November 28, 1861

                                                                                                                                      Headquarters 3rd  Brigade,                                                                                                                                      McCall’s Division,                                                                                                                                      Camp Pierpont, Va., Nov. 28, 1861

Dear Father:-

                Everything here is as it has been—no excitement of any consequence except a scouting party goes out every few days and either takes a few prisoners or is taken itself. Day before yesterday a part of two companies of cavalry belonging to [Brig. General Fitz-John] Porter’s Division were out beyond the line of piquets making a reconnaissance when the first thing they knew they were cut off by a body of infantry and a squadron of cavalry. They were about all taken prisoners as it was impossible to make a charge by which they might escape.
                Last night the regiment of cavalry belonging to our Division, 1st Penna. Cavalry, went  up toward Leesburg, beyond Dranesville a mile or two and had a brisk skirmish which resulted in the capture of  13 of the genus  “secesh.” One of the prisoners was so severely wounded that he died this afternoon. He had been shot through the head, the ball entering at one temple and coming out his opposite ear. The poor fellow was sensible till the moment of his death and said he wished he might be permitted to go back to his people just to tell them how kindly he had been treated since he had been taken prisoner. He said he never expected to be so kindly treated by our men. He will be buried to-morrow with the honors of war, if  “honors” they can be called.
                One of the prisoners is a celebrated Dr. Day who gave a great supper in honor [of] the rebel victory at Bull Run. I guess he will lodge a while in the “Old Capitol Building.”
                I believe we lost none killed although several were wounded. Col . [George D.] Bayard, the commander, was grazed on the thigh by a bullet and had his horse shot down under him. Asst. Surgeon Dr. [Samuel] Alexander was shot in the  groin; he is better this evening, but his wound is considered very dangerous.[1]
                The party came by our headquarters this morning about eleven o’clock. Not a pleasant sight, some of them spattered with blood and horses without riders.
                Our Cavalry Regiment is well equipped; they are armed with a saber, a large size Colt Navy revolver, and part of them have breech-loading carbines or short rifles.
                [Brig.] General [E. O. C.] Ord seems to be a very precise and particular man. Last Sunday he inspected the regiments of the Third Brigade and “came down” very hard on captains of companies whose men had the least bit of dust or tarnish on their muskets. I guess he will keep the boys busy. I have not had to take care of a gun for more than two months, but perhaps I may have to again before long.  General Ord says he will make a move before fifteen days if we make one this winter.
                The newspapers say the Reserve Corps will winter in Leesburg—they probably know.
                Give my love to Ma and the children.
                I am, dear Father,
                                Yours affectionately,


 Next posting:  December 12, 2011

Jonathan E. Helmreich
College Historian
Allegheny College
Meadville, PA 16335

[1] Dr. Alexander died. For a more detailed description of this skirmish, see Levi Bird Duff, To Petersburg with the Army of  the Potomac: The Civil War Letters of Levi Bird Duff, 105th  Pennsylvania Volunteers, ed. by Jonathan E. Helmreich (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009), 30. Duff, who rose in rank from private to lieutenant colonel, was a graduate of Allegheny College in the class of 1857.