ŌThere was a time when our men were fighting for the Union but that has all passed away nowĶ
Camp on Potomac Creek
Sunday Evening, January 25, 1863
I am well at present and hope these few lines will find you and my little ones in the same state. I feel first rate only I am pretty tired. Last Tuesday we made another move towards the Enemy and I was on guard at the GeneralÕs Headquarters the night before we started without any sleep and last night and today again, and the excitement and fatigue of marching through mud up to the knees most every step with a heavy rain to accompany it makes us all feel pretty much used up but I couldnÕt go to bed tonight without writing to you.
The Army instead of fighting this time was employed in building roads and digging themselves out of the mud. I tell you it was the greatest thing you ever saw. We made out to get within 2 miles of the river and there sunk in the mud. The Rebels were on the opposite side to give us another warm reception. Some said that saw them that they didnÕt want to hurt us but if we molested them that they would give us another warmer like that of Fredericksburg. Our pickets said that the Rebels would motion with one hand to come across and with the other they would slap the butt of their cannon. The Rebel pickets told ours that Gen. Lee sent down word that if we wanted any help to lay our pontoons across. He would send us 2 or 3 Regiments, he could spare them just as well as not.
From Wednesday morning until yesterday there was nothing spoken of or heard except a continual cursing of old Burnside. He has lost more horses and men by this move than we have through the whole war by marching. Every soldier that I talked with swore up and down that he would never cross that river again under Burnside as long as he lived. The same opinion prevailed throughout the whole army. It is calculated by men of good judgment that the Army has lost about 40 or 50 thousand men besides our pontoons, wagons, horses, and a good many other things too numerous to mention.
It seems as if the soldiers has about made up their minds to settle this war themselves. There were whole Divisions that never lost a man before by desertion that lost nearly half this time. They are going to leave just the same every time the army moves. They wonÕt fight for the nigger anyways and they havenÕt received any pay in so long and the news has reached them that their folks and family are going to the poor house and they have become completely demoralized.
I will have to finish this letter with a lead pencil because I have no more ink. Yesterday they commenced paying off part of our Brigade and I think we will be paid in a few days. I received a letter from you last and was glad to hear from you and that you was well but I am sorry you sent that turkey and pie for I am afraid they will all spoil before I get them. All such stuff comes here good for nothing. The reason I have not wrote for a box is because I did not want you to lay out money for nothing, although something good to eat just now would go first rate. I tell you I think I have eaten my share of hard tack and salt pork here and on salt water both. I wish many a time, Dear Clara, for one of your good meals since I have been [here].
You will see by this letter that we have escaped another great battle and returned safely back to our old quarters again. We owe it all to a heavy rainstorm and a kind and beneficent providence. It does seem as if our cause was not a just one and the soldiers have adopted that belief firmly since the battle of Fredericksburg. I think the state of feelings that prevail at present throughout the whole Army of the Potomac is a death blow to our side and to the Union. I firmly believe that our soldiers can never be made to win another battle. They say this has become a nigger and political war changed from what it was at first entirely. It is awful to hear curses upon curses falling upon Lincoln and HalleckÕs head every hour of the day. Things has got to change most wonderfully and that very quick to hold this army together much longer.
I donÕt know but what you will think I am a secessionist but the state of things are as I represent without exaggerating it at all. I am not gifted with words to express enough the true state feelings that exist and the glaring fact. But enough of this. I will stop telling the truth because it may not interest you as much as some others. Our Regiment, dear Clara, which left Rome a little over 4 months ago with about nine hundred men is now reduced to about 3 hundred and I hardly believe since this last move we could number that amount.
The money you sent me I have received all right. I have got TomÕs money yet and donÕt know where to send it. I have not heard from him since he went to the hospital and where that is I canÕt tell or the doctor either but I think he is in Washington. I donÕt get any letters from anybody except you, once a week and I think I have got all of yours except one but I have only 2 papers since we came from home. One of them I got lately with tea in it.
Oh, I pray they will soon end this war and let us come home where our hearts and mind is on and not on the battlefield. There was a time when our men were fighting for the Union but that has all passed away now and their minds are bent now altogether on going home. You will see, Dear Clara, the reason why I have not been punctual in writing by this letter. Take good care of yourself, my dear wife, and little ones and may God bless and protect you all.