Letter from Thomas McKean, from Washington, D.C., May 11, 1862

May 11th 1862

Dear Rachel – I am glad to have it to write that I am at work at last, though not in the Government Office. I could not make the connection there, although I was able to bring considerable influence to bear upon the superintendent. He could not give me a place. John Binghham assisted me very kindly, and did all he could toward getting me into the Government Office when that failed, he went with me to the Globe Office, introduced me to Mr. Rives, the Proprietor, and asked him to give me a place in his office.

Mr. Rives took me up to the composing room and introduced me to the foreman, and told him to give me a case. This was Saturday (Yesterday) morning. I filled my case and as there is no session of Congress on Saturday, we will have nothing more to do until tomorrow afternoon. I have got a good situation, so far as wages are concerned, but I am not sure of being able to hold it. They have peculiar, and very eccentric styles of composition in the office – some of which are very absurd – But which must be observed precisely by all the compositors. This part of the business I think I can manage the hardest part of it is the late hours of work. Frequently, they have to work until six o’clock in the morning. However, I shall try, and think I can stand it for a time, when something else may turn up.

Tom Rodgers has resigned and started home yesterday, by way of Philadelphia. He looks quite thin. Col. McCalmout has resigned also, and I expect many of the officers of the regiment will soon resign – Capt. Warner for one. The wooden Colonel who will succeed McCalmont will change the well – earned character of the 10th Regiment, so that no officer of character will care to belong to it.

I think the active part of the war is nearly over. I do not look for much more hard fighting. There may be one or two severe battles, and then only skirmishing after that. Half the troops will be disbanded by August, I think, and the rest gradually.

I sent my Mount Vernon cane and old nail by Tom Rodgers. I want Jim to fix it up nicely. I would like to have the bark retained on it, but darkened, the nail I would like him to draw out into a thin plate, and set it into the side of the cane, near the top, so that it can be engraved on.

You must try and make your money last was well as you can. I have spent a good deal here, some necessarily, and some not necessarily. It is a good place to get rid of money, if one has nothing to do. I can now save all except what I need for necessities. I will send home all I can, and you take as good care of it as you can.

I got very home sick last week. I would like to see you all very much, but must wait till I can see something to do at home before I go. You ask me about Melissa Vaughn. I have no knowledge whatever of her. Smith never mentions her, and I do not care to ask him about his private affairs. I was at his boarding house on Friday, and saw him there, but neither saw or heard anything of her. I don’t believe she is here. I was surprised at Cally’s marriage. I hope she has married well. She deserves a good husband. Remember me to Marian Parks and Anna Edwards. My love to all, and kisses to the little ones.

Ever your own,