DeSilva Letter #3 Soldiers Letter Index DeSilva Letter Index 16th OVI Home Page DeSilva Letter #5
Letter (#4) from Sgt. Manuel B. DeSilva, Co. G, 16th OVI (90-day)
Camp Jackson, Columbus, Ohio - May 24, 1861
to the Holmes County Farmer newspaper at Millersburg, Ohio
Published May 30, 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 letter was transcribed by long time website contributor John Pierson, a likely descendant of 16th Ohio soldier Pvt. Enos Pierson, Company C.

newspaper article

From Camp Jackson,

COLUMBUS, May 24th, 1861

Editors of Farmer:-- Last week we were all transmogrified from guests at the "Government Hotel" to cooks for a large set of boarders. We have been divided into "messes" of seven and eight. Each "mess" is allowed one sheet-iron boiler, two sheet-iron pans and one tin plate, knife, fork and tin cup for each man. Our food is salt pork, bread, beans, potatoes, coffee, sugar and salt. Each "mess" digs a trench about a foot wide and three feet long for their fire, and hang their kettles over it on a beam suspended by two upright posts placed at each end of the trench. It would amuse you to see those who were "gay and festive cusses" at home in their red shirts with collars turned down and sleeves rolled u and pants rather the worse for ware, flourishing the cooking utensils and washing the dishes and the forks of their comrades; but all take to it naturally and are very well pleased with the change. Forty acres of beautifully wood-land covered with countless camp fires and roughly constructed tables surrounded by thousands of patriotic men, all earnestly engaged cooking and cleaning, now and then their good natured countenances turned to the crowd who are encouraging some "dare-devil" who has broke the guard and is moving for his quarters and shouts of "go it boots, 'let out little one,'" forms a scene not to be found in everyday life. The signs that each "mess" have placed over their tables, such as the 'McNulty House, by Uncle Sam," "Lions' Den," "Carrington House," "Ft. Marrion," "Anderson House," "Dennison House," "Doubleday House," "The Hawk's Nest," "Ft. Sumter House, and it can't be taken," "The Big T House," "Old Zion House," with others of a like character, together with the tossing of men on the blankets, ala Son of Malta, forms a feature in our camp life that is never witnessed by a stranger without a hearty laugh.

There is quite an animated discussion among us relative to the three years' enlistment, and in consequence of the seeming neglect at head quarters our soldiers are demoralized, and some of them refuse to serve longer that the three months. There has been bitter complaints of our not being uniformed and armed, but we must not forget that in calling out an immense army in a country like ours, where military goods form but a very small portion of our manufactures and arms of an efficient character are totally inadequate; we must wait in a comparatively disorganized state until they can be manufactured or imported. But with all the dissatisfaction we have some forty or fifty who avow their intention to see it through, come what will, and I think that when it comes to the point there will be but very few who will feel like leaving us, some of them are making great sacrifices, thereby showing their true patriotism.

Our regiment is considered the best that has been organized in the State. Hence every effort is being made to induce us to enlist for the three years' term, and in view of that fact I think that we will be equipped and armed and put on drill in a few days, and in a few weeks be attached to Gen. McClelland's Regiment, and invade Western Virginia. Our officers tell us that there is fun ahead but will not give us any particulars, and under the circumstances I think they are right. Look out for us at Harper's Ferry.

We have just received orders to march down to the arsenal to be armed and equipped and to leave for Bellair, four miles below Wheeling, at three o'clock tomorrow morning; so I must close and prepare for out tramp.

Yours, Truly,

M. B. DES.

DeSilva Letter #3 Soldiers Letter Index DeSilva Letter Index 16th OVI Home Page DeSilva Letter #5