The 6th Cavalry finally began campaigning in March 1862. They remained in camp at Camp East of the Capitol until the 10th, then received abrupt orders to break camp and move. As Captain August Kautz of Company noted in his diary,
“March 10. – At breakfast this morning the order came to march at 11 with three days’ provisions and forage. We were, of course, very busy until the hour to leave. I could not pack up all my things. It rained a good portion of the day. It was after dark when we reached Fairfax Court-House.” (Supplement to the OR, Vol 1, pg 361)
By the end of the month, the majority of the regiment would be on the Peninsula near Fortress Monroe. Company C, not yet at full strength, remained in Washington. Captain Brisbin of Company L was in Philadelphia this month, still recruiting his company, along with 1st Lt Henry Tucker. The regiment’s assigned strength this month was 890 officers and enlisted men in the ten active companies.
Of the 42 officers assigned, only 23 were listed as present for duty, including Assistant Surgeon J.H. Pooley. 12 of the missing 14 were on detached service. March saw the sudden departure of the regiment’s commander, LtCol William H. Emory. He was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on March 27, 1862 and assigned to the command of the 1st Brigade, Cavalry Reserve, Army of the Potomac. He took two other officers from the regiment with him. Lieutenants Joseph Audenried and James F. Wade were appointed to his staff the following day as assistant adjutant general and aide de camp respectively. Major Lawrence A. Williams assumed command of the regiment. Captain David McM. Gregg was promoted to colonel of volunteers and commanding the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Captain August Kautz was sick at Fortress Monroe at the end of the month, and 2nd Lt Andrew Stoll was sick in Washington.
The regiment had 849 enlisted men at the end of the month, but only 745 present for duty as campaigning began. Health conditions improved in the camp as the weather improved. A total of 58 troopers were sick, the majority of them absent in hospitals from Pittsburgh to Washington. 33 continued to serve on extra duties away from the regiment, mostly as teamsters for the Quartermaster Department. Two were in arrest or confinement. Two troopers were absent on leave, and one was absent without leave.
Private Jackson Loyd enlisted in Company H on March 19, 1862. Frank Gormley was transferred from Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant to private in Company E on March 1st. Sergeant Chas. Gilliams of Company M was advanced to 2nd Chief Bugler and assigned to the regimental staff. Corporal William Shorts of Company K was discharged by order on March 22nd in Alexandria, and four privates were discharged for disability.
Eleven men deserted from the regiment this month, all of them during the last ten days of the month as the regiment was embarking for the peninsula. Two soldiers died in March. Private James McCormick of Company I died in the hospital at Camp East of the Capitol on March 6th. Private John W. Jones of Company G died of disease in Alexandria, Virginia on March 18, 1862.