The Fifth New York Cavalry was a volunteer regiment organized in response to the Union defeat at the Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. The citizen-cavalrymen who made up the regiment came from across New York State and from every walk of life. In the following four years the unit became, according to contemporary sources, one of the finest cavalry formations in the field. The regiment's history is told chronologically in the overall context of the Civil War and based upon primary sources, including official reports, diaries, letters and newspaper accounts. Wherever possible Fifth New York troopers speak to us directly, describing their experiences in the Shenandoah campaign of 1862, the epic encounter at Gettysburg, life in camp and on picket duty, the Wilderness in the spring of 1864 and again the Shenandoah in the fall of 1864.