Gary’s Cavalry Brigade



Parent Unit: Department of Richmond / Confederate Army1
Brigadier General Martin W. Gary2 Brigadier General Martin W. Gary.  Source:

  • 24th Virginia Cavalry
  • 7th South Carolina Cavalry
  • Hampton South Carolina Legion Cavalry
  • Bibliography:


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    { 10 comments… read them below or add one }

    David Fletcher September 30, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Help! I’m still at work on Lt. Col. T. G. Barham’s war record memoir (24th VA Cav and its predecessors), and have hit a stumbling block. Brig. Gen’l. Martin Gary, in referring Barham for promotion to Lt. Col. of the 24th, referred to a Capt. Magruder, which one VA regimental compendium ID’d as Capt. William M. McGruder of Co. B of the 24th. I’m having no luck pulling up his service record (NA film images). Is it hiding in plain sight? Thanks for any help!


    David Fletcher

    David Fletcher September 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Oops! Never mind. Found it!

    Robert McCloy March 13, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Mr. Fletcher… My grandfather, William W. McCloy, was a member of Co. B (McGruder’s Co.) of the Robins’ 24th VA Cav./ Gary’s Brigade. I have some info. (incld. Holland’s reg. hist.) on the unit which I’d gladly share and I’d be eager to learn what your research has yielded. Thanks… Bob McCloy, Orwigsburg, PA.

    Billy S. April 18, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Did Gary’s cavalry brigade have its own horse artillery at the time of the Second Battle of Fair Oaks on 27 October 1864? I ask because according to Longstreet’s report Gary’s brigade was holding Nine-Mile Road but when they no sign of a Union advance by that route he was ordered to move against the flank of the Union force that had unsuccessfully assaulted the line of Field’s division but in the process of moving to execute this order he was informed that the federals were now moving against Nine-Mile Road so he returned to find the small picket force he’d left there retreating and one of their cannon had been captured, after which Gary immediately moved perpendicular to the line of captured entrenchments and struck the flank of this Union force, recapturing the cannon and routing them.

    But according to the report of Alonzo Draper commanding the federals’ Third Division of XVIII Corps “The First (U.S.C.T.) was exposed to a severe fire of musketry, grape, and canister, but advanced gallantly across the open field and carried a part of the enemy’s line, getting possession of the two guns (iron 12-pounders). … The First U. S. Colored Troops remained in the enemy’s works from ten to fifteen minutes before retiring, and succeeded in spiking the two captured guns.”

    Now Longstreet makes no mention of what unit Gary’s picket detachment was fighting which captured the cannon but in poring over the official records for every XVIII Corps unit I can find I have found no other mention of the federals capturing any cannon on 27 October north of the James River so I assume they are talking about the same skirmish. Longstreet also doesn’t mention that the cannon was spiked, just that they recaptured it. I’m no ordnance expert but doesn’t spiking a cannon permanently disable it? Or can it be repaired? And does anyone know if Longstreet is correct in that it was only one cannon captured? Or was Draper correct in that it was two? Thanks very much in advance to whomever can shed some light on this.

    bschulte April 18, 2013 at 8:24 pm


    Good post! And also good questions. These are the types of questions I want to be able to answer on this site in their entirety one day, but I’m not there yet. I haven’t spent much time on any of the offensives past the Fourth Offensive so far, other than reading books on those subjects. However, let me try to shed some light on the subject. Gary did not have any horse artillery to accompany his brigade in October 1864, and I don’t think he ever really operated with horse artillery. I have an excellent (but expensive) two-volume series by Louis H. Manarin called Henrico County: Field of Honor. Volume 2 covers the battles in Henrico County in 1864. On page 789 of the second volume, the map and accompanying text indicates members of the Virginia Home Guard manned a three gun battery on the Williamsburg Road in the midst of Gary’s Cavalry Brigade, and another two gun battery on Nine Mile Road northwest of Fair Oaks Station was also manned by Virginia home guards, though Manarin doesn’t say which unit. Those two guns appear to be the ones in question.

    On page 801 of the same book, Manarin states that the 1st USCT of Holman’s Brigade was the unit which briefly captured the guns. You are correct to assume this all happened in the same skirmish.

    I’m no ordnance expert either, but I am pretty sure that guns could be temporarily spiked by placing an object in the vent hole, preventing a fuse from being inserted into the hole and thus preventing its use until the obstruction was removed.

