DeSilva Letter #6 Soldiers Letter Index DeSilva Letter Index 16th OVI Home Page DeSilva Letter #8
Letter (#7) from 1st Lt. Manuel B. DeSilva, Co. E, 16th OVI
Camp Dennison, Cincinnati, Ohio - December 10, 1861
to the Holmes County Farmer newspaper at Millersburg, Ohio
Published December 19, 1862
Web Author's Notes:
This is a letter from 1st Lt. Manuel B. DeSilva of Company E, written to an editor of the Holmes County Farmer newspaper in Millersburg, Ohio. It was written while the regiment was at Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, Ohio, undergoing final training and equipping before being deployed to the war zone.

DeSilva describes the regiment's departure from Camp Tiffin at Wooster, Ohio, to Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, Ohio. Assigned as a camp guard amidst heavy and continuous rain, DeSilva describes a rather amazing dream influenced by the heavy mud but concludes with a more optimistic view of the camp as conditions improved.

newspaper article

From Capt. Taneyhill's Company.

CAMP DENNISON, Dec. 10, 1861.

FRIENDS ESTILL.--On the morning of Wednesday the 27th ultimo, we received orders to cook three days rations and be ready to march at half past one, P.M. Great was the joy on receipt of the orders, and great, too, was the stir; but everything went on quietly, and by the time appointed everything was in readiness, tents struck and shipped and the regiment on the march. At seven o'clock the cars left Wooster amid the cheers of hundreds. Many, perhaps, gave their last farewell to kindred and friends. But let us hope not. our Colonel was highly pleased with the alacrity and general deportment of the men, and remarked that he had never seen a camp broken up so quickly, and in such good order. About noon the next day Camp Dennison was announced to be at hand; then commenced a general bustle; every man slung his knapsack; some were hunting their hoversacks, which contained their next meal of bread and cold beef, and others rushing frantically to get the first peep at Camp Dennison, the great institution of which we had all heard so much. At last we were gratified with a sight of its low grounds and dirty looking occupants, but by no means pleased with to the the general appearance of things. When the cars stopped rain commenced to fall, and look where you would mud was to be seen laying around loose with numberless pools of Water interspersed for variety. When the boys saw tents pitched in mud puddles they were dismayed, and wished themselves back at Camp Tiffin. Immediately some were so unfortunate as to be appointed Officers of the Guard. I buckled on my squeaker, tucked my pants inside my boots, my fingers in my ears, shut my mouth and went forth to sink or swim. I had not gone far 'til I found it was sink. After trotting around through the mud like a rooster with sore toes I found where our quarters were located. They were unfinished; the carpenters were at work; they had completed neither doors, windows nor bunks, and the roof was unsealed. When the boys got into them they thought tents would be preferable were it not for the protection from the mud the floor afforded. All hands soon got to work fixing up, and by dark we had one hall of the building cleaned up, good fires built in boxes filled with mud, and tents stretched across the doors, making it comparatively comfortable; but even this comfort was denied to me. As Officer of the Guard I had to be out in all the rain and mud, to place and take charge of the guard. I had a fire at No. 1, and a bench to rest my weary limbs on, about two o'clock in the morning. Amid a drenching shower I fell into a gentle slumber, and dreamed that I dwelt, not in marble halls, but in halls of mud; looking through a window I discovered in the distance a fleet of vessels all beautifully constructed of mud, performing battalion drill. On closer inspection I found that the vessels were floating in a stream of liquid mud, and the sailers made of pure article of congealed mud. At this moment a beautiful fairy, with enticing smiles, invited me to follow her and partake of a feast; (just what I devoutly wished for about that time;) looking around me I found a pair of wings, most cunningly and curiously made of mud; with their aid I followed my guide over rivers and mountains of mud. At last we arrived at our destination, an immense palace. I entered a spacious hall, and beheld a banquet which at that particular time would have conquered--even the 16th Regiment. But my heart sank within me when I found that the tempting array of food was all vile concoctions of mud--grey, brown, yellow, blue, lalock; mud of all colors and varieties; gorgeous and profuse; in the form of everything that is tempting to sight, scent and taste. I turned to my fair guide to chide her for practicing the deception. She bade me hold my peace. Listen, young soldier, said she, you have been living in a world of deception, where an optical delusion makes the lilly white, the rose to glow in the noonday sun, and causes the brilliancy of a fair maiden's eye to smile like a May morning; I assure you there is nothing real in the world from whence you came; but here it is otherwise. Help yourself liberally of what is before you. I plunged a carver into a fine turkey, called in the bill of fare, 'Turkey ala Mudibus,' and after procuring a supply I proceeded to pour on it a solution called Gravy ala Catsup de Mudibus. About this time I felt a jerk which suddenly cut short my dream of mud. On waking, (imagine my astonishment,) I found myself submerged in the veritable mud which aboundeth so plentifully in and about Camp Dennison--the carelessness of the Sergeant of the Guard, who stumbled over me, caused my sudden transition from a land of blissful muddy dreams to the soft realities of this 'cussed' muddy place. Take my dream, friend Estill, as a reality, and even then you can form but an insignificant idea of what camp Dennison was when we landed here. Since we have been here matters have changed. The weather has been favorable, our barracks are finished, and we have two good stoves with plenty of wood. At present the boys are contented and enjoy themselves very much. In fact we are doing fully as well as could be expected. We have drawn our overcoats, which are vastly superior to those furnished in the three months service. Nothing is now wanted to complete our equipment but our muskets. These we hope to receive at an early day.

Yours Truly,

M. B. DeS.

DeSilva Letter #6 Soldiers Letter Index DeSilva Letter Index 16th OVI Home Page DeSilva Letter #8