|Map of Southwestern part of Washington, DC|
Fort Good Hope was renamed Fort "Wagner" in 1862
The following article from 1945 appeared in a Fayette County, PA newspaper. It was written by 19-year old Lt. William Thomas Campbell of Company K, 85th PA, from Fort Good Hope to his sister in 1861. Campbell served in Company K with his two brothers, John and James.
Fort Good Hope was located on the southern side of the eastern branch of the Potomac River and was the home of the 85th PA from December, 1861 to March, 1862. The men of the regiment helped build this structure, one of 68 forts constructed to protect the nation’s capital after the disastrous loss at Bull Run in the summer of 1861. The site Fort Good Hope is today the home of Stanton Elementary School.
In his letter, Campbell mentions seeing an aerial balloon on a reconnaissance mission over Washington. This may be a balloon of Professor Thaddeus Lowe that flew from Budds Ferry in Maryland, across the Potomac River from the present-day Quantico Marine Base. However, the balloon might also have been one flown by aerialist John LaMountain, whose balloon was spotted in December in the vicinity of Alexandria, VA, about four miles from Fort Good Hope.
[Connellsville (PA) Daily Courier, November 16, 1945, p.12]
“Sword and Letter Recall Incidents of Civil War”
A prized possession of memories of the family of the late George W. Campbell of Normalville and Connellsville is the sword of Mr. Campbell’s brother, Lieutenant William T. Campbell, who was killed in the battle of [Second] Deep Bottom, Virginia, August 13, 1864. It reposes at the Campbell homestead in East Green Street. Members of the family are Dr. Clyde S. Campbell, Miss Rebekah Campbell, Miss Kathryn Campbell and Ben H. Campbell.
A Conf. bullet struck Lieutenant Campbell over the heart, piercing it after severing the leather strap by which swords were then carried. In the soldier’s honor, the post of the Grand Army of the Republic at Springfield, now Normalville, was named William T. Campbell.
Another relic of the Rebellion is the letter written by Lieutenant Campbell from Fort Good Hope, across the Potomac River from the National Capital, and directed to his sister Mary of Springfield. It is among the effects of Harry Hayden of Uniontown, an employee of the W. Penn System in Connellsville...
The letter from the lieutenant to his sister, dated December 12, 1861, was written in the quaint style of long ago. It reads:
|Balloon View of Washington, 1861, facing southwest.|
Fort Good Hope would soon be built at the top left across the Eastern Branch
of the Potomac River. -- Library of Congress
Lieutenant William T. Campbell
December 16, 1861
Fort Good Hope, DC
I sit down to let you know that I am well and hope you are the same. I received a letter from father a few minutes ago and was glad to hear that you are all well. He said he was going to butcher the next day. I was glad to hear it and would like if you would send me about have of one of the backbones in your letter when you answer this.
We are getting along fine. They boys are all well and enjoying themselves accordingly. Just finished our house today. It consists of three rounds of longs built up like a log house, chunked and daubed, and our tent sought [set] on top for a cover. The boys are all fixing up the same way for the winter. We have had no cold weather here like you had in the mountains. For the last week it has been so warm that I could no without my coat.
We are still encamped about three miles from Washington, across the eastern branch of the Potomac, with two other regiments and are engaged in building a fort. From the fort you can see Washington city about as well from any place about the city. The regiment works by turns and more of us were out today but the whole regiment is going our tomorrow. When I was working on the fort day before yesterday I seen a balloon travelling through the air. It was on a reconnoitering expedition to see what the rebels are doing.
I expect that we will stay here all winter and I would be glad if we would for it is a very pleasant place to stay and we got plenty to eat and plenty to cover to keep warm. Mary, tell the girls to keep in good heart for we will be back some time and hope that we may see them all married to some of the soldiers that stayed home. We see a girl so seldom down here that it looks like the mountains about Springfield when we see one. We have not seen any ladies of any account since we left Pennsylvania except a few black ones that we seen at Baltimore, which consisted of about 500 that turned out to see us as we passed through the city.
Mary, we are within three miles of Washington and can get no late news. Now I want you to send me the [Uniontown Evening] Standard every week after you read it. It will not cost you much, not more than a cent at a time, and when we get paid here which will not be longer than January I will send you enough money to satisfied you well for your trouble and a nice present.
I don’t know that I have anything more to write at present but when you write let me know how all the people are getting along in the mountains. I wrote to Sam as soon as I arrived but have not received any answer yet. Give my love to Father and Mother and all the rest of the family and tell Father that I will answer his letter the first of next week.
Nothing more. Answer soon.
Your brother, W. T. Campbell