June 2d 1861
As yet I have received no communication from home and the only letter I have received came yesterday from Agnes (Hanrahad, who Gus married in 1865) who answered my letter to her written and mailed at the same time as the one sent to you.
Our boys were glad to get out of the "half-finished" city as they call Washington. I had a good view of it from the highest plank of the Capitol dome about two hundred and fifty feet from the ground. The view from there is beyond description, as vast is the territory within sight that one might lay up there a week and be able to see thing of interest then that had escaped his notice before. The prettiest sight is the view down Penn. Avenue, its broad pavement being but fringed as it were by the rows of large tree which line it on its sides and ending at a large "half-finished" granite building which shuts the view of the Presidents White House the top only being in sight. To the left the Washington Monument looms up near the banks of the Potomoc. The Post Office and Patent office show well although the former is not finished. We have no drill today and most of the boys are out of the camp so that at the call for service but very few turned out. We have a good chaplain and one that seems to understand his business. He has flooded our camp with religious books so that when we get fixed up our leisure may be spent profitably.
The only great need we have is a good chance to bathe. We either have to get a pass from the Capt. to cross the lines and go about a mile or so without a bath as for a swim. I have had but one since I left and that was at the monument where we would have to go if we would have another.
Our camp was taken possession of by a detailed squad under a lieutenant of Co. F immediately after the Seventh left. The consequence was that by the time we got there all the tents had been ransacked and "gone through" with, nothing extra nice was left in any one of them except in Co F's street, this company being well supplied with everything at the expense of the rest. The Seventh left a large amount of private property here such as marble top tables, embroidered slippers, boots, towels, camp kettles tin pans and many things both useful and ornamental. The number of boxes directed to different members shows how they received many things from N. Y. - there is hundreds here now used as seats in the tents but we have no means of judging how many were split up for fire-wood. Whether the little dogs, cats, and other animals and pets came that way of course I cannot say.
While I think of it I wish I could have you send me by Adams Ex the following things: say
Three quires Foolscap more or less
One quire Note Paper
Fifty common sized Envelopes
One or two Pen holders and a few pens
Such things as might be good along with our rations but don't send eggs at all. We have these things brought into camp every day but the members have agreed not to buy anything from them for some time so as to force them to come down with their exorbitant prices.
Our members are much better contented than we expected they would be but I think the rations will not be either so good or so plentiful always as they now are, as we have not yet been sworn in and they do not want to do anything to cause any one to back out when we are.
One of a party of twelve who came with us backed out the day we left in N.Y. One of the party wrote to a friend "to drum him out of the neighborhood" and received an answer yesterday to the effect that he had been drummed out and would not dare to be seen in his home again. I have seen but one "drummed out" yet. he was a member of company A. A jew who until he got to Washington thought that he was a "three months man", but coming to find out that we would not be accepted for that time said he would not stay, so they placed a platoon in front of him a line on each side and another platoon behind him with bayonets to a charge and drummed him down the avenue to the tune of the rogues march. Of course every one attracted by the sound of the music would see him as he was placed and kept in the center of the hollow square in a white coat while all around him wore our dark uniform.
Our guards had a black night for their first duty last night. Just before dark a heavy shower came up which lasted nearly all night. Today the sun is out and the weather is hotter than we have had before since I left but a breeze is always on hand to relieve the heat and prevent its worst effects. We find our havelocks are almost indispensable.
As regards our location you can learn more from Fred than I could write in a week, but having passed one stormy and windy night here I can assure you we are as comfortable as we could wish to be much better than soldiers have any right to expect.
It is of no use to speak of any rumors about Washington or the Camp as the papers supply you with all long before what I could write.
The march from the city up here was made in the heat of the day, every man carrying all he wanted on his back besides his musket. The march was but two miles but we had our load on our back long enough to go six. The scrabbling for those tents was amusing for although there was enough for all yet some were better than others. Those who had their mess-mates picked out fared better than the others, for going in a body to a tent that suited them they would turn out those already there if not more than two or three and take possession.
By boxing up and delivering the articles mentioned above to some responsible Williamsburg Express and mark
N A Conklin
Co E 9th Reg N.Y.S.M.
you will much oblige
Address letters as before to Washington