March through Baltimore

Four days after writing to his brother from Cleveland, Charles Cock writes a much more extensive letter to his sister describing the trip from Cleveland to Washington by way of Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Charles is clearly impressed by the mountainous terrain. He describes a mile-long tunnel and boulders bigger than barns back in Michigan.

Charles notes that there are lots of oil wells in western Pennsylvania and jokes that the primary products of the region are coal and “Dutch” babies. He probably means the so-called Pennsylvania Dutch, that is, Germans.

The 8th Michigan’s experiences in Baltimore are quite interesting. Charles first mentions that the regiment had to travel in cattle cars because the railroad feared popular unrest in Baltimore that might damage the better cars. And when the unit arrives, they do experience that hostility.

Maryland was a slave state but had not seceded. There were many Confederate sympathizers in Baltimore, however. The soldiers were ordered to march quietly and not respond to provocations but when a young woman waved an American flag, the men responded with loud cheers. Later, another resident of Baltimore is tackled before he can assassinate Colonel William Fenton, the regiment’s commander.

Cock’s regiment is now camped outside Washington and he promises to write again soon but asks his sister to write as soon as she can.


Washington Oct 2d 1861

Meridian Hill Headquarters 8th Regt Mich Infantry       


Dear Sister

            I have been trying ever since I got here to get a chance to write home but have not had time untill now & it is raining so that we can not drill & I write now we left Ft. Wayne Friday & arrived here Monday all Safe & Sound got in to Cleveland Saturday morning        5 o.clock & took the cars for Pittsburgh 250 miles over the roughest road & through the roughest country that I ever saw or heard tell of   we rode for miles & miles along within 20 feet of the Ohio river on one side & a bluff of Solid rock on the other so three hundred feet high so near that I could touch it with my hand   I did not see 20 acres of level land between Cleveland & Harrisburgh a distance of 500 miles   we went through the Blue Mountain tunnell one mile cut through solid rock   we went through Several others   not so long I have Seen rocks as large as our barn piled on top of one another   500 ft high in fact   I have Seen more within the last four weeks than I ever saw before in all my life   I did not see much Cleveland but I saw most of Pittsburgh or as much as I wanted  to any way    the Ohio River is very high & the city is nearly half under water & I firmly believe the story that the children all have to be washed every night before each mother can tell their own we had a good super here though   I did not see a town as large as Galesburgh between Cleveland & Harrisburgh I suppose the reson is they can not find level ground enough to set it on   the principal products of the country are coal & Dutch babies.  I saw lots of Oil wells along the road. & the largest horses at Pittsburgh that I ever saw.  Left Pittsburgh for Harrisburgh about noon Saturday and got there Sunday about noon it is not as large as Pittsburgh  we changed cars there & wer put in to a lot of cattle carz  the railroad co will not let their best carz go since the Baltimorians smashed them up so we staid only long enough to get dinner & left for Baltimore & got in  about 1 oclock Sunday night & marched through the principal part of the City  it was lit up So we had a good chance to se   It is the nicest City I have seen  if the people are Devils we wer ordered to March through without saying a word but we wer going down one of the principal streets when a young lady raised a window & waved a Union flag & every man of our Co took off his cap & hurrahed as loud as he could yell & the officers did not say a word  

We had got nearly to the Depot where we wer take the cars for this place & Col Fenton was walking beside Capt Walbridge when a man in the crowd napped a pistol at the Col  he was grabbed by a couple of policeman & hussled off in a hurry  we went into the cars out they thought it was not safe to go in the night so we slept in the cars untill daylight  it is a very fine country from Baltimore to Washington  The Bridges are all guarded & picket tents every little ways   we got to Washington City about noon Monday  Staid in the city about two hours I will write about the city & camp next time  we have not got our arms yet 150,000 of our men are on the other side of the Potomac  They took Munsons hill the day before we got here the report is that our troops are beyond Bulls Runn but there are lots of reports that have no foundation I can not go to the City without a pass from the Brigadeer General   the Col can not go with out a pass

The 5th 6th 7th & 8th Regiments form a Brigade under General Williams I saw the General at F Wayne  We have not got our arms yet but expect them in a few days  The rain has stoped & I have got to go and drill & have got nearly to the end of my sheet & I will write again as soon as I can & I want you to write to me as soon as you can I have been well ever since I left home

                                                                        Your Brother     Charles F. Cock

 Adress—Co F 8th Regt Mich Infantry

           Washington DC

                        Care Capt N. H. Walbridge

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