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8th Regiment of Michigan Cavalry

8th Michigan Cavalry


After a call for extra Federal cavalry, various companies were filled in May 1863 by men from the counties of southeast Michigan. Meeting at Mt. Clemens, the men were mustered into service as the Eigth Regiment of Michigan Volunteer Cavalry.

The 8th Michigan first "saw the elephant" at Triplett's Bridge, Kentucky on June 19th 1863, and successfully dispersed the rebels into the mountains.

With several other Union regiments, the 8th pursued the rebel General John Hunt Morgan on his famous raid through Indiana and Ohio. Following several major engagements and a long close pursuit, General Morgan and the remnants of of his command were finally captured at Beaver Creek, Ohio.

Fall of 1863 was spent with the regiment serving as advance skirmishers against Nathan Bedford Forrest and James Longstreet near Knonxville, Tennessee. The regiment was dismounted in February 1864 after suffering from cold weather, short rations, and depletion of horses and equipment due to continual service. The men marched 200 miles during the winter to Mt. Sterling, Kentucky to receive new horses and equipment.

In June 1864, the 8th joined Sherman in the Atlanta campaign. Next the 8th was sent with several other regiments under General Stoneman on a poorly planned raid to free the prisoners at Confederate Prison camps at Andersonville and Macon Georgia. Stoneman had only 1,700 men and two pieces of light artillery, including companies from the 7th Ohio Infantry, 5th Indiana Cavalry, McLaughlin's Ohio Cavalry, the 5th and 11th Kentucky Cavalry, along with the Michigan horseman. Stoneman's command was to find a way through the rebel lines and move south into enemy territory.

Under strength and poorly led, the brigade met disaster near Macon and most of the regiments were captured or scattered. The 8th was cut off but attempted to cut through the enemy to the north, the unit was finally overpowered near Clinton Georgia on August 3 and most of the men were killed or captured. Ironicallt, they became prisoners while attempting to free prisoners. Over 50 of the enlisted men captured died in prison at Andersonville. The officers on the other hand were sent to Libby Prison in Richmond Virginia, where two escaped in the famous tunnel escape from that prison.


The reactivated 8th Michigan Cavalry was recruited in 1960, by Frank Limpert, Barney Peliitier, and Ray Russell. Then eight Civil War enthusiasts from Oakland county Michigan made completed the first roster. The 8th was then, and remains the first and only Union Cavalry regiment represented in the Northwest Territory. Through the years the 8th has done her part for the region, hosting skirmishes when required, and by providing two regional officers, Wayne Ball, Commander 1967, and Denby Smith, Paymaster 1973. More recently Dennis Fyke has served as the regions webmaster, constructing and administering the Northwest Territory's first two websites. He continues to serve as the region's statistics officer, a job he claims he will hold until his "calculator is pried from his hands."

In 1994 the 8th was almost down and out, having exactly eight members, the minimum required by the N-SSA, only half of which would regularly attend skirmishes. In that year they got together with a group of re-enactors from the 7th Michigan Cavalry that wanted to do more than just fire blanks. A total of six new members joined the ranks of the 8th Michigan that summer and the team was off to a new start. They now have grown to 14 active members and always welcome new cavaliers.

Several of the regiment have acquired Carbines and revolvers and the 8th now participates actively in those team events. Most notably the 8th Michigan has developed a keen ability in shooting the cap and ball revolver, often earning top honors in the Territory for their handgun skills. Perhaps this skill harks back to their days of chasing down John Hunt Morgan.

The 8th Michigan Cavalry also participates in the American Civil War Shooting Association (ACWSA).

To read more about the 8th Michigan Cavalry, visit their homepage at http://groups.msn.com/8thMichiganCavalry.

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