ŌThere was a woman by our campfire all nightĶ
Camp on Potomac Creek
Sunday, January 11, 1863
The mail came last night and I got a letter from you and one from Breish
With the blessing of God I am well at present and I hope these few lines will find you enjoying the same good health. I was on guard all night and today at Gen. WarrenÕs Headquarters and tonight after dark I fried some pork and took the grease and put it in a dish with a cotton rag to make a candle and now I am writing this letter by it.
Last night there was a woman by our campfire all night. She was driven by a lot of drunken soldiers to take refuge in our Camp in order to save her person. Believe me, dear Clara, for I speak the truth, she is the first woman that I have spoken to in Virginia. She belongs to the 17th Regulars and she is called the daughter of the Regt.
Last Thursday the whole of the Fifth Army Corp was out in full fare for Review. Oh, Dear Clara, how I did wish you could of seen them, such a black field of moving mass I never saw. The men were about fifty abreast and in an oblong column. It took them about an hour to pass Gen. Burnside and staff. He sat on his horse with his head uncovered all the time. The old fellow looks just as I expected to see him. He is a good looking man of about 35 or 40 years of age but there is no hair on the top of his head but there is plenty around his face to make up for the top of his head.
Dear Clara, you must excuse me for not writing before this week for I have not had much time and there has not been much news. Before you get this letter there will be another lot of Officers in Utica that have resigned from this Regt. One is Capt. [Dodge of Co. K] and Capt. Lewis of Co. C, Lieut. Stanford and Lieut. Jones of Co. A and Lieut. Alden of Co. C. and Lieut. Wilson of Co. H. This I believe makes 17 or 18 Officers that have left us since we left Rome and if they keep on the same as they have we wonÕt have any that we came from the time we left there.
Dear Clara, tell Julia that I am sorry to say that Tom is not any better than he was when I last wrote but the doctors think he is getting better. I sincerely hope he is for her sake and mine too. Tell Jacob BreishÕs folks if you see them that I have sent quite a number of small trinkets home that belonged to him by Lieut. Stanford and he may forget to give them to them. I thought they would be glad to have them. His clothes I took and buried on account of the fever in them so I could not send any of them. Dear Clara, there is a great deal of talk of our making another attack of Fredericksburg but I guess it is a camp rumor the same as usual.
Oh, dear Clara, how much I do dream of you and home of late. I see little Ida in my dreams almost every night. Oh God, how long I am afraid it will be before I hear her little prattling tongue and the tip tap of her little feet again. I see now that I am away from you all how dearly I loved you. Oh I pray God stop this horrible work of death and let us return to those we love and who are anxiously watching for our safe return. Dear Clara, if God spares my life to return once more to you I mean to live a better man. I see the effects of this war so much every day that it has impressed my mind with a horrible sickness. If God grant that I will soon end, all the soldiers down here [are] sick enough of fighting to stop on any terms.
Take good care of your and the childrenÕs health my dear, and hoping we will see one another soon,
I remain your loving and faithful husband,
P.S. There is no signs of paying us off as yet. They say about the 15th of this month we will get it.