Letter from Thomas McKean, from Camp Pierpont, December 27, 1861

Camp Pierpont,
Dec. 27th, 1861.

Dear Rachel – I got a letter from father tonight giving me information of your great good luck. I am exceedingly glad the affair is over and safely over. I would give a great deal to be at home a little while just to see the little stranger and its mother. However, she will not be very much older until I see you all, god willing. After next pay day I mean to spread myself for tweny days’ leave of absence, and if in the meantime nothing is done by congress in regards to bands I will conclude they will not touch them till near the close of the session, when they come to act on the appropriation bills. Til then, take care of the little darling. I am glad it is a girl, for now we have a pair of each sex, you want me to give the baby a name, and it will be a standing memorial for the time when I was away from home so long. If you don’t like “Virginia” you may call her whatever pleases yourself. There is nothing new since the fight the newspaper account of which you have no doubt got long before this.

So far I have not seen a newspaper account that was anything like correct. Gen. McCall official account will be published as soon as Gen. McClellan gets well enough to look over it. I believe the account I sent the night we got back is very nearly an official of the losses on either side. I have seen the account of the affair published in the Richmond inquirer. It is the most barefaced tissue of lies from end to end, except in the fact that is says the affair ended disastrously for them. It says their artillery scattered the Yankees at every discharge. The fact is not one of our men was disabled by their artillery from first to last. One of our artillerists was struck on the heel by a grape shot, but it did not drive him from his gun. Our Brigadier Adjutant was struck on the side by grape shot, and feeling himself struck, had a notion to dismount, but feeling no wound, and not being able to find a hole in his coat concluded to go on. The shot had only bounded against him. These are the sole effects of their artillery fire, if I may except a right smart “scare” on my own part when they first opened fire on the 10 th in the open field. It was in the middle of this field, and fairly opposite their battery that our flag was unfurled, and as the hated emblem floated out and unfolded itself, they gave it a fierce volley which went harmlessly over, like all the rest. They acknowledged a strength of 2,500. I believe their strength was about 3,500 or quite equal to ours. On our side there were about 2,500 actually engaged – Not a man more. Father speaks of my getting some other position in the army in case the bands are dismissed. There is very little chance for anything, and I can think of none that would be within my reach. The weather has finally broken up, and now we have pretty cold weather, made to feel much colder by a strong wind, which blows nearly all the time. I expect it will rain before long, and we will have all the viciggitudes of a Virginia winter.

I have nothing more to write about, and as it is near bed time I shall close. You have my hearty wishes for a safe and speedy recovery and wishing you, the dear children and all the rest a happy new year, I remain as ever yours,