Captain Charles D. Hipple wrote home to a friend in Pottsville in November 1861 from his temporary home at Camp Wilder, a mile east of Capitol in Washington, DC.
In the letter, Captain Hipple described his reasoning for taking up arms and fighting for the Union. He also gives descriptions of the encampment, the health of the regiment, and his opinions of the unit’s officers.
He also notes their march to the Washington Arsenal to receive their arms – extremely outdated muskets. The Arsenal is shown in the photograph above.
The letter was published in the Pottsville Miners’ Journal on November 30, 1861.
Extract of a letter from Capt. C. D. Hipple, Company H, 96th Regt., P.V., to a friend in Pottsville:
Camp Wilder, D.C. November 19th, 1861.
I proceed with a sincere degree of pleasure to write you a brief letter from the seat of war. Truly it may be said, the Anglo Saxon race, is great both in peace and war. And as we are a very material portion of the race, we can verily say from the vast assemblage of soldiers around us, that we throw no discredit upon our ancestry, either intellectually or in point of bravery.
We are determined to conquer in the name of God and our country, or die in defence of that religion, that flag, and that Constitution handed down to us by a noble parentage.
Standing at this point, within one mile and a quarter of the Capital (called after a name I revere) there is one vast, impregnable, moving, and I may add living mass of soldiers, who have sworn not only on the Holy Evanglists to serve the United States faithfully against all her enemies, but they have sworn in their hearts, and that vow is sealed with a sacred vow, that the accursed rebellion thrust upon us by a troublesome and malignant banditti of heartless political demagogues, shall and must be put down and crushed out forever, or they will pour out their blood like water. But you know our determination, and why need I remind you of it.
I suppose there is in close proximity to this camp between thirty and fifty thousand soldiers, regulars, and volunteers, all active in drilling and in performing the duties of enlisted men who are preparing for the deadly conflict.
I am happy to say that the general health of our regiment is good, and do not think that I am guilty of egotism, when I say, that our regiment will compare favorably with any I have yet seen in the field. Our men got their overcoats today, and look remarkably well. They are a dark color – some are made of petersham and some are a good strong [illegible].
I wish you could see the regiment in line, it makes my heart swell with joy because our men are clothed comfortably at last. Last week we marched to the Arsenal and got the Springfield musket for our men, with the promise that we were to use them only for drilling, and then exchange them for the latest improved arms. I slight doubt the sincerity of the promise, and do not like our arms.
Of course, you have long since heard that our Colonel was promoted to a provisional Brigadier General. He has in his brigade three regiments (three New York regiments beside his own – Ed). I always did like Col. Cake, and believe with a little experience he will make a number one commander.
Col. J.G. Frick is highly esteemed: we all love him. I believe without exception our field officers are beloved by the men, I need not trouble you by entering into detail. You have no doubt read an account of our trip here in the Miners’ Journal. I wish you would give B. Bannan, Esq., my sincere regards for sundry copies of his paper, which reached in good time, and was very acceptably received by all of us.
Kind regard to all friends,