The 11th Virginia Cavalry, Originally known as the Bath Cavalry Company, were organized on May 14, 1861, at Warm Springs, Bath County, by Captain A.T. Richards. The company had been part of the 5th Virginia Cavalry Militia. Most of the members of this company were from Bath County. During the spring of 1862, a number of men from Pocahontas County enlisted in the company. Many of the men from Pocahontas County had been members of Captain Andrew B. McNeil's Company, the Levels Cavalry, which had been disbanded early in the war. There were several men from Rockbridge, Augusta, Alleghany, and Highland counties as well. The Bath Cavalry was ordered to Philippi in late May 1861, and was in the disastrous affair at that place on June 3. Here the Bath Cavalry suffered its first battle related casualty, Leroy P. Daingerfield, who was shot in the knee so severely that his leg had to be amputated. It was said that he was the first man to be wounded and to have a limb amputated during the war.
Following this affair, the Bath Cavalry was assigned to the squadron of cavalry commanded by W.H.F. "Rooney" Lee, and was employed as scouts and pickets in General Robert E. Lee's advance into western Virginia in 1861. After the failure of that campaign, the Bath Cavalry was pulled back into Pocahontas and Bath counties, where it was stationed until the spring of 1862. A portion of the company was stationed at the Rockbridge Alum Springs in Rockbridge County during April and May 1862.
During early April 1862, Federal General Robert H. Milroy invaded Highland County, and by the last of April he was encamped at McDowell. While there he was compelled to live off the land, and accordingly sent a foraging party of 26 wagons into the Williamsville section of Bath County. The Bath Cavalry was alerted to the presence of the wagon train, and 40 men were sent to the area, where they ambushed the wagon train and captured all the wagons. In the process, they killed two of the teamsters, wounded several men, and took nine others prisoner.
During the winter and spring of 1862, the ranks of the Bath Cavalry swelled to such a number, that they were compelled to reorganize. This was done at the Rockbridge Alum Springs on May 8, 1862. The Company was then divided into two companies, one being designated Company A, Bath Cavalry, and the other Company B, Bath Cavalry. Captain Richards was not reelected, and Dr. A. G. McChesney was elected as Captain of Company A, Bath Cavalry.
From the Time they were organized, the Bath Grays were employed as pickets and scouts in the vicinity of Bath County, until early June 1862. During this time, they were a part of Major George Jackson's Squadron of Cavalry. In early June, the Bath Grays were ordered to Hanover County and to Verdon, a Station on the Virginia Central Railroad.
During their stay in eastern Virginia, they saw service at Flippo's Orchard on July 4, 1862, where four men were taken prisoner and one wounded. A short time later, at Mount Carmel Church in Caroline County, they encountered Kilpatrick's forces, and again were beaten. During the engagement the company lost two men captured. Following this defeat, General J. E. B. Stuart recommended that the Bath Grays be assigned to some unit, and accordingly they were assigned to the 17th Battalion of Virginia Cavalry as Company F. This took place in late July 1862.
According to a memoir left by Lt. A. C. L. Gatewood, of the Bath Grays, the company was assigned to the 2nd Virginia Cavalry before being ordered to eastern Virginia. Other sources state that the company was assigned to the 7th Virginia Cavalry. It is unlikely that the Bath Grays were ever officially assigned to either of those regiments. It is possible that they were assigned to the 2nd Virginia Cavalry in a detached service capacity only. As for the 7th Virginia Cavalry, the strength of Ashby's Cavalry was listed as 27 companies in the spring of 1862. From that was formed the 7th and 12th Regiments of Cavalry and the residue of five companies designated as the 17th Battalion of Cavalry (the twenty-seventh company being Captain R. P. Chew's Battery of Artillery ). One other company had been consolidated with another to form a single company. None of the early reports and accounts of the 7th Virginia Cavalry or of the 17th Virginia Battalion mention either of the Bath companies until late July 1862.
On September 5, 1862, the Adjutant and Inspector General's Office in Richmond assigned the two Bath Companies (Companies F & G) to the 14th Virginia Cavalry, but they never reported to the regiment. Later, on October 7, 1862, the A & IGO officially recognized the two companies as being a part of the 17th Battalion of Virginia Cavalry, as Companies F and G.