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The Cavalry Corps battle flag belonging to J.E.B. Stuart.

The Cavalry Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia was the only organized cavalry corps in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. Prior to the establishment of a formal corps, cavalry organization in the Confederacy consisted mostly of partisan ranger units and some battalions, a few of which were loosely organized into regiments, such as Brig. Gen. Turner Ashby's regiment, and Colonel J.E.B. Stuart's 1st Virginia Cavalry Regiment.


The source and essence of the Cavalry Corps lay in the background of the age of the Virginia Cavaliers, the royal families of the Colony of Virginia who brought the breeding of horses and horsemanship to the colony. Fine horsemanship was an ingrained part of Virginia culture and history, and many Virginians were raised riding and breeding horses, and thus were capable of jumping and military skills on the horse that were unequaled by Union cavalry during the war.

Command under Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart

Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart.

The rise of the Cavalry Corps can be almost entirely tied to the career and organizational efforts of its first commander, Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, and was formally established on August 17, 1862. Stuart's command increased in size as part of the history of the Cavalry Corps, as he commanded a brigade, and then a division of cavalry, which finally grew in size to a complete corps. Key engagements of the Cavalry Division/Corps under Stuart's leadership included:

Following the death of Stuart on May 11, 1864, the essence of the Cavalry Corps organization persisted, as subsequent cavalry commanders continued to manage multiple cavalry divisions until the end of the war.

Command under Lt. Gen. Wade Hampton

Maj. Gen. Wade Hampton.

The second commander, wealthy South Carolina planter Wade Hampton III, had previously been promoted to major general leading a division under J.E.B. Stuart. Hampton then took over the Cavalry Corps after Stuart's death at the Battle of Yellow Tavern. General Hampton first managed the corps beginning with engagements screening General Robert E. Lee's army along the Pamunkey River, in engagements such as the Battle of Haw's Shop (historical Hawe's Shop). Hampton was originally from Charleston, South Carolina, and continued to use cavalry units from the Carolinas in his corps. Continuing in command through the Siege of Petersburg, General Lee decided to release his Carolina cavalry units, including Hampton, back to the aid and defense of South Carolina under the Army of Tennessee, as Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman began his march from Georgia to Columbia, South Carolina. Hampton and the Carolina cavalry units were moved by rail to Columbia, and fought delay-and-defense actions against Sherman. Key engagements under Hampton's leadership included:

Command under Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee

Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee.

Upon the departure of General Hampton, Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee took over the smaller remaining Cavalry Corps in February 1865. He was in command of the corps through the evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, and through the course of the Appomattox Campaign, until the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. Key engagements under Lee's leadership included:

  • Defense of Lee during the Appomattox Campaign
  • The last cavalry charge on April 9, 1865, at Farmville, Virginia

Key partisan and ranger commanders operating in or with the ANV Cavalry Corps


  • Anderson, Paul Christopher, Blood File: Turner Ashby in the Civil War and the Southern Mind, Louisiana State University Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-8071-3161-9
  • Ashby, Thomas A., The Life of Turner Ashby, Morningside Bookshop, 1995, ISBN 978-0-89029-059-0
  • Black, Robert W., Cavalry Raids of the Civil War, Stackpole Books, 2004, ISBN 978-0-8117-3157-7
  • Davis, Burke, JEB Stuart: The Last Cavalier, Gramercy; Reissue edition, 2000, ISBN 978-0-517-18597-1
  • McDonald, William N., A History of the Laurel Brigade: Originally the Ashby Cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia and Chew's Battery, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002, ISBN 978-0-8018-6952-5


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