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14 July 1861

Chicago [Illinois]
July 14th 1861

Dear Mother,

I received your welcome letter on the 4th inst. and was very much pleased to hear from you. I had just turned in when our Second Lieutenant came in & called out my name which started me as I could not make out what he wanted till he said he had a letter for me. We have removed our quarters from our barracks in the city to Cottage Grove—out about five miles in the country. ¹ We have a first rate encampment here. We have 10 companies here all occupying quarters by themselves. We have received marching orders and expect to leave tomorrow night. Where? I do not know but I expect we shall go someplace in Missouri. We are glad we are going into active service. We shall get our arms in Quincy which will consist of Enfield rifles with sabre bayonets. ²

We expect to get our pay tomorrow. I do not know whether it will be a month’s pay or two month’s pay.

Crops around here look very backward & stand a poor chance for early frost. I want you to tell me about my gun—whether it is doing any good or not while I am gone. I am quite well at present hoping this will find you all enjoying the same blessing.

Ever remaining your affectionate son, — Edwin Whipple

P. S. You will direct your letter a little different from the last as we may leave here before I receive an answer.

E. M. Whipple
Chicago, Illinois
Care of Capt. McMurray
Headquarters Irish Brigade

Please excuse bad pen very bad ink, & indeed very poor writing & my waiting so long before answering your letter &ctra

Please answer as soon as you get this. — E. M. W.


¹ This second barrack encampment appears to have been on the “Vincennes road.” An article appearing in the Irish American Weekly of NYC on 13 July 1861 states that the “Chicago Irish Brigade” relocated on 2 July 1861 to “their new quarters at Cottage Grove, which they have called “Camp Fremont.” It goes on to say that, “the men have worked diligently for several days at the erection of their barracks. The buildings are of rough boards. They are ten in number, arranged in two rows on either side of a large open tract used as a parade ground….They are well equipped in most points but need blankets and some other camp necessaries.”

² An article appearing in the 16 July 1861 edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune under the heading, “The Irish Brigade Off for the War, Their Departure for Quincy” reads as follows: “Amid great enthusiasm…the gallant Irish Brigade took the cars of the C., B. & Q. R. R., at Old street crossing, for the scene of action in Missouri. Our notes from day to day for some time past have been so copious with reference to this regiment, that we have little to add here that would be new. I would be new to our readers and to the Regiment itself, to say that they are ready to take the field, for they are not. It would be severe to say they went off a ragamuffin crew, for they had the county suits on; but hard camp usage upon this single suit has given it a look quite unlike freshness. Though in material the men are a credit to any section, they are in outfit a disgrace to Chicago as a City, Cook as a county, and Illinois as a State. The trouble rests somewhat with the Brigade, whose lists shoes that some of the uniforms have walked off with the men they encased. While the Fourth Regiment from Wisconsin was passing through the city, the men neat and trim, their ample Army chests well filled, the second unequipped regiment was leaving Chicago for the wars without arms chests or medicine chests, without camp equipage. Who is to blame we do not declare, but these are the facts. From the neglect in furnishing the regiment with muskets that its men might have become habituated to their use, with a few exceptions, they know comparatively nothing of the manual of arms. They are well up in the movement drill, however, and if they can have a month’s practice in the use of muskets or rifles, will, undoubtedly, excel in this department also.” 

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