16 January 1863


Windmill Point, Virginia ¹
January 16th 1863

My dear Father & Mother,

Having a few leisure moments I will improve them by writing you a few lines. Do not blame me for not writing oftener. I write every chance I get knowing that you are anxious to have me do so. Last Friday afternoon, Co. D and part of Co. I were detailed to go to Aquia Creek for special duty. We took the cars at Falmouth and arrived at Aquia Creek about dark when we found that we had got to go to Windmill Point, about three miles below, to assist in building a hospital.

On arriving there, we were told that five hundred mammoth hospital tents were to be pitched, a ditch dug around every tent, a large ditch around the field, and small ones from the tents to the main ditch. Every tent had to be floored and stores put up and for every ten tents, a cook house 18 X 25 to be built.

In the morning we went to work. Detachments from other regiments make the command about four hundred men. Up to Wednesday night we had 175 tents pitched and ditched but we have pitched none since as the wind has been blowing a gale and it takes us all our time to keep down what are already up because the ropes—being new—they stretch and loosen the tents.

This is to be a general hospital for the Army of the Potomac ² and train of ambulances are expected here every day. It’s an excellent place—on a sort of peninsula as you will see by the plan which I send you. You will notice that two tents are put up together. The hospital is to be divided into three grand divisions to correspond with the divisions of the army and you need not be surprised to hear that your humble servant is expecting to be head cook of the right division. I spoke to the surgeon who has charge of the building of the camp and he took my name, company & regiment, and said he would recommend me to the commanding surgeon. He said there was no doubt but that I should get the job. If I succeed, I shall get twenty-five cents a day extra pay.

The beach of the river is the most curious one I ever saw. Every sort and shape of shell and stones can be found. I wish I could send home some of them to you. They are such a curiosity. But I must close. There is such a noise in the tent that I can’t think of anything. I received your letter of the 6th yesterday and am very glad to hear that you are all well. Hoping you may grow no worse, I remain with much love for all, — Charley

“This is the manner the tents are pitched, only I have made the tents so large that I only show a part of one division. They are pitched so that one tent won’t shade the the other. There are to be fifty cook houses on the field.”

¹ Readers are referred to an article by John Hennessy entitled “Worth Crossing the Atlantic to See”—the Windmill Point Hospital appearing in Mysteries & Conundrums on 1 December 2016.  See also, “Positively devilish: Book looted from Fredericksburg in 1862” by John Banks.

² Once completed, the hospital held more than 400 large hospital tents. It was located at what is now called Marlborough Point in Stafford county. It was used for sick soldiers in the Army of the Potomac.

Next Letter: 18 January 1863