Letter from Thomas McKean, from Camp Pierpont, December 19, 1861

Camp Pierpont,
Dec. 19th, 1861.

Dear Rachel – I am writing this in our new quarters – That is in our new Cabin. We have a very comfortable house, and we can stand any amount of cold weather. We have a little sheet iron stove with two holes in the top for cooking – Two Griddles to fit them – A frying pan, a sauce pan, and a coffee pot. All New. We can get Buckwheat Flour, and I mean to have some buckwheat cake soon. Our entire shanty and outfit cost us about eight dollars, and we think it a cheap as well a good home. Capt. Warner and I mean to do our own cooking. A little black boy will carry our water and cut our wood, so that the hardest part of the job will be off our hands. Our shanty has a water proof roof of clapboards, nailed on. Our window will hold three lights of glass, and the only thing we lack to make us comfortable is our wives and children. Captain’s wife wants to come, but he won’t let her. Our bed is very comfortable – Being made of small and altogether I think we are very enviable situated.

I have not yet applied for my furlough, in fact, I am almost afraid to try. The leader of the 6th regimental band applied for one last week, and his colonel advised him not to ask for it, For, since it is certain that the bands will be abolished, it is most likely it will be done soon, and he would save the expense of a trip home by waiting perhaps two or three weeks. I think, Darling, that I had better wait, at least till next pay day before I leave. By that time we will know whether any bands are to be retained, and if not, I can go home without the necessity of returning again. It costs, to go and come, about forty dollars. I might go home about Christmas, and return here, only to find that I had to go home again, thus involving an expense weeks of forty dollars merely to have a short, unsatisfactory visit, when by waiting two or three time, but you can get along without me, and then in a few weeks, I can be at home for good. I know it is rather miserly to put money against the anxieties and hopes of a wife, but I think you will agree with me that my plan is a better one.

I am as anxious to get home as you can be to have me come, but a few weeks will not, I think, be much longer to wait, and then I need not leave you again. If, by next pay day, (About the tenth of January,) the bands are not dismissed, I will come home at any rate, but I will feel sure that it will be settled by that time that the bands are to go. One other reason the band cannot get along without me, and I fear Col. McCalmout would not let me go on that account. We had hired a man to play second lead, but he has not yet come. He is waiting to get a transfer from his regiment to ours. When he comes, if he comes, I can be spared. He should have been with us three weeks ago. I still think he will come. If you say I must come, on that you can’t get along without me, I will come, if I have to resign my situation. There is no news in camp, whatever. Things are just as they have been the weather is still beautiful. Give my love to all, and kissed to the children.

Ever yours,