Friday, September 30, 2011

1861 September 30 Camp above Fairfax C. H. Va

Rockbridge Artillery
1st Brigade (Gen. Jackson)
2d Corps Army of the Potomac (Gen Smith)
Camp 1 mile above Fairfax C. H. Va
P.O. Address Fairfax Station

Mr. Wm. M. Blackford--Lynchburg

My Dear Father--

My last letter bore
date on the 20th. It is therefore a longer in-
terval since I wrote last than has yet e-
lapsed between my letters: I design to write
every week and was only accidentally pre-
vented on Thursday and the days following. When
I first joined the army I thought of keeping
a Diary: this idea I abandoned in favour
of writing long and explicit letters home cov-
ering the same ground. On this account
I write my letters in ink, and have the
vanity of asking that they be preserved.

A family budget of letters from home
dating from the 21st to 24th reached me
on the 20th. Mother sent me Mr Conrad's
letter to herself, in response I suppose to a
request I made of Mary Isabelle that she, Mary,
would send Mr C.'s letter to to myself, envelope & all
I have a copy of Mr. C.'s letter to mother & therefore
no occasion for the original. I return it, therefore,
and repeat my former request.

[page 2]
On Saturday 21st, I walked over to the Camp
of the 1st Md. Regt. at Fairfax Station, with
two of my friends of this Co., to spend the day
I met nearly all of my friends and acquain-
tances in the Regt. and dined with Randolph
McKim, whose mess, mother will be pleased
to learn (?) have gotten a cook at last.
While we were at dinner Eugene, whose
camp is not over 1 1/2 miles distant came in
--just in time, by the way, for dessert,
viz preserves and bread. Eugene was in his
dress uniform, and high spirits as usual.
A beard under the chin, such as he now
wears, is singularly becoming to him, and
together with his beaming expression, ruddy
complexion and fine carriage renders him
handsomer than I have ever seen him.
The same characteristics precisely mark Ran
McKim and make him more like Eugene
than ever. They are both the personifica
tion of health, and vigour, nor less of a
noble ardour for the cause. Two handsome
men, at least to my thinking, are not easily
found, albeit that one is constantly struck
with the number of fine looking fellows
to be sure, at least among the better sort, in our army.

[page 3]
We passed the afternoon together very pleasantly
and parted about 5 o'ck. The only drawback
to the enjoyment of camp visiting and it is
a great one where it is intimate friends
or kinsmen we visit, lies in the fact that
in the number of people around there is
generally but little opportunity for intimate
intercourse. You know that meeting one's
near kindred or friends in a crowd is extremely
tantalizing; at any rate I often find it so.
Just as my companions and myself left the
Md Regt. lines it began to rain. We had
permission but for the day, however, and
could not stop on this account. We were
compelled too to take rather a round about
way too to get home--four miles fully--&
so by the time we had walked 1 1/2 hours in
a cold and steady shower we were well drenched.
This is of course a small matter for a sol-
dier, and indeed it occasioned us no in-
convenience after I got on dry clothes, but
the finale of our days pleasure reminded
me somewhat of the "Steam Excursion" in Boz's Sketches.
Sunday proved clear. We had but small
reason to expect this, by the bye, as it was
the Equinox (Sep 22nd) but Saturdays rain was all we had.

[page 4]
Sunday Ran McKim spent the day with me
and other friends, of whom he has not a
few in this co. We had reason to expect
religious services in the forenoon by the
Rev. Dr. Brown, a Presbyn. minister from Richmond.
He did not preach till the evening however
and a dozen or so of us occupied an hour
of the morning in a prayer meeting in my
tent. This was very like the University and
as I sat between Chas. L. C. Minor & Ran McKim
I could almost fancy myself again at one
of those gatherings which will always con-
spire to render the remembrance of our
Sundays at college particularly delightful.
Charles's camp until within a few days
past was not over 3/4 mile distant from
us and so we enjoyed the pleasure of seeing
him almost daily until his departure
for Hanover last Thursday. He expects to
be back in the army some time in Oct.
and then to join the Wise Troop. This
is an arrangement which will be prduc-
tive of much pleasure to two Charles' in
whom we feel interested, as you may imagine.
In speaking of the Md. Regt. I do not know
what I ever told you that there 8 or 9 of the

