This letter was written William H. Crandall while at Camp Curtin outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. William and other young men recruited by Captain Jacob Dorsheimer at Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, were mustered into service on 20 April 1861 “for three years or the war” — the first company of Pennsylvanians to volunteer for the long term. We learn from the letter that Dorsheimer’s company (Company C) was still at Camp Curtin awaiting formation of the 16th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment which was composed primarily of three months’ men.
The letter includes a first-hand witness account of Major Robert Anderson’s whistle-stop at the Harrisburg Depot in May 1861. Major Anderson — the hero of Fort Sumter — was met at the depot by Gov. Curtin and other state officials along with an immense crowd. Capt. Dorsheimer’s company was apparently among the 12 companies that made the march into Harrisburg to greet the career officer, recently promoted to Colonel and given the command of troops in Kentucky.
Camp Curtin, Harrisburg [Pennsylvania]
May 13, 1861
I received your letter as it was forwarded to me and was glad to hear once more and should have answered it before but have been expecting regiments from Elmira and thought that perhaps Albert might be in them but they have not arrived so I drop a line.
Our regiment is not formed. We expected it today but we cannot tell when as we have only fifteen minutes notice. Perhaps the special call tomorrow on the parade ground is for that purpose. This of course is all guesswork. There was a little more than a regiment from Michigan arrived here tonight to avoid going through Baltimore in the night and eleven more on this road — all good looking that are here.
This afternoon fourteen companies went to the depot to salute Major Anderson as he passed through this place. He stood on the platform of the car as he came in town. He is a rather slender looking, but has a manly, noble look. [He] was dressed in citizen’s costume. He remained only about twenty minutes. I did not learn his destination.
We have just learned the President has called for ten regiments more from Pennsylvania.
We are in a splendid company of boys picked from a large number who wished to go in it. All are the true blue, all are in good spirits with good quarters and excellent provisions or fare. We are under the best of officers who look carefully after us and are very kind.
There goes the call for parade and I shall have to close. All letters directed to me at Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, in care of Capt. Dorsheimer, will reach me even if we leave here. Goodbye for the [present]. With my love, yours — William H. Crandall