Letter from “Anon”, Co. F, from Washington, D.C., dated July 26, 1861

Anon., Jefferson Guards, Co. D, 10th Pa. Reserves.
July 26, 18611

Washington, D.C. –

This beautiful morning finds us in the splendid park immediately in front of the Capitol building, where we bivouacked last night, sleeping for the first time without anything over us but the broad blue sky. It is certainly a most beautiful place. Our regiment is fortunate in reaching here, not only on account of the beauty and comfort of our situation, but because it gave us an opportunity of seeing both Houses of Congress in session, where the great men of the nation are assembled.

Our regiment left Camp Wright under orders to Cumberland, Md., but while on our way thither we received counter orders to report immediately at Harrisburg. This was occasioned by a dispatch from Gen. McCall, requiring him to send all force under his command to Washington immediately. Consequently we were equipped at Harrisburg with knapsacks, haversacks, canteens and cartridge boxes, and with ten rounds of ammunition, the latter being intended to carry us safely through Baltimore. That city is of such doubtful loyalty that the defeat of our troops at Bull Run caused such rejoicing among the secessionists as to produce some apprehension on the part of our men. Baltimore has cost the government a great sum of money to preserve its loyalty, yet I think it would be displaying decided weakness to destroy it as some have advised. Far better preserve it that the monumental city of America may stand as an enduring memorial of the strength and protecting power of the Government.

Since we have been in the city almost every train brings a regiment of soldiers. Sickles’ brigade came in yesterday, and also the Eighth regiment from Camp Wilkins under command of Col. Hays. This morning’s train brought in the Ninth, Col. Jackson, from Camp Wright. We were of course glad to see our old friends, and we are now in hopes we will be encamped together somewhere near Alexandria. We will then be in Dixie, and consequently be brought ‘down to the dots,’ and subjected to all the rigors of army discipline. I have been informed, however, that the troops have plenty to eat, and if so they are better off than we have been for the last week, during which time our rations consisted principally of dried beef and crackers. We have had but two meals of cooked rations since we left Pittsburgh, yet strange as it may seem there has been very little complaining on the part of the men.

We just arrived in the city in time to see the Sixty-ninth New York regiment leave for home. They are a brave, hardy set of men, and certainly deserve great praise for their conduct while in the field. They were among the first to rally around the Capital when it was first threatened, and were among the last to leave it. About the same is true of the Fire Zouaves who are said to have done the hardest that has yet been done in the contest. Those of them who are left say they will fight on till the last armed foe expires. We have heard some sad stories from these poor fellows about their own sufferings and those of their comrades who fell into the hands of the enemy.

The impression generally prevails here that it was the inefficiency of the officers that caused the disastrous retreat – that although our men were greatly inferior in point of numbers as well as in artillery, yet if the officers had behaved like Col. Seigel, they might, like him, have made an honorable retreat at least.

The boys are all writing home this morning; they appear to be attending to this with more than ordinary diligence, either because they have more to write about, or because while here we can get as many franked envelopes as we want by going across to the Capital Post Office. This is no small favor from the fact that we have not yet received any pay from either the State or General Government, and many of us have not as much in present possession as would buy a postage stamp.

While we were in Baltimore we had the pleasure of meeting our old friends of Capt. Armstrong’s company. They intended going home when their time was up which was last Tuesday, but since the last fight they concluded to wait awhile, to see if there was any chance to get a lick at the rebels before they go.

We are about to move across the river, and I must close in order to prepare for marching. If any of our friends wish to know when they read of us, we are Company D, 10th regiment P.R.C. Any letters sent to Washington City to that address will probably reach us.

Anon., Jefferson Guards, Co. D, 10th Pa. Reserves.

  1. Washington Reporter & Tribune: 8-1-1861