Camp near Middleburgh, Kentucky
May 12th 1863
My dear Father and Mother,
As there has been such good news of late, I cannot help writing you a few lines in regard to it.
Sunday the 10th, I was on picket on the Green river and consequently did not share in the reports of the evening but I will tell you what happened as it was told to me. About an hour after “dress parade” as the Col. of the 36th was standing in front of his tent, a courier from Gen. Welsh rode up to him at a break-neck speed and handed him an order, then rode away to the other regiments.
The Colonel read a moment and then gave a shout at which the boys made a rush toward him. All were eager to hear the news. “Hold your wind, boys, hold your wind a minute,” says he. “Steady boys,” and then he read the order which proved to be a telegraph dispatch to Gen. Burnsides from the War Department stating that Richmond was taken and the stars and stripes were proudly floating over the rebel capitol. Now three cheers for the stars and stripes quoth Henry. And then the boys set up a yell the like of which was never before heard in Old Kentuck. I was a mile and a half away but I distinctly heard all the cheering and drum beating of that night. Every man was furnished with three candles (every man in the brigade). Two were placed on each tent and lit and the other was stuck into the muzzle of the gun and the brigade paraded round, cheering, beating the drums, &c. I could plainly see the whole performance and it was the grandest sight I ever witnessed. Speeches were made by the officers and “many were the songs that were sung.”
As soon as the order was read to the boys, Bowman mounted his horse and rode round to the pickets and soon fires were blazing on top of the knobs (as the mountains are called) and all along the river bank. I tore down about six lengths of Virginia fence and built a rib roaster. It was a noisy night and I got no sleep at all but sleeped all day yesterday or I should have written to you then.
Yesterday the report came that Vicksburg had surrendered and 30,000 prisoners were captured. I hope it is true and then “Goodbye Southern Confederacy.” I want to see Charleston, S. C. in ashes before the war ends for I think that place ought to suffer for its folly.
Gen. Welsh told some of the boys that we should see home in three months but I don’t think we shall quite as soon—not before November though the war may end next month. What will Gen. Lee’s army do now that their base of supplies is captured? Guess dat de Souf aint quite nuff for de Norf, am it? Well keep a stiff upper lip, folks, for I can see my honorable discharge now in a short time. I will be at home next winter and if we don’t have one good time, it will be because we don’t know how.
Give my respects to the boys. Tell then I have the advantage of them this year. The water is pretty cold in Massachusetts but we go swimming every day and have done so for nearly a month. I must now close for it is too hot to write. Much love to all. Hoping this will find you well.
I remain as ever, yours affectionately, — Charley