United States Regiments & Batteries > Pennsylvania > Artillery, Cavalry & Engineers


“Rush’s Lancers”

The 6th Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry Regiment lost 7 officers and 71 enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 3 officers and 86 enlisted men to disease during the Civil War. It is honored by two monuments at Gettysburg.

The 6th Pennsylvania was the only cavalry regiment in the Civil War to be armed with the lance. Suggested by General McClellan, who had observed the success of European lancer regiments in the Crimea, the lances were found to be awkward in the wooded battlefields of eastern America and were eventually abandoned.

1861
August – October Organized at Philadelphia under Colonel Richard H. Rush (USMA 1846), Lt. Colonel John H. McArthur, Majors Charles Ross Smith and Major Robert Morris, Jr.
November 30 The first lances arrived and the men began to drill with them. Each lance was nine feet long, tipped with an eleven inch blade and topped by a bright scarlet pennant that made a perfect target for Confederate sharpshooters. The regiment would be the only one in the Union army so armed.
December 10-16 Moved to Washington, D.C. and attached to Cavalry Reserve, Army Potomac for Provost duty in the Defenses of Washington, D.C.
1862
March 19 Scout to Hunter’s Mills
March Attached to Emory’s Brigade, Cavalry Division, Army Potomac
May 3-5 Moved to Fortress Monroe, thence to Yorktown, Va.
May 7-8 Reconnaissance to Mulberry Point, Va. (Detachment)
May 22 Reconnaissance to New Castle and Hanovertown Ferry
May 24 Reconnaissance to Hanover Court House
May 25 Charge on picket line with lances (Company C)
May 27 Hanover C. H. (Company A)
May 27-29 Operations near Hanover Court House
May 30 Occupation of Ashland
June 10-12 Reconnaissance to Hanover Court House
June 13-15 Operations about White House against Stuart
June 13 Garlick’s Landing, Pamunkey River
June 25-July 1 Seven days before Richmond
June 26 Beaver Dam Station (Companies B, C, G, H). Companies A, D, I, K with Stoneman on retreat to White House and Williamsburg.
June 27 Gaines’ Mill
June 29 Savage Station (Co. F)
June 30 Glendale and White Oak Swamp
July Cavalry Command, Army Potomac
July 1 Company F Malvern Hill. Cos. C and H at Headquarters, 5th Corps
September Attached to 3rd Brigade, Pleasanton’s Cavalry Division, Army Potomac
September 2-4 Company F escort Heavy Artillery from Malvern Hill to Harrison’s Landing. (Companies C and H at Fall’s Church)
September 13 South Mountain and near Jefferson, Md.
September 14 Companies B, G & I at Crampton’s Pass, South Mountain
September 16-17 Companies G & I at Antietam
September 19 Sharpsburg
September 19 Shepherdstown Ford
November Attached to Headquarters Left Grand Division, Army Potomac; Company K under Captain Frederick C. Newhall was assigned as escort to Headquarters, 6th Corps
November 2-3 Bloomfield and Upperville
December 12-15
Battle of Fredericksburg
December 19-20 Cos. B and G at Occoquan River
1863
January 20-24 Cos. A, D and E at “Mud March”
February Attached to Reserve Brigade, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac; Co. K returns from assignment to Headquarters, 6th Corps
April Colonel Rush forced to resign his command due to illness.
April 27-May 6 Chancellorsville Campaign
April 29-May 8 Co. L took part in Stoneman’s Raid
April 30 Raccoon Ford (Detachment)
June 9
Battle of Brandy Station

The 6th Pennsylvania was commanded by Major Robert Morris, Jr. until he was captured, when Major Henry C. Wheelan took command.

June 14 Co. A in Reconnaissance to Ashby’s Gap
June Attached to Reserve Brigade, 1st Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac.The regiment replaced its lances with model 1863 Sharps single-shot breech-loading carbines.
June 20 Greencastle, Pa.
June 21 Upperville
July 1-3
Battle of Gettysburg

The regiment was commanded at Gettysburg by Major James H. Haseltine. Companies E & I were detached to Army HQ and were commanded by Captain Emlen Carpenter.

