ÒOh, it is terrible work, this human butchery, and I hope it will soon be over withÓ
Camp Parole VA
Sunday, August 29, 1863
I am well today and I hope these few lines will find you all the same at home. I felt very lonesome and sad and I thought I would write a few lines to you to pass the time. I have got things straightened around so now, with my spread of men, that I find more time than I thought I would have. Yesterday I went and had another likeness taken, for I want you to have a good one. Everyone pronounces this to be a good picture of me as I now look. I suppose I donÕt look as I used to. But one thing, if I am altered in looks you may rest assured that I am not altered any way else, only I hope for the better. Oh, if I could only see you all today, how happy I should be.
The subject of Exchange still engrosses considerable attention. But it is generally believed there will be none. In case there is not one, the Officers here in charge of us say arrangements are already completed to send us to our own States. I hope this is true, but we cannot with any certainty rely upon what we here. The nights here are getting very cold. Last night I slept very cold, but daytimes we can keep very comfortable.
Sometimes I wish if you have not gone a hop picking you would give it up, and I donÕt want you to stay at home so close neither. I am afraid you stay there too much for your own good and I am afraid if you go I will not hear from you very often. Dear Clara, if you only knew how much I prize your letters you will not wonder at my request. They are half of what I live off. But if you wish to go I will not say nothing against it, for I wish you to enjoy yourself as much as you can, and I know that is but little. I can only say, God bless and protect and keep you from all harm. But with me here it is far different. I am surrounded by plenty of company, none of the female kind though, and our Camp is situated on a beautiful rise of ground overlooking the Potomac River with its surface covered with sails and shipping. Yet I am not satisfied. There is a longing and craving which I cannot overcome and that, dear Clara, is you and home.
I suppose by this time the draft has come has come off in Utica. I sincerely hope George is not one of the unlucky ones, for I would not wish him to suffer what little I have. God forbid that he will see as much of this terrible struggle as I have. No one can conceive how terrible it is until they are actually engaged in it. I suppose I am not much more of a coward than the soldiers in general, yet the other night while I lay wide awake I began thinking of those hideous monsters called Shells that flew around us at Chancellorsville, and the leaden missiles. Actually it made me leap right up in my bed and I couldnÕt help it. Oh, it is terrible work, this human butchery, and I hope it will soon be over with. Only think of what this war has done, over one hundred thousand brave men lay beneath the soil of Virginia alone. But I am getting clean off the track of a soldier. These thoughts a true soldier banishes, or rather tries to. But I canÕt help expressing my feelings sometimes.
But I must come to a close. Give my love to all. Remember me to all old friends. Kiss the little ones for me and accept the expressions of the best likeness I can get of myself as the best of all I can give you. A great may kisses to all.
From your affectionate husband, with love until death,
Sergt in Charge, Squad No. 11 Paroled Prisoners