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[This sounds like a military mission, but I could find no record of federal soldiers being sent to California, so if they were soldiers they were probably enlisted from California. There were actually thousands of soldiers from California in the Civil War. Some served in the East, but most served duties somewhere in the West. J. B. seems to have a brother in the Gallia County area. There were many Ohioans who had gone to California during the Gold Rush. This occurrance was before there were rail connections to California, but this was after the days of the Pony express which was discontinued in 1861 when telegraph lines became available. The two month gap between when the letter was written and when it was published in Gallipolis would be a rough measure of the time it took from Santa Barbara to Sacramento, and then the trip by stage coach to the midwest. N. Elvick]

Santa Barbara, Cal., Jan. 28th, 1864

Dear Brother:
     We arrived at this place two weeks ago yesterday, by ocean steamer and were landed about 12 o'clock at night on a sand bank in six boats. The most of the boys were thoroughly drenched. As there is no wharf, all passengers and freight are run in as near shore as the boats can get when everybody jumps out and makes for dry land as fast as they can. We laid [sic] on the beach till daylight, when we moved up into the town of Santa Barbara. It is the most primitive Spanish town I have ever seen in the state.—The buildings are all adobe, with tile roofs. The inhabitants are of every complexion from a snowy white to a sooty black. They are very polite in their manners, and some of the Senoritas are very good looking. I have no doubt but they will captivate some of the boys. Fandangos and dances are numerous. There are at least five women to one man. They can talk no English, and our Boys are learning to talk spanish as fast as possible. The men are the most indolent I have seen anywhere. Their principal diet is beef and as there has been no rain for the last two years, the cattle are very poor and starvation is staring them in the face. The soil here is very rich, and two crops are raised every season. There is a large Mission of the Sanfranciscan order built over a hundred years ago. The people are all Catholic. A Church stands near our camp, and the chiming of the bells is enough to waken the seven sleepers. The few Americans here are principaly [sic] secesh or copperheads. The county officials are Union, and I suppose we are sent here to assist in enforcing the laws of the land, perhaps to watch the French. How long we shall remain, I cannot tell. As I am writing in my tent, and there is a strong sea breeze I shall have to close this letter, but shall write again soon.
     J. B.

The Gallipolis Journal
March 24, 1864

Transcribed by Eva Swain Hughes