Skip to main content


Special Collections Online at UT

Robert Galbraith Civil War Diaries

Identifier: MS-2179

  • Staff Only

The three diaries in this collection begin with all or some of the following: the distance from New York to major cities in the U. S., stamp duties, postage duties, times of sunrise, sunsets, and moon rises in New York and San Francisco, calendars and moon phases. In 1863, Robert Galbraith gives details of army positions and life. He is present at the Battle of Stones River on December 30 and 31st, 1862 and continues to write about the movement of his regiment in the first days of 1863. There are no entries from January 13 to September 7, 1863. He is ill at Christmas and confined to bed.

In 1864, Robert tells about the weather and making his way to Nashville, his friends, and a commotion in the Regiment, concerning the consolidation of two regiments. He relates the movements of Captains Phillips and Wright. Robert goes to the theatre with Captain Elkin. Maggie Mitchell is an actress. Robert attends church on January 24th. While encamped 3 miles from Nashville in February, Robert Galbraith goes to the theatre with Cochran, Miss Price and Miss Taylor. On February 14th, Galbraith reminisces, This morning is the 4th anniversary of my marriage and Captain Myers came today with 22 recruits from the mountains. Galbraith tells of a man named Law, who runs away from Company F on Sunday, February 21, 1864 and is cruelly robbed and murdered. Law is buried in Mr. Campbell's graveyard near our camp. On this same date, Robert relates that he is turning in his resignation. Mr. Jn. A. Jackson on February 24th presents Robert with a fine Diamond. On March 11, 1864, Robert ends his military career with the 5th Tennessee Cavalry.

The keywords provided in this finding aid do not serve as an every name index for any of the diaries. A cash account registry is at the end of the 1864 diary. The rest of 1864 includes attending the circus, a trip to Louisville, Bell Buckle, Cincinnati and etc. Robert Galbraith speaks fondly of fishing with his father. In October, Robert's baby is very ill with spasms and is sinking. On November 2, 1864, Our little daughter (Mattie) is dead.

In January 1865, Galbraith mentions the position of the 5th Tennessee Calvary in Florence, Alabama, attendance at a Masonic Lodge meeting in which W. S. Jackson and T. S. Clay are elected, hunting, fishing and staying at the Sewanee Hotel in Nashville. From January 1st to January 11th, Robert registers at the bottom of the pages the smiles that he is either giving or receiving. Five Smiles during the day, narry a smile today... While attending the Orphan's Fair in Nashville in February, he purchases a large pair of iron spectacles. On April 5, 1865 Galbraith witnesses the installation of Governor W. G. Brownlow-a very imposing Scene. Lieutenant Nelson becomes a Captain in the 5th Cavalry on May 29th. In 1865 Galbraith travels to Nashville, Louisville, Cincinnati and Washington D.C. with many prominent figures such as Governor Brownlow to meet the President of the United States and tour the Navy Yard. Galbraith met with Col. Pembroke(?)about our claims against the Government to get him to try to collect them. He is in Washington from June 15th through the 28th. Colonel Dick Green's horse bridle breaks on August 20, 1865 and Green suffers with cuts on his face. Galbraith's sister, Edith, marries Captain B. F. Jackson of Janesville, Ohio in Shelbyville, Tennessee on November 22, 1865. Jackson served in the 188th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. On November 28th, Robert Galbraith surrenders to the Sheriff in the Wells Case and obtains a bond. Old Aunt Kitty Greer dies at 9:00 o'clock on December 16, 1865. She is about 87 years old. A cash account registry is at the end of the 1865 diary.


  • 1863-1865

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite and must be requested in advance. See for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.

Conditions Governing Use

The UT Libraries claims only physical ownership of most material in the collections. Persons wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants on for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.


0.3 Linear Feet


This collection contains three diaries (including accounting records) written by Robert Galbraith between 1863 and 1865.

Biographical/Historical Note

Some facts that were collected on one Robert Galbraith of Shelbyville, Bedford County Tennessee are as follows: 1850 Census of Bedford County by Porch lists Robert Galbreath, age 14 with William Galbreath, age 54 and sister Edith J., age 7 (Porch, 112). 1870 Federal Census - Robert Galbraith, age 34, who is a Bookkeeper, is listed with William Galbraith, age 74 and Robert Galbraith, age 108. Robert's wife Fanny, age 31 is with family. In the 1880 Federal Census, Robert Galbraith is head of household at age 43. His two sisters are living in the home and one is Edith Galbraith Jackson, whom Robert mentions in the 1865 diary. His wife may have died in childbirth leaving William and Frank to be raised by their father and aunts. Further research is needed to verify that this is conclusively the Robert Galbraith that wrote the 1863-1865 diaries. There is record of a Robert Galbraith marrying a Sara F. Myers in the Bedford County Tennessee Bible Records Vol. 2, page 80 having been recorded in the Abram Myers Bible as taking place on February 14, 1860. Sarah F. Myers was born January 23 1835.

Robert Galbraith entered the 5th Tennessee Calvary as a Captain and was discharged as a Lieutenant Colonel on March 11, 1864. In Tennesseans in the Civil War, the first Middle Tennessee Cavalry Regiment in the index under Regiments and Lesser Units, Union: Tennessee Cavalry, one may read, see 5th Regiment. Also, according to this source the first mention in Official Records of this regiment with a squadron of the 1st Tennessee Calvary is on August 6, 1862 (Tennesseans in the Civil War, 330). This may help to explain why Robert Galbraith writes 1st Tennessee Calvary on January 1, 1863 in his diary.

In the War of the Rebellion: Official Records Series 1, v.52, part 1 page 424, Colonel R. H. G. Minty reports on July 29, 1863 that All the regimental commanders, viz, Lieutenant Colonel Galbraith, First Middle Tennessee; Captain McIntyre, Fourth U. S.; Major Mix, Fourth Michigan, Colonel Klein, Third Indiana and Lt. Col. Sipes, Seventh Pennsylvania, are deserving of special mention for their promptness and manner in which they handled their respective commands. On August 2, 1863, Brig. Gen. W. C. Whitaker of the 1st Division Reserve Corps of the Cumberland reports, The Tennessee cavalry of Colonel Galbraith is giving me excessive trouble and worrying and plundering through the country whenever they go out. They are under no control or discipline, as far as I can learn. Several instances have come to my hearing of their insulting unprotected females. I could not learn the names of the guilty parties. (War of the Rebellion, 428)

The 5th Tennessee Calvary began duty at Nashville, Tennessee. It was involved in the following battles, skirmishes, sieges, reconnaissance missions and other military activities, to name a few: Affair at Kinderhook, August 11, 1862; Skirmish near Nashville, September 2, 1862; Siege of Nashville, September 7 - November 7, 1862; Reconnaissance toward Lavergne, November 19, 1862; Reconnaissance to Franklin, December 11-12, 1862; Advance on Murfreesboro, December 26-30, 1862; Battle of Stones River, December 30-31, 1862 and January 1-3, 1863; Reconnaissance to Auburn, Liberty and Cainesville, January 20-21, 1863; Expedition to Woodbury, March 3-8, 1863.


Collection consists of three folders.

Acquisition Note

University of Tennessee purchased this collection in September 2001.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA