1st Oregon Volunteer Cavalry Regiment

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1st Oregon Volunteer Cavalry Regiment
Flag of the United States (1865-1867).svg
Flag of the United States, 1865–1867
ActiveApril 1862 to November 20, 1866.
CountryUnited States

The First Regiment Oregon volunteer Cavalry was a volunteer regiment in United States service Union army that was formed in response to the American Civil War. With men recruited in Oregon and some recruited in surrounding states, the regiment primarily served to protect the state of Oregon and surrounding territories during the American Civil War.


In 1861, Colonel George Wright requested permission from Oregon Governor John Whiteaker to form a cavalry company in the state, as Wright was commander of the District of Oregon that included the Washington Territory.[1] Wright was motivated by the fact that there were a total of 700 soldiers and 19 officers in the Pacific Northwest at a time when there were often battles with Native Americans.[1] Some volunteers joined up, asked to provide their own horse, but were later discharged when the organization failed before Wright was transferred to California.[1]

Lieutenant Colonel Cody replaced Wright late in 1861 as United States Army regular troops were returned east for the American Civil War.[1] To replace those troops, Wright sent volunteers from California to protect Oregon from attacks by Native Americans.[1] In response, Oregon then commissioned Thomas R. Cornelius in November 1861 as colonel and ordered him to raise ten companies of cavalry troops. Oregonians were unhappy with California volunteers protecting Oregon.[1]


The initial part of the regiment (companies A through F) was organized and mustered into the army in Oregon from December 1861 to April 1862. In May 1862, it was sent into the Washington Territory to the Walla Walla country to protect immigrants and miners along the Salmon River. The 1st Oregon occupied Fort Walla Walla in June 1862 and sent out various expeditions over the next two years to fight the Snake Indians and other threats. Hence, the regiment was rarely intact as a single unit for much of the war. Several companies scattered to other frontier forts, including Fort Vancouver and Fort Dalles (see also The Dalles, Oregon) for detached duty such as constructing roads through the wilderness.

In January 1863, the remaining portion of the regiment (companies G, H, I, K, and M) were authorized and activated for duty. Companies G and H served at Camp Watson on Rock Creek; Company I was at Fort Klamath, Company K at Fort Dalles and Companies L and M at Fort Boise in Idaho Territory. The battalion came together for several skirmishes with local Indians in the Harney Lake Valley and other locations.

Men signed up for a three-year tour of duty with the cavalry.[1] Pay was $31 per month for each soldier, and at the end of service men were given a $100 bounty and 160 acres (0.65 km2) of land.[1] In addition to Col. Cornelius, other officers included R. F. Maury, C. S. Drew, Benjamin F. Harding as quartermaster, and J. S. Rinearson.[1]


In January 1865, Col. Reuben F. Maury, 1st Oregon Cavalry, assumed command of the Federal District of Oregon. The 1st Oregon Cavalry mustered out November 20, 1866.

The 1st Oregon Volunteer Cavalry Regiment did not muster out all at once, but did so in stages beginning in November 1864. Two years later there were only a small number of men remaining to muster out of service.

1st Regiment Oregon Volunteer Cavalry Commanders[edit]

Company assignments[edit]

Regiment mustered out November 20, 1866.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Corning, Howard M. (1989) Dictionary of Oregon History. Binfords & Mort Publishing. p. 84.


External links[edit]

  • 1st Regiment Cavalry and 1st Regiment Infantry
  • Klamath County Museums: Fort Klamath Museum
  • Col. Edward D. Baker Camp – Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
  • Shannon, Donald H. "Massacre Rocks and City of Rocks" (2008). Chapter Thirteen. pp 157–176. Caldwell, ID: Snake Country Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9635828-3-6