As mentioned earlier, the five regiment organization of the brigade was not nearly as powerful as it looked on paper. At authorized strength in early 1863, a regiment consisted of 42 officers and roughly 1,000 troopers, giving the brigade a theoretical strength as described in the order of 5,000. This unfortunately was never the case. Its primary strength lay in its disciplined and experienced officers and men.
Almost immediately it became four regiments. The sole squadron of the 4th U.S. Cavalry serving with the Army of the Potomac was already on its way west to join the rest of the regiment when the order was issued. I have not seen any indications of plans in 1863 to bring the regiment east, so it appears that assigning them to the Reserve Brigade was simply an oversight.
The 1st U.S. Cavalry, the oldest of the regiments, was commanded by Captain Richard S.C. Lord in February 1863. Lord, only a second lieutenant when the war started, had been with the regimental main body only a few short months. He was already a veteran commander, however, leading a squadron of the 1st Cavalry during the New Mexico campaign the previous year. Only nine officers were present with the regiment in February, four captains and five lieutenants. All were veterans of the previous year’s campaigns, and two were former first sergeants in the regiment. Lord’s former squadron, Companies D and G, was still in New Mexico. With Company L still recruiting and training at Carlisle Barracks, only nine of the regiment’s twelve companies were present with the Army of the Potomac. The February muster rolls showed only 593 men present for duty.