Letter from “Kitten”, Co. H, from Camp Wright, dated June 19, 1861

Co. H, 10th Pa. Reserves [Warren Guards],
June 8, 18611

Editors Ledger — Gentlemen:

Knowing that before this time, you must have received an account of our journey here, I will not describe it to you, but will give you a daily account of our life and experience. But before I begin, let me tell you not to expect any highly colored or romantic pictures of camp life, but merely a description of our camp, and the manner in which we at present spend our time. I do not believe that a romance of camp life written in camp, could by any possibility be made entertaining enough to read.

May 31st — We arrived at camp this morning at 10 o’clock, after a ride of some twelve miles from Pittsburgh on the Allegheny Valley R.R. The camp is in a very pleasantly situated field about eighty or a hundred rods from the bank of the river containing some twenty-five or thirty acres of land. It has an orchard in the center, and on the north end has quite a piece of woods. It also has two large springs that will yield water enough for the use of the camp. These together with it being a very healthy place, make it a most desirable position for a camp.

At noon we partook of _ and spread out on the grass. We will here have to thank the ladies of Warren for those dainties they sent with us, for they were certainly the best we ever ate.

In the afternoon we busied ourselves in erecting some tents for sleeping quarters. We got enough up before dark for all of the company.

June 1st — I visited Camp Wilkens at Pittsburg to day. They certainly have a very poor camping ground, and also very poor accommodations for some of the companies there. There appears to be a great deal of fault found with the rations or rather the want of them. Some of the companies say they have not had near enough to eat for more than three weeks. None of them complain of anything being left after meals. It rained here all night, and the mud or rather clay is about two inches deep all over the camp (Camp Wilkens).

June 3rd — Our men keep themselves busied about something all the time. They have a nice place down on the bank of the river for washing clothes or bathing. They also have many letters to write which with drilling and doing duty as guard, takes up most of the time.

There has not been so much as a whisper about home sickness as yet. That is entirely foreign to the nature of camp life.

This evening during a heavy rain storm a special train from Pittsburg arrived bring a company from Beaver County. They style themselves the Curtin Rifles. They have neither uniforms nor arms.

June 4th — The provisions we brought with us gave out yesterday. We will now have to live entirely on the rations provided for us by the commissary department at Camp Wilkens. We are allowed 77 rations, and we have 84 men in our company. Still there seems to be enough for all. It is hard for some of the men to understand that they must not leave the camp without a pass. They have been very used to going and coming when they had a mind to, and it is hard for them to give up old habits. The camp is a splendid school to learn self denial.

June 5th — The Washington Light Infantry came to-day. They are a good looking company, but without uniforms or arms. The name of our camp has been changed by the Governor, from Camp McCall to Camp Wright, in honor of one of his aids. I understand that it is Col. McLane’s intention to remove all of those regiments and companies from Wilkens to this place and for that purpose, he has some eighty or a hundred men at work building barracks. It gives the camp the air of a new and enterprising town. They have already completed the quarters of the Erie Regiment.

June 6th — The Erie regiment came up to-day. They are a fine looking set of men and their uniforms would look well if they were not quite so ragged. Some of them need new uniforms badly. The camp to-day represents a large bee hive with a very free sprinkling of drones in it. The spring fever is the only disease we have and that is raging furiously.

June 8th — A company from Armstrong County and three or four from Camp Wilkens came into camp to-day. The Pittsburg rifle regiment is expected here this afternoon or Monday morning, also some other companies that are encamped at Wilkens. Captain Allen’s kittens as our company are called here are very anxious to get into Col. Kane’s regiment of wild cats at Camp Curtin. The growls caused by our not receiving an answer to a dispatch sent to Gen. McCall have been loud and long. Capt. Allen started for Harrisburg this morning. He will return on Tuesday so if we go to Camp Curtin, it will be on Wednesday or Thursday.

The boys send their love to everybody. I would write more but it is time for me to go on guard.

Yours truly,
One of the Kittens.

  1. Warren Ledger: 6-19-1861