Letter from Thomas McKean, from Camp Pierpont, October 26, 1861

Camp Pierpont, Oct 26  1861

Dear Wife- I find a sheet of paper lying loose in the tent already dated  by someone else and I appropriated it to my own use. We are still at PIerpont and  the prospect is that we  will be here for  some time. Our advance the other day amounted to nothing in particular. Like the King of France we marched up the hill and  then down again. Out movement , if it was to help Banks over the Potomac amounted to very little. If, as is now stated in the papers it was to meet the rebels, it amounted to less for no rebels were visible. However, Banks cross and then recrossed after  his advance guard got well whipped. It is mortifying to the Pennsylvania Reserve to know that had we gone on in the direction of Leesburg from which we were distant only fifteen miles, we might  have had a hand in and changed the result of the battle in which Col. Baker was killed. The battle was brought on contrary to orders and the consequence was a defeat, which I believe has deranged the whole plan of McClellan’s campaign, and will eventually put us into winter quarters without doing anything. Such are the speculations in  camp. We officers appear to take the same view of it, for they are getting stoves into their tents, or some contrivance to answer the purpose of a stove. However, a day may change all this.

I wrote a brief letter  to you the other day under the impression that our mail would be stopped for a few days. It was only suspended for one day. Swan carried my letter over the river that day. He was here three or four days. The Lieut. Col. of our regiment is this brother-in-law. He is very little changed. Tom Rogers is still improving .We expect him back to camp today or tomorrow.

  You may tell Mrs. Sykes that she need not be uneasy about George. He is quite well and is counted a good soldier. He conducts himself very properly here, and is no worse in any respect than when he left home.

A box from Mercer to Rodgers and some others came to hand yesterday. Most of the things wee injured. The fruits mostly were let loose and run over everything in the box. The  Express company takes no care of any thing. It is not good policy to send fruits unless they are in tin cans and well soldered. Dried fruit would be the thing to send. You need not send me any socks. I drew two pairs of Government socks . They are very good ones coming…