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6th Pennsylvania Cavalry

Posted 5/15/2023

The Sixth {6th} Pennsylvania Cavalry, also known as the 70th Pennsylvania Regiment, mustered into service to the Union in November 1861, after many military changes. The regiment, was made up of men who were mostly from the City of Philadelphia.  The Colonel of the regiment was Richard H. Rush. Rush was a 1846 graduate of  West Point. Rush's classmates were, George B. McClellan, John Gibbon, Thomas J. Jackson, Ambrose Powell Hill, and George E. Pickett. Rush  had a grandfather named Benjamin Rush who was one our nations founding fathers who signed both the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution.

In November 1861, after the 6th Pennsylvania was assigned to the Army of the Potomac, General George B. McClellan telegraphed Colonel Rush and requested the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry be armed with the lance. This was the first mention in the Civil War of a lance being used as a weapon by any troops in the Union Army. After being armed with the lance which was on a nine foot long Norway fir pole which had an eleven inch three sides blade at the top which also bore a scarlet swallow-tailed pennon, the regiment marched for the first time on the streets of Philadelphia displaying their weapon. The regiment would be forever nicknamed "Rush's Lancers." The three sides blade appears to have two different sizes and markings which are a first and second manufactures. One of the weapons contains a stamped "US/P" on the brass ferrule portion of the blade, while the other has simply a stamped "US" on the brass ferrule. Which is the first or second issue is unknown to the author.  

The regiment was relieved of their lances in May 1863, just nine days before the battle at Brandy's Station. The regiment was issued carbine rifles, and thankfully so, due to the heavy fighting they were involved in during that battle. The regiment suffered very badly at Brandy's Station, with the 6th loss of sixty men in the engagement, including a Major who was captured and later died in LIbby prison, a Captain was killed, and a Captain and Lieutenant were wounded. 

The 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry fought in battles in the Civil War from the Seven Days Battle to the Battle of Saylor's Creek.  During the war, the regiment lost 78 enlisted men and officers killed and mortally wounded, 89 enlisted men and officers. The regiment had one Congressional Medal of Honor winner in Captain Frank Furness, the Commander of Company F who received his medal  for his conspicuous duty on June 11-12 at Trevilian Station, Virginia while resupplying ammunition under fire to an outpost almost out of ammunition. .


This image of "Rush's Lancers" in the field was furnished by the Union Drummer Boy in Gettysburg. Pennsylvania. The lance and the scarlet pennon is clearly visible in the image. The picture would have been taken before May 1863 when the lances replaced by carbine rifles.

This Rush's Lancer point is in the collection of the author. The piece came to the author at the Franklin, Tennessee Civil War Relic Show in 2022 by an owner who was interested in disposing of the piece. The owner had purchased the piece at a Louisville, Kentucky flea market just a few days before the Franklin relic show. This particular example is stamped on the brass ferrule with "US." This piece is a full 12 inches long from tip to the bottom of the brass ferrule, and has an opening to receive a staff of .89 inches.  


This is the spade style finial that is married to the second State Standard of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry. This flag and finial was issued to the regiment on April 10, 1865, and was manufactured by Horstmann Brothers & Company. The flag was carried until the regiment disbanded in June 1865 and was returned to the State pf Pennsylvania ion July 4, 1866. This image was furnished by the Pennsylvania Civil War Flag Preservation Committee.


1. Gracey, Samuel, L.; Wittenberg, Eric J. 1996 Edition: Annals of the Sixth Pennsylvania cavalry, 1996, Vanberg Publishing, Lancaster, Ohio

2. Sauers, Richard A.; Capitol Preservation Committee, Advance The Colors! Pennsylvania Civil War Battle Flags`1987, ISBN 0-8182-0090-1, Vol. 1, P191, 192

3. Rush's lancers, History By Bates, 

4. Wikipedia, Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment

5. Wilson, Jason, Curator, Pennsylvania Capitol Preservation Committee

6. The Union Drummer Boy, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

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