Sunday, November 27, 2011

1861 November 26 Camp near Centreville

Corps of Artillery Army of the Potomac

My dear Father [General John Hartwell Cocke]

Your very long & welcome letter by Dr Holeman was
duly delivered and has been much longer unanswered than I
wished,tho in truth I was uncertain had I written sooner, if my
letter would have found you at home--The accounts you give me
of the progress of affairs on the plantation is very satisfactory, and
the yield in the crop of corn is certainly very encouraging, & larger
than I had estimated particularly on the high land field which
certainly done better than I ever knew the same field to do before.
The breaking up of the corn land on the low grounds this early is
a great point gained, & I hope Irving will move forward
to do what he can on the highland field for next years
corn also before Xmas which usually limits the winter
ploughing in our section--I was relieved to hear that the
grinding of the wheat had been to long delayed tho as the
prices have been it has not been a loss as I suppose the
price will advance with the winter--I hope Irving will
be active in having all the Forage of Hay or oats or
shucks & straw that can be spared, baled up carefully in
strong bales & made ready for shipment but he ought to be cau
tioned not to ship so largely
of these things as to have to start
our own animals at home which I want him to look to, well
and keep in thriving condition especially the oxen which are
on many plantations so apt to be neglected--for they do
the hardest and heaviest work & always do it so readily & it is due
they should be well treated, well fed & properly sheltered from the
weather--I hope he will have all the shelters for the stock in the
farm yard thoroughly repaired so that the ox team , the colts

[page 2]
the cattle & sheep shall all be well secured from the weather
but to make the sheds for the ox team good first -& the floor
dry they have to stand & lie upon
--which was not the case last
winter as it should have been--

I am very glad my dear Father to think that you are en-
tertaining the idea of spending the winter in Virginia in view of
the present sad & disturbed state of the Country for we cannot
tell what may be brought about by it, or what may happen in the next
few months to cut off the lines of communication in some manner
& prevent or embarrass travelling in some part of the route you
have to take and whilst I know the severity of our winter will
be a great trial to our feelings--yet I think & trust, you will
be able at Bremo to get along tolerably well & by taking a
ride in the carriage every day about noon when the weather is
clear & fine you might get enough exercise & I know it will
be a great comfort to my dear Lucy to have you in our house
& to minister to your comfort by any attention & nursing which
it will be in her power to give in which gentle offices I think
she is specially gifted--
There is nothing new that I can name in regard to this
field of operations of our army--We hear now & then a vague
rumour of an intended advance on part of the enemy, but
then it ends--& he keeps outside & beyond Fairfax Court House
shivering in the Cold & hasn't the heart to come up and get
warmed at our fires--If he could divide this army he would
try to get into Virginia by this route--but as long as the
army here is of its present strength he will not venture to try it
but will be compelled if he wants to over run Virginia to steal
into the Capital by some other road--this place is now made

[page 3]
strong by a series of some 12 or 14 earth works with
from 4 to 8 & 10 embrasures each a\& thesefor rifles guns & field
pieces belonging to this Corps of Artillery chiefly--& these [?] &
connected by a range of breast works for infantry making a
circuit of some 4 miles within which a larger part of our
army is now camped & including will[?] the limits the old village
of Centrevile which these works now will make a place of note--
I do not believe our generals now believe it is likely we will have
a fight at this place but they keep everything in readiness & surely
if nothing shall be done by the 10th of December, I think we may con-
clude it best to be looking out how we can best guard our men
for winter against the cold--for the experience of the last two weeks
admonishes all that winter is almost upon us & we then would
at once be providing for the comfort of the men against the frost & cold
of winter while is is impossible to do in the poor tents that have
been provided for them--Col Pendleton has in the last two days
been engaged in fixing on a plan & selecting a location for the erec-
tion of huts for winter quarters for his corps. & we shall probably
go out tomorrow & take some steps in the premises. It is very late
& ought to have been done a month ago--our location is further
off on the Warrenton road say 3 miles from Centreville on the road
& about 1 mile this side & E of the Stone Bridge over Bull run it is a pretty
high place but is immediately on the turnpike which is partly Mcademized
& has the advantage of being in a large body of woods, where fuel will be all around
us & we can get water I think convenient enough & in abundance. The plan is
to build small huts of logs say 15 x 16 feet in the clear for 12 men with a chimney
to each & cover with logs, leaves & one foot of earth--& have sheds made for
the battery horses--by the way the Qr Masters Department of the Army is but
poorly attended to