Letter from Jeremiah R. Imbri, Co. K, from Camp Tenally, dated August 20, 1861

Jeremiah R. Imbri, Wilson Rifles, Co. K, 10th Pa. Reserves.
August 20, 18611

Camp Tennelly, Aug. 20.

Mr. Editor:

From present appearances the almost ceaseless rain of the past week is over. Whilst it has been disagreeable in camp and out on account of the wet weather, yet it does not appear so hard with the soldiers as did the scorching sunbeams. The Tenth Regiment has been on picket guard for the past eight days, returning last evening. We were stationed along the Potomac near the Great Falls, fourteen miles distant from camp; the march was then disagreeable, having to wade a number of small streams swollen by the rain. Nothing of importance happened during the stay: all that was captured was consumed, not having conveyances nor a disposition to send it back. Where the Tenth was on guard, the land is so rough and stony that I cannot find language to describe it. The river there is wide in places, containing a number of small islands; at another place, on account of projecting rocks, becomes narrow.

It has been rumored that the rebels were closer on our lines than they have been since the occupation of Alexandria; but scouting parties that have been out report it not correct. By ascending a hill in the vicinity of Great Falls, through a spy glass can be seen a considerable body of soldiers encamped, supposed to be a part of Johnston’s command. They seemed to be about a mile from the river and three to five from the Falls. Beyond the river from where we were reconnoitering, could be seen at times the rebel guard; at one time about fifty came out from among the pines, raising their flag. The Potomac is spanned by two bridges – one called the Chain bridge, about six miles from the city, and the other the Long bridge, crossing the stream into the upper part of the city on the road to Alexandria. The Chain bridge passage is defended by an earthwork with several cannon stationed on a level with the bridge, and another on the bank above, which strongly guards it, to prevent rebels from crossing should they make an attempt.

Gen. McCall has ordered a breastwork to be thrown up on the northwest of our camp, overlooking a part of Maryland to check the Confederates should they attempt by this route to advance to Washington. Quite a sensation was created in the city when the report was confirmed that the rebels were on the advance. There is no doubt but that their movements indicate that they have something in view more than usual.

Col. Campbell’s artillery arrived here a few evenings ago. They have six pieces of cannon, two rifled; and I think from the nature and appearance of the men, should they have the opportunity, will use them with effect.

We were visited a few evenings ago by Gen. Scott. He is a man of heroic and brave appearance, with a large head, broad forehead, keen eyes with a resolute countenance, and cannot but arrest attention.

Gen. McClellan is infusing everywhere among the men under his command organization and discipline. Each regiment is drilling as if they would ere long have something to do more than training. No man is now permitted to cross the Potomac unless he can show good reasons for it, and prove himself a loyal citizen beyond all suspicion of holding communication with the enemy. No more can the traveler go unsuspected or unchallenged through the various camps, making themselves familiar with the locality; nor is any pass valid without having the very highest official signatures. The Manassas battle has opened a good many eyes. It has revealed to the whole country that we have to fight an enemy, revengeful, cruel and blood-thirsty.

J.R.I.

  1. Beaver Weekly Argus: 8-28-1861