Friday, August 26, 2011

96th P.V.I at Camp Northumberland. Virgina. 1862

The 96th in Regimental Formation At Camp Northumberland, Wearing Their Regulation Frock Coats, Dark Blue Trousers And Hardee Hats. A Fine Example Of A Fighting Regiment During The Civil War.

Pottsville Miners Journal
January 14, 1862

Camp Northumberland

Here is an interesting article written to the Miners Journal concerning the 96th P.V.I.'s camp in the Virginia country side outside of Washington.

Camp Northumberland, Jan. 4 1862

Dear Journal- It being sometime since a communication has appeared in your valuable columns from the 96th. I thought that a few lines would not come amiss at this present instant. The more especially as many in and around your borough have relatives or friends serving in the ranks, for whose personal welfare they have and feel a warm interest.
We are at present encamped about 2½ miles from the city of Alexandria , and about the same distance from the Long Bridge, near the line of the Louden and Hampshire Railway, where it crosses Four Mile run, which is about three hundred and fifty yards below us.
The spot is a most admirably adapted for the purpose intended, situated as it is, near to good water, and completely sheltered from the weather by hills which are well wooded.
The streets are laid out with mathematical precision, and the tents of the men are, in their way, models of comfort. They are placed on good log foundations, the inter-space plastered with clay, and are as a general thing floored. Each tent contains a fire place built of brick, which our efficient Regimental Quartermaster was so fortunate as to obtain for the hauling at no great distance from the grounds. Altogether we have one of the handsomest, best regulated, and cleanest camps on this side of the Potomac.
Each man has been supplied with two blankets and an overcoat which though in some cases of rather inferior quality is sufficient to make them comfortable. The provisions provided for the men according to regulations are good, and as to quantity, ample, as many of your citizens who have visited us can testify to.
The health of the men is most excellent, but few being at present in the hands of the surgeon, and the majority of those who are there, being so from their own indiscretion.
Some two weeks ago we had a trial of picketing on the Little River Turnpike, our outposts being within cannon shot of the rebels The officers and men seemed to like this duty so much that they were sorry when they were relieved, wishing that they may be detailed for especially for that purpose. Nothing of special note occurred during the trip; but the stories of hair breadth escapes, gallant forays, and daring adventures that circulated among the men on their return, would excite the admiration and envy of Sylvanus Cobb, Emerson Hounett, and the other storiests of the New York Ledger, generally.
The health of our Colonel has for some days past been delicate, but we are most happy to say that he is now convalescent, and will be able, shortly to resume the arduous duties of his new profession. The health of the other officers as a general thing is excellent. Lt. Col. Frick never looked better, and Major Martin flourishes finely. Our kind and most respected Chaplain seems to endure the hardships of the camp well., and our Surgeon who by the by is in common parlance, a splendid fellow. He cures the many pains that our human flesh is heir as much by his exuberant humor and attie wit, as he does with his strengthening compounds.
We have lately been furnished with new Austrian musket, which though rather clumsy in construction, owing to the imperfect finish, is a most efficient weapon.
As yet the majority of the men have not been paid since we were formed into a regiment, why, I know not. Neither will pretend to say, doubtless good reasons could be assigned, if it were necessary. John Bruns Esq., has been appointed paymaster, and the probability is, though uncertain, that we will be paid off.
We have had several attempts to snow lately, but until last evening they did not amount to much. At present there is about inches of snow and sleet on the ground.
Owing to the continued inclemency of the weather, we have done little duty lately; but prior to this, we were kept steadily to work. Our men begin to drill well and bid fair at rival the crack regimental of the reserve. Brig. General Slocum, who, by the by, has won the hearts of the men by his humble and soldierly bearing, honored the regiment a short time ago with his special attention, trying that they did honor the brigade; and that they were fit at any moment to be led into action; hinting that the same time, that the day was not far distant when they would have a chance to display their loyalty and show their mettle.
There are rumors of an onward movement, and report says, that we are to be in it. How soon we know not, but wait in expectancy. The Potomac is to be opened; Richmond is to be occupied; so look for stirring times shortly. When the time does come, your readers can rest assured, that good old County of Schuylkill will not be disgraced by her children of the 96th.
Yours Ninety-Sixth.

Pottsville Miners Journal
January 19, 1862

Camp Northumberland

This is a letter from Major M. Edgar Richards the Adjutant of the regiment describing the conditions of the 96th's camp at Camp Northumberland. The letter was written on January 19, 1862 while the regiment was still encamped.

I thought I new what muddy was were from traveling experiences, but I find since my introduction to the sacred soil that I am commencing to learn. It is a soil that readily becomes mud- the water is not absorbed, nor does it seem to run off. There is also no limit to the depth of Virginia mud- It is difficult to find a hard place..
We are noted for having the cleanest and driest camp in the division, and from personal experience I should judge, tat the mud in our camp is the thinnest place it must be about three inches judging from what I saw riding through them to headquarters this morning, the mud in the other camps must be about knee deep, and how they walk about at all is a marvel to me.
We are situated with our camp, on a side hill, and have taken care by grading and leveling and rolling with a very heavy iron roller, to get the ground firm and hard before the rainy season came on, but the water absolutely refuses to run off, even down a pretty steep grade. We are infinitely better off than our neighbors on the flat, who have no grade, and did not take the trouble we did. The ground is best described by comparing it to a sponge.
It is surprising how people accustom themselves to circumstances, here we walk about through the mud and pouring rain, with the same non chalance and indifference as if we were walking on Brussels carpet in the parlor at home. I have to laugh at it every day, and although I have come accustomed to doing it myself, I can't help noticing it in others- You see them wading about in it like ducks, never even looking for shallow places.
Every day or two it clears up for an hour or so, and then takes a fresh start, and rains with renewed energy.

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