ŇShelter tentsÉ are not any better than a couple of pocket hankerchiefsÓ
Camp near Fredericksburg VA
Monday, December 8th 1862
I am well at present and hope these few lines will find you all enjoying good health. I donŐt know but what you will think that I have forgotten you by the time you get this but I am not to blame for not writing to you before this. I believe I have received all your letters up until now. I received one the middle of last week dated a week from yesterday.
Last Wednesday we went out on picket and came back all safe on Friday through quite a snowstorm. Oh, we have had a hard time of it again. It has been bitter cold, so cold that it would freeze water solid in our canteens in half an hour and that is the reason why I have not written to you before this. It has been so cold that we could not write for shivering and trembling so much. It is not the same as it is at home where you can go in by the fire when we are cold. All the fire we have got is built out of doors and while we keep one side warm the other is freezing. The snow is lying on the ground yet today. The health of the Regt. is very poor indeed at present. Most of them is laid up with a severe cold. Last night I was very sick with a fever but today I am quite well again with the exception of a pretty lame back.
Fletch wants I should write to tell his folks they donŐt write often enough to him. He thinks they are forgetting him. He is well at present and hopes they are the same. Tell Julia Tom is well only he says he donŐt get half enough to eat. He can eat down here like a horse. For my part I have double what I can eat and more to. I think it will be the making of Tom to be here. He said this morning he never felt better in his life. I donŐt see what is the reason Julia donŐt get his letters. I write as often for him as he gets a letter and I know that I have written a great many for him. She complains a great deal in her letters.
You canŐt think how much excitement there is kept up in camp here. One day we are all going home and the next we are going to march somewhere. This morning they had the story in camp that all soldiers who would leave their pay and bounty might go home. I for one donŐt believe a word of it although I wish it might be so. I would gladly give up mine and come back to home and you. If they would give us winter quarters it would not be so bad yet. But as it is we suffer a great deal from exposure to the weather. When it storms we not got anything to go into but our little shelter tents and they are not any better than a couple of pocket hankerchiefs and if they would only tell us that we were going to stay we might fix these so they would be better than they are.
They say in camp today that we will go to Acquia Creek tomorrow, what for I canŐt tell. There is more Peace talk in camp than anything else. They have all got their minds made up to go home in the spring anyway. Dear Clara, when you write again please send me a few postage stamps and put 2 or 3 envelopes in a paper because I havenŐt got any and canŐt get any. Give my love to father and mother and all inquiring friends.
Dear Clara, I am afraid you canŐt keep warm in the old castle. I have thought a great deal about it lately. Write and let me know and how you came out with your cabbage and if the old Methodist didnŐt try to cheat you out of them. I will try and write more often if I possibly can. Dear Clara, keep good care of the children and kiss them often for my sake and take good care of yourself until I return and hoping GodŐs blessing rests upon you all, I remain yours truly and faithfully,
Peter L. Dumont