Near Fort Blenker,
2 miles N. W. of Alexandria, VA.,
Oct. 1, 1862
I am out of the hospital at last, but only “out of the frying -pan into the fire” for I have been sent to the Convalescent Camp near Alexandria instead of being sent to my regiment as I desired.
I had been at the Camp only a day or so and had become so disgusted with the place that I left it yesterday and am now up about one and one-half miles distant with a detachment of the 124th Pa. Vols., who are going to Harper’s Ferry to-morrow. I am to go with them to that place and then I can find my Division in a day or so.
There are about 12,000 or 15,000 men at that “Convalescent Camp”—some stragglers—recruits—paroled prisoners—convalescents—and deserters. It is a horrible place to stay, being very dirty, filthy and infested with vermin. Such a set of fellows as those prisoners from Richmond you never saw—ragged, dirty—LOUSY and without money.
George Junkin and Pete Conver’s brother are among the number, they are well but look in a sad plight. John Nickle is a nurse in a hospital in Alexandria. Harrison McDonald’s son, William, is quite sick in the camp of his regiment—the105th—and I was over to see him yesterday. He has had a fever and it has settled on his lungs. I fear he will not live long. His discharge is being made out and he may get home soon. I asked the Captain of his company, an old classmate of mine [Levi Bird Duff], to do everything in his power to hurry up his discharge. He said he would.
John Downing is in that convalescent camp, recovering from his wounds. John Compton is also there endeavoring to get to his regiment.
If we get to Washington this afternoon, we will start for Harper’s Ferry in the morning. I am anxious to get back to the Division.
I send a list of the casualties of our Division which you may not have seen. I think the Division is somewhere between Sharpsburg and Harper’s Ferry.
Direct letters to the regiment for I shall surely be there soon if nothing happens. I have fully recovered my health, though not my strength, this I will soon gain, however, for I have a good appetite. I expect to mail this as we go through Washington. We are to take cars and go by rail.
I will close, Yours affectionately—J. D. C.
Next posting: October 7, 2012
Jonathan E. Helmreich
Meadville, PA 16335