3rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry

The 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry would be organized in Philadelphia between July, and August, 1861.  They would be promptly moved to Washington D.C. and assigned to US Brigadier General Fitz John Porter’s Division, in the Army of the Potomac.

The 3rd Pennsylvania would participate in US Major General George McClellan’s advance on Manassas Junction, in March 1862.  This march proved a folly, as the Rebels had already left – leaving large “Quaker” guns in their works
3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry Monument at Gettysburg.
3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry Monument at Gettysburg.

(Quaker guns were tree trunks painted to look like large artillery). From Manassas Junction, the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry would move to the Virginia peninusula and participate in McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign and the Seven Days battles.

In September 1862, the 3rd would take part in the Maryland Campaign and would fight at Antietam.  In December 1862, the regiment would participate in the Battle of Fredericksburg.

In February, 1863, with the reorganization of the Army of the Potomac’s cavalry, into one cavalry corps, the 3rd Pennsylvania would be assigned to the Second Brigade (Colonel John B McIntosh) of the Second Division (Brigadier General William Averell) of Brigadier General George Stoneman’s Cavalry Corps.  The 3rd would participate in the cavalry engagement at Kelly’s Ford, on March 17, as the Army of the Potomac participated in St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

During the Chancellorsville campaign, the 3rd Pennsylvania would participate in Stoneman’s Raid, to cut the Army of Northern Virginia’s supply and communications lines.  The raid would prove a folly, and would ultimately lead to the Federal defeat at Chancellorsville – leaving the commanding general, Joseph Hooker, without the intelligence the cavalry could provide.

In early June 1863, with Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia pushing north, the 3rd Pennsylvania would be engaged in the cavalry fight at Brandy Station (Fleetwood Hill).   The regiment would take part in actions against CS Major General J.E.B. Stuart, as he pushed north, east of the Shenandoah Mountains, including Aldie, Upperville and Westminster.

Arriving at Gettysburg, they would take part in the fighting at Brinkerhoff’s Ridge, on July 2, 1863.  In command of the regiment was Lieutenant Colonel Edward S. Jones.  Fighting both Confederate cavalry, and the famed Stonewall Brigade, the 3rd would be pressed hard at a stone wall.  As Lieutenant William Brooke-Rawle tells, “The wall was the key to our position, as both the enemy and ourselves at once perceived.” ¹  On July 3, the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry would be involved in the fighting at the East Cavalry Field, and suffered severely.  After Gettysburg, the 3rd would participate in the action as the Federal Army pushed south after Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, including Auburn and Bristoe Station.  Closing out 1863, they would be engaged in the battles of the Mine Run campaign.

In the spring, of 1864, with a new commander of all the U.S. ground forces – Ulysses S. Grant, the 3rd would participate in the Overland Campaign, fighting at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, the North Anna River and Cold Harbor.  They would participate in the early actions, in front of Petersburg.  With terms of enlistment running out, the veterans would be consolidated into a three company batallion, while the remainder of the troops would be active in the Cumberland Valley until they mustered out on August 24, 1864.  Total losses, for the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry, during the Civil War, was 169.

¹ Wittenberg, Protecting the Flank: The Battles for Brinkerhoff’s Ridge and East Cavalry Field, p. 36.

About Michael Noirot

I grew up in the Central Illinois farming community, of Dunlap. Growing up, I played sports, tinkered with cars and enjoyed photography. While I did well in school, I did not become passionate about history until my early 30's. I have built a large library, of books on early America, politics and the Civil War. I am an avid reader. Fortunately, I have had plenty of opportunities to travel, over the years, and have been to most of the Civil War battlefields. I work while I travel, so more often than not, I am up, in the middle of the night, to get sunrise pictures, or I will be out until well after dark, exploring Civil War battlefields. I have other hobbies, and passions, that I really enjoy. Number one on the list would be guitar. I play my guitars on a regular basis, and enjoy the Bluegrass, and Contemporary Christian (CCM) genres. I play a style of guitar, called FLATPICKING, where using a flat pick, you play lead solos, similar to the way a fiddle would have been played during the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Laura, my wife, and I also enjoy scuba diving, travel and spending time at our property, in the country. Lastly, we spend as much time with our families, as possible. Thanks for stopping by.
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