Stafford Court House, VA, March 8th 1863
It being a dark and gloomy day my thoughts turn naturally towards my home and dear friends that gather around the old fireside and try to cheer each other with the sunlight of love when the natural sun is obscured by clouds. I don’t know why it is, but if I am ever homesick it is when the sun is shut out from the world, and nature seems to mourn its loss. So today I am not exactly homesick but I should like right well to be with you today and to pass the Sabbath in my own home, surrounded by love, and comforts, unknown in the Army but I am not the one to despair and trust that it will not be long before I can again visit my family never to be separated from them except by that great equalizer death. I can understand very well that we are under the protection of the same God, here as elsewhere, but like you I am anxious that we should spend the little time allotted us here together but the Lord Omnipotent reigns, and I will trust his mercy forever.
I received your letter written last Sabbath1 and was glad to hear that the excitement of my visit and so much company had not made you sick. I am sorry mother has such gloomy forebodings but it is natural to persons of her age, you must try to cheer her up and make her old age comfortable (poor child you need some one to cheer you) I found her better than I expected and I trust she will remain with us some years yet,2 who knows but she may be the last of our once happy family. I have written in this strain long enough, I will now try and finish up what I wanted to write in my last but had not time.
We left Washington as I told you Tuesday morning on the boat for Aquia creek, it was a fine morning and had not the events of the last two weeks occupied my mind I should have enjoyed it much, as it was, I spent most of the trip outside of the boat and surveyed each bank of the broad Potomac with some interest but I could see no beauty in them they had both been trod by the footsteps of the slaves, and the life of the very ground crushed out, there were no beautiful farm houses, nor country residences, (but only Virginia chimneys with houses behind them, surrounded by nigger huts, in their stead.) but I did pass one place where my heart stood still and I took off my hat in reverence, that was the resting place of George Washington I.E. Mount Vernon, this (thanks to the patriotic ladies of the North) was a beautiful place fit for the resting place of the immortal Washington. I hope to visit it sometime in your company.
After passing Mount Vernon, I saw nothing more worthy of note. I got into camp with my load and had a warm reception by the boys who had ten thousand questions about home and what was going on in that direction.
My box got here the same night I did, the chicken and pies were spoilt the other articles were good I think the pies would have kept if it had not been for the chicken for Joe’s were good and so was Will’s both on the road the same length of time. There never has any box come through that had chicken in or fresh meat but what were spoilt except once and that was only four days on the road.
You had not better send a box again for the sake of sending provisions for we live better now than we have anytime since we came out. Gen. Hooker is getting the good will of the men, he is showing them that he knows how to take care of them.
I am played out on promotion for the present, just because I would not ask any body to electioneer for me, but I don’t feel very bad about it. I am just as much a man as I would be if I had shoulder straps on.3
Brained has just come in from picket, he feels first rate, the health of the Company is much better than it was there is only four on the sick list and only one of them very sick. Cook has got well, and is doing duty. Tell O’Brian that I sleep first rate on that pillow. Tell Loola that Papa came tome [sic] some time. Give my love to Libby Peck, tell her I meant to have seen her but I had too much on the old man’s mind to think of anything. Give my love to all our friends, much love and many kisses,
Sadly, this letter appears to have been lost to history. ↩
As a First Sergeant, Cecil was the highest ranking non-commission officer in the company. As such, nearly any promotion would be a large boost in privilege and pay, and as a commissioned officer, he would wear shoulder straps denoting his rank. Cecil was later promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and to Captain briefly in 1865. ↩