3rd US Colored Cavalry

The 3rd United States Colored Cavalry was originally formed in October 1863 at Vicksburg, Mississippi as the 1st Mississippi Cavalry Regiment (African Descent). The unit soon began taking part in expeditions near Vicksburg. In February–March 1864, the regiment saw action at Yazoo City. After being renamed the 3rd U.S. Colored Cavalry in March 1864, the regiment continued to participate in raids, including the Yazoo City expedition in May. In December 1864, the unit took part in a successful raid led by Benjamin Grierson during which the Battle of Egypt Station and other actions were fought. The regiment operated near Memphis, Tennessee, until April 1865, after which it returned to Vicksburg for occupation duties. The soldiers were mustered out of federal service in January 1866.

OVERVIEW: Organized from 1st Mississippi Cavalry (African Descent) March 11, 1864. Attached to 1st Brigade, United States Colored Troops, District of Vicksburg, Miss., Dept. of the Tennessee, to April, 1864. Winslow's Cavalry Brigade, District of Vicksburg, to December, 1864. 3rd Brigade, Cavalry Division, District of West Tennessee, to January, 1865. Unattached Cavalry, District of West Tennessee to June, 1865. 1st Brigade, Cavalry Division, District of West Tennessee, to January, 1866.

SERVICE: Duty at Vicksburg, Miss., and in that District till December, 1864. Action at Roach's Plantation, Miss., March 30. Columbus, Ky., April 11 and 13 (Detachment). Expedition from Haines' Bluff up Yazoo River April 19-28. Near Mechanicsburg April 20. Expedition from Vicksburg to Yazoo City May 4-21. Benton May 7 and 9. Yazoo City May 13. Near Vicksburg June 4. Expedition from Vicksburg to Pearl River July 2-10. Jackson July 7. Utica July 13. Grand Gulf July 16. Bayou Tensas, La., August 26. Expedition from Goodrich Landing to Bayou Macon August 28-31. Expedition from Vicksburg to Deer Creek September 21-26. Near Rolling Fork September 22-23. Expedition from Vicksburg to Rodney and Fayette September 29-October 3. Expedition from Natchez to Woodville October 4-11. Fort Adams October 5. Woodville October 5-6. Operations in Issaqueena and Washington counties October 21-31. Steele's Bayou October 23. Expedition from Vicksburg to Gaines' Landing, Ark., and Bayou Macon, La., November 6-8. Rolling Fork November 11. Expedition from Vicksburg to Yazoo City November 23-December 4. Big Black River Bridge November 27. Moved to Memphis, Tenn. Grierson's Expedition from Memphis, Tenn., to destroy Mobile & Ohio Railroad December 21, 1864-January 5, 1865. Franklin Creek December 21- 22, 1864. Okolona December 27. Egypt Station December 28. Franklin January 2, 1865. Moved to Memphis from Vicksburg, Miss., January 5-10. Duty there and in District of West Tennessee till April. Expedition from Memphis to Brownsville, Miss., April 23-26. Moved to Vicksburg April 29-May 1 and operating about Natchez for the capture of Jeff Davis May. Operations about Fort Adams May 3-6. Duty in District of West Tennessee and Dept. of Mississippi till January, 1866. Mustered out January 26, 1866.

Predecessor unit: MISSISSIPPI VOLUNTEERS 1st REGIMENT CAVALRY (COLORED). Organized at Vicksburg. Miss., October 9, 1863. Attached to post of Goodrich Landing, District of Northeast, La., to January, 1864. 1st Brigade, United States Colored Troops, District of Vicksburg, Miss., to March, 1864.

SERVICE: Duty at Skipwith Landing till January, 1864. Expedition to Tallulah C. H. November 10-13, 1863. Merriwether's Ferry, Bayou Boeuf, Ark., December 13. At Vicksburg till February, 1564. Expedition up Yazoo River February 1-March 5, 1864. Satartia February 7. Occupation of Yazoo City February 9- March 6. Near Yazoo City February 28. Yazoo City March 5. Designation of Regiment changed to 3rd U. S. Colored Cavalry March 11, 1864, which see.

Three men from Williamson County enlisted in the 3rd US Colored Cavalry. All of them were born in Williamson County but enlisted in Mississippi - most likely they were taken in bondage or sold to Mississippi prior to the Civil War.

Two local men enlisted in Company E, on November 20, 1865 at Skipwith's Landing, Mississippi

  • Pvt. Pleasant Banks Born in Williamson County around 1844. He was described as a 21-year-old farmer. He died at Haines' Bluff, Mississippi March 19, 1864 of disease. His paver was sponsored by Jami Awalt.

  • Pvt. Samuel Banks Born in 1845 in Williamson County. He was described as a 20-year-old farmer. He survived to muster out with the regiment. His paver was sponsored on behalf of Anthony Morreale.

Pleasant Banks and Samuel Banks were brothers. According to a statement by Samuel, they were "taken to Williamson County to Richwood Bottom, Arkansas and came here [Memphis] during the War." In addition to these two Banks men, three others with the last name of Banks enlisted in the same Company of the same Regiment on the same day at the same place: Pvt. Chester Banks (35), Pvt. Dennis Banks (27), and Pvt Willis Banks (40). Additionally, two other men (Pvt. Jordan Banks (20) and Pvt. Robert Banks (19)) also enlisted in the regiment. It is likely that these "Banks men" were related by common bondage.

One local man enlisted in Company M, on January 6, 1865, at Vicksburg, Mississippi

  • Pvt. Thomas Patton, born in 1842 in Williamson County. He was described as a 23-year-old laborer. He died April 28, 1865 of chronic diarrhea in a regimental hospital in Memphis. No burial records have been located. His paver was sponsored by Melissa Webb.

Skipwith's Landing, Mississippi River, ca 1864

The Met

Pleasant and Samuel Banks enlisted here.

Freedmen's Bank Record for

Samuel Banks, 3rd US Colored Cavalry

In this record, Pvt. Banks described that he was born in Williamson County, Tennessee and served in the 3rd USCC along with his brother "Pleasant dead. ... Pleasant was in same Co. with Sam'l and died at Haynes Bluff." Also identified in the document was information about the brothers' family: "Father died in Arkansas, 2 years ago next March. Mother died in Tennessee before he can recollect."

Company Descriptive Book Card for Pleasant Banks

Showing that he "Died at Haines Bluff, Mississippi, March 19, 1864."

Samuel Banks' widow Queen, applied for a pension following his death.

The couple lived in Memphis following the War.

Excerpt from The story of the marches, battles and incidents of the Third United States Colored Cavalry : a fighting regiment in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865. 1908.

During the described period (p. 234), Pvt. Thomas Patton from Williamson County enlisted in the Regiment.

"The Enemy's fortifications around Vicksburg"

Shows the terrain and Confederate fortifications around Vicksburg, Miss., in mid-May, 1863, just after Confederate Gen. Pemberton was forced to evacuate Hayne's Bluff. by Robert Knox Sneden

Library of Congress.