Dakota Datebook

First Dakota Cavalry

Sunday, December 7, 2008


As the Civil War escalated throughout 1861, frontier posts lost many of their regular army troops. To make up for these losses and secure a US presence in the west, President Lincoln’s War Department authorized Dakota Territory to raise two companies of US volunteer cavalry. On this date in 1861, Governor William Jayne signed a proclamation establishing three territorial recruiting stations.

Four months later Company A mustered into service followed by Company B in March of 1863. Serving as three-year volunteers, the 182 officers and men of the First Dakota Cavalry participated in General Sully’s campaign against the Dakota Indians in 1864.

But lacking resources and funding, soldiers often found their daily routine consisted of little more than patrol duty. Having provided an important boost to Army numbers during the Civil War, both companies of the First Dakota Cavalry, United States Volunteers mustered out in 1865.

Written by Christina Sunwall

Sources: Cooper, Jerry, and Glenn Smith. Citizens as Soliders: A History of the North Dakota National Guard. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005. Kingsbury, George W. History of Dakota Territory Vol. 1. Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1915. Pompey, Sherman Lee. “Genealogical Notes on the 1st Dakota Territory Cavalry, Union in the American Civil War.” Albany, OR, 1984.

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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