Letter from “Dimes”, Co. H, from Camp Tenally, dated September 3, 1861

“Dimes,” Warren Guards, Co. H, 10th Pa. Reserves.
Sept. 3, 1861 [Warren Mail: 9-14-1861].

Camp Tennally –

Mr. Editor: The lack of conveniences for writing arising from our late frequent change of position, has been the cause of tardiness on the part of your correspondent in giving our Warren friends the much coveted information of their village soldiers. Now that some facilities for communication have been kindly tendered I shall gladly present you a history of the past month; our doings in camp and on the march.

On the 17th day of last July, an order came from the Governor for the 10th Regiment to proceed immediately to Cumberland, Md., and on the morning of the 18th we bid adieu to old Camp Wright and with many an enthusiastic cheer, started for the borders of Secessia. The next day about 8 A.M. we arrived at Hopewell, Bedford Co., to which point we were transported by rail. Here was to commence the trial of endurance; a march of fifty miles lay before us, through a strange country and under the scorching rays of a midsummer’s sun. All were very anxious to proceed and we started afoot for Cumberland, but had not gone more than five miles when the command halt was passed along the line, and then we learned with sore disappointment that a countermand to our orders had been received, instructing us to retrace our steps and report at Harrisburg immediately. We encamped for the night and on the morrow started for Camp Curtin, which we reached on Sunday, the 21st about noon. On this day we were sworn into the service of the United States by Col. Sherman, formerly of Sherman’s Battery. Not a single man (I believe) of the Regiment refused to take the oath; no feint-hearts nor summer soldiers were gathered around that brave officer, who acted as if he felt that he was then serving his country as serviceably as if he has done on the field of battle.

On the afternoon of the 22d orders were received to proceed directly to Baltimore and on the morning we entered that city. Our Regiment remained in quarters near the depot until late in the afternoon and this gave the boys an excellent opportunity for seeing the lions of the Monumental City. Notwithstanding the many fair promises made for Baltimore, she is still hot with Secessionism, and many a scornful look and impudent rejoinder was given us for no other reason than that we were Northmen going to defend the national capital against Southern traitors. From hints thrown out by the Union Relief Committee, we learned that we were scarcely safe in the streets of this American city unless armed. We went armed and would have been just as pleased to have used them on the rebels of Baltimore as on those of Charleston. Let it be recorded that as Pennsylvania Volunteers we marched through the streets of Baltimore to the defence of the national capital with loaded muskets.

Gen. Banks then had command of the department and ordered us to encamp about three miles outside the City, where we met the 22d Pennsylvania, the 4th Wisconsin, the 2d Maryland and several other regiments. Whilst in this camp a few cases of poisoning occurred among our troops, and one of our own Company purchased a pie very plentifully mixed with broken glass and other unpalatable materials, not doubt intended to shorten the days of some epicurean soldier. The hills around Baltimore appear to be as disloyal as some of its citizens, for a volley sent therefrom one dark night,popped one of the sentinels into eternity. He was a man from the old 8th Pennsylvania Regiment.

On the 24th we were ordered to Washington City, and after a pleasant ride of forty miles we reached the Capital late in the evening of the third day after the Battle of Manassas. We bivouacked on the Capital grounds for nearly a day-and-a-half, which gave our men ample time to visit the Public Buildings of the city. Then we were ordered to Camp Washington, about a mile east of the Capital, there remaining for nearly two weeks, when we were sent to Camp Tennally, about three miles north from Georgetown Heights, which is our present location.

In this vicinity rests nearly the whole of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, under command of Brig. Gen. McCall. The force is kept in reserve and I think will not be used unless the enemy attempts to cross the Potomac, in which case it will be the duty of the Keystone boys to drive them back, which, judging from the preparations being made, they could do effectually. All that is required of us at present is picket guard duty along the river and through Maryland, in doing which the Regiments take turns, two or three of them at one time, whilst the others remain in camp.

As for the Warren Guards, now known only by their letter in the Regiment, H, I believe they are individually and collectively more anxious to do good fighting now than they when they left home, and I know that they are much better prepared for it. Company H has as good men for scouting on its roll as there are in the Brigade. Not long since a squad of them were taken out on this important service under command of Major Allen; they were sent to watch a supposed secession hole and to capture the inmates. Although no engagement with the enemy occurred yet the boys, laboring under many disadvantages performed the duty in a creditable and soldierly manner.

A few days ago a requisition was made upon our Regiment for two officers and four privates to enter the U.S. signal service. The first Lieutenant and private Wentworth of Co. H were among the number chosen. The Signal Service is a secret one and those who enter it will be detached from their respective Regiments until its mysteries are fully learned.

I will write soon again.

Yours Truly,