Letter from W. Harry Rauch, from Camp Pierpont, December 26, 1861

Camp Pierpont, Dec 26, 1861.

My Dear Friend Harry: Be it too late in offering you my wishes for a “merry Christmas.” I will take care to be on time – a most “happy New Year.

We celebrated our Christmas about four niles from here, near Difficult Creek, as our company and company C were detailed for Picket duty. I returned after the pickets were posted and commenced making out the Muster and Pay Rolls. These – intend to have at the War Department on the 1 of January, at day-break, as the boys are nearly all minus the “almighty dollar.”

Our pickets brought in a sech trooper yesterday. Mr. Trooper had intended to spend Christmas with his lady love at Dranesville. Bucktail Picket saw Mr. Secesh coming down the road arm in arm with lady, when Bucktail challenged Mr. Trooper and brought him into Camp.

The late fight at Dranesville was a glorious day for the “Bucktails”. The gallant behavior of the boys is in a great scale owing to our intrepid and daring Lieutenant-Colonel T.L. Kane. Well may Pennsylvania be proud of him, for on this occasion, as well as on all others, he has proved himself a Union man—a man who would rather serve his country while some others chose to serve their party .

I could cite you many interesting incidents of the action, which would gladden the hearts of many a true American, showing the coolness and daring of our boys, but I will let this subject be discussed and related by others. As I am a “Bucktail” myself and “blowing about ourselves” would not do. Our Pickets yesterday reported that the citizens near Dranesville buried 104 rebels, and not “74” as reported by General McCall.

You remember our loquacious fellow soldier, Jimmy Ward, than whom no braver man ever drew a trigger on rebels. As we were about engaging the enemy at Dranesville, encouraged the boys by yelling at the top of his voice, “NOW BOYS, LETS GO IN FOR MURTHER!” Jimmy had his own ideas about fighting, and when the Bucktails were ordered to lay down, Jimmy alone remained standing, thus exposing himself as a good marker for the rebel bullets. When commanded to lay down, Jimmy indignantly replied: “Captain McGee an I won’t lay down for you nor for the General neither. I can’t load fast enough on my back.” And the brave fellow blazed away as fast as he could ram home the charges. In the very hottest of the battle, he asked Pat Kennedy for a match, lit his pipe, and commenced smoking, hardly for a moment lessening his firing on the rebels

Capt. McGee also showed the greatest coolness and courage. He commanded the left wing.

I am sorry Harry, that you could not participate in our glory but hope you will have a hand in the next time.

W. Harry Rauch1

  1. Rauch served as the Orderly Sergeant in Company F, the Irish Infantry, 1st Pennsylvania Rifles. Unfortunately the source of this letter transcript is lost.