Letter from a Union soldier describing General McClellan’s taking of Munson Hill, a Confederate “fort” that deceptively threatened Washington, D.C during the early months of the Civil War. Elij Matheny.

Letter from a Union soldier describing General McClellan’s taking of Munson Hill, a Confederate “fort” that deceptively threatened Washington, D.C during the early months of the Civil War

“Camp Senally” [vicinity of Great Falls, Virginia]: September 29, 1861. Unbound.

This four-page letter is written on patriotic stationery a knight in armor standing on a rock emblazoned “Pennsylvania”, the Pennsylvania Coat of Arms, the U.S. flag, and the word “Union” spell-out in stars. It is datelined “Sept. 29th 61”, and Matheny provides his mailing address as “Camp Senally Care of Coll Jackson 9 Regt RPC [Pennsylvania Reserve Corp]”. The are several spots of light foxing. No envelope. A transcript will be provided.

In this letter, Matheny boasts:

“gen Mclelland took munson hill yesterday with munson hill is a bout three miles from our camp and was strongley fortified and was heald by the rebles this was done by strdedgey for an open fight it would be hard to take and with great loss of life it is supposed that the reason that they did not carry on the war with more energy than they did was that the expected to whip them with out the loss of life today they are hauling large canon towards the river I dont know where they are going withe them but is gess their will be a fight soon for we are under marshing orders with in 2 days coocked rashiones and to holde our selves in rediness and all of our brigade”. Very good. Item #009590

In actuality, the ‘capture’ of Munson’s Hill proved to be a major embarrassment for McClellan and the Union Army. After the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), the Union army retreated quickly back towards Washington DC and Confederate forces occupied Munson’s Hill near Falls Church which had commanding views of Bailey’s Crossroads and the Capitol. Soon, a giant Confederate flew above the hill and huge cannons could be seen pointing toward Washington DC, and Confederate sharpshooters could pick-off Union soldiers below.

On the night of the 28 September, the Confederate force withdrew from Fall’s Church and relocated to Centreville. The next day when Union forces occupied Munson’s Hill, they found the fearsome cannons to be nothing more than “Quaker Guns”, that is, felled trees that had been stripped of their branches and painted black.

The press, both domestic and international, had a field day ridiculing the Union Army and its leaders noting that they were kept at bay for two months by a bunch of logs. Lyricists had as much fun as the press, and satirical sheet music soon appeared, titled The Bold Engineer, "Munson's Hill, and The Battle of the Stove-Pipes.

The 9th Pennsylvania Reserve Regiment was organized at Pittsburg in July 1861 and immediately deployed to Washington, D.C. where it was mustered into United States service on July 27 and attached to 3rd Brigade, McCall's Pennsylvania Reserves Division, Army of the Potomac. After its initial bivouacking at Capital Hill in Washington, it moved to Tennallytown, Md., in August, and assumed picket duty at Great Falls in early September.

First-hand documentation of one of the biggest sources of ridicule for the Union Army during the entire war.

Price: $250.00

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