Camp “Dick Robinson,” Kentucky
April 21st 1863
My dear Parents,
Your letter of the 12th inst. has just come to hand and I will improve this opportunity for answering it because thirty or forty men from every company of the 36th Regiment are to be sent away tomorrow to build a bridge across some river and it is generally the case that I am on all details. It is as you say, I am destined to be in all fatigue parties. But after all, it may be the making of me for out here, when the order is work, I have to do so, but when at home, I used to like to loaf around for the very good reason that I was a “lazy, shiftless cuss.” And now I will explain to you what I meant in my last letter.
You wrote me that “mother was sick,” and I could not for the life of me think how in the deuce you were agoing to get along. So on the impulse of the moment, I wrote a petition to the Secretary of War for an honorable discharge and Lieut. Robinson was agoing to certify to the facts contained in it. In case that did not succeed, I was prepared to obtain it through another source, viz: influential men in Massachusetts. And that is the reason I wanted you to be as lame as ever (to all appearances). I should not doubt have succeeded had I followed up my intentions for there is a man in Clinton whom you would least suspect that “knows the ropes.” (I’ve told you that before) And all I have to do is to say the word and I would be out of the army in a short time. But on sober second thought, I concluded to give up the idea for the following reasons.
1st, were I at home, I might not get work for a long time and that would make a bad matter worse because there would be one more mouth to feed and the old “howl” would again be raised about e by a number of those “three cent, two faced” men that abound in Clinton.
2nd, since Lincoln has issued his Proclamation, I have felt that it was a good thing and that he ought to be supported in it (or at least this has been the case for the last two months) that it rather frightens the rebels and that the backbone of secession is breaking. I really believe some tall and desperate fighting will be done in June, July, and August, and then the thing will be settled. Either the Southern Confederacy will gain their point or it will be among the things that were. I believe now that it is a hopeless case with them. They will try their best to get the crops of Kentucky and Tennessee for they are getting hungry in Virginia. But your Uncle Burnsides and his men are kinder calkerlatin to have them air some things.
Now you see I am in a most beautiful country—far different from the Old Dominion—and save your misfortunes at home, I have nothing to trouble me. I am just as contented out here as I should be at home. After I had been there a fortnight and now that the war appears to be nearly played out. I had rather stay and finish the job and get the honors (?) and bounty &c. &c.
I understand that Wm. Freeman has resigned and gone home because he could not stand it. Poor fellow. What a pity. It’s just what I expected. Shouldn’t wonder if [ ] followed suit. Halloo. Here a pretty go.
The orderly sergeant has just come round and informs us that our bridge affair turns out a sham, but we are to start early in the morning in light marching order with three days rations in our haversacks to go on some sort of a scouting expedition. Perhaps we shall smell burnt powder before we get back but “let the wide world wag as it will, I’ll be gay and happy still.”
Well, I’ll continue my letter. I wish to politely inform you that in a few days, I am agoing to work for Gen. Tom Welsh who now commands our brigade. Gus Morgan got me the chance.
Our brigade has now five regiments in it—two new regiments having been added lately. One [is] the 27th Michigan and the [other is] the 8th Tennessee which is composed of Union refugees from that state. It has now about 500 men and the way that the ragged, half-famished, yet stalwart Tennessean flock into it is a caution to all rebels. I reckon they will fight like tigers. They are anxious to get a shy at the cusses. Poor fellows. They are true Union men and know what it is to be prosecuted by secesh. Some of them have lived in caves for the last eight months and lived on what their friends could smuggle to them.
As for the pretty girls in Parkersburg, Va., I will say that they and their father treated us in an excellent style. They were very good looking—black hair, black eyes, rosy cheeks, &c. &c. but I am so far from anything of the kind now that its nothing but an aggravation to think about them. I’ve seen some of the handsomest ladies that I ever put eyes on since I’ve been in Kentucky. And there was a few of that sort in Cincinnati the night that I went to the theatre. But it’s no use of talking.
My gun has got to be oiled if I have got to fire with it and I might as well be about it at once. It’s roll call now and I must close. If I get out of the scrape all right, I will write at the first opportunity. If not, no one else will write for me. Hoping this long letter will find you all on the gain, I remain with much love for all, yours affectionately, — Charlie
P. S. Give my respects to Mrs. Bates and tell her that if I ever have a chance, I will write her and give a little description of this part of the country.
It’s strange I don’t hear from Jerome and Calvin. I have not heard from them since I wrote them at Newport News. — C. H. Howe, Co, I, 36th Reg. M. V.
Next Letter: 27 April 1863