September 29th 1862
Dear Father and Mother,
I head my letter Sharpsburg but we are three or more miles from the city on a strip of land between the “Antietam Creek” and the “Potomac River.” In fact, we are on the very banks of the Potomac and the “sacred soil” can be plainly seen.
My last letter was written a week ago yesterday and in it I stated that I had been over the battlefields of South Mountain and Antietam Creek. Also that I was yet in the employ of Capt. Hastings. He treats me like a gentleman and I think he intends to do so and I also said that we expected to move soon.
Last Tuesday morning about three o’clock, Burnside’s Corps was suddenly aroused by the bugles sounding “To Arms.” I had my equipment on before I was half awake and the Massachusetts 36th was in line of battle before any other. We soon learned that our pickets had been driven in and the enemy were trying to cross. After standing thus for five hours, we were ordered to strike tents. This we did and after packing knapsacks, we sat down in the sun to await orders. We received none so at night we pitched our tents and went to bed.
The next morning we were ordered to be ready to march at noon. Twelve o’clock found us so, but instead of starting, we stood until pitch dark in the broiling sun with our knapsacks on our backs. We were then ordered to rest so we unslung knapsacks and laid down and went to sleep. But we were up early the next morning and in line. Just then the Captain came along and taking me aside, he said, “Now look here, Charley. I don’t like to see you lugging so much. You need not be in the ranks. Just put your traps on a team and carry my haversack. That’s enough for you.” I did as he ordered but the whole division stood in the sun until 3 P. M. when they started and after marching in a round about way for three miles, halted and made camp. And here is the whole of Burnside’s Corps on a large field and in a direct line only one mile from the place which we started.
We are in Welch’s Brigade which consists of the 100th and 45th Pennsylvania Volunteers. How long we shall stay here, I cannot say but I hope we shall rest a week at least.
I have received the first letter you wrote and the one you sent by Lieut. Raymond, and today one from Mother dated the 17th. I would give a good deal if I could see “Old Thump.” Wouldn’t I like to mad him, just to see his old gullet turn red like a gobblers. Big thing on the old cuss.
For God’s sake, write no more about roast beef and pudding or any such luxury. We are half starved. Raw salt pork and hard biscuit are favorite dishes with us. I like it and can live on it but we don’t have enough. A piece of pork as big as your hand and six hard rocks constitutes a day’s fodder. What do you think of it?
This is my sixth letter to you. I have written to no one else because I have had no time. I shall write as often as possible.
My respects to all inquiring friends. But I must close. I am well and tough, capable of eating a hard pine plank. You will think so when I come home which will be before many months.
Do send some papers. We hear no news whatever. A Boston Journal would be gratefully received. Write as soon as possible. Tell Jerome’s folk to write. If you only knew what an amount of pleasure it gives us to hear from home, you would not delay.
Hoping you are well and hearty, I remain yours forever, — Charley
P. S. Have you received the clothes I sent home?
Next Letter: 2 October 1862