2nd West Virginia Cavalry
By Joseph J. Sutton
As General George A. Custer's cavalry division filed up Washington's Pennsylvania Avenue leading the Grand Review on May 23, 1865, his troopers were met by excited cheers from thousands of onlookers lining the street. Among the cavalrymen was 22-year-old Joseph J. Sutton, a private in Company H, 2nd West Virginia Veteran Cavalry. His red necktie fluttered jauntily in the morning breeze, as did hundreds of others worn by Custer and his command. The effect on the crowd was electrifying. Sutton later called this event "the crowning affair in our soldier lives."
Suddenly thrust into the national limelight after 42 months of hard service, the 2nd West Virginia did most of its campaigning off the beaten pathways. Raised in late summer of 1861 in southeast Ohio, the regiment was rejected for muster after Ohio's cavalry quota was filled. So the disappointed but enterprising troopers applied across the Ohio River to the provisional governor of western Virginia, who quickly accepted them. In November 1861 they entered Federal service as the 2nd Regiment of Loyal Virginia Volunteer Cavalry. They carried this designation until June 20, 1863, when West Virginia became the nation's 35th state.
Serving under Generals George Crook and William W. Averell from early 1862 until June 1864, the regiment saw dangerous and strenuous duty in the heavily wooded, mountainous terrain of southwestern Virginia and southern West Virginia. Later in 1864, Sutton and his comrades transferred to the Shenandoah Valley and saw a different style of fighting under General Philip H. Sheridan in the battles of Winchester, Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek. In December 1864 the 2nd West Virginia joined Custer's cavalry division and contributed to the last Confederate defeats at Five Forks, Sayler's Creek and Appomattox.
First published in 1892, Sutton's history contained a full regimental roster and 28 line illustrations. This 363-page hardcover reprint edition also features an added section of 55 wartime photographs, showing regimental members and their commanders -- some sporting the famous "Custer ties" worn at the Grand Review.
Hardcover with dust jacket, 363 total pages, 55 photographs, full regimental roster. ISBN 0-9628866-5-3.