“Awful to see those shells and cannon to work at the destruction of human life”
Camp at Falmouth, half a mile from Fredericksburg
Friday, December 12th 1862
I now embrace this opportunity of letting you know where we are and how we are. At present I am well except my back and that is not very bad. I received 2 letters from you and Joey today and was glad to hear from you all and that you was all well. I got them postage stamps and today I got some paper and envelopes at Falmouth so you need not send any.
Dear Clara, we have witnessed a fight for 2 days now. Yesterday and today we have been shelling Fredericksburg and sot it all on fire. Last night after dark some of our troops crossed the river after dark and they had quite an engagement with musketry till about 7 o’clock and today they have been trying to cross all day and the Rebels is shelling the towns to keep our forces from landing. It is just at night of the second day that I am writing and they say there is a great number across now. Tomorrow the ball will open I suppose for good then.
Dear Clara, there is no knowing how or where we shall be placed. We heard the 57th and 66th New York Regiments were badly cut up. This morning I went down to Falmouth to buy something to eat and while there the Rebels commenced to throw shells in the town and they flew around us in every direction. I and Fletch started on the run to Camp as fast as our legs would carry us, but none of the shells happened to touch us. One boy I heard had his arm broke. We have not heard yet what damage had been done in these two days. The Rebels started the fight first by firing on our men while laying the Pontoon Bridge across the river. Dear Clara, I suppose we will cross the River and God can only tell how we will be disposed of.
Dear Clara, I hope I have not seen your dear face for the last time. If I happen to fall in this Battle which will [be] a hard one, look to God for Comfort and consolation and, Dear Clara, my little ones, God knows how much I think of [them]. If they are left fatherless, try and bring them up as they should go in the fear of the Lord. Give my love to father & mother, sisters and brothers and tell them my last thoughts shall be on you and them. Tell Julia Tom is well but feels very bad to think this may be the last he will ever see her.
Dear Clara, I don’t want any money just now and as for sending a box it is impossible just now. All I want is to see you all again. Dear Clara, it is awful to see those shells and cannon to work at the destruction of human life. But it would be more so I suppose if we were in it ourselves. Dear Clara, take good care of yourself and my little ones and Dear Clara, hoping that I may see your loving face again, I remain,
Your loving husband
A kiss for all
P.S. Fredericksburg is still on fire 6 o’clock tonight, the cannonading still kept up.