[page 5]
Howards, five of the number being sons of
Mr -- I would say- the Honourable Charles
Howard of Baltimore, one of the Police Commrs
of that city now in the Yankee Bastile.
Dr. J Hanson Thomas has a son, of the same name
in the Regt too I have met one or two
others, and know of more men, in this band
of exile soldiers whose father or near rela-
tives are immured in Fort LaFayette. There
are others whose property has either been al-
ready confiscated or is liable to early spolia
tion at the hands of the Lincoln Despotism.
I met one young fellow the last time I was
with them--Southard, by name,--from St. Mary's Co
whose fathers' estate has been confiscated, ne-
groes stolen, Etc Mr. S. senr, is now a refugee
in Va., and his wife & daughters, for a time
prisoners in Washn, now released, but in Md,
These, and the hundreds of other outrages of Lincoln
that cry out for vengeance in that devoted State,
have combined to awaken an unparalleled
ardour for the conflict in the Maryland Line.
The gallant fellows find it hard to contain their
impatience at not being permitted to cross the river.

[page 6]
On Monday [?] we enjoyed the pleasure of
a visit from Rev. Dr. Packard, now sojourning
with his family in Fauquier His son Joseph
one of my best mates, had been for weeks,
on the sick list and recently so unwell
that his father came down in a carriage
and was fortunate enough to get a sick-
furlough for him. The Doctor spent the night
he was in camp in our tent. We made
him as comfortable as we could in one of
our bunks and when we retired he seemed
likely to rest tolerably well, at least he
appeared to think he would. This hope was
destined to a melancholy disappointment,
however, as several of our boys who were
stirring during the night surmised, the Dr
himself preserving a courteous silence as to
his discomfort the while, though never
observed to rest very quietly. In the morning
Magruder Maury who had rested well and had
little suspicious of the truth as regarded the
Doctor was unfortunate enough to venture
upon the compliments of the hour--
"Good morning, Dr., I hope you slept well,
sir!"...."Sleep!" replied the unhappy pro-
fessor of divinity, with better sarcasm couched

[page 7]
in courteous language--"Sleep, sir, I don't
believe I closed my eyes during the night."
The truth 'must out,' and so we had it.
After Dr. P. left us we had a hearty laugh
over the effort which he diligently made
to conceal the unmitigated misery which
he endured during his sojourn in the Camp
of the Rockbridge Artillery--

On Tuesday I went with Dr. P. to Gen. Johnston's
HdQrs.--between the C. H. & Station--to get the
sick furlough countersigned. On my return I
stopped at the C. H., called to see Capt. Davis,
or rather inquire about him, and to make
some other visits in camp. I saw Mr. Davis &
the Rev. D. C. L., and set some time with them.
You are probably aware that the Captain is
now in a fair way to recover (I was there yesterday)
After my visit to the Davis' I went to the
11th Va--a few hundred yards distant-spent
some time with friends in Co. G. (the Home Guard)
and then went to see Col. Garland, with
whom, by invitation, I dined. Lt Col Johnstons, the Rev.W. Granbery,
the Chaplain, Capt. Otey, the Meems[?] Mr. Kean,
and one or two others mess with the Colonel
I ate the best dinner at the HdQr of the
11th I have seen in camp, so far. Col. G.

[page 8]
seems very sad and now disposed to silence
than I have ever seen him before. He was
and is uniformly, very courteous towards me
but in his manner generally is abstracted
and less cheerful than I ever saw him.
His Lt. Col. Jno[?] Funston of Alexandria, is a
very pleasing gentleman, and struck me
most agreeably. He went out of his way
to be polite to me. In short I lose sight
of the fact that I am a private so when
[?] than at the HdQrs. of the 11th.
The "Home Guard" are trying to turn them
selves into an Artillery Co. This would add
to their comfort in many respects and
yet it seems to me would be almost a
pity. They are so admirably drilled as
Infantry, and have such a reputation in
this time it would be almost a pity to
sacrifice it. Col. Garland views it with
disfavour, though of course he would not if
I suppose they desiring it
he could ^ prevent the change. I have reason
to know from what he said to me that
he would be much concerned to lose his
crack Co. I saw Robin Berkeley--as of course
I always do--and Waltham H.B., on Tuesday & yesterday.
They are both well & stand the service Excellently.

