The Mack Letters | Civil War Correspondence | Issue no. 2

The Mack Letters | May, 8th 1861

The Mack Letters

The Mack Letters is a series of letters published in the Brodhead Independent by Isaac Foster Mack, Sr. (Owner and Editor).

They are a firsthand account of I.F. Mack, Jr.'s service in the Civil War, as well as a captivating insights to the realities of the war.

Camp Dennison

We give to our readers the following extract from a letter written at Camp Denison, near Cincinnati, 

CAMP DENISON, May 8 1861.


I wrote you from the State House at Columbus on the 5th, which place we left at 4 o'clock the next morning for this camp. We passed over the most beautiful portion of Ohio, bordering the Miami River, and arrived at Camp D. at two P M. Camp D. covers about 1000 acres of land, most of which was sown last fall to winter wheat and is in a poor condition for drill or parade ground. The ground is rented to the state for one year at 12 per acre for the part not sown, and $20 per acre for that sown. Seven thousand troops are now in the camp, and harder looking or meaner acting men I never have seen, than most of them.

The governor promised that the citizens or neighboring farmers should not be molested, but he might as well have promised that the north west wind should not blow for the space of six months. The troops rob hen roosts, kill pigs, and cattle, milk the cows, and insult the women; at Camp Taylor a strict guard was kept, and evil passions restrained.

Milford Station a village of three four hundred inhabitante about 1 1/2 miles from the camp, furnished the prolific abuse of most of the outrages. It has a vast distillery, where "poor whisky" is made in abundance. The poor quality of our food is another inducing cause of trouble. We are allowed no butter, no potatoes and no milk, but pork, "fat or little fatter," bread and poor coffee, make up the whole story. I have left off coffee broil a bit of pork, and toast a piece of bread, and "make it go well." I am well while all about me are sick or dying. - Two men died yesterday one this A. M, and another is nearly gone, over two hundred are in the hospital, an old barn, (smeared word) for the purpose.

All in our company are well except one, and he is not dangerously ill. I fear the water, we get it from a black muddy stream, that flows through our camp. We are to remain here three weeks to drill, and more troops are arriving. During the week we are to have 12,000 in camp. Camp Harrison ten miles from here has 4.000 

Write and direct to Co. C. 7th Reg't. Camp D. 

Your Son.

I. F. Mack Jr.

Excerpt from The Mack Letters