The 9th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment was a "hard luck" unit. Originally it was organized as the 15th Tennessee Cavalry Battalion in August 1862 and comprised men from Smith, Sumner, and Wilson counties of Tennessee. In its initial engagement in September of that year near the village of Goodlettsville, Tennessee, the 15th was completely routed losing 26 men captured and 20 wounded or killed. More of the men were captured in actions in Gallatin and Lebanon, Tennessee. The original commander, Col James Bennett, died of wounds received at Goodlettsville. The new commander, Col William Walker Ward, assumed command early in 1863 when General John Hunt Morgan's command was reorganized into regular brigades. The hard luck 15th was redesignated the the 9th (Ward's) Tennessee Regiment. Despite this change in name, there was no change in luck. Ward instituted strict discipline in his command, turning it into a unit that General Basil W. Duke referred to as "one of the best I ever knew". The 9th soon established itself as a hard fighting and reliable recon unit, capturing many Union prisoners and supplies. The 9th engaged in hit and run guerilla tactics South of the Cumberland River in Tennessee (near Carthage), a role it was well suited to. Then, it expanded its horizons and joined Morgan on his famous Great Northern Raid through Kentucky, Indiana, and into Ohio. But in July of 1863 the ill fortunes of the unit reared its head yet again. On July 19th of 1863 Col Ward and most of the 9th Regiment were captured while trying to find a ford across the flood swollen Ohio River. Two companies managed to escape and rejoin Confederate forces, among the soldiers that got away was my relative, Corporal Robert Barksdale Moss. A report from the companies that got away says "We traversed the states of Indiana and Ohio, and recrossed the Ohio River at Buffington's Island, under fire of gunboats, infantry, and cavalry with artillery, landing on the Virginia shore." This small remnant of the 9th was reorganized, appropriately, as the 13th Tennessee Cavalry and adopted the motto "Nil Desperandum" (No despair). Col Ward was captured as well and spent a year imprisoned in Union camps until August of 1864 when he was exchanged. Upon his release the 9th was reactivated and, possibly in a final attempt to ward off its bad luck, was redesignated 1st (Ward's) Kentucky Cavalry Battalion. The jinx was boken, and in the only significant engagement of the 1st Kentucky at the Battle of Saltville, they more than held their own against Union forces. My great great grandfather Isaac Cross was with the forces opposing the 1st Kentucky Cavalry at Saltville. On the 5th of February 1865, Corporal Robert B. Moss was wounded in action and furloughed home. Exactly 3 months later on the 5th of May, 1865 Col Ward surrendered his unit for the second and last time at Augusta, Georgia. Thus ended the service of this variously numbered unit. Ill luck continued to follow the commander of this unit. Col Ward returned home for the first time since he had left for the "Great Raid" nearly two years before. A lawyer, Ward became embroiled in a bitter lawsuit over his father's estate. He was elected to a public office and was challenged by his opponent. Before either case could be resolved, Ward died on April 10, 1871 aged 45, less than six years after the war's end.
Walt Cross is a retired army Master Sergeant who gave more than twenty years service to the nation. A Vietnam veteran, he holds a bachelors degree in history and a masters degree in recreation. His hobbies are genealogy, the study of military history, and writing.
This Page Was Last Updated on Friday, May 7, 1999.
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