“We cannot even advance a picket line without causing sorrow in some Northern home”


Camp at Warrenton Junction VA

Friday, [should be Thursday,] February 11, 1864


Dear Clara,


I received your letter together with one from Joey and was glad to learn that you was all well.  I am at present enjoying pretty good health.  Everything is quiet around here and there has not been near so much fighting as we thought for.  Our loss in killed, wounded and missing will amount to about 200 men.  We have taken some prisoners but not a large number as was first supposed.


I wish what you said in relation to the war coming to a close next July might prove true.  But we do not make up our mind that it will come to a close at any definite period for fear we will be disappointed.  But we hope for the best.  I will not believe that major if I was in your place, for I can’t see how a man can go to Washington and get such a position without doing something more for the service than recruiting.  It sounds big but I hardly believe it. 


You spoke about Julia being mad because Tom did not send her any money.  Perhaps he could not get it.  Why don’t you get mad when I don’t send you mine every two months?  There is most four months pay coming to me but I can’t get it, although the law is they shall pay every two months.  The last of this month I shall have 68 dollars coming to me.  It will only be a few days now and I shall be in the service 18 months, the 22 of this, one half of my time.  Oh, how long it seems what is yet to come.


Fletch went out on picket and came back the next day pretty sick.  He is now laying in the tent.  I do not know what is the matter with him.  Our duty is not as heavy as it used to be.  We have been relieved of some of it and we was very glad of it, for we hardly had time to wash our clothes. 


Poor Joey, she writes me a long letter and she feels very bad because this cruel war has taken all she had to live for into this world.  But she will learn a lesson that many has had to suffer for what this cruel war has done.  How many bitter tears have been shed.  How many families have been broken up.  How many children have become fatherless.  How many widows have this cruel war left with large families to support and no means to do it with.


We cannot even advance a picket line without causing sorrow in some Northern home.  I have been right in the face of the enemy where there has been heavy firing, and see the men look at one another in wonder if they shall ever get out of it alive or not.  Perhaps while they are yet talking they would be launched into eternity.  All have their hopes that all may end well, but many are doomed to bitter disappointment, for we cannot move towards the enemy without somebody’s life must be sacrificed.  God speed the day when this cruel war is over and when peace and quiet is restored all over the land. 


I do not blame you for getting all you can, for it is true what you say:  all are trying to get all they can and more too.  If you can get 2 dollars a week from Baker I think this is nobody’s business but your own, and then the City Subsidy, a large amount for soldiers’ families, and I believe you come under that heading.  Perhaps you will need all you have and more too before I get any pay again.  A great many says we will not be paid off in some time on the account of their paying such large bounties and thereby the treasury is exhausted at Washington.  I don’t know how true it is, but you had better prepare for it.


And now seeing I have wrote you a long letter, I will draw to a close.  Give my love to all enquiring friends and to father and mother, sisters and brothers.  Take good care of your health and little ones.  May heaven speed the time when we shall meet again.  The prayer of a father and husband be ever with you. 


Your husband forever with love,

Sergt. P. L. Dumont