“Sometimes I draw my loaf at night and am so hungry that I eat it all up at one meal and then go without until the next night”

 

[no location, probably Bealton Station]

Sunday, December 20, 1863

 

Dear Clarinda,

 

I received your letter which was due Thursday last evening.  I have written two letters to you before this one since we got back across the Rapidan and I was in hopes that you would of received them long before this.  I have got everything that you have sent me a week ago today.

 

I was working very hard to build a tent to keep warm in.  We are having very cold weather here at present.  But I have a very good tent now with a fireplace in it.  So I manage to keep very comfortable, although it is nothing compared with a house.  We have suffered so much of late from exposure that most any kind of habitation seems good to us and we are drawing soft bread now every day.  I can’t get enough to eat.  Sometimes I draw my loaf at night and I am so hungry that I eat it all up at one meal and then I go without until the next night.  Our loafs are very small.  But I think after a while if we stay here we will get plenty.  Most every one is sending home for boxes.  They say they will not starve as long as they can get anything from home.

 

Last night Phil Smith and Tom Wheeler came back to the Regt.  Phil told me he had seen the whole family.  But he had his head so full of nonsense I could not get anything out of him. 

 

Our sutter or our paymaster does not come near us.  I think we will have to wait until the middle of next month before we get any pay.  Now I am afraid that you will suffer very much from the cold in that old house this winter, but you must keep good fires and, if it is possible, keep comfortable.

 

This week they issued an order to grant furlough for ten day apiece to be given to the men that had been in every battle and had been present at the Regt. all the time first, then the Paroled Prisoners and Hospital Boarders, as they call them, come next.  It may be possible for me to get one and it may not.  I will do the best I can.

 

This week a Corporal in our Company received a letter from Tom.  He said he was in Washington in the Invalid Corps and such a letter I never read in all my life.  Most every other word was accompanied with an Oath.  He never spoke about me at all and before he went away he never bid me goodbye or said anything at all, only that he was going.  I think he served me a rather mean trick, considering how much I have done for him.  I have done more for him than I would of done for any other man, but you see I got my pay for it. 

 

I was in hopes that we had got through our moving for the year, and maybe we have, but there is some talk around that we are going to move again, but the talk is we are going nearer Washington.  But I hope we will stay where we are, for I have worked hard to get a comfortable shanty for winter and now I would rather stay in than be moving around.

 

I hope before you get this again you will have my other letters.  I don’t know of any more news to write so I will close.  I am thinking of you and the little ones all the time, the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.  There is one man home now on furlough and I wished that it was me.  But he has been tied close to the Regt. all the time and I suppose it is right he should have the chance first.

 

Take good care of yourself and little ones.  Give my love to all inquiring friends and to all my folks.  Maybe I can send you a picture next time, I meant to long before now.  I hope to see you all this winter.  God bless and protect you all.

 

From your husband with love and truth until death,

Sergt. Peter. L. Dumont.

 

A kiss to you and little ones

 

I went to the railroad today and bought 2 loaves of bread about as big as the baker’s 5 cent ones at home and I had to pay 25 cents for them, a big price, but it is better than going hungry.