Camp Tenally, August 25th, 1861
Your kind letter came safely to its destination and found me as well as ever. Nothing of importance has occurred to interrupt the monotony of camp life. The regiment was out on picket duty all last week, returning on last Tuesday evening. We were up to the Great Falls which is about half-way to the Point of Rocks from Washington.
The weather has been comfortably cool here for the last two weeks in comparison with what it had been the months preceding. It has rained nearly every day.
We have very good water in this neighborhood. The spring of which we use is sweet cold water, just such as Shaner’s “rattlesnake” spring, boiling up out of the sand.
There is little or no fruit in this country; what is here is of an inferior quality and is sold at an enormous price. I paid eight cents for one peach in Washington. It was a large one and I bought it just for curiosity. I saw a peck of half-ripe peaches sold for one dollar. Butter is from 25 to 37½ cents per pound.
Tell Mother not to fret or think about my hardships but to enjoy Life, for I enjoy myself as well as ever I did.
You asked about my trip here. Well, it cost me $1.75 to Pittsburg from Kittanning. I then used my pass over the Central road to Harrisburgh where I found Capt. Over with his recruits. I went on to Washington with his squad, he having passes for all of us.
Last Wednesday Genl. McClellan reviewed the troops here. His Staff accompanied him as well as the President, “Old Abe,” and all of his Cabinet. While the President rode round past the lines, he stood up in his carriage with his hat off. The men gave three times three cheers with a hearty good will.
Genl. McClellan and Staff were all dressed in full uniform and made a splendid appearance. There were nine regiments of infantry, one of artillery, and two squadrons of cavalry on the field. It was certainly the most imposing spectacle I ever witnessed. As the General rode up, the Band struck up “Hail to the Chief” and as the echoing notes reverberated through the hills of the Potomac, a thousand arms were nerved with enthusiasm and confidence was infused in as many hearts that the gallant young Chieftain was the man for the times.
I wrote to William Gates to-day in answer to one received a few days since. I also wrote to Miles to-day although he has not written to me. My style of penmanship will be excused as I have to sit on the ground and hold my paper on a little board with one hand while I write with the other.
Mr. Green is well and doing well, as much so in a pecuniary point of view as any other. He gets about $175 per month; rather more than Shippenville circuit paid him and not half the labor either. He is allowed a servant besides—I think he has two to wait on him, cook and black his boots. I wish you could see him—
I have put my money in his hands for safe-keeping, that is, what I had left after buying a revolver.
I must close; keep you[r] promise by writing every week. You shall hear from me.
Ever yours Affectionately, James.
Next posting: August 29, 2011
Jonathan E. Helmreich
Meadville, PA 16335