    This post is also an opportunity to briefly highly recommend Manarin’s Henrico County: Field of Honor set:

    Volume 1 covers Seven Pines and the Seven Days in 1862. Volume two covers all of the fighting in the Petersburg Campaign north of the James, including both Deep Bottoms, Fort Harrison and New Market Heights, the Darbytown Road fights, and Second Fair Oaks.

    I hope this helps!


    David Fletcher April 18, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Brett, I think you nailed it. Manarin seldom if ever leaves any stone unturned (and frequently unturns stones I didn’t know were there!). I’d suspect these were Home Guard guns. If we think of the eastern defenses as a unified force, as prescribed by Dick Ewell, you had Gary’s Cavalry, Kershaw’s infantry division, and the Home Guard, with the latter’s guns supplementing Gary’s mounted force. Lt. Col. Barham’s original two companies of the 24th–“I” and “K”–were previously both under his independent command, as well as folded into the 8th Cavalry under James Dearing–the latter down in eastern NC at Plymouth, for example. Barham wrote at the time of attaching batteries to his cavalry command while attacking Plymouth. Beyond that, I can’t think of any incident where he fought in a similar manner, particularly after the 24th’s creation and assignment to Gary’s Brigade.

    bschulte April 18, 2013 at 9:50 pm


    Thanks. And I hadn’t emailed you back yet to thank you for recommending Manarin’s volumes. I had not heard of them until you brought them to my attention, and I’m glad you did! I got them for $72 used and in fine condition, and the maps alone were worth that amount. I’ve not seen many Petersburg books with the level of detail the maps in these books have.


    Billy S. April 19, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks so much Brett for your kind words and for your help and thank you Mr. Fletcher as well. Yes, that shed a lot of light on the subject. I was unaware of the cannon in question being manned by home guard units but that explains why I couldn’t find anything regarding Gary’s horse artillery because he didn’t have any! I was kind of leaning in the direction of it being two cannon rather than one that was captured for the following reasons:
    1.) Draper was, unless I’m mistaken, at the time a division commander, closer to the action than Longstreet would be as a corps commander so Draper MAY have even seen the engagement himself
    2.) Draper’s account is much more specific, saying they were two iron 12-pounders, while Longstreet simply says an artillery piece
    3.) It would seem to make more sense (at least to me) even for a small picket force left behind to guard the road to have two cannon with it rather than only one
    4.) Because the plural of the word “cannon” is really “cannon” Longstreet may have been going by an oral report from Gary as to what happened and Gary may have said something like “Well, they ran off my picket force and captured their cannon [meaning both of them] but I led a counterstroke that hit them in the flank and recaptured the lost cannon” and Longstreet may have just assumed he meant only one cannon instead of two.

    But now you’ve solved the mystery which is much better than me just guessing that it was two cannon rather than one. Thanks again.

    T. McP. May 13, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    My g-g-uncle was Captain James DeWitt Hankins of the Surry Light Artillery The battery moved to Fort Henrico (on Nine Mile Road) in Nov. of 1864, & was attached to Gary’s brigade in December.
    I have some of his war time letters, including one to a sister dated Dec. 21, 1864. Here’s an excerpt – “Some time since I wrote to you during a most dreadful snow-storm I was ordered late at night with the cavalry, with whom I have been serving for some time, to take up a line of march around the rear of the enemy’s. This lasted about three days. We drove the enemy some distance, found out their force on the north side of James River. I think we accomplished almost nothing, and I am sure men never suffered more from cold since Napoleon retreated from Moscow.”

    It was rare for Hankins to complain in his letters, so I take his comments at face value.
    The battery had 2 twelve pound Napoleons, and two 3″ rifles.
    Does anyone know anything about this exercise, or anything else about the Surry Light Artillery’s involvement with Gary?

    Bob McCloy March 14, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    I’ve been belatedly reading the above posts with interest. Some of the information struck a familiar chord. My grandfather, Wm. W. McCloy was a member of Co. B, 24th VA Cav. / Gary’s Brigade. He regaled my late father with a tale of ‘captured artillery’: Having driven the enemy from their position, he and his comrades took possession of what he took to be some Federal cannons. A fellow soldier suggested that he & grandfather turn the gun around and give the retreating Yankees a parting shot with their own gun. Grandfather protested that he knew nothing about artillery but his friend claimed to know what he was doing. After grandfather loaded the barrel as instructed, he had just removed the rammer when his buddy pulled the lanyard. Fortunately, the blast missed (barely) taking grandfather’s head off but he did suffer from hearing loss and hot powder particles imbedded into his face. Of course there’s no way to know but it’s intriguing to think that perhaps my grandfather’s close call was with one of the aforementioned guns.

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