Letter from Thomas McKean, from Camp Pierpont, October 12, 1861

CAMP PIERMONT

FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA.

OCT. 12TH, 1861

DEAR RACHEL-

WE HAVE HALTED  AND PITCHED OUR CAMP AT THIS PLACE, WHICH IS 

CALLED CAMP PIERPONT, IN HONOR OF THE WESTERN GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA. IT IS ON THE DIRECT ROAD FROM THE CHAIN BRIDGE TO LEWINSVILLE, AND ABOUT FOUR MILES FROM THE BRIDGE.. A GENERAL ADVANCE OF  THE PENNSYLVANIA RESERVE TOOK PLACE  DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY. BESIDES THE RESERVE, THE MASSACHUSETTS, AND VERMONT TROOPS ARE NEAR AND IN ADVANCE OF US. WITHIN TWO MILES OF US, THERE ARE 20,000 TROOPS THAT WE KNOW OF, AND MANY CAMPS THAT WE KNOW NOTHING ABOUT. OUR BRIGADE  IS BEHIND THE 1ST & 2ND BRIGADES, AND THE NEW ENGLAND TROOPS. INDEED, WE ARE IN A VERY SAFE PLACE, SO FAR AS DANGER IS CONCERNED – BUT OUR MEN ARE VERY ANGRY ABOUT BEING BEHIND. IT IS NOT THE POSITION THEY WANT. IT SUITS ME VERY WELL. WE HAVE NO EXPECTATION OF  LYING HERE ANYTIME. IT  IS SUPPOSED THAT ADVANCE WILL BE THE ORDER OF BUSINESS. IF SO OUR BRIGADE WILL FOLLOW  UP AS A SUPPORT, WITHOUT GETTING ANY HAND IN THE FIGHTING. WE WERE TOLD, AS WE CAME OVER YESTERDAY,  THAT 40,000 TROOPS HAD CROSSED THE CHAIN BRIDGE YESTERDAY; BESIDES 2  REGIMENTS OF CAVALRY, AND A DETACHMENT OF ARTILLERY.

A MAN WHO LEFT WASHINGTON THE MORNING WE LEFT TENALLY, TOLD ME  THAT THE  LONG BRIDGE WAS NOT ABALE TO PARS ALL THE TROOPS, AND THAT THEY FERRIED TROOPS ALL NIGHT LONG OVER THE AQUEDUCT ON CANAL BOATS. I THINK IT LIKELY THAT 100,000 TROOPS HAVE COME OVER THE POTOMAC WITHIN TWO DAYS. THIS ADDED TO WHAT WERE ALREADY OVER WILL MAKE NOT LESS THAN 200,000 TROOPS OF OURS IN VIRGINIA, AND PROBABLY MUCH MORE THAN THAT AMOUNT.

THE SAME MAN TOLD ME THAT 11 REGIMENTS EMBARKED AT  WASHINGTON DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY FOR HATTEERAS, NORTH CAROLINA. LEASURE‚ÄôS REGIMENT WAS ITH THE HATTERAS EXPEDITION. I THINK THE NEXT MONTH OR SIX WEEKS WILL SEE SOME SHARP CAMPAIGNING, AND MOST LIKELY SHARP FIGHTING. OUR ADVANCE GUARDS DROVE OFF SOME EBEL PICKETS,  AND  A COMPANY FROM OUR REGIMENT, OUT ON PICKET DUTY, THREE MILES FROM CAMP, LAST NIGHT, WERE DISTURBED SEVERAL TIMES DURING THE NIGHT BY REBEL PICKETS.

WE DID NOT GET OUR TENTS. SO THAT THINGS WERE RATHER WET. SOME OF US WERE ANY THE WORSE FOR IT. RODGERS IS CONSIDERABLE BETTER THOUGH NOT YET STRONG ENOUGH.