Troop movement signals start of campaign

Two letters from Quartermaster Sgt. John S. Galbraith of the Sixth Ohio Veteran Cavalry Regiment describe the movement of the regiment from winter quarters in Cleveland to Warrenton, Va., where they were preparing for the spring campaign against the Confederate Army:

“The Sixth Ohio Veteran Cavalry left Cleveland on Thursday afternoon, March 2, for Washington, D.C., on the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad. And here I must say, in justice to the managers of that road, that their mode of transporting soldiers is certainly praiseworthy. Having packed us in a long train of freight cars, ‘cheese fashion,’ the whistle sounded, and off we went at a snail’s gallop for Dixie.

”Our train reached the Pittsburgh depot at 10 a.m. on the following morning, having made the trip between Cleveland and Pittsburgh (156 miles) in the short space of 18 hours. During our stay in Pittsburgh, we were treated to a substantial dinner by the Sanitary Commission, for which the kind-hearted people of Pittsburgh have our thanks. Long will they be remembered by the boys of the Sixth Cavalry for their generosity.

”On Friday afternoon, we were again en route for Washington and were on the road all of Friday night, Saturday and Saturday night, arriving in Baltimore on Sunday morning, and reaching Washington the same evening. We remained at Washington until Tuesday morning, when we were started for Warrenton, Va. On the route, we crossed the battlefields of Manassas and Bull Run, and had a general view of the country which has been much contested since the war commenced.

”From present appearances, I judge that the regiments will be equipped and mounted in a few days, and be ready for action within a month. The general feeling among the troops is that the war will be ended in six months. There are about 2,500 troops here all looking well, and all in good spirits. The weather is very fine, and the boys are improving by fixing up their quarters, etc.

”More again, Galbraith”

A second letter was written the following day:

“It has always been my style to gossip the ‘news’ when at home, and I suppose while I am away ‘fightin’ bleedin’ and dyin” for my country, my friends and the friends of the rest of the boys at home would receive a bit of news through the columns of your worthy paper, from the Sixth Cavalry, with pleasure.

”We arrived at this point March 8, having completed a long and tiresome journey of seven days duration and part of the time in freight cars, packed in like livestock could feed on. We were long enough in Washington to see the sights in and around the city, and your correspondent had the inexpressable pleasure of seeing and talking for several hours with his old associates and friends, Em Swank and Lew Meeker. They are looking very fine. Dressed in Uncle Sam’s – Uncle Abe’s – livery, they present an appearance on drill and parade which would do a credit to any staff officers we have ever seen. Belonging to the the president’s bodyguard, they are having a perfect holiday of it.

”We are quartered at present in the M.E. Church and are secure from the roughness of the weather which is common here.

”The ‘rebs’ are thicker than hope around these hills. Old Mosby is prying around once in a while out on picket.

”Ere long, you shall hear from us again when we have ‘done something,’ and that won’t be long.


Note: John S. Galbraith had enlisted in Company M of the Sixth Ohio Veteran Cavalry on Dec. 23, 1863. He was 19 years old. Mustered in as a private, Galbraith was appointed quartermaster sergeant on Jan. 1, 1864. At the Battle of Ladd’s Farm (St. Mary’s Church), Virginia, he was captured on June 24, 1864, and sent to the Confederate Prison at Andersonville, Ga. Galbraith died in prison on Sept. 28, 1864. He is interred in the Andersonville Cemetery in grave 9927.

Compiled by members of the CW150 Committee of Warren’s Sutliff Museum.