Camp “Dick Robinson,” Kentucky
April 27th 1863
My dear Parents,
Mother’s letter of the 20th has just come to hand and I was glad to hear that you are on the gain and that you had received the money that I sent you for which I had begun to be concerned fearing that it had been lost or miscarried. I sent the money to Lexington by Mr. Wheelock and that accounts for his name being on the receipt which I sent you. You must not tell me again that you are indebted to me and can never pay me for that to me sounds rather unreasonable. I meant to ask, who brought me up? Who paid for the clothes I wore> for the boots and shoes that I kicked out? for the food I ate, for the books I read? Who watched over and cared for me when I was small, sick and was scarce expected to live?
Who spent the hard-earned money freely in hopes to make me a respectable, upright and honest man—an ornament to society? (But alas, were disappointed.) And on the other hand, who squandered the spondulicks as if it were as easily obtained as pebbles? Who never returned a heartfelt thanks. I never did for I knew not the value of money, nor the labor required to obtain it. Who spent his time in loafing around with idle and shiftless companions, thus obtaining a hard name when he might easily have gained a good one?
Who was it that never earned the “salt to his porridge?” In fact, was to lazy to work, but rather loaf around when he might have stayed at home and enjoyed himself, being asked to do nothing more? My conscience tells me it was me. No, you are not indebted to me but I am to you and in a lifetime I can not repay you but mark me, I will do my utmost endeavors. My twenty-first birthday will not stop me as I so foolishly and cowardly have threatened. I thank you for letting me join the army. It has been a good lesson to me thus far. I never knew how to appreciate a good home, a kind father and mother. I was a fool to act as I did—to think that I, who never knew how to work, could be better off away from home.
I enlisted from pure patriotism, for the pure love of country, and for all the remarks I have made to the contrary, I am exceedingly sorry. True, I was somewhat disheartened at one time and rather turned my back to the cause. But I am sorry. I will not disown my country on account of the mismanagement of some generals. My patriotism is not “played out” but was never better than it is today and, although I am not “spoiling for a fight,” yet if I am called upon tomorrow to go into battle I will go readily and willingly and hope I shall not disgrace myself by showing the “white feather.”
I do not ask for a discharge although I would like to earn better wages for your use, but I took my oath to serve “Uncle Sam” for three years unless honorably discharged and this oath I intend to keep as the first step towards a new page in the history of your humble servant. I consider that it is dishonorable to leave the army without good and sufficient reasons and these I have not got. And if needs be that I should stay three years, I will do it in hope that I may live down a bad name. In this you shall not be disappointed if I can prevent it. If successful in gaining my point, in after years I will keep it.
These are my resolutions written confidentially to you. They are for no one else for of what use are they to anyone beside you. My wish is that I may keep my resolutions.
Yesterday a party of us attended a church about a mile distant—a Free Will Baptist, I believe. The services were conducted in such a singular manner that for the hour and a half, I could hardly keep from laughing. The singing, which was led by a gray-haired deacon, was enough to split a fellow’s sides. It paid me the trouble of going.
Corp. Lon [Alonzo P.] Boynton and Sergeant [Alonzo S.] Davidson [of Co. G] are going home on a furlough and I wish you would send me a couple of checked cotton shirts by one of them when they return. Make them large enough around the neck and put in no collar for I don’t want my neck toggled up this summer.
But I must close to attend roll call. Please send a few more postage stamps for I am all out and they are not easily obtained here. Hoping this will find you enjoying good health again, I subscribe myself yours affectionately, — Charley
My love to Jerome’s folks. Ask them why they don’t write. I don’t hear from them.
Eight months ago today since the regiment took the oath as a body.