21 February 2010 by Published in: Union Cavalry 6 comments

Time for another profile of a completely forgotten cavalryman.

Richard S. C. Lord was born in 1832 on his father’s farm near Bellefontaine, Ohio. He was appointed to the United States Military Academy from Ohio in 1852, and graduated 40th out of 47 in the class of 1856. The class of 1856 also included future Civil War cavalry generals Fitzhugh Lee, Lunsford L. Lomax, George D. Bayard and James Forsyth. He and some of his classmates purchased the Patagonia silver mine in Arizona, but sold his interest in 1859 when his company departed Arizona for Ft. Fillmore.

He was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant on July 1, 1856 and joined the infantry. He served garrison duty at the Newport Barracks in Kentucky 1856-1857 and then at the Carlisle Barracks. While serving at Newport, he was promoted to second lieutenant in the 3rd Artillery.

On June 22, 1857, he was transferred to the 1st Dragoons and did frontier duty at Ft. Buchanan, New Mexico. In 1859, he alternated between Ft. Buchanan and Ft. Fillmore, often doing scouting duty and fighting a skirmish with Apache Indians near Camp Calabassee, New Mexico on August 26, 1860. He was assigned to Ft. Breckinridge, Utah not longer after and served there 1860-1861. On April 23, 1861, he was promoted to first lieutenant.

Lord returned to New Mexico in June 1861 and was promoted to captain on October 26, 1861. While commanding a company of the 1st U. S. Cavalry (as the 1st Dragoons were now known), he was engaged in the February 21, 1862 Battle of Valverde and in an action at Apache Canyon March 7-8, 1862. The conduct of his company at Valverde was criticized, and Lord underwent a court of inquiry that eventually exonerated his conduct there. He was then transferred east, and assumed command of the 1st U. S. Cavalry as its senior captain.

He led the 1st U. S. during the May 1863 Stoneman Raid, at Brandy Station on June 9, 1863, and during the Gettysburg Campaign (at Upperville on June 21, at Gettysburg July 3, and in several of the battles during the retreat. He received a brevet to major for gallant and meritorious services during the Gettysburg Campaign, to date to July 7, 1863.

While skirmishing at Funkstown on July 9, 1863, Lord was seriously wounded, and had to leave the army. He was on disability leave from July 10-September 3, 1863. When he returned to duty, he served as assistant at the newly-formed Cavalry Bureau in Washington, DC. On February 25, 1865, he returned to command the 1st U. S., and led it in the war in the east’s final campaigns, including the April 1, 1865 Battle of Five Forks, for which he received a brevet to lieutenant colonel.

After the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, the 1st U. S. became Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan’s escort, and accompanied Sheridan to New Orleans from June-September 1865. Lord was on recruiting duty from October 1865 to March 1866, and then was assigned to the Drum Barracks in Los Angeles, California from March to June 1866. Unfortunately, Lord had contracted tuberculosis some time during his service in the Civil War, and by June 1866, the disease had reached terminal status and he was gravely ill. He went east to appear before a retirement board, but was too ill.

Lord left the Army on sick leave on June 15, 1866, and died of the tuberculosis at his father’s home in Bellefontaine in October 16, 1866 ten days shy of his 34th birthday. He was buried in the Bellefontaine City Cemetery in his home town. His only child, Richard Stanton Lord, died the following year at age 3. Nothing is known of his wife.

I have never seen an image of Richard S. C. Lord, which is why there’s not one included here. However, Lord is one of those professional soldiers who left his mark, albeit anonymously, on the Civil War by honorably doing his duty well. He’s buried just over an hour from here, and when the winter breaks, I’m planning on visiting his grave to pay my respects.

Here’s to Richard S. C. Lord, completely forgotten Civil War cavalryman.

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  1. Phil Spaugy
    Mon 22nd Feb 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Well done article on a gallant Buckeye !

  2. James Durney
    Tue 23rd Feb 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Well put!

  3. Lyle
    Sat 27th Feb 2010 at 6:23 pm

    1866 or 1886 is the death year?

  4. Sun 28th Feb 2010 at 9:05 pm

    1866–thanks for catching that typo, Lyle. It’s been fixed.


  5. Chuck Bury
    Tue 31st May 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Thank you so much for researching and writing this. Col. Lord was kin of mine (1st cousin, 4X removed) and while as you noted he seems to have no descendants, that shouldn’t be excuse to forget a dutiful officer. In my own research, I also was unable to find a photo, but I found a memorial online at http://is.gd/9PCHgl

    Also, at least one family genealogy states that he had a daughter as well as a son, but implies she too died while young. He did have some nieces and nephews and I hope to eventually track down some of their descendants.

  6. Tom
    Wed 12th Oct 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Regarding Lord’s performance at the battle of Valverde, Capt. Ovando J. Hollister of the First Colorado Volunteers wrote, “Lord, a captain in the dragoons, bears away the palm for cowardice in this disgraceful affair. He would not raise a finger to prevent the battery from being taken, and when ordered a charge the enemy after its capture, he started towards him with a wheel turned tail and fled from the field. One officer riding up full tilt, just as he was entering the stream, succeeded by using every abusive applet that known to if the time to include inducing him to a halt to all the straggling infantry got clear of the river. Such conduct speaks for itself. It is beneath scorn – lower than the King’s English can be expected to go.” Ovando J. Hollister, History of the First Regiment of Colorado Volunteers (Denver: Thomas Gibson and Co., 1863), 180-181.

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