SCARCE FIRST RHODE ISLAND CAVALRY VETERANS’ ASSOCIATION BADGE

$275.00 SOLD

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Item Code: 480-343

This very pretty badge was adopted by the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry Veterans Association at its third reunion at Rocky Point on July 17, 1874. The regiment had a good fighting reputation, taking part in 56 battles and skirmishes.

The first reunion had been held in December 1869 on the anniversary of the regiment’s muster in and the second in 1873. As originally conceived, the badge was similar to this one and other extant examples, using an arched upper pin of gilt brass with a finely worked background framing “1st R I Cav VA” in black enameled Old English letters, and bottom drop in the form of the badge of Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps: crossed sabers on an oval blue field, with a wide sunburst, silvered “glory” border. Linking the two elements was a banner that seems to have been first envisioned as metallic, with a large impressed Rhode Island state seal- the rococo shield with fouled anchor on blue field, with the motto “HOPE” above, and the background finely lined to imitate cloth and the sides curving to indicate it was blowing in a breeze, with the color either gold or yellow. This must have proved too costly or too fragile. Another example we know of uses the same cavalry yellow silk ribbon as this, hanging from a bar across the bottom of the arched top pin with a cross bar at bottom from which hangs the Sheridan badge. To this was separately applied a small Rhode Island state seal pin by two short prongs. This is missing from this example, but the silk shows some wear spots likely made by the prongs.

The regiment was organized in Rhode Island from December 1861 to March 1862 and was first conceived of as a New England Cavalry Regiment composed of squadrons from the different New England states. It ended up taking the field as the 1st NE Cavalry with 8 Rhode Island and 4 New Hampshire companies, and was redesignated the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry, to the dissatisfaction of the New Hampshire companies, who were later used as the nucleus of the 1st NH Cavalry regiment. The regiment served under Banks in the Shenandoah, was in the fighting at Front Royal and then joining Pope’s forces fought at Cedar Mountain and served in the campaign of Second Bull Run, being under fire at Groveton, Second Bull Run, and Chantilly, and was later in skirmishes in Loudon Valley. In the Fredericksburg campaign it guarded the supply trains, doing outpost duty and later fighting off Confederate cavalry attacks. In March 1863 it fought at Kellys Ford, leading the charge that broke Confederate defenses on the riverbank and taking part in later charges on the field, losing about half of the total Union casualties in the fight. The regiment then took part in Stoneman’s raid toward Richmond, Chancellorsville, and then Brandy Station on June 9. Its best known, and most disastrous fight was at Middleburg, June 17-19. Ordered to scout the area on its own, the regiment surprised and drove surprised Confederates from the town, including Stuart and his staff, at about 4 pm on June 17. They then barricaded the town and defended it against attacks that night. Messages to Kilpatrick for reinforcements were unanswered, and the regiment was obliged to pull back from the town and scatter the next day under attacks by two Confederate brigades, losing more than 200 of about 275 men engaged, most to capture. About 100 were left to take the field in the pursuit of Lee from Gettysburg and join the defenses of Washington. participated in engagements at Culpepper Court House, Rapidan Station, Pony Mountain, Sulphur Springs, Auburn, Bristoe Station, Wolf Run and Rappahannock Station, and then doing guard duty along rail lines. In early 1864 the New Hampshire companies were detached from the regiment to form the nucleus of a New Hampshire cavalry regiment. After recruiting in their home state the Rhode Islanders took the field in Virginia again in May, taking part in scouts and skirmishes, and the joining Sheridan in the Shenandoah to fight at Charlestown, Kearnysville, Smithville, Berrysville, Summit Point, Opequan river, Winchester, Fisher's Hill, Milford Creek, New Market, Waynesboro, Kernstown, Woodstock, Cedar Creek and Road's

Hill. In late 1864 it was assigned to the Cavalry Reserve Brigade and in January 1865 consolidated into four companies, eventually taking part in Five Forks and Waynesboro. They mustered out in Baltimore in August 1865.

The condition is good. The fastening pin appears to have been replaced at some point and the ribbon shows slight soiling and small frayed spots perhaps from the missing RI seal pin. The upper bar has nice mellow tones to the gilt brass and shows delicate filigree work between the letters, which preserve their black fill. The corps badge drop is good. The sabers are rendered in silver rather than gold. The blue ground is good, though showing some soiling. One small section of the guard on one sword is missing. The yellow inner border is good with just one tiny chip. Its inner and outer brass edges show muted gilt color. The glory shows as a muted silver with scattered spots of tarnish.

This is a scarce cavalry veteran’s badge. [sr] [ph:m]

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