1st Alabama Cavalry - Est. 1862
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It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Glenda McWhirter Todd. She passed away on September 3, 2017 surrounded by her family. She was a historian, genealogist, and author who prided herself on being a descendant of Andrew Ferrier McWhirter of the 1st Alabama Cavalry, USV. Her work over the past two decades and her dedication to the 1st Alabama Cavalry has created a legacy that will last for years to come.

Her life's work has touched thousands of people through the years, and I am glad that I had the pleasure to work with her as long as I did. My hope is that her work will live on for years to come to educate and inspire a new generation.


Stories about Troopers from the 1st Alabama

Picture Picture Tombstone Combined Service Record

George Eliphaz Spencer

Submitted by Dana R. Spencer

George Eliphaz Spencer was the fourth son of Gordon Percival and Deborah (Mallory) Spencer-his father being a physician. His family ancestory dates back to William Spencer, one of four Spencer brothers who came to America in the 1630s (George Eliphaz-7, Gordon Percival-6, Eliphaz-5, Job-4, Samuel-3, Samuel-2, William-1). George was born 1 Nov 1836 Champion, NY and given a middle name of his grandfather, Eliphaz. He was educated at Montreal College in Canada, returned home to engage in the study of law, and finally was admitted to the bar in Iowa, in 1857. He was chosen secretary of the Iowa State Senate. In 1861, he was prospecting minerals in Colorado and adjacent territory.

He enlisted as Captain, 14 Oct 1862, and was Assistant Adjutant to General Grenville M. Dodge. George was commissioned colonel, 11 Sept 1862, and detailed as Chief of Staff of the 1st Alabama Regiment Cavalry Volunteers, a U. S. regiment made up of citizens of northern Alabama. The 1st Alabama Cavalry filled the traditional role of scouting, raiding, reconnaissance, and flank guard, and was selected by General Sherman as the commander's escort in his march to the sea.


He was eventually promoted to the rank of Brevet Brigadier General, March 1865 for "gallant and meritorious services during campaign through Georgia and the Carolinas". In military records he listed his occupation prior to military service as a lawyer. Spencer in a letter of resignation from the military 5 Jul 1865, was given an honorable discharge.

After a brief time of practicing law in Decatur, Alabama following the war, he was elected a Republican Senator of Congress from Alabama for a term of six years, and won re-election in 1873 for another six years. There was considerably bitterness between the secessionists and the unionist in Alabama after the war, and this cause a great deal of controversy surrounding Spencer that remains until this day. He served as chairman of the committee on military affairs, and was prominent in the fraud investigation of the "Star-Route" postal line. He helped establish the two cent letter postage in 1883.

With twelve years of senate service for Alabama, until 3 Mar 1879, Spencer in 1881, was appointed a commissioner of the Union Pacific Railroad with help from his previous leader, Major-General Dodge. He finally settled in Nevada when he spend the rest of his life as a rancher/mine prospector. He died 19 Feb 1893 in Washington, DC.

His first wife was Bella Zilfa, who was a writer/author. She died of typhroid fever; he then married May Nunez, a well-known actress who changed her name to William Loring Nunez. She was in her twenties when she married the 42 year old Spencer. Her maiden name was in honor of her uncle, General Loring, who served in the Egyptian Army. Stanley Hoole, author of Alabama Tories: The First Alabama Cavalry, U.S.A., stated that his second wife was also an author of Salt-Lake Fruit (1883); Story of Mary (1884), the latter being re-issued as Dennis Day, Carpet-Bagger (1887); and Calamity Jane (1887).

References:

Alabama Tories: The First Alabama Cavalry, U.S.A. 1862-1865, Hoole, Wm. Stanley Confederate Publishing Company, Tuscaloosa, AL 1960

Hirshson, Stanley P. Grenville M. Dodge: Soldier, Politician, Railroad Pioneer. Indiana University Press, Bloomington and London, 1967

Report of Col. George E. Spencer, First Alabama Cavalry, commanding the Third Brigade of Operations, January 28-March 24, 1865. Official Records, Series I, Vol XLVII, p. 891-893.

Spencer Genealogy, Clark, Flora S. Vol. 1-7 Albany State Library, Albany, NY 1971

The Montgomery Advertiser and Mail, 19 Sept 1877, p. 4.

Todd, Glenda M., Historian, First Alabama Cavalry, USA-Homage To Patriotism

Watson, Elbert L. George Eliphaz Spencer In Alabama United States Senators, pp. 73-76. Huntsville, AL: Strode Publishers, 1982

Woolfolk, Sarah Van V. George E. Spencer: A Carpetbagger in Alabama, Alabama Review 19, (January 1966), p. 41-52.

Database created and maintained by Ryan Dupree.

Service records compiled by Glenda Todd and used with her permission. This and other information about the history of the First and the men who fought with the unit can be found in her book, First Alabama Cavalry, USA: Homage to Patriotism.

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