Letter from Nathaniel S. Falconer, Co. H, from Camp Pierpont, dated October 19, 1861

Nathaniel S. Falconer, Warren Guards, Co. H, 10th Pa. Reserves.
Oct. 19, 1861 [Warren Ledger: 10-30-1861]

Camp Pierpont –

Messrs. Editors: For me to write a letter sufficiently interesting for the readers of your paper, it becomes necessary for me to briefly detail the events of the last few days, which, altogether possessing but little that was new to us, other than the change of camp and scene, may be read by those who are watching us with fond the eyes of parents, with pleasure and interest.

I will date the beginning of my history as far back as the 8th of October. The day was one of those cold, damp and disagreeable ones which we often have at home during the month of October. A heavy rain and hail storm of the night before, had not only washed our camp and parade ground clean, but had cooled the air to such a degree as to make overcoats and blankets indispensable to comfort. Our election was opened at nine o’clock and was conducted throughout the day very quietly. The result, as may have been anticipated, was strongly Republican, except in case of Arnett. The whole majority was nearly 40, a very strong one considering the number of voters we had.

The next day, Wednesday, we received orders to prepare for a march by packing two days rations in our haversacks, and also to prepare everything for striking tents. This looked a little more like doing business than anything we had seen for some time, and the boys from the cheering prospect of soon having something to do, fell to work with a will, and in a few moments were ready for whatever the next order might be. We had not to wait long, for we had but finished our preparations when the drums beat to fall into ranks. We left Tenally at 3 o’clock, P.M., and at four were on Virginia soil.

I could scarcely restrain my emotions as I marched over the eventful ground of our rout, which is fast winning a name and place in historic annals. I could well have broken the stillness of our column by loud and prolonged cheers as we emerged from the bridge and trod the “sacred soil;” sacred indeed now, through the baptism of heroic blood, which we may fondly hope will, in the appointed time and way of Providence cleanse away the guilt of years and restore, perchance, the Mother of Presidents again, a glittering, if not a central star in our glorious Constellation.

We encamped for the night in an open field on the Leesburg turnpike, about five miles from the Chain Bridge – the point where we had crossed the river. Having our provision with us, it took but a short time to dispatch a few hard crackers when we turned down for the night.

It was fortunate for us that the night was a pleasant one. Had it been otherwise, we would have suffered from having nothing to shelter us. The next morning a permanent camping ground was selected, where before night, we had pitched our tents, which had arrived during the afternoon, and had formed as good a camp as the one we had left.

From that time to the present, we have held ourselves in readiness to repel any advance of the enemy, or to make a forward movement on them should we be so ordered. Our brigade has a portion of the line of pickets between us and the enemy to guard. Last Monday morning, Major Allen returned to camp with two prisoners and a secesh horse, which had been taken by two companies from our regiment, which had been on pickets duty, and of which he had the command.

One of the prisoners, proved on examination to be the mother, and the other a brother-in-law to Jackson, the murderer of Ellsworth. The old lady boasted that on the Friday before she had cooked supper for a squad of the enemy’s officers. There were some very important papers found on her person, which proved her to be deeply implicated in treason. They were both sent to Washington, but the horse was retained in the regiment.

There is occasionally a shot exchanged between the enemy’s and our pickets, which has in some cases resulted fatally; but as there has been an order read in all regiments composing this army, that no sentinel on picket duty shall shoot at the enemy’s pickets, except in self-defence, under penalty of death, I think we will soon have the satisfaction of knowing that this abominable practice is abolished. We frequently have alarms in camp, but as yet they have resulted in nothing more than having the regiment turn out under arms on double-quick time.

How many men are encamped on the line extending from here to Alexandria on the left, and Great Falls on the right, it is impossible for me to say, and would not be safe for me to do so, even did I know; but I can assure you that were the number known, it would surprise a great many that so large an army could have been gathered together in so short a time, laboring under so many disadvantages as the North has since the beginning of the rebellion. We are thankful, indeed, that we are close neighbors with the Bucktail regiment in which are our old friends, the Raftmens’ Guards, and the 49th N.Y., in which is Capt. Marsh’s Company from Jamestown.

I must close for the present, for it is nearly time to extinguish lights.

Yours Truly,
N.S. Falconer.