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

Camp Pierpont Oct 29, 1861

Dear Rachel- This morning is pretty cool and we have no fire in our tent, so that I will not write a very long letter. We had a heavy frost this morning as we have had for several mornings past. We sleep warm, however, for we have an abundance of clothes. I got a letter from you yesterday evening in which you indulge some gloomy thoughts in reference to my being out in the cold while you are snug in bed. You needn’t worry yourself about that part of it. I sleep sounder, get up fresher, and feel better every way, than ever I did in bed, I wish I could convey to you some proper idea of my perfect enjoyment of camp life, so far. If I could, I think you would feel easier in reference to me. You may rest assured that your apprehensions in regard to my suffering from exposures, etc, are utterly groundless.

If the night is cold we lie the closer together. If we get wet, we stand by a good fire till we get dry. If we are out from our camp and have to sleep in the open air, we lie down, wrap our blanket around us and go asleep feeling none the worse for our exposure. Of course a great many years of such a life would affect a man’s constitution but I believe I could live in tents, without any other than soldier’s fare and comforts as long as I pleased, without risk.

Sam Stephenson started home day before yesterday on furlough, and John is getting furlough today. The camp is full of rumors concerning our return to Pennsylvania to winter quarters. They even fix the time at three or four weeks. I place no confidence in any such stories. We may go back to Pennsylvania within two months but of that I am certain. It depends very much upon the issue of the next general battle.

If successful most likely we will winter on old Virginia “sacred soil” somewhere. If defeated we may be back in Pennsylvania before Christmas. I am satisfied that as soon as Congress meets, Brass bands will be abolished in the volunteer service, and musicians probably discharged. In that event I will leave the army, for I would not fancy any other position. We are looking for the paymaster next week. I hope he will come, for I am out of money entirely, as are most of the officers and men.

Thank you for your directions for washing. I shall try them. I have no doubt I shall be able to get a furlough about Christmas. The Band, by that time will be able o get along without me, and I shall see you. God willing, during the holidays. Twenty or thirty days is the usual length of furloughs.

Tom Rogers is still gaining slowly but surely. My love to all, and kisses to the children. Ever yours