Note: This is the first detailing that I’ve seen of exactly how the 1st (soon to be 4th) Cavalry conducted their march to Washington from Fort Leavenworth.
Camp on Arlington heights,
Va. July 16th, 61
It is nearly an age since I have written to you — so long indeed that I am ashamed to acknowledge the cause of my silence which is laziness. To be sure there has not been a day since the 23rd of last April but I was on some duty or other, still I might have found some time to write to you only for my laziness.
I suppose you have heard or read before now of our exit from Ft Smith and of our march across the country to Ft Leavenworth under the command of Col Emory, so I will not detail it to you, but I will explain to you how I came to be along.
The morning of the 23rd April my sentence came to fort Smith, which was six month ball and chain and along with it an order from the secretary of war for my sentence to be remitted. So I was released and that night we left.
After we arrived at Ft Leavenworth the company was employed in marching from place that I was too tired to think of anything except sleeping every chance I could get, and you can imagine that I was anything but sorry when the company was ordered to get ready for a trip to Washington.
We started from Ft Leavenworth on the 2nd of July, went by boat to Jatan (?) from there to St Joseph by cars rested two hours and went to Hannibal city, by cars from there to Quincy by boat, then after three hours rest aboard the cars again and on to Detroit. From there we had a splendid trip across some lake to Cleveland, and from there to Washington stopping at Pittsburg, Harrisburg, and Baltimore to feed the horses. By the way, I have missed Chicago when we stopped between Quincy and Detroit and I was left behind for a few minutes but caught up in an express train.
We got to Washington on the 9th.
We have busy times here but the troubles will all be over in few days I think. There have been several fights but I have not had a chance to pull trigger on a secessionist yet. We are going to start in about three quarters of an hour for Manassas gap perhaps I shall have better luck this time.
Hoping to have a chance to do some fighting this trip.
I must say goodbye.
Charles E. Bates