Letter from Thomas McKean, from Camp Pierpont, December 13, 1861

Camp Pieront,
Dec 13th, 1861.

Dear Rachel – I write this morning merely to let you know that I am in sound health, as usual. It is a sharp morning, and I am writing with my gloves on, in Capt. Warner’s tent. His fire is not as good as we keep up in our tent, and his fire place will not bear in comparison with ours. We are still here, and the chances of our moving are diminishing every day. Capt. Warner this morning entailed men to cut logs, to build him winter quarters, and I will sleep in his tent here after, or after Rodgers returns. He will be here about Sunday.

We had an order day before yesterday to have two day’s rations in our haversacks and prepare for a march. Yesterday the order was countermanded and now we have no order on the subject. I believe we shall lie here all winter. There has nothing happened since I wrote you last worth writing. You did right to pay mustard. Also in paying Filson. I also owe wiserman a small amount for taxes. I wish you would pay him, or get father to pay him.

Will Whistler is likely to be appointed quartermaster of our regiment. It will be a good life for him. He has been very steady for the past two months. I would have written before, but we have been kept busy drilling in daylight, and at night has been the only time the band could practice, so that I really had no time to write. I was very much shocked to hear of Lizzie Pearson’s death, though I had been prepared to hear of it from a letter I received from Jimmy McKean. The choir I suppose will stop now. I think it strange that Ellie should be unwell so long. Does the doctor know anything of it, or give her any medicine? I pity poor Sammy while his arm is sore.

The weather is still beautiful in day time, thought freezes sharply at night. It cannot last long, for it is now late for winter to commence, next week I shall know whether I can get a furlough or not. You must not build too much on my coming. If it is possible at all I will come. If not, I shall bear the disappointment as best I can, and you must do the same military rules take no account of family ties or anxieties. It would not move Gen. McClellan an inch to know that I wanted to see my family, or that my family wanted to see me.

The only hope I have is that being only a musician, my absence will not diminish the effective fighting strength of the regiment. You may rest assured that I want to get home as badly as you want me to go, and if such a thing is possible, I will go before Christmas. Some furloughs are granted, but if requires strong reasons to secure them. Don’t give up, because I think the case is doubtful, but requires I want you to hope for the best, and be prepared for the worst. I think Col. McCalmont will interest himself for me, and though his influence has no weight beyond Gen. McCall, yet when a furlough passes through his hands, it stands a pretty fair chance of passing General McClellan. I will write again Sunday. All the boys are well. Give my love to all, and kisses to the children, and believe me.

Ever yours,