The Eighth Cavalry was organized at St. Charles, Ill., in September 1861, by Colonel J. F. Farnsworth, and was mustered in September 18, 1861.
On October 13th, the Regiment moved to Washington City, and camped at Meridian Hill on the 17th. On December 17, moved to camp near Alexandria, Virginia. March 10, 1862, the Regiment joined the general advance on Manassas, in General Sumner's Division. The Eighth Cavalry remained at Warrenton until April 12-at four different times driving the enemy across the Rappahannock. Embarked at Alexandria on April 23d, and landed at Shipping Point, May 1st. May 4, moved to Williamsburg, and was assigned to the Light Brigade, General Stoneman commanding. The Regiment was engaged during the advance of the army up the Peninsula.
On June 26th, six companies of the Regiment met the advance of the enemy, under Jackson, at Mechanicsville, and held it in check until three o'clock in the afternoon, when their line was driven back to the infantry lines.
The Regiment did important duty, in the change of base which followed this action, at Gain's Hill, Dispatch Station and Malvern Hill, and, covered the extreme rear of the army, continually skirmished with the enemy's cavalry. Remained on picket, on the James River, while the army lay at Harrison's Landing. Led the advance to the second occupation of Malvern Hills, and, with Benson's Battery (United States Artillery), bore the brunt of the fight-Lieutenant Colonel Gamble being severely wounded. Brought up the rear of our retreating army to Barrett's Ford, on the Chickahominy.
On August 30, 1862, embarked at Yorktown, and landed at Alexandria, on September 1st, and moved immediately to the front. On the 4th, crossed into Maryland, and was engaged at Poolsville. Captured the colors of the Twelfth Virginia (rebel) Cavalry at Monocacy Church. Captured 20 prisoners at Barnesville. Engaged at Sugar Loaf Mountain, Middletown and South Mountain, and, at Boonesboro, captured 2 guns, killing and wounding 67, and taking 200 prisoners.
The Eighth Cavalry was engaged at the battle of Antietam.
On October 1st, had a severe fight with the enemy, during a reconnoissance to Martinsburg. Moved in advance of the Army of the Potomac, and was engaged with the enemy's cavalry at Philemonte, Uniontown, Upperville, Barbee's Cross Roads, Little Washington and Amesville, arriving at Falmouth, November 23d, 1862. During the battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, two squadrons were left in the city till its evacuation. The Eighth was on picket until February 17, 1863, on the left flank of the army, across the Peninsula and up the Rappahannock, to Port Conway, when it was moved to the right flank, near Dumphries. Loss, up to this time, 27 killed, 71 wounded, and 20 missing.
During the campaign of 1863, the Regiment was engaged in the following actions: Sulphur Springs, April 14; near Warrenton, April 17; Rapidan Station, May 1; Northern Neck, May 14; Borstly Ford, June 9; Upperville, June 21; Fairville, Pennsylvania, June 30; Gettysburg, July 8; Williamsburg, Maryland, July 6; Boonsboro, July 8; Funktown, July 10; Falling Water, July 14; Chester Gap, July 21; Sandy Hook, July 22; near Culpepper, August 1; Brandy Station, August 4; Raid from Dumphries to Falmouth, August 30; Culpepper and Pony Mountain, September 13; Raccoon Ford, September 13; Liberty Mills, September 21; Raccoon Ford to Brandy Station, October 11; Manassas, October 15; Warrentown Junction, October 30; Rexleysville, November 8; Mitchell's Station, November 12; Ely's Ford, November 30, 1863.
Loss, during the campaign, 23 killed, 116 wounded, and 37 missing.
The Regiment was mustered out of service at Benton Barracks, Missouri, July 17, 1865, and ordered to Chicago, Ill., where it received final payment and discharge.