Letter from Thomas McKean, from Camp Pierpont, November 2, 1861

Camp Pierpont, Nov 2 1861

Dear Rachel-I received a letter from you yesterday evening, containing Sammy’s mark. You may believe me when I say that the dear little fellow’s scrawl or splatter done me more good than even your welcome letter.  It rained here all last night and this morning it is pouring down like a cataract[?].

Our tent is perfectly waterproof and rain only gives us because it delay our cook in preparing breakfast. The poor soldiers on guard have to take it. Our rains came from the east and the Atlantic and like their source are generally large affairs.

There is nothing new of importance in camp. Night before last, our pickets were alarmed by a light rebel demonstration but if it did not originate from nothing, it amounted to nothing. I feel satisfied that we will not move forward til Banks can cross the Potomac, which with the rain fall upon us, I don’t think likely to happen very soon. The Potomac is well up and he has no means of transportation.

The great naval expedition may draw off enough men from Manassas to open up a chance for us there, but on the other hand, how are our troops to be supplied with provisions when we get there? The wet season is close at hand when, as I have been told, the roads in this part of the country are impassable. Altogether the prospect looks gloomy, and I can see no light ahead, except in the direction of the naval expedition.

If they are successful, I shall feel more hopeful. If they are not I shall almost despair of any thing being done this fall or winter. So far as we know the rebels make no blunders. Our movements appear to be a succession of blunders. The Ball’s Bluff affair I consider hardly inferior in the effect to Bull Run. It has terribly taken the confidence of the men in their officers, because the movement was so palpably unmilitary, that anyone can see its folly. Quite a discussion is going on as to whose fault it was. Perhaps it will never be know; like the charge at Balaklava, history can only say that “someone had blundered.”

If a winter campaign is abandoned, we shall probably be sent back to Pennsylvania to winter and I predict there will be no spring campaign. England and France will not wait so long.

The health of the regiment is good. All of he Mercer boys are well. Give my love to all and believe me as ever yours