ŌTell him if he is clear of the draft never to come down here, because he will be sorry if he does all his lifeĶ
Camp near Potomac Creek VA
Saturday, March 21, 1863
I received your very welcome letter last evening and I hasten to answer it. I am well at present and hope these few lines will find you all the same at home. The first of this week our cavalry and artillery had quite a fight on the Rappahannock River and we were expecting to be called out every moment and this morning there has been considerable sharp firing close by us and we havenÕt heard yet what it is. We was expected to go out every minute but it is all stopped now.
It is snowing considerable here this morning. There seems to be a great deal of skirmishing and raids made all around us just now, but the 146 has had nothing to do with any of them as yet. We still keep rigging and fixing up our Camp as if we were going to stay here all the time, but I think we will have to move from here before long.
This morning the Regt was marched up by Companies to the Hospital to be vaccinated for the smallpox. They say there is a great many cases all around us of that kind and if it once gets a hold of the Army it will sweep them faster than the bullet can. The Captain told Tom that he was a going to try and get him home. He is off duty again and the Doctor told him that his heart was some affected.
Dear Clara, I want you should stay with my folks if you possibly can. I shall be more contented if I knew you are there. If you and Julia went together it wouldnÕt be but a little while before everything would go wrong and I have often heard my mother say she could live with you until she died and I think if you might happen to get sick you would get more kindness from my mother than you would get from your own sister, although I know it is saying a great deal about her. But it is TomÕs wishes all the time that you will both go to keeping house together.
I think, Dear Clara, that you must be as poor as a crow by this time if you have nursed that boy all winter, but I suppose you know more about such things better than what I do. I wish he would grow fast enough to come down here and lick the Southern Giant and then perhaps I might get home.
I wish you would tell George if he comes home to write to me. I would of written to him long ago if I had known where to direct his letters. I suppose you would rather see me than him but with our folks it wonÕt make much difference. He has been away a long time now and you must all be glad to see him by this time, and tell him if he is clear of the draft never to come down here, because he will be sorry if he does all his life. Perhaps I was never made for a soldier and canÕt bear to be one. ItÕs something else besides playing up soldier on 4 of July as you see them in Utica. It is so much excitement here from morning till night, I canÕt take a moment of comfort. That fife and drum and the bugle is enough to make one crazy, and they are what leads you on to Death or Victory and they have become so odious that the boys swear every time they come out.
I donÕt find any fault with your letters because I think they are good ones, only you and I used to laugh at your spelling at home and you must not blame me if I commit the same fault now. It is a natural complaint of mine and I canÕt help it. I feel sorry that Sarah donÕt forget her sorrows some. Tell her that she has my sympathy and love as a true friend. I wish you and Sarah was living together because I think you could live happily. I am sure if Jake had of lived and come with me here we should of grown more and more attached to one another. Maybe I will write her a letter in a few days if I have time. I have been thinking of it a long time.
Dear Clara, I suppose you would be very glad to see me but I wish you would give up the idea of jumping over the old marble block for fear of hurting your ) [half circle] I wonÕt tell you now, and then what would you be good for. You must excuse my blackguarding, dear. But you yourself know that would hurt and that would hurt me just the same as yourself.
Give my love to father & mother and all of my folks at home and tell them all to write to me. If they would only settle this difficulty this Spring I would willingly stay until then and feel better about it than what I do now. Dear Clara, it is a long time since I have seen you but those six months I have been separated from you only tends to strengthen the tie which binds us together. The more I think of you the more I love you and I pray to the good God that gave us existence to spare your health and life and my little ones so that we may meet once more on Earth. Oh, dearest one, take good care of yourself and my little ones and hoping this will find you all well, God willing.
I will close,
From your husband in the Army of the Potomac
P.S. Dear Clara, if you can get me some red, white, and blue sealing wax I would like you to send me a little of each kind in a letter. Also some sandpaper, a little piece in each letter you send till I tell you to stop. You might find a piece of sandpaper as big as the envelope in each.