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112th Pennsylvania Infantry - 2nd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery

Item LTR-468
March 26, 1862 John H. Guisinger
Price: $200.00


3 page original Civil War soldier's letter written in period ink and war dated.

Fort Totten
Washington, DC

March 26th 1862

Dear Uncle,

You will see by the heading of this letter that we have moved our quarters from Fort Lincoln to this place and we are all highly delighted with the change. For we are in a better position to see and be seen than we were at Fort Lincoln. For there was but three visitors there in nearly four weeks. But at this place they are coming and going all the time. The fort is situated on the top of one of the highest hills about Washington. It is three miles north of Washington and about 200 yards from the Soldier’s Home. We can see off and around the country for twenty miles and within rifle shot of 25 thousand troops. We can see them drilling and have plenty of music without paying for it. Our Regiment has command of six forts here. Fort Lincoln on the right and Fort Totten on the west. We are six miles from Fort Lincoln. It is more than likely that we will be here all summer as General Doubleday said the other day that is we planted potatoes here it is more than likely that we would be here to raise them in the fall.

There are two companies of our Regiment here. Companies B and K and the officers occupy an empty two story frame house which is just the same as living at home. This Fort has fourteen 32 pound cannon mounted. We drill every day with the guns. We have fired nothing but blank cartridges yet. They make a very loud report but it does not affect the hearing as much as a person would suppose. We will be furnished with balls and shell in a few days for target firing. We are getting along very well with the drill and I improve all my spare time in studying so as to able to stand on by ammunition when ever it comes. The Captain of Company B was a Prussian artillery office only as late back as 18 month ago. And is a great help to us as regards instruction. I can learn a great deal from him for he is no doubt a highly educated man from the drawing that he has made. He and I are quite thick and he has offered to give me gratuitously any instruction I want. Myself and the other three officers in the company squared up our accounts last night and I find that my expenses including our officers mess chest containing stone cooking utensils, that cost $36.00, provisions, servants wages, it has cost me but $2.75 per week since the 5th day of February. Which I think is a very cheap and we live better than any of the other officers in the Regiment. We feed on chickens, beef, split peas, oysters, fish, ham, eggs, dried apples, peaches, rice, soup of different kinds, butter, molasses, milk fresh every day and coffee. I think from the bill of fare it is enough to keep a man from starving. We get fresh bread every day from the city. Our Regiment eats up a four horse wagon load of bread every day. The wagon goes in every day and there is not room for anything else in it after they get the bread in. Each man gets a loaf a day. It weighs 1 ½ pounds and is as good bread as ever was baked in Philadelphia.

I have never had any difficulty with any man in the company or regiment since I have been in it. I think I command the respect of all the men and officers in the Regiment. I am now acting as Adjutant of the Post. But intend to give it up to the first man that will take it off my hands. As it takes up a good bit of my time attending to it that I could apply to better advantage by studying and drilling. I have been to Washington but twice since I came here. I was not at home when Emma was buried. I tried very hard to get a furlough for 48 hours but as it was the day that General McClellan made the advance on Manassas I could not get it in time to go. As General McClellan had issues orders the Friday before not to grant a furlough to any officer for 15 days on any account whatever for fear that they might need them all in case of a repulse. I felt very much put out about it. But as I might have been dismissed from the service for going without permission as General Doubleday told me that I could not go. I concluded that as I could do her no good by going, although it would have been a satisfaction to me and the rest of the family to have been there. Not to put myself liable to be court-martialed. I received a letter from home today stating that they were all well and doing well. Mary speaks of going to Mrs. Kerfost’s this spring but I wrote and told her that she had better stay at home for a while until things get more settled.

We have not been paid yet but expect to be paid before many days. As there has never been any of our men paid yet since they enlisted. Some of them enlisted as far back as the 5th of October last and have never received a cent yet from Government. I have run out of money entirely and if you could send me ten dollars I would be much obliged to you. I will pay you as soon as I receive it from U.S. If I can get off for a few days after payday I intend to go home to see the folks. When you see Charley Murphy give him my best respects and tell him I will write in a few days. Also give my best respects to Mrs. Neff, Mrs. Sadomeus, Tilly and all that inquire after me.

As I have written all that I can think of at present, I will have to stop. Hoping that this will find you enjoying good health and write soon. Direct the letter to me, Company K, 112th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Fort Totten, Washington, DC and I will answer it in good time.

No more at present but remains your nephew,

John H. Guisinger

P.S. I forgot to say that I never enjoyed better health than I have since I left Philadelphia. This kind of life agrees with me.