Near Fredericksburg, Va.
December 9th 1862
My dear Father & Mother,
Since I last wrote, the company has been on picket on the Rappahannock. We went down Thursday afternoon and everything betokened fair weather. The old city of Fredericksburg was in plain sight and the clocks could be heard to strike very plainly. The evening was beautiful—not a cloud to be seen, and the moon and stars shining in all their splendor. Dogs seem to be numerous in Fredericksburg for their barking and fighting could be heard all night long. Occasionally a loud laugh, cheer or rather yell from the opposite side of the river convinced us that the rebels were not far distant. At length all was quiet. Everyone seemed to have gone to rest but the pickets who stood carefully watching the river and rebel guards lest the skunks should cut up some of their midnight gun games and take us prisoners in the face of our army.
About two o’clock A. M., clouds made their appearance and in half an hour a cold rain began to fall which turned to snow sometime in the forenoon. About five o’clock P. M. we started for camp and when we reached it, we were a gay looking set—ice and snow clinging to our clothes and equipments. Our tents, which we fortunately had left standing afforded us but little shelter but not until we had built some roaring fires could we feel comfortable. Soon we were told that a mail had arrived and to my great satisfaction I received father’s letters of the 23rd and December 1st. This with a good supper counterbalanced my uncomfortable feeling and (to use a favorite term), I was all hunk.
By the way, I have received mother’s letter of the 27th [and] also the mittens. Many, many thanks for them both. Mother, I take your letter kindly for well I know your good wishes. I will try to obey them as far as possible. Write often for I love to read your letters. I can imagine myself at home listening to your good advices. I wish to heaven I had followed them but let the past be forgotten and we will look to the future for a change. Wait until I get home and we shall see if any has taken place.
The postage stamps father sent me are all safe & sound in my portfolio. I could sell them if I chose for six cents apiece owing to the scarcity of them.
I think I passed my Thanksgiving almost as pleasantly as you did after all. It was quite a joke on you. I am sorry for it. Never mind. We will spend the next together.
What do you think of the [President’s] message [to Congress]? My opinions is that if the South don’t accept of it, they will accept of nothing and we will stay our three years out. But they will come to terms—mark my word. That message came from a long head. I think more of Mr. Lincoln that I ever did before and he can be pardoned for his past slowness. He calculated to suit in a measure all parties. Of course all will have to knuckle a little, but for all that, I think all will be satisfied unless it is the damned abolitionists. But it is not for me to comment on it. All I hope is that the loafers up North will shut up their blab about the South’s repenting their folly and all such nonsense as that.
But it’s getting dark and I must close. I understand that we have got to move tomorrow but I don’t believe it for we had orders a week ago to make ourselves comfortable and we have built any quantity of cabins and are living in fine style. Vegetables are now given us because the jaundice was getting prevalent. We have all we want to eat and more too. I am now tough and rugged and feel as well as I ever did. The only trouble with me is lice. By gracious they are thick. I kill a dozen or so every day. I am going to save their hides and tan them next spring.
But no more at present. Write soon and tell me how you all are. Hoping you are enjoying good health, I remain yours affectionately, — Charley