ÒYou know that I cannot drink or run with mean womenÓ
Camp at Warrington Junction VA
Friday, January 15, 1864
I received your welcome letter last evening but it was too late to answer it, and today I have been on fatigue in the woods and now by candlelight I am writing to you. My health is good at present and I am in hopes these lines will find you enjoying the same blessing. I am glad to hear that someone is good enough to help you if it is old Gleaves, and I am glad to hear that you can keep warm, for I was much afraid you would suffer in that old house this winter. I am living first rate now if they will only let us stay where we are. I have bunks built in my shanty so I can keep off the ground.
Jimmy Handwright has returned. He said he passed by the house quite a number of times but did not see any of you and he was not well enough acquainted with my folks to go there on purpose.
I have bought me an ax. I paid a dollar for it. I got it off a soldier that has reenlisted. You spoke about Fletch. Does his folks say anything about his money? I know he has sent a few times to his sister but then he spends an awful sight to the sutters for nic nax. I told Phil Smith what you wrote about his father but he donÕt seem to care. You donÕt know what an awful difference it makes of some folks to be in the army a little while.
I am glad to hear you say that folks speak well of me that goes home. I try to be good to every one, but there are a few always wherever you may go that donÕt want to have any one above themselves. You see, I have to tell them to do something about Camp such as cleaning up, and they donÕt like to do it very well sometimes. But they have to obey me just as much as if the Col. told them to do it. Phil Smith is one of that kind. I donÕt have to do a bit of work unless I have a mind to, all I am supposed to do is the bossing, and this is what they donÕt like. I try to be good to every one and I wish all to be the same to me.
And now I must tell you of a great thing I was guilty of, for I canÕt keep it from you any longer. I was not going to tell you of it at all but I canÕt keep it a secret. It was on last New YearÕs Eve. It was one of the most severest cold nights I have ever seen. The Col. drawed 18 gallons of whiskey for the Regt. and I was one that had to go to the CommissariesÕ after it. After I had drawed it, I had to stand around in the cold about an hour and I came near to freezing. So I up with the big pail that had some in it and drinked a big swallow of it, and before I knowed it I was drunk. But I felt sorry and ashamed immediately after. DonÕt let it trouble you, for I have sworn never to become a drunkard. What makes me feel so worked up about it is because I have had it offered to me so many times by the Officers and have always refused, and now they have got something to laugh about.
Capt. Clasgens and Lieut. Dutton have gone home to recruit for this Regt. Perhaps you may see them while they are in Utica, and I hear there is someone else coming after a while. I wished I was only lucky enough to come on that business.
Yesterday we took 16 of MosbyÕs guerillas at this place. That is about all the news I can think of at present, so I think I will close. Take good care of that leg of yours or perhaps you may lose it and then folks would think you had been to war.
Take good care of the little ones and yourself. Also give my love to all of my folks and all enquiring friends. Oh, dear Clara, I wish I was coming in place of this letter, but it must be so. Write soon and oblige yours and yours alone until death.
From your loving husband,
Sergt. P.L. Dumont
[sketch of eagle carrying banner in beak reading ÒTO THOSE I LOVE AT HOMEÓ]
Sergt P.L. Dumont & Lady.
I wanted to see how this would look
Dear Clara, I have just received your letter and was glad to hear from you and that you was all so well. We do not get any more to eat here in this Camp than what we did before and it seems like taking the bread out of your mouths for me to buy anything here, for everything is so high. Tom was not sick. He says he felt well enough but he was covered all over with bunches. I donÕt know whether they will hurt him or not.
Dear Clara, I have tried my best to get home and now I will have to wait until the time comes and that, I hope, wonÕt be long. I can get all the stamps I want now here.
Dear Clara, if they tell you that I will be an altered man, believe it will be altered for the better. You know that I cannot drink or run with mean women, and I hope and pray that you will never know me as such. And as for forgetting you or leaving, it is the last thing I think of. As the thirsty man panteth after water, so my heart panteth after you. Oh, dear Clara, the love which I have for you does not diminish but increases day by day. Believe me, dearest one, this world without you would be a blank.
Although we are separated by many hundred miles, your letters is all that keep my spirits up. You canÕt tell how I feel when I donÕt get one from you. I hope you wonÕt have to live in hopes and fears much longer. The Boys laugh at me when I donÕt get a letter. They say Pete, or the Sergeant, is lovesick again. They can see something is the matter of me. But I donÕt mean by this that you donÕt write to me. You write good letters and often, but sometimes I donÕt get them in a week after you have mailed them.
The song you sent me is a good one, but it has been sung out long ago by the soldiers. I remember itÕs thrilling notes while marching on to Chancellorsville Battlefield. But no more now, dearest one. Goodbye until you hear from me again.
Until death, yours alone,