name of the resource and where it is located. This can include photographs, letters, articles and other non-book materials. Also, if you have any materials in your possession that you would like to donate, the museum is always looking for items specific to New York's military heritage. Thank you.

Beaudry, Louis Napoleon. Historic records of the Fifth New York cavalry, First Ira Harris guard, its organization, marches, raids, scouts, engagements, and general services during the rebellion of 1861-1865, with observations of the author by the way, giving sketches of the Armies of the Potomac and of the Shenandoah. Also, interesting accounts of prison life and of the secret service. Complete lists of its officers and men. By Rev. Louis N. Boudry, Chaplain of the Regiment. Albany: S. R. Gray, 1865. xv, [17]- 358 p.
Available online at:

---Second edition. Albany: S. R. Gray, 1865. xv, [17]-358 p.

---Third edition, enlarged. Albany: J. Munsell, 1868. xv, [17]-385 p.
Available online at:

---Fourth edition, enlarged. Albany: J. Munsell, 1874. xv, [17]-385, (3) p.

Beaudry, Louis Napoleon. The Libby Chronicle, devoted to facts and fun, a true copy of the Libby chronicle as written by the prisoners of Libby in 1863. Published by Louis N. Beaudry. Albany: [C. F. Williams print, co., 1889] 46 p.

Beaudry, Louis N. War journal of Louis N. Beaudry, Fifth New York Cavalry : the diary of a Union chaplain, commencing February 16, 1863. Jefferson, N.C. McFarland, 1996.

Burns, Vincent L. The Fifth New York Cavalry in the Civil War. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2014.

Dickenson, Foster S. "The Fifth New York cavalry." Maine bugle campaign I (Rockland, 1894) 147-61, 239-49; II (1895) 11-18, 221-34.

Greenleaf, Charles H. "The Greenleaf Civil War Letters." Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin. 26 :3 July 1961. 88-93.

Hammond, John. Letter, June 3rd 1863.
Original located at the Penfield Museum, Crown Point, NY.

John Hammond, died May 28, 1889, at his home, Crown Point, N.Y... Chicago: P. F. Pettibone &.co., printers, 1890. 90 p. "Letters, 1861-4," 47-90.
Original Located at the New York Historical Society, New York, NY.
Book was downloaded from Google Books.

Penfield, James. The 1863-1864 Civil War diary of Captain James Penfield : 5th New York Volunteer Cavalry Company H. Ticonderoga, N.Y. Press of America, Inc., c1999.

Tolles, Ralph. Ralph Tolles Collection, courtesy of Bill Wemple.

Unknown. Diary.
This was captured by George W.E. Row. A digital copy was donated by his great-grandson, Patrick Sullivan.

Van Dusen, Charles Theron. Van Dusen Civil War Diary.
A transcription of the diary kept by Charles Theron Van Dusen during the Civil War. The Van Dusenís are among the earliest families to have settled in New York City.
Available online through the New York Times:
Resource submitted by Patrick Fultz.


New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
Last modified: February 8, 2018

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