13 October 1862

howe21

“Camp Forbes”
Pleasant Valley [Maryland]
October 13, 1862

My dear Father and Mother,

Here I am with my pencil in hand and a sheet of paper before me. I am seated on a box of hard tack and surrounded by a pile of boxes, knapsacks, trunks, valises, &c.

Night before last as the regiment were going out for “dress parade” orders came to start forthwith, so the boys put on overcoats, took their guns and ammunition, and started for somewhere—some say to Point of Rocks—some to Edward’s Ferry—others to Chambersburg, Pa.—but none can tell for certainty. All their knapsacks, blankets, and so forth were left behind and about a hundred sick men, thirteen of which belong to this company. In fact, I am the only well man left in this company and I have to look after the sick and see that the boys traps are taken care of. The reason of my staying is this. When the orders came, I was cooking a rye pudding for the officers. But I left it and grabbed my gun. The captain told me to stay behind and look after his things so I went and finished my cooking. But seeing the regiment on a line in front of the camp, I took the kettle and some plates, knives, &c., and started for them in hopes to give them some supper before leaving. But I had no more reached them before they had to start. I went back and you can imagine whether I ate any pudding or not.

“Camp Forbes”
October 14th 1862

I finished writing last night because it was quite dark but I have nothing to do but to write.

Just before the troops started, it commenced raining and it has drizzled away ever since until this noon and now the sun is drying the damp ground. I think the poor fellows have been having a hard time of it without their blankets. As for me, I am living like a king. I get up early on the morning, build a fire in my tent, mix up some rye flap jacks, cook them and as I have a canteen full of syrup, I make them go down very well. After breakfast I wash up, light my pipe, and have a good old-fashioned smoke. Then I got out with one or two others and the consequence is that a pig dies. Of course we dress him and for dinner we have fresh pork, fried, not roast beef, boiled. After dinner comes a whiff at the pipe and then I lay down and sleep.

For supper I have sometimes flapjacks, pudding or raw salt pork, cut up in vinegar, which by the way is getting to be a favorite dish with me. The evening we pass away by playing cards or checkers, smoking and telling stories. So you see that I am not very poorly off in the absence of the regiment.

Nat Houghton is one of the fellows left behind. He has a large boil on the back cords of his ankle. I am taking care of him and he will be able to walk in a few days.

Well I have written all the news I know of and as I write often, I think this will pass as a letter. I have received only five letters from home. Why do you not write oftener? My love to friends and Little Wall a kiss. Hoping you are all free from sickness, I remain yours truly, — Charlie

Next Letter: 17 October 1862

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