First Kentucky Cavalry

    First Kentucky "Orphan" Brigade 



The First Kentucky Cavalry Regiment was organized at Bowling Green, KY, on 19 October 1861. Its first Colonel was Ben Hardin Helm, later to command the Orphan Brigade. The First Kentucky Cavalry was officially part of the Orphan Brigade for only a short period during February-March 1862. After this, it was assigned to Forrest's, Morgan's, and later Wheeler's Cavalry, and it did not again serve with the Orphan Brigade. The regiment was surrendered and paroled at Washington, GA, 10 May 1865.

However, due to its early attachment to the Brigade, and the subsequent service of its first Colonel with the Orphan Brigade, the veterans of the First Kentucky Cavalry felt some kinship with the veterans of the Orphan Brigade, and they wished to be "adopted" as fellow Orphans.  Sgt. E. Polk Johnson of Co. B explained how this came about:

"At the reunion of the First Kentucky Brigade of Infantry, at Elizabethtown, Sept. 19, 1884, on the occasion of the reinterment of the remains of Gen. Ben. Hardin Helm, a few of the First Kentucky Cavalry attended the evening session. It occurred to me that our regiment was alone in the world, so to speak. We did not belong to the Morgan organization, nor regularly to any other; but we had been organized at the same time as the Orphans; had served now and again with them; had given them our colonel for a commander, ... On impulse of the moment, I asked the Orphan Brigade to adopt us, and supported the motion in the strongest speech I knew how to make. ... The old boys of the Infantry seemed at first not to understand why we cavalrymen should come charging into their camp; but no one spoke in opposition to receiving us. Gen. Lewis made a few earnest and favorable remarks from the presiding officer's chair; the vote was taken, and the First Kentucky Cavalry was formally adopted as an honorary member of the Orphan Brigade. At the next, and, indeed, all subsequent meetings, we were treated as active members, and we have always been proud of the honor." (Thompson, History of the Orphan Brigade, 1898, p. 873)


Because Ed Porter Thompson included a brief history of the First Kentucky Cavalry, along with company rosters, in the 1898 edition of his History of the Orphan Brigade, we provide this page for information on the regiment, as part of the Orphan Brigade Homepage.


For further information on the First Kentucky Cavalry, visit this site:



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Geoff Walden: enfield577 (at)
Laura Cook
: lcook62 (at)

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