November 1st 1862
My dear Father and Mother,
It is so long since I have written to you that I feel almost ashamed to write now but my excuse is this. Last Sunday morning the “long roll” was beat and we immediately fell into line. We soon learned that the whole army was about to move. After starting it commenced raining hard but of course we did not stop for it but followed down the canal through Weverton & Knoxville until we came to Berlin. Here, after waiting for other troops, our brigade crossed the Potomac on a pontoon bridge and left that miserable hole called Maryland in our rear. As soon as we reached the soil of the “Old Dominion,” we saw a great change. The roads were built better and kept in better condition. The farms and houses were neater, vegetation was better and everything looked beautiful in comparison with what we saw in Maryland.
After marching about six miles into Virginia, we halted in a large field which in consequence of the rain was very muddy. Here we were informed that we must not touch a rail or a bundle of straw. This made the boys raving mad, “for,” said they, “here we are in the Secesh land and not allowed to take a thing lest we offend the rebels.” We paid no attention to the order but immediately went to pulling down fences in order to pitch tents. I got my tent up and put my knapsack under it and went away to get straw so as to not lay in the mud. Judge of my surprise when on coming back I found tent, knapsack, and all gone. I searched for it until quite dark and then gave up and crawled into Hat’s tent where I stayed for the night. The next morning it stopped raining but the wind blowed fiercely and the air was very cold.
I went into a camp beside us where a battery was stationed and there I found my knapsack with nothing in it but my tent. No one knew anything about it and I now live on the charity of others. I shall draw new blankets as soon as possible.
Wednesday noon we left Lovettsville (the town where we stopped) and marched to this place which is called a Union town. The rebels were here the day we left Pleasant Valley and stole nearly everything in the town. It is a very pretty place. Nearly all the houses are brick. The women are neat and handsome (which is something new for us to see). They make most excellent bread and are very liberal, I had a good dinner yesterday of bread, honey, cakes and pies and had to pay nothing for it.
What little I have seen of Virginia gives me a liking for it and if I get through the war safe and sound, I shall buy a little farm and settle down here.
This general move of the army convinces me that McClellan is a great general. He has got the whole Army of the Potomac into one grand line of battle reaching from his right to Sigel and Heitzelman’s left—a distance of over 200 miles. People may talk about his being slow, but let them come out here and see the magnitude of the army and think of what work it must be for one man to dispose of it and if they don’t sing a different song when they get back, I am greatly mistaken.
Heavy firing has been heard on our right for half an hour and we may be called into action very soon. I for one want to see the war settled as soon as possible and shall run my chances with the rest in the great battle which will be fought before long and if we don’t give the cusses a thrashing that they will never get over, I hope to never fire another gun. I feel that the war is drawing to a close. It can’t last many months longer and as things stand now, I am willing to say that if we are overpowered and whipped, I hope to never see Old Massachusetts.
I visited the Fifteenth [Massachusetts] Regiment a week ago last Thursday and saw a number of the boys. All were looking well. I have received a letter and papers from Jerome. I will write to him as soon as I get some more writing materials—paper, envelopes, postage stamps, and all were stolen from me.
We are getting lousy in spite of all we can do. I pulled off my shirt today and found nine large body lice. We get them from the old regiments probably. I put mu shirt in boiling salt water and hope I have finished their career. If I don’t succeed, I shall throw it away.
I have not received a letter from you for a long time. What is the meaning of it? I don’t think you have any excuse.
I was so mad at losing my clothes and blankets that I felt in no humor to write before. I am well and black and feel like a brick. Hope you all feel as well as I. How is Father’s damned Ager getting along? Write soon and inform me. With much love to all, I remain yours truly, — Charley