Windmill Point, Virginia
January 30, 1863
My dear Mother,
Your letter of the 18th came to hand day before yesterday and I was very glad to hear from you. It is indeed a long time since you last wrote but I know that family duties have prevented you. I know that you would not fail to write had you plenty of leisure time but while I excuse you, don’t forget me, for after working hard all day, a person does not feel much like writing and this has been my situation ever since I came here to this hospital. It is not owing to neglect on my part that I do not write oftener but to the want of time. So rest assured that I will write at every favorable opportunity.
Last Tuesday night the rain turned to snow and although the ground was very wet and muddy, about five inches of snow remained on the ground. It ceased snowing early on Thursday morning. During the fiercest of the storm on Wednesday afternoon, we were ordered out of our comfortable quarters into the woods and there we had to swing our axes in double quick time in order to keep warm. After we had finished work and were warming ourselves around our red-hot stove, an order came for ten men to go on guard at the cattle pen. The men felt pretty grouchy and while on guard, took pains to drive an ox into the mire back of the camp and in the morning we went out and butchered it. This is the way we take our pay for guarding cattle.
Yesterday afternoon we went out to bury the dead. It was awful hard digging but at five o’clock we had buried twenty-one, most of which had no coffins. It is a singular fact that as quick as graves are dug, they immediately commence filling with water and so if the man is not dead when brought out, he soon will be after interment. We buried one man before he was cold. His name was James F. Miller ¹ and belongs to some New York regiment. He had not been dead more than an hour.
It is a splendid day today but the mud is deeper that ever, A man is here from Penn. to get the body of his son who was buried the 26th. He offers any man ten dollars to dig up the body, wash it, and prepare it for the coffin. I would take the job very quick but I have something else to do. But I must close.
I have received from Josephine a guard cap, pair of mittens, and a small scarf. From Howard a number of postage stamps which I took pains to lose the day after I got them. I was very sorry for I was in great need of them.
I have received your receipts for which receive my sincere thanks. I hope they will be of some service to me. I am glad to hear that you are all well. Hope you will remain so. How do Eddie and Wallie get along in their studies? Give my love to them and tell them to be good boys. I am well and hearty and will write again as soon as convenient. Until then, goodbye.
Yours affectionately, — Charley
¹ The only James F. Miller serving in a New York regiment I can find was the one in Co. D, 176th New York Infantry but this regiment did not see service in this vicinity at that time so it was likely another soldier.