From the main regimental monument:

Gettysburg July 3 1863, Number engaged 365, killed 3 wounded 7 missing 2.

From the monument to Companies E and I near Meade’s Headquarters:

Cp’s E & I 6th Penna. Cavalry “Lancers” Reserve Brigade 1st Div. Cavalry Corps. On duty as escourt to Maj. Gen’l George G. Meade com’dg Army of the Potomac. Erected by the survivors of the regiment.

The main body of this regiment during the 3rd day of the battle were actively engaged on the extreme left flank of the army on the Emmitsburg Pike, were a monument has been erected commemorating their services. Four companies were specially detailed by Gen. Geo. G. Meade for hazardous duty in the rear of Lee’s army.

July 6 Williamsport, Md.
July 8 Boonsborough
July 10-13 Funkstown
July 11 Aldie
July 31-August 1 Kelly’s Ford
August 1 Brandy Station
September 13-17 Advance from the Rappahannock to the Rapidan
September 29 Colonel Rush resigned.
September 30 Charles R. Smith was promoted to colonel.
October 9-22 Bristoe Campaign
October 17 After several requests, Companies E and I were returned to the regiment from duty as headquarters escort.
October 17 Manassas Junction
October 18 Bristoe Station
November 7-8 Advance to line of the Rappahannock
November 26-December 2 Mine Run Campaign
1864
February 6-7 Demonstration on the Rapidan
February 28-March 1 Custer’s Raid in Albemarle County
February 29 Near Charlottesville
March 1 Burton’s Ford, Stannardsville
May and June Rapidan Campaign
May 7-8 Todd’s Tavern
May 9-24 Sheridan’s Raid to James River
May 11 Ground Squirrel Church and Yellow Tavern
May 12 Meadow Bridge. Richmond and Mechanicsville
May 26-28 Line of the Pamunkey
May 27 Hanovertown Ferry and Hanovertown
May 28-31 Totopotomoy
May 30 Old Church
May 30 Mattadequin Creek
May 31-June 1 Bethesda Church, Cold Harbor
June 2 McClellan’s Bridge
June 4-5 Haw’s Shop
June 7-24 Sheridan’s Trevillian Raid
June 11-12 Trevillian Station
June 12 Newark or Mallory’s Cross Roads
June 21 White House or St. Peter’s Church
June 21 Black Creek or Tunstall Station
June 23 Jones’ Bridge
July 3-30 Siege of Petersburg
July 27-29 Demonstration north of James at Deep Bottom
July 27-28 Charles City Cross Roads
July 28 Malvern Hill
August – November Shenandoah Valley Campaign, attached to 3rd (Reserve) Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Shenandoah
August 10 Near Stone Chapel
August 11 Toll Gate near White Post
August 11 Near Newtown
August 14 Near Strasburg
August 21 Summit Point
August 25 Kearneysville
August 23 Leetown and Smithfield
August 29 Smithfield Crossing, Opequan
September 8 Ordered to Pleasant Valley, Md.
September 19 Colonel Smith mustered out.
November To Hagerstown
1865
February 27-March 25 Sheridan’s Raid from Winchester
March 2 Waynesboro
March 20 Charles L. Leiper was promoted to colonel.
March 28-April 9. Appomattox Campaign, returned to Army of the Potomac
March 30 Gravelly Run near Five Forks
March 30-31 Dinwiddie C. H.
April 1 Five Forks
April 2 Scott’s Cross Roads
April 4 Tabernacle Church or Beaver Pond Creek
April 6 Sailor’s Creek
April 8 Appomattox Station
April 9 Appomattox Court House. Surrender of Lee and his army.
April 23-29 Expedition to Danville
May March to Washington, D.C.
May 23 Grand Review
June 17 Consolidated with 1st and 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry to form the 2nd Provisional Cavalry

Recommended Reading

Rush’s Lancers:
The Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry
in the Civil War

by Eric J. Wittenberg