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 Post 52

Compiled by John W. Quist, April 2011

       Charles A. Slack was born on September 19, 1841, at Galena, Berkshire Township, Delaware County, Ohio.  (The middle initial probably stood for Armstrong, his mother’s maiden name.)  His father was John Slack (October 27, 1809-December 1, 1845), and his mother was Hannah (Armstrong) Slack (January 28, 1817-March 10, 1881).  Hannah's sister Amy was the mother of Lawrence Armstrong Myers for whom the Sunbury G.A.R. Post was named.

Following John Slack’s death, Hannah married Joel Cleveland (1802-1897) in 1851 and William Perfect (1798-1882) in 1874.  Charles had four siblings:  Henry (1837), Mary E. (1838-1875), Helen M. (1840-n.d.), and Sarah D. (1845-1903). (1)

      Having received the schooling available in Galena, Charles was engaged in farming.  On August 12, 1861, he enlisted as a Private for five years’ service in Company G, Sixth U.S. Cavalry Regiment of the Regular Army, which was recruited mainly from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and western New York.  Charles’ enlistment record gives a physical description of him:  blue eyes, light hair, light complexion, and 5 feet 6 ¼ inches in height. (2

      As light cavalry, the regiment was equipped with sabers and pistols. (3)  Until March, 1862, it was occupied in the defenses of Washington, D.C.  As part of the Army of the Potomac under General Philip Sheridan, it participated in the early Civil War campaigns of the Peninsula (March-July 1862), Antietam (September 4-20, 1862), Fredericksburg (December 11-15, 1862), and Chancellorsville (April 30-May 6, 1863). 

      The regiment was next involved in the broader Gettysburg campaign (July 1-3, 1863).  Having received reports of a slow moving Confederate wagon train near Fairfield, Pennsylvania (eight miles WSW of Gettysburg), the Sixth U.S. Cavalry was ordered on July 3rd to scout, locate, and capture the wagons.  Outside the town, the Sixth Regiment ran into the “crack” enemy brigades of J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry.  The badly outnumbered Sixth’s squadrons were split up “in between post and rail fences, and could not form a battle line before they were charged by the rebel brigades.  Caught in such a trap the men remained firm, firing and inflicting severe loss on the advancing column, until literally ridden down.  Some escaped to the fields and made for the town, but the rebels were there first and Lieutenant Balder, who was ordered to surrender, called on the few men near him to follow and had nearly cut his way out when he fell mortally wounded.  The squadron which was on the road near the mountain [probably McGinley Hill southeast of town] was also overpowered and hurled back to town.  It was very unfortunate that the scattered squadrons were not withdrawn instantly from the front of superior forces for more favorable ground.  The regiment paid dearly for the error.…” (4)  The Sixth’s loses were severe:  6 killed, 28 wounded, and 208 unaccounted for – primarily prisoners, (5) out of a total of less than 400!  One of the fallen was Charles Slack.  There are notes on him in two of the Sixth’s personnel records:  “Missing in action July 3/63.  No later record” and “(Information) rec’d to the effect that he was missing in action 3 July 1863.  Not heard of.”  At the time of his death, his rank is listed as “A(cting) Corporal.” (6)

      A tombstone was placed in the Galena Cemetery, which lists Charles’ age as 21 years, 9 months, and 14 days.  The “Military Record of Delaware County” section of The Military History of Ohio states that he “was buried on the battlefield.” (7)  When the Galena Grand Army of the Republic Post 59 was chartered on January 1884, it was named after Galena’s native son, Charles A. Slack. (8

Compiled by John W. Quist
April 9, 2011


1  Clay, Paul, Alum Creek Families of Delaware and Morrow Counties Ohio, (online) 

2  U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914, (online) 

3  Carter, Captain William H, “The Sixth Regiment of Cavalry” in The Army of the United States;
     Historical Sketches of Staff and Line with Portraits of Generals-in-Chief, edited by
     Theophilus Francis Rodenbough and William L. Haskin; Maynard, Merrill, & Co., New York.

     1896. Page 233 (online)

4  Ibid., page 236 

5  “Battle of Fairfield,” Wikipedia (online) 

6  Register of Enlistments 

7  The Military History of Ohio. H.H. Hardesty Publisher. Toledo. 1886 edition (with information
     specifically for Delaware County), page 324

8  Ibid.

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Let us pray that though such gallant men as George B. Torrance, Lawrence A. Myers, Jerry E. Coomer, Charles A. Slack, and Joseph F. Tanner die, their memory shall never fade away!

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