ŇI made a coffin for one of my tent matesÓ
Camp near Falmouth VA
Sunday, January 4, 1863
Dear Wife Clarinda,
I am well at present and hope these few lines will find you all at home enjoying the same good health. I have at last heard from you and oh, I was most tickled to death to hear from you and that you was all well. I got one from father and one from you Friday night, and last night I got another one from you with them postage stamps in.
Tell Julia that Tom is very sick. He is in the hospital yet and to speak the truth I think it will go pretty hard with him. He is wasted away to almost nothing, Poor Fellow. I go and see him as often as I can and they have got a notice on the hospital Ňno admittanceÓ, so you see we canŐt go there whenever we choose. Heretofore I have not wrote as bad as he was for fear of making them feel bad, but I think by this time you should know the truth and that is he is a very sick man. I had quite a talk with him this morning and he says donŐt tell Julia how sick I am for fear she will come down here and there would be no place for her to stay. I canŐt tell which way it will go with [him] but I hope for the best. I donŐt know but what I do wrong in telling her what I have wrote here, but it is what I would want to hear if it were ever so bad.
Dear Clara, I done something last New YearŐs Day which I hope I shall never have to do again. I made a coffin for one of my tent mates, Jacob Breish, and yesterday I put a headboard to his grave. He was a good boy and I liked him very much. I have written to his folks about his illness and death and I suppose by this time they have received the painful news. Poor fellow, he had bright hopes for the future but he said to me in Fredericksburg that he had given himself up to God and if it was His will he was willing to go, but he would rather not die yet. He didnŐt at that time [know] that he would come back in the same camp and die so soon. He was only sick a very few days. I had only been in the tent a couple of weeks. Previous to his death he has wanted to tent with me ever since we left home.
You ask who tents with me now. There is only one and his name is Joseph Corrigan. Fletch and me got divided on the march from Warrington here and we have not been together since, although there has not been any trouble between us. I like him just as well as ever. Most all of our officers are resigning and by the time you get this there will be about 15 of them that has left us since we left Rome.
Dear Clara, I will send you another picture of our winter quarters but I think it looks better than the original. Please tell me if Willie walks yet. Poor little fellow, how I would like to see him and all of you once more. Let me know in your next letter how Bill came to work in the Observer office.
I wonder how long I have got to stay here yet without seeing you again. The way I hurt my back, there was a log fell on it when I was carrying it. You mustnŐt think it is easy to get clear from here as you think, for a man has got to be half way in the grave before they let him go. I tell you there is no sympathy for a sick man here at all. He has got to stand up until he falls down and then they will pick him up to fall down again.
So here I will close my letter. Goodbye my love, until you hear from me again, may God bless and protect you all,