On December 18, 1861, the Courer & Freeman list an advertisement for "100 MEN WANTED - CAVALRY MOUNTED RIFLEMEN". About 20 men from Potsdam enlisted in this Cavalry unit which was later known as the 11th N.Y. Cavalry Regiment, Scott's 900. Most of the St. Lawrence County men who joined the Regiment were from Canton. They rendezvoused on May 5, 1862, at Staten Island, New York. The Regiment spent two years in Washington on scouting and patrol duty, then was sent to Louisiana. It was the only New York Cavalry Regiment to see duty in the South.
The Potsdam men enlisted in Scott's 900 were Privates Darwin Clark, Nelson L. Freeman, Fred C. Fifield, Oliver Graft, Jacob Jordan, Virgil B. Laflin, Paul Longale, Henry Osier, Rollin C. Patten, George W. Patten, Peter Wheeler and L. L. Parmeter; Corporals Henry G. Carpenter and Norman B. Laroe; Sergeants George W. White, Quartermaster, and Silas W. Carey; Buglers James Monroe and George E. Shaw, and Farrier George Chalmers. George W. French of the Potsdam-Canton Road also joined the Regiment, and died of measles in New Orleans on September 10, 1864.
Cavalry regiments during the Civil War were made up of a mixture of types of men. Some were rough, unscrupulous and undisciplined. Scott's 900 was no exception. In February 1864, the National Republican, a Washington, D.C. newspaper, carried an item concerning Scott's 900. Judge Olin of the District Supreme Court demanded that the Regiment be disbanded because of the actions of the men in the Regiment. He compared them with thieves and vagabonds, and said he was afraid he would have to sentence some of them to the Albany Penitentiary.
The men of the 11th New York Cavalry Regiment were mustered out of the Union Army on September 30, 1865. The regiment reverted to the status of a Federal cavalry unit and was assigned to the West to aid the government in maintaining law and order following the civil war.
Click here to view The Story of a Cavalry Regiment: "Scott's 900" Eleventh New York Cavalry, by Thomas West Smith [Published by the Veteran Association of the Regiment].