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Letter (#3) from Sgt. Manuel B. DeSilva, Co. G, 16th OVI (90-day)
Camp Jackson, Columbus, Ohio - May 14, 1861
to the Holmes County Farmer newspaper at Millersburg, Ohio
Published May 23, 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 14th, 1861

Call forth your music, collect the multitude and rent the air with cheers for "little Holmes," from her fruitful hills and pleasant vallies, her workshops and her studies -- she has sent the only full company that has been accepted without a man rejected.

On Saturday afternoon we were medically examined at the State House, and we were then sworn in, after which we gave three hearty cheers for the Constitution, the Union, Holmes county and the only full company. All honor to "Little Holmes." Our time is three months. Friend Estill, please inform the people that so soon as we return from the wars I intend going to the large cities of the East to put on foot a new project. It is an immense one, I know, but I have got the right men for the right place. I propose to find all lost property. We have the best lot of finders in our company I ever saw -- they have all found enough to start house keeping. I know of one party of six who expect to "mess" together, and they have found seven sets of knives & forks, four table spoons, three teas spoons, eight plates, four pepperboxes, one saltseller, two candlesticks and three tin cups; they will find a stove, coffeepot, and a large dining table if they can get coats large enough to put them under. The rest of the boys find in proportion; they hope to get a chance to try their hand down South. It is a singular coincidence that, when at the table, the officer gives the command of "right and left face, march;" and then calls time: "left, left, left," the dishes, knives & forks and things in general echo left, left, and when the proprietor enquires for absent utensils from the lungs of a sable waiter re-echos the ominous words left, left.

I hear frequently enquiries among the soldiers about the money that was collected and sent with them for their benefit. They understand that there are some two or three hundred dollars here in bank. Some suggest that it should be equally distributed; others that one hundred dollars should be given to the officers that they may equip themselves and thus enable them to command the respect due them, and that the balance should be distributed among the company. I think the latter proposition would be acceptable to all, as the uniforming of the officers would be of great advantage, not only to themselves but to the company. After this there would be enough left to keep the boys in paper, stamps, and perhaps get each one a cheap oilcloth blanket, which is of the utmost importance in wet weather, and the Lord knows we have had any quantity of that; in fact we have had only two or three days "sunwitched" between since we have been here. The fact is, Estill, the boys are "strapped;" with a few exceptions they have not money enough to get a shirt washed, but those who have a few five cent pieces lend them with a soldiers good will; and as we are all in ignorance as to when we shall get any pay if there is any money to be distributed now is the time to do it.

It is yet uncertain what the State intends doing with us. Col. Irvine informed me that he though it a settled proposition that we will be taken from our present quarters in course of a few days; and he thinks we will be quartered on the State Fair grounds, (about a mile from this place,) and there furnished with tents. We are all anxious for the change, but we cannot depend on anything we hear. We are all Know Nothings; the "powers that be" don't know anything; nobody knows anything; consequently everything is mismanaged and the soldiers are becoming disheartened and most of them now in camp refuse to enlist for the three years service. There now seems to be no doubt that the ten regiments of State Volunteers who have enlisted for three months will be left lay in camp just as they are without arms or equipments, to be returned to their homes at the expiration of their terms as 4th of July soldiers, whose battle consisted of fighting for their dinners.

There are doubtless some who will be glad to get out of the service on any available pretext, and therefore decline going in for three years, but there are many hundreds of brave men who thoroughly disgusted with the outrageous mismanagement and will leave on that account.

Our Regiment is considered the best that has been organized in the State, and every effort is being made to get us into the three years service. I fear it cannot be effected, as there is a division in nearly every company on this question; there are however, some in each company who came to defend our flag, no matter what the hardships or mismanagement may be, so long as the Star Spangled banner is in danger we are ready to do our duty, and may the "God of battles" instill into our brethren in arms that spirit of patriotism, and self-sacrifice, which will enable them to leave their friends, and forget all prospect of present and future gain, and fight for their country. They will then know how to enjoy the real spirit of a nation's freedom.

Yours, Truly,

M. B. DES.

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