1861-11-10Camp Hale

Camp Hale Sabbath Nov. 10th/61

Dear Parents

Sabbath afternoon finds me writing to you. I am well as usual but somewhat fatigued. We have just returned from a hard march of six days. One week ago last night it was rumored throughout the camp that we were to march within two hours and rations for two days were to be prepared immediately for use. This was not very pleasant news to some of us boys as quite a number of us were quite unwell, but the order to march was only an order to be ready to march. But it was not very pleasant to think of marching the next days as there had been a very heavy, storm raging since Friday night and the roads were very muddy, and for those being unwell it was still more unpleasant but nevertheless we had to pack our things and be ready at daylight. Accordingly our knapsacks were packed and about middle forenoon we were on the road, mud knee-deep. This marching with our load which weights about fifty pounds is not very easy. Before noon I had to lay down beside the road. I asked the Capt. to get my knapsack in the wagon but he said there was no room. After I had sat beside the road awhile the Col. came along and asked me what I was doing there as our company was the advance guard. I told him it was because I was not able to keep up with the company. He thought I ought to have stayed at the camp, but finding the Capt. would not let me stay back he told me to fall in the rear and come on as best I could. After resting awhile I made my way on until I came up with the company after they had halted for dinner. In the afternoon I made out to keep up until we halted for the night and camped down in the woods near Centerville but the worst of all I had to stand guard at night and for the first tour. I do not think I ever was in such misery in all my life but after four hours rest I felt somewhat better. The next morning after breakfast I felt more like marching. The day we marched about 27 miles. 20 miles is considered heavy marching. After marching all day we had to sleep on the ground and go without our supper. The next morning after a late hour we got our breakfast and were ordered to march. That night we arrived at Prince Frederick tired and hungry, but not as tired as usual. We had to lay out on the ground, the prospects being fair for a storm. The Capt, Tom, Walter, Albert and myself got into a baggage wagon and slept there overnight. The next day being election day throughout the state we slept late. We stayed their during the day. There was several prisoners taken throughout the day. It still continued to be cold and stormy, so we stayed in an adjoining shed that night. The next morning we were ordered to begin our homeward march. It was not quite as hard as they had concluded after the two first days to carry our knapsacks for us. We started back with considerable spirits having five prisoners to take back with us. It was not quite so hard going back having our knapsacks carried as it was the two first days. We arrived in our camp on Saturday having been gone seven days with only one day partial rest in that time.

It seems quite pleasant to get back in the old camp once more and I feel quite well but have not got quite rested from that tramp though. I am not sorry that I went now that it is all over.

From what reports I had heard Of the state of Maryland I supposed it to be one of the most densely populated and nice looking countries in the union, but as far as I have been through the state it is one of the most desolate looking countries that I ever saw. Especially around Washington everything looks desolate and forsaken. On our march we passed through one district that looked very homelike. I have seen three school houses in the state. Two of them were 7 by 9 and the other was respectable enough in the size but needed repairing. In the section I spoke of looking homelike we saw several orchards and green fields of clover and fat cattle and horses and we have seen several splendid dwellings, but I have seen no scenery yet that can compare with the Old Keystone or the Empire States. The Captain just came around and said turn out for preaching so I shall have to stop writing for the present.

Half past 4 and I am writing to you dear parents. I have just finished supper which consists of three crackers and one cup of coffee. My appetite does not crave much of such food as we have here at present, but we shall have better soon or else we shall be marched back to Harrisburg to winter. But the Col. has taken the matter in hand and the Quarter-master will have to toe the mark or do worse, but we do not complain and do not intend to. There has been two deaths in our regiment, one private named Thomson and one colored man, cook of one of the Capt.

There are a few of our boys sick in this company but none from our part of the country but what will get well. Henry has been quite sick but is getting better. I have been blest with very good health since I have been in camp except one or two poor spells but they did not last long. We have heard strange reports concerning our regiment that have marched home. Some of the boys have rec'd letters stating that they had heard that we had been sent out as skirmishers and all of us killed but a few, but on the contrary we have not seen a rebel to have the privilege of shooting at him. But Fred Hiler shot one about 3/4 of a mile and hit him in the eye. This was a pretty good shot. One thing seems strange. Every time we have been ordered to march it has happened that we have marched on the Sabbath except when we left Camp Curtin, but the worst of it all is that I do not get any letters from home. Last night I found 4 letters here for me but none from home but two papers in lieu thereof. I was very glad to get the papers. It seems like home to read home papers but perhaps you are busy and have not time to write, but a letter would be welcome, but continue to send the papers for they are welcome messengers but I have not time to write much more this time as I have several to answer. I got one from Uncle Inman and Cousin Ella. They were all well when they wrote. I have no news to write this time. You must keep up good cheer for I am coming home to stay when this war is over which we hope will be as soon as spring so good night for the present from your Affectionate Son.

J.D. Strait

Address Company I 45th Regiment Col. Welsh Pa. V. Washington, D.C.