[page 9]
On Wednesday night about 8 o'clock we recd
a sudden order from the HdQrs. of our division
--a circular order extending to about 4 brigades
besides our own--to prepare 3 days rations
and hold ourselves in readiness to march
at a moments notice. We thought an ad-
vance of the enemy or some such occasion
rendered a conflict imminent though we
knew nothing but the orders. The latter
were immediately carried out and the
camp did not become quiet for some time
after the usual time, the men being up
cooking and making ready for a move.
As you may imagine, this being my first
alarm, I did not rest very quietly that
night, expecting every moment to be roused
to go I knew not whither & to meet I knew
not whom. The night and following day
passed without further orders, however, & we
became quiet again. On Friday the special
order of Wednesday was made a general one
and we are now under standing orders,
until further notice, to have 3 days rations
always by us & to be ready to start off at any moment.

[page 10]
The reason for these orders I have no means
of knowing, nor have any of us. Indeed
as respects general army intelligence you are
in better position to be au fait than I am,
& I never stop to give it you. The rumours
which are constantly rife here are really
not worth transmitting, and indeed they
scarcely make lodgment enough in my
memory to enable me to communicate them.

On Thursday our cook left us to go to Win-
chester after some clothes we expect him
back to morrow. In his absence we have
had to take it by turns to cook, and
a hard business we have found it. Last
Friday, cold, rainy and gusty as it was, was
my day--with David Barton--to cook. I
never had a more difficult or disgusting
task to perform, and would be compelled
to its repetition by nothing but the direct
necessity. One of the disadvantages in doing
our own cooking is the exposure to which
it subjects one, now more than ever to be
considered. It was very bad, for instance
for me, to have to stand out in the rain
with a cold such as I had Friday, & of
which but for this I might now be rid.

[page 11]
I am much gratified to know that
my great coat is so far under weigh
and will probably be in my possession
before the end of the week. I regret
to learn that it is of light colour
but will not pass judgment till I see it.
I saw Eugene's coat yesterday & tried
it on. It suited me exactly in every
way and I only hope mine will resemble
it. I will acknowledge the receipt
of all the things as soon as I am able.
A great coat is now becoming very es-
sential to comfort, as our chief concern
now is to keep warm at night and early
in the morning. Berkeley Minor & I occupy
the same bunk and by sharing our bed
furniture and the use of a little straw we
manage to be pretty comfortable at night.
I was somewhat alarmed at the price of the
coat, but suppose it could not be helped.
I have little or no temptation to extrav-
agance in camp but must spend money,
when I can command it, in things to keep
warm with. It is essential not less to
health than comfort & well being that
a soldier should be shielded from cold.

[page 12]
Please send me by the first chance to Fair-
fax Station a certain heavy cassimer coat
of mine which is put away either in
my travelling or hand trunk. Mary Isabella
has the keys. It is the only coat not of
cloth among my clothes, and may be known
by a velvet collar and stitched cuffs, thus [diagram]
I have worn it a good deal but there is
yet much service in it. The short jacket I have
is wholly insufficient now in the cold days.
Camp is a good place to wear out old clothes.
I expect to buy no new ones this winter.

Tell mother I wish she would send Berke-
ley a Zouave Cap like the one she made
me. These caps are fine things to sleep
in and contribute much to the comfort of
men whose hair is short as mine & his is.
Please try and send me by mail, unless
you have an early other opportunity,a
pocket Testament of a good quality
as you can command, and a copy of a
little volume called "Pastor's counsel" (A.T. Soc)
which you can get at Paynes'. I want
the Testament for a friend of mine who
has lost his, and wish I could start one
of good quality, with Psalms attached if possible.

