Soldiers Letter Index DeSilva Letter Index 16th OVI Home Page DeSilva Letter #2
Letter (#1) from Sgt. Manuel B. DeSilva, Co. G, 16th OVI (90-day)
Camp Jackson, Columbus, Ohio - May 5, 186
to the Holmes County Farmer newspaper at Millersburg, Ohio
Published May 9, 1861
Web Author's Notes:
This is a letter from Sgt. Manuel B. DeSilva of Company G, written to an editor of the Holmes County Farmer newspaper in Millersburg, Ohio. DeSilva wrote the letter while he and the 16th Ohio were at Camp Jackson in Columbus, Ohio, being trained and outfitted for the war.

The McNulty Guards was the nickname taken by Company G of the 90-day 16th OVI, named after its elected captain James McNulty.

The letter was transcribed by long time website contributor John Pierson, a likely descendant of 16th Ohio soldier Pvt. Enos Pierson, Company C.

newspaper article

Head Quarters of McNulty Guards.

COLUMBUS, May 5th, 1861.

Friend Estill: We were greeted with hearty cheers and blessings along the road to Columbus. On our arrival, we marched to the State House, and was quartered in the Supreme Court room on the floor, (marble) those who had blankets were considered "fixed," but we all "drempt" that we dwelt in marble Hall, and all around was "hard." In the morning we "broke over last" on the viands so generously furnished by the good souls of Millersburgh. At eleven o'clock we formed in to line and marched to the Camp; which occupies about sixty acres of wood-land. As you enter; on your right is the Commanders office; on the left is the eating department; in front and in the center is ten wooden sheds, five in a row, and some thirty feet apart. Each of these buildings is divided by a Hall in the center, and on each side is fifty bunks, five in each range from ground to roof, each bunk contain six men; that gives 1600 to each building; each bunk is furnished with straw, but not enough for comfort. On the right of the sheds is 119 tents, containing six men each. This shows accommodation for six thousand seven hundred men.

On entering Camp we were shown our quarters in shed No. 2. You would have laughed to see the boys climbing up to pick out the good locations, to hear some curse, and some laugh, at the idea of sleeping in pigpens; eight or ten would get in one bed, and then they would fight about who should get out; to hear them fight you would have thought that they had found the best bed in the State, when in reality, there is no choice, excepting that the top ones will admit of our setting upright, but they are harder to climb up to. About one o'clock we marched in double-file to dinner. We filed right and left; all standing in readiness, we are furnished with a tin cup to contain water, a plate and knife and fork. Our food consists of cold beef, cold ham, warm potatoes, warm homoney, bread and butter. For supper had the same with the addition of hot coffee, browned peas and sugar, but no milk. For this luxurious living the State pays 60 cts., per day per man. This is an outrageous swindle. At first we had considerable difficulty in getting waited on, but now when we are short of food, we commence yelping and pounding our tin cups on the bare board table until they give us what we want. We have all the waiters afraid of us; they fear if they do not attend to us we will tear down their shanty. There are but two or three who grumble at the fare. For my part it is much better than I expected. If we always get as good we should not complain.

Friday was a very disagreeable day in camp, cold, rainy and very windy. I think since we have got through the weather of the past few days, with our present quarters, without catching cold; we will be safe on that score. On Friday afternoon we elected our regiment officers; they are Colonel James Irvine, of Coshocton, Lieut. Col. Fulton, of Ashland, Major, Baily of Wooster. On Friday night the non-commissioned officers of our company were appointed; they are as follows:

1st. SergeantWm. ROSS,
2d. doR. W. TANEYHILL,
3d. doM. B. DeSILVA,
4th. doW. H. IRVIN.
1st CorporalWm. KOCH,
2d. doA. T. CHAPMAN,
3d. doJ. W. WIGGINS,

The boys are all well and in fine spirits. They all seem to enjoy themselves. There is plenty of all kinds of fun. In pleasant weather we have dancing, singing and all kinds of athletic games. There is not a moment in the day but what there is some excitement. First there is an "Old Bob Ridly" dance; this over a crowd starts for some other part of the camp, where they are having a cottillion; or some witty fellow is making a stump speech. But no matter where the crowd is, or how large it is, we can soon drum it to our quarters by starting Happy Jack to going. He takes them all down. Among the excitement and fun, you find here and there, euchere and old sledge parties, playing on the grass, groups around the camp fires, smoking pipes and segars; others with boards on their laps writing to their friends, and now and then on officer, in gay plumage of war, passing with hurried strides to give orders.

We have various ways of getting out of camp. Some times the Captain or Lieutenant passes us over, and some break the guard at the risk of being put in the Guardhouse. But we have a sharper trick than that. We get up a squad of men, have one to act as Captain, got to the main gate where we give the officer's salute and pass out. Once out we break ranks and proceed to visit the various "institutions," such as eating houses, etc.

To-day we marched to church and returned to partake of the good things sent to us by the kindhearted and good-looking ladies of Millersburg.

The Boys will never forget their kindness. They will ever find the McNulty Guards in the front ranks of their friends and defenders. May God bless them all is our prayer.

There seems to be some dissatisfaction among a few of our boys at the prospect of being mustered in the service for six months. There excuse is that they promised some person that they would not enlist for more than three months. I hope that there is not a mother, father, wife, brother or sister, that will permit their loved ones to disgrace themselves and their country, in the hour of its peril. All of you who have such promises from you volunteer friends, I pray, in the name of God, of freedom and constitutional liberty, for which we are all ready to die, to give them their liberty, not only for six months, but as long as the Union and the Stars and Stripes are in danger. For God's sake never, never induce them to desert that good old flag.

M. B. DeS.

Soldiers Letter Index DeSilva Letter Index 16th OVI Home Page DeSilva Letter #2