Letter from “P”, Co. D, from Camp Wilkins, dated June 17, 1861

“P,” Co. D, 10th Pa. Reserves [Jefferson Guards].

June 17, 18611

Messrs. Editors:

Another Monday finds us in Camp Wilkins, although we expected long ere this to have been removed to Camp Wright. All movements of the company still remain in cognito, as far as concerns us. Our experience here has been a series of disappointed expectations, resulting from alternate orders and countermands; while our position is in a fixed institution, viz: in the boggy corner of the old Fair Grounds. We have, however, plenty of time for meditation and, I believe, as good a situation as the banks of the yellow Tiber, which travelers tell us is the best in the world. It is probably not as well calculated for the cultivation of the aesthetic; but fully as well suited for the development of genius, and preparing the mind for its most active and practical duties. We have in sight and around us, the roar of the steamboat whistle, the green hills and gardens, with all the incidentals attending upon terra-culture; to which is added the productions of the pen and press to beguile our leisure hours. All these together with the heavy tread and stern commands of the military, while our own spirits are kept alive by the rumors of blood shed and boasts of chivalry, compose a school for the mind of a young man superior to any school or college. So that young men who left school or any other employment and encamped as a soldier, are spending their time here probably as well as at home.

Our company was left here when all the others went to Camp Wright, for the purpose of guarding the arms that are stored away in head quarters. Since that time eight other companies have been stationed here; some of which will move to Camp Wright, and others will stay here as it is understood that one regiment will be formed and left here. Somewhere in thirty are now in Camp Wright, and others coming every day. It will require ten or twelve more companies to make up five regiments which were intended to encamp in that place. We cannot tell as yet, which will be our final destination or how soon we will be sent South for service; but we all hope that the orders may soon come, as it will afford us variety, even if we should be exposed to more hardship. There will be a terrible retribution visited upon somebody for the mismanagement of military affairs in this State when things are all ferreted out, and the Pa. soldiers are once more let loose upon the ballot box, for that is the only place we will seek vengeance.

Our company, according to invitation, attended church in Lawrenceville in the morning, where we heard a very patriotic sermon; and in the evening at Dr. Howard’s church in the city. In both places we were treated courteously by the congregations, who evacuated the front seats of the middle tier and showed us every encouragement to attend. I am proud to say for the credit of our company and officers, that this was done in good order and with full company, under the command of our highly esteemed Captain J.T. Kirk of your town, whom we all respect and delight to obey.

Grub time is just arriving, which is about as pleasant as any part of the day. We enjoy our rough and substantial fare much.

The boys in camp have unanimously adopted the appropriating system; and in consequence make free use of all the milk cows, ducks, chickens, &c, that come into the camp; and whatever of onions, lettuce and other vegetables that may meet with their strolls through the neighborhood.

I hope in another week to be able to give an account of something connected with our camp and company, that will be a credit to ourselves and our State. As yet, things have not been in a very desirable condition.


  1. Washington Reporter & Tribune: 6-20-1861