from The Webster Times, 29 Aug 1861 (Volume III #26), contributed by Mike Branniff

Corps of Observation, Encamped,
Near Poolesville Md. Aug. 29th, 1861

To The Editor of the Webster Times:

Last Sunday while at breakfast at Camp Kalorama, it was rumored that the Fifteenth Regiment was to move at ten o’clock, company commanders received the order at two o’clock.
We folded our tents like the arabs,
And at four we marched away.

There were the thousand men, the two hundred horses, fifty wagons, besides hospital stores and ambulances. the road over which we passed is as poor as any that I ever saw, not excepting the one leading from Rufus Freeman’s to Thompson Conn. We made the march, a distance of 35 miles in about seventeen hours, exclusive of rests. Sunday and Monday nights we bivouacked. How did we sleep? Well, Mr. Editor, when you get the blues, or are perplexed about business affairs, walk twenty miles, eat pilot bread and ham, then lie down and try it; it was glorious, sounder than the slumbers of Rip Van Winkle.

The country through which we passed has all the natural advantages, water fertile soil, timber of the best kinds, and healthy climate, but it wants the New England go ahead. The houses were rude, ill-shaped, unpainted, with stone chimneys built on the outside. A staff officer remarked that all was owing to the existence of the peculiar institution. I did not fully agree with him. This Poolesville is a miserable place, situated 35 miles from Washington, 5 from the Potomac and 9 from the Point of Rocks. I suppose we are now attached permanently to this Brigade, which is composed of, 1t Minnesota, 2d New York, 15th Massachusetts, Rickett’s Artillery, and a squadron of cavalry. A regular system of correspondence is kept up between Banks at Harpers Ferry and the forces at Point of Rocks, through this point by means of flags in the day and rockets at night. Last night at 10 o’clock, three rockets whizzed through the air. Not knowing what they might signify, they were the most interesting rockets I ever saw. It is said that the 15th are detailed for picket service along the river; two companies left this afternoon for that duty.

Yesterday we witnessed the burial service, over a sergeant of Co. K., who died the day before. [Note: this would be Melvin Howland] The corpse could not be sent home. The escort consisted of a sergeant and fourteen privates, bearers six sergeants. The band played a dirge, the chaplain offered a prayer, the column moved to a slow march, arms were presented and shouldered, three volleys were fired, honest tears shed, and the poor soldier was left alone in his glory. “Sic transit gloria belli.” I have heard that the company made three ineffectual attempts to procure a place for burial of the man.

The people here are about one hundred years behind the times. A slave woman sells biscuits to me. She says she would not leave her master for a free home. She has raised his three sons. Her husband lives at a neighboring place. I asked if she had children? “Yes one.” ‘Where is it”? (Eyes turned to hide face) “Down South somewhere, I ‘spect.