Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cow Cavalry

We attended a wedding recently where the groom and several attendants wore Spurs and Stetson hats to signify their former connection to a US Cavalry unit. I've noticed soldiers wearing the spurs when traveling thru airports recently, sometimes with no uniform or military insignia showing.

I have two great uncles who could claim Cavalry service but I don't think they got the same souvenirs at the end of their enlistment. Their Cavalry battalion was called the Florida Cow Cavalry.

After a couple years of war the Confederate Army found you can't eat a whole lot of cotton and with the southern ports shut tight they needed a food source. Florida, which had not seen much military action still had most of the farms producing and the pre-war cattle industry was intact. Although most of the cattle had been turned loose in the woods and swamps to prevent the Union army from finding them.

The CSA sent out a notice that they wanted to form Cavalry units around the State that would round up the cattle and bring them north to Georgia and South Carolina where the Army needed to feed the troops.

Cow Cavalry Memorial in Plant City, FL
Two of the son's of my great grandfather Moses Wilson joined the Cow Cavalry. The family was living in what is now Pasco County Florida at the time and several of the older sons were already serving in the CSA.

Joseph Wilson who was born on March 28, 1845 in Montgomery County Alabama and died on September 16, 1914 in Polk County Florida enlisted in Mullen's Battalion, Walls Company. His brother Pleasant Wilson who was born on June 11, 1847 in Montgomery County Alabama and died on November 15, 1920 in Pasco County Florida enlisted in Capt Lesley's Company.

Cow Cavalry Memorial listing Pleasant Wilson
They both served from the Spring of 1863 to the end of the war. There were nine companies of Cow Cavalry, about 900 men in all. Many of them were older men who had been excused from military service when the war broke out or like the Wilson brothers, too young to enlist in the regular army. 

Joseph Wilson went back to Florida after the war and married Fannie Lenorah Lanier in 1872. They had 11 children and like most of his brothers he was a farmer. He and his wife are buried in Oaklawn Cemetery in Plant City, Florida. 

Joseph Wilson Oaklawn Cemetery
Pleasant Wilson went back to Pasco County Florida and got married around 1870 also. His first wife, Kate McNeill died before 1880 when he was listed on the census as a widower with four young children. He remarried late in life, in 1902 to Zader Clark who was 35 years younger and they had four more children. He is buried in Dade City Cemetery in Pasco County Florida.

She moved to Tampa after Pleasant died, remarried in 1922 and was listed on the 1930 census working in a Cigar factory. She died in 1955 and was buried in Garden of Memories Cemetery in Tampa.          

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