Newport News, Va.
March 7th 1863
My dear Father & Mother,
Just off “picket,” dinner ate, and comfortably seated on my easy chair (knapsack), I take this opportunity to answer a few letters, among which are yours of the 20th, 26th, and 1st from Clinton and one of the 26th from Harvard.
I am glad to hear you are getting along so well and hope Father will be able to go to work next summer for a person feels better to work some than to be penned up in a house all the time. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about Jerome’s selling his farm. I was in hopes to stay with him one more season but he probably knows his biz better than we do and so I’ll find no fault but I hope he will buy another farm somewhere in Old Mills for it will seem kinder natural to go down there once in awhile.
But I don’t know as I ever shall have the chance again. When I come to think that there are two years and a half longer for me to serve, I sometimes believe that my chances are slim. I have got to die but once and that will be when my time comes, and if God has so willed that I shall die out here, why, so it will be. Who can say different? And yet, it would be pleasant to die with ones friends at home. It’s very seldom that I think of such things. Day after day I go around attending to my duties and give not the least thought as to whether I shall go home or not. But when I see the people heedless of good peace propositions (which are held forth by leading men) and eager to continue hostilities, I begin then to think that if I get home safe and sound in three years, I shall be the luckiest of mortals. I’ve come to the conclusion that ‘ere long our Government will be glad to settle it on any condition.
Our army is around Richmond to be sure. But it has got to fight an army strongly entrenched, and defeat it before they can enter it. There are six lines of earthworks immediately around Richmond and six lines at Fredericksburg, and any amount of fortifications all along the peninsula. The rebels receive more foreign aid that we have any idea of. They are fighting on their own soil with which they are well acquainted. They are Americans and are just as good fighters as the Northern army, and they have got the advantage of us in more ways than one. They know it and laugh to think we expect to subdue them. I tell you what I honestly believe and that is, when the war is settled, it will be when the South have their independence. The old motto used to be, 1st our God, 2nd our Country, 3rd our Friends. but the new motto I like better—our country comes in last. What’s the use of trying to keep the South in the Union if they are determined not to be in? A constant quarrel—and in time, another war—would be the result. Better let them and the whole tribe of dear damned niggers go to the devil. But enough of that subject for I’m getting my mad up.
I’m glad that I waited until now before sending for a box. We are very near the Express boat and consequently get our express in good season. Some boxes come through in four days.
I saw Mr. Holbrook yesterday and may possibly be detached from the thirty-sixth but can’t tell sure. I can think of no news to write and so I will close. Much love to all and a kiss for Wallie and Eddie.
Yours truly, — Charley
Next Letter: 8 March 1863