Letter from Thomas McKean, from Camp Pierpont, November 29, 1861

Camp Pierpont,
Nov. 29th, 1861.

Dear Rachel – Whistler and Shifler are writing, and having nothing else to do for a short time before we got to bed, I have concluded to scribble a few lines to you. We are still in camp and I see no indications of moving. They are putting up more bakeries around us, which looks more like staying than moving. However, the ovens would do for other troops who would take our places. Our new Brigadier General Ord (not Ward as I started before) is a lively, active officer, and will very probably put us through on the fastest line. He comes round and into our camp at the most unlikely times, and this manages to see us exactly as we are. Yesterday evening, at dress parade, he stood at the end of the line where the Band was stationed, nobody knows how long, watching things generally. No one recognized him the badly dressed careless looking fellow, who seemed so much interested in the parade, our new Brigadier.

I spoke in my letter before the last of a reconnaissance which had started out from our Division. They had a fight, lost one man mortally wounded and killed three rebels and captured thirteen. I saw the prisoners as they brought them in the next morning. They were a hard looking badly dressed, villainous set of fellows, one of them was wounded, and he has since died. The weather for a couple of days has been damp and warm. It is raining, accompanied by either thunder or distant firing, most likely thunder. We are looking for a general freeze up soon. Our furnace is the envy and admiration of the whole camp. It does not burn as much wood as the little sheet iron stoves that many of them have- and make any amount of heat. It is built upon scientific principles, upon a plan of my own and costs only $1.50 for the sheet iron. The little one horse stoves cost $5.

I took a tramp today through several neightboring camps- the 6th Penna [Reserves], the first Penna Rifles, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Vermont, and a N.Y cavalry regiment. The Vermonters are well equipped and are a fine looking set of men/ While among them, and in fact, all the time I was away, heard heavy firing in the direction of Leesburg. It may have been a fight between Banks and the rebels, or it may have been practice firing, it come to regular for a fight. I will hear what it was tomorrow.

I have just got your letter, Mrs. Fisher is a model wife. Can’t you be like her, and feel indifferent as to my condition? The boys are all well. Sam Stephenson has not come yet. My love to all- kissed to the children.

Ever yours, Tom