Blazer's Scouts

compiled by Darl L. Stephenson
published by Larry Stevens

References for this Unit


Blazer's Scouts were formed in September 1863 by Colonel Carr B. White at Fayetteville, WV. At this time they were actually known as Spencer's Scouts or officially Brigade Scouts. Capt John White Spencer of the 9th West Virginia Infantry was their first commander, but he became wrapped up in occupation duty and a court martial that removed him from effective command. Lts. Richard Blazer of the 91st Ohio Infantry and Harrison Gray Otis of the 12th Ohio Infantry became the actual commanders. The scouts were comprised of men from the 9th West Virginia Infantry and the 12th and 91st Ohio Infantries. The scouts took the field almost immediately to counter "bushwhackers" and to act as the advance and rear guard of the army in the area of the Kanawha and New Rivers in West Virginia. They operated on foot and even had musicians assigned. They participated in actions against the guerrilla bands of the Thurmond brothers and in expeditions against Lewisburg, Va. They were disbanded officially in mid-November 1863, but took part in another Lewisburg expedition in December.
In the spring of 1864, the new division commander of the 3rd Division, BG George Crook reformed the scouts under Lt Blazer into a mounted unit. Horses were obtained by taking them from disloyal citizens and Confederate guerrillas. They quickly gained a reputation as hard hitting shock troops that swept the region of guerrillas and guarded Union supply lines.
Now the scouts were composed of the best men from the 5th, 9th, 13th and 14th WVA Infantries, 2nd West Virginia Cavalry and the 12th, 23rd, 34th and 36th Ohio Infantries. Blazer's hand-picked men played important roles in the Dublin Raid on the Tennessee and Virginia Railroad and on Hunter's Lynchburg Raid, where they made the front pages of many newspapers with their exploits.
When the Army of West Virginia (VIIIth Corps) was assigned to the Army of the Shenandoah under Sheridan, Blazer's Scouts began some of their most important work, taking on the Guerrillas of John S. Mosby. Equipped with Spencer repeating rifles, they challenged Mosby's bands and defeated them in two pitched battles at Myer's Ford and "the Vinyard." They also captured many of Mosby's men in smaller affairs and disrupted his scouting operations to find vulnerable Union forces.
Eventually, Mosby put together a large proportion of his force, numbering about 300 men by Union account, under Major Adolphus (Dolly) Richards. Blazer's Scouts were defeated by this force at Kabletown (Myertown) on November 18th 1864. Captain Blazer lost 18 killed, 18 captured including himself, and six wounded. His casualties were over 50% of his force. Blazer's Scouts were officially disbanded in January 1865.

More about the Civil War in Ohio.

Copyright © 1998 Darl L. Stephenson

Last updated October 26 2012