[page 13]
I was much gratified to hear what you said
of Lewis and trust he may get an appoint-
ment in the C S service. You will of course
apprise me of the result of his application.
I would like to know his P.O address.
I am happy to learn that the Ladies' Hos-
pital has been recognized by the Government
and do not question that by its former
establishment in this way the interests
of our unhappy wounded soldiers will be
much benefitted. I will send shortly to Mrs.
[?] a little book on Hospital Cookery
which I got by mistake for one of a dif-
ferent sort I hope it may be of some use.
The news papers you send come now very
regularly and are eagerly read by myself
and many others. I generally get them
the nest day but one one after date. We
send to the Station daily as a general thing.
The marriage of Miss Selden and Gen K. Smith
impressed me a good deal. The general must
have less sense than gallantry to marry
any woman under the sun on 3 or 4 weeks
acquaintance. No woman lives I would marry thus.

[page 14]
Tell mother not to be uneasy about the
fate of the box she intends to send me
or will have sent before this reaches you.
I hope and with good reason it will get
to me, as I expect to be able to ferret it
out in person if necessary at Manassas or Fx.
I would be glad if Mother could
send me a pair of yarn gloves. They
will be very comfortable nw the
weather begins to wax cold. You see
my wants are manifold, but just as
I never led such a life as this before
so I find it impossible to anticipate
at once the wants which it entails.
Mr. Randolph only sent me one pr. socks.
These are the only socks except one
pair, very full of holes, that I have at all.
The coat spoken of above is of all
things that I now need most.

We are not satisfied with the man
we have to cook for us and I wish you
would look about and see what you can
do for us in Lynchburg now the servants
have come home from the springs. Mr. R.
L. Owen told me something about a servt.
belonging to Mr. Henry Dunnington that might

[page 15]
possibly be had, but I suppose a free
negro would be the best chance. It
is to cook, and if possible to wash, for
a mess of 10 or 12 gentlemen: we would
pay more of course a good deal for a
man to do both. We would pay, as we
have been paying, a very liberal compensation,
even as high as $25 a month for a good hand
to cook and wash both. Please see what
can be done in Lynchburg for us, of-
fering meanwhile only what is necessary
as wages to secure a servant.

You have heard perhaps that Richard
L. Maury-- Cousin Mat's Dick- is Major
of the 24th Va. Regt. Moreover hi is
going to be married on the 22nd prox
to Sue Crutchfield, daughter of the late Spea-
ker--his cousin and mine. These items
are quite interesting to his friends tho'
it is questionable whether the Governor
knew what he was about when he ap-
pointed so inexperienced a man Major
I have a letter to day from Chas. Minor
of Albemarle inquiring whether he & Jno
Jr. (Dick's Jno) Maury can get into this Co.
They can certainly & will do well to come.

[page 16]
Yesterday I went over to the 11th Va. to hear
Rev. Mr. Granbery preach and saw all our
friends in the Regt. meeting Eugene meanwhile
I hear The Wise Troop is ow encamped
alongside of the 11th. Eugene and I dined
with bro: Charles there. Col. Garland was
with us and we four made up the party,
a very pleasant one. The Colonel seemed
in better spirits than I have yet seen him.
We were all saddened however by the
accident (or rather I hope the enemy's
shot) that occasioned poor Chalmers
so severe a wound--You have of course
heard all about it before this--
After dinner Eugene came over to this
camp and spent a short time with
me here. He & bro: Chas are both very
well, and bro: Charles looking handsomer,
tell his wife, than ever had in his life.

But I must come to a close, though
as usual with plenty more of my
small talk if I had time to write it
I feel much flattered at your & mother's good
opinion of my letters. I have written them
under many interruptions & fear it seems incoherent.
My love to mother, Mary, Sis Sue, and all at W.[?] B.s
Kind regards to the servts especially Peggy
Your affectionate son
L.M. Blackford.

MSS 5088

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