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Letter (#8) from 1st Lt. Manuel B. DeSilva, Co. E, 16th OVI
Camp Dennison, Cincinnati, Ohio - December 15, 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 tells us the weather has improved; the regiment is trained and performing well; new dress uniforms and rifles; sickness; location of first deployment; sword lessons from Colonel DeCourcy; humorously describes drunk soldier.

newspaper article

CAMP DENNISON, Dec. 15, 1861.

FRIENDS ESTILL:--Since I law wrote you we have been enjoying extremely warm weather for this season of the year. It appears more like Spring than like December. The ground is comparitively hard, and we are making good use of it in the way of drilling. Our Regiment has gained quite a name already. Its drill, dicipline, cleanliness of quarters, and the good behavior of the men is the talk of the whole camp

We received our dress uniform on Thursday. It consists of a dark blue frock coat, very neatly trimmed with light blue cord, and bright blue pants. The boys are highly pleased with their 'duds'--all claim to be Lieutenants. They form quite a contrast with the Zouave Regiment quartered on our right. They are the ruffest and dirtiest looking set of men I have seen yet. With all their dirt and bad behavior they form a class of men who are noble soldiers, and present to our theologians the vital fact that there is a redeeming trait in all mankind. The willingness of thousands of men of the lowest character to sacrifice everything dear to them, even their lives, is evidence that there is a cord in the most degenerate that when touched by the skillful artist brings forth those tender melodies which are planted imperishably in every human soul.

I am sorry to say that the exposure we endured the first few days after our arrival here has increased our sick list fearfully, but there are no really serious cases, and most of them are recovering slowly. As this concerns the Doctor of our Regiment, I cannot forego telling a joke on him. On Tuesday night last a soldier came in evidently out of balance--couldn't hold his oats. I inquired what ailed him. Why, said he, I was si (hic) sick two da (hic) days, and the mis (hic) isission gave me free pills for the tooth (hic) ache -- so I took a walk for my health (hic). I asked the doctor about his tooth-ache pills, but he condemns the joke as a libel on the profession.

Yesterday we received the pleasing intelligence that we leave for Kentucky on Tuesday morning next. We also received our rifles, which are the best in the army. They have the sword bayonet. The boys were highly delighted.

Yesterday we received at the hands of Col. DeCourcy, who is a graceful and accomplished swordsman, our first lessons in the sword exercise. I am learning fast, and when I return from the wars I expect to advertise myself as the greatest wonder of the world and give exhibitions of sword surgery. My first feat, or surgical operation, will be to take the abolition doctrines out of Simon Cameron's head and return him a sane man to the bosom of his friends. The second will be to stand a man on the point of a needle and take a cataract from his eye without making him wink. The whole to conclude with my celebrated feat of extracting the eye teeth of a musqueto without the least pain (as the dentists say) or dislocating his neck. My first exhibition will be given in Sam. Hebron's stable; Pleutarch Chambers, P.P.G.T.J.D., door keeper. If the performance of these feats don't make me President, I'll sell my chance to that position to some Brigadier General for town lots in Florida, to be devoted to colonizing negros and abolitionists.

The heavy snoring of Capt. Taneyhill reminds me that a little sleep would do me good, but to do that I must wake him up, so that I can get an even start on the snore--so here goes

Hoping to soon be in the heart of the enemy's country, and that of their more interesting subjects, I remain Yours, truly,

M. B. DeS.

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