Letter from Hitchcock, Henry H.

Soldier: Hitchcock, Henry H.
Allegiance: Union
Unit/Service Branch: 12th Infantry
Home State: New York
Date Written: Wednesday, June 5th, 1861
Location: Washington
Correspondence Type: Letter
Subjects: Camp Life, Comrades, Secesh

Dear Auntie,

As today is a rainy one, I take the opportunity of writing you a few lines to let you know I still live. I am sitting on my blanket in our tent and writing on a small piece of board. We came here to camp last Saturday P.M. We are about 3/4 of a mile east of the Capitol building on fine level plain where we get a fine cool breeze. We have a nice spring of water which furnishes a plentiful supply of fine water but today it rains hard. Our tent goes not leak much and we manage to keep our traps all day. I like it much better than I did in Elmira for here we have a tent and cook our own fodder. We have one fellow in our number who does the cooking for us and we do his guard duty for him. He is a first rate cook and all we have to do is to eat. We have a loaf of nice fresh bread every day each of us and plenty of fresh beef and sugar, coffee with rice and beans occasionally. We have camp kettles and the dishes etc. and cook out doors on the ground. There are about 30,000 here in and around Washington and they are getting pretty near ready I think for a trial with the Rebels. I understand we are to go over into Virginia within a week. Then we shall have something to do. I think the boys are all anxious to get into action. We are now in the midst of Secessionists and we have to be pretty careful what we eat and drink. We keep our spring of what guarded day and night against being poisoned. One of our men we think was poisoned yesterday but he did not die. Some of them are very careless about buying food off people who run into camp with gingerbread etc. and the only wonder is that no more are killed.

No accident has happened to any of us yet. I never have bought anything but milk and have stopped now buying that. I went out and found an old secession cow the other day who would not ---- for the Union and so I took her milk from her. I donít propose to starve when we get over to Virginia if I can get anything good to eat. We had Friday and part of Saturday to look around town and we improved it pretty well I assure you. I went through the capitol and patent office, post office, treasury building, White House, Smithsionian Institute. Saw Washington Monument. Never saw too much before in so short a time. Had no idea of the splendor of the public buildings here and canít describe them. They are some magnificient rooms in the Capitol. The basement of the Capitol is filled with flour and used as a bakery to make our bread. We eat bread from flour taken from the secessionists and it is first rate. It is understood here that there are 100,000 troops in Virginia and we shall have to raide quite a show to drive them back but we shall do it it I am sure. I think we may have a trial before long. We have to drill pretty hard now but I am getting so it donít tire me much now. I wish you could see me with my hair cut within a half ince of my head and I tell you this hot sun is putting on the black pretty thick. The weather here is like our summer weather except there is more air stirring then we generally have. We begin to send out scouting parties now nights to get the boys accustomed to it and have been called out once in the night by an alarm. This was to get us trained so we could get on our belts and quick an get into line in case of an attack. We are liable to be called up so every night and we donít know when it will be so we have to look out.

Have not had a letter from anyone since I came here.Wish you and the rest would write.

Have no time to write now, so please give my love to all.

Yours affectionately,

H. H. Hitchcock