Camp near Harpers Ferry
When I sent my last letter I told you that if we did not move that I would add a line in the morning, but it was thought certain that we should go and I was afraid the letter would not if I waited ‘till morning, so I put it in that night. We have not gone yet as you will see by this, we were ready to move all day Saturday and Sunday and are ready now at a minute’s notice but they don’t “speak to us that we go forward” yet and we are settling down to our old business of drilling 6 hours a day. It don’t look as though we were to move right off now but we may for all that I know. There has been a great many troops moved from this vicinity the last three days. It may be our turn next, but the best informed think we are to stay here for the present and guard this pass. I suppose that will suit you, but not me, I want to see Richmond this fall.
I got your letter of Oct. 23rd last night, I was not surprised at Aunt Laura’s conscientiousness about sending liquor to Mark and I should not be surprised if the cost of it and her own appetite were the reasons for not sending it. She thought wine as bad as whiskey did she, oh my how nice she is. They may talk about friendship, there is not one left in Boss Ed’s family1 but would disown you or me if they thought us in their way when some big bug was around. I don’t know much about Nellie but she must be very simple if she don’t know better than to repeat such a statement from Mark when she must know, if she knows anything, that he would lie cheaper than he would tell the truth, but this is a great muss about nothing. I am sorry that I noticed it. It was too small an affair, but as to her going ‘round town reporting, she might just as well have put it in the newspapers as to have told it to Mrs. Ives if she (that is Mrs. Ives) is what Boss says she is.
(Goodbye, Mr. Whiskey,)2
You need not lay it to me if you don’t get my letters for I shall write you as often as I can. I like to write to you, it seems like talking to you. I write just what I happen to be thinking about, often forgetting letter after letter things that I want to tell, for instance, I wanted to tell you that it was the 15th of last January that Charles A. Dickerman paid that $15.00 towards old Dollie.
I believe I told you to send me some more of Dr. Foot’s Pills in a letter, I think they will cure my throat and stop up that hacking. I am troubled less than I used to be with my throat but I cough some but it don’t seem to hurt me. I feel first rate, I am getting tough as a beast. Sunday night it rained and the wind blew harder and colder than I ever knew it too, I went to bed with my clothes wet and the rain blowing into my face all night through the holes in our tent3 and I slept as comfortable as I ever did in my life and took no cold.
I was expecting all night to hear the long roll beat, for when I went to bed the Capt. said we should probably start before morning. If that was not sleeping under difficulties I don’t know what is, but I slept like a log but I guess there were not many like me that night in the camp. Edward Martin4 said he never suffered so much a night in his life, some got up and built fires and stood in the rain ‘till morning.
The Col. was the only one in the Regt. that had good quarters and that was all he cared for. The Regt. is trying to get rid of him. I hope we shall succeed, you say you hope he won’t get me out when I am sick5, he tried that at Arlington, that is, he gave orders that all the sick not in the hospital should come out to dress parade and I was among them. He sent men around with fixed bayonets to force them out, they came to my tent (we had tents then) and told me to come out. I told them if they wanted me out there they might carry me out, I should not go without. They told the Col. what I said, he said that is alright, he knows his bis. That was all there was to it, if he had taken me out I should have had him court-martialed. He has no business to make men do duty that the surgeon says is not fit for duty, he may order them into the hospital and that is all.
I must have blundered in writing, or you in the reading, if you thought it was Sunday that I went upon the mountain, it was Saturday before and not after. I got mad at the Col. I think if you look over my letter you will see that I had no time Sunday to climb mountains.
You speak of having some commotion as well as me to write in. I only wish I had some of your commotion about me, I think it would give inspiration to my pen. If Papa’s darling daughter were only here to stir up my feelings with her gentle music, but instead I have the beating of drums, the swearing of soldiers, and the braying of jackasses with an occasional discharge of muskets to an interlude to give inspiration. If you think you could do better, you are welcome to try but I know you don’t want to.
There has just been a funeral, one of Co. D’s men6 died last night with dysentery. Chas. Wilcox7 was one of the bearers. The procession passed since I have been writing, I stayed behind to write. He had no family but probably some poor hearts are wrung with anguish for his loss. He is the first that has died from disease since we left New Haven. One man8 got drunk and fell off the cars between Washington and Fredrick and will killed. That is all our loss since we left.
Dear Wife, I don’t know as I have written anything to interest you but I must stop. Give my love to all enquiring friends, kiss little Darling for me and accept much love and many kisses from your Cecil.
We are uncertain as to what this whole hubbub is about – it may refer to an earlier situation where Mark wrote a letter saying that Cecil would pay 50¢ for a glass of whiskey, which Cecil refuted by saying he wouldn’t pay anything for whiskey. ↩
The “tent” that Cecil writes about was made with two gum blankets tied together (rubberized waterproof sheets of canvas) as the soldiers had not yet gotten their shelter-tents issued. ↩
Edward L. Martin was a 19 year old burnisher from Hartford. ↩
In his letter of the 19th, Cecil wrote:
I expected to write you a good letter today, but Col. Ross has disappointed me by committing an outrage against the laws of God and humanity. Sunday is the day for inspection of arms and clothing when we all have to appear with clean clothes and guns and all our accoutrements in apple pie order. Inspection commences at 8 AM and usually ends at nine. Today the Col. gave order that all the men not in the hospital should come out. Now, there are a good many men that are sick that don’t go to the hospital, these all had to come out and what does the old Col. do but keep us out ‘till 12½ o’clock. One man fainted and others had to lay down in the ranks. I did not care for myself, but it excited my indignation to see sick men used in that way. He told me that a man was not sick if he was dying if the doctor did not say he was sick. ↩
This would have been a certain Phillip Hellenthal of Cromwell, CT. ↩
Charles Wilcox of Cromwell, CT, from Co. D. ↩
Timothy Devine, of Company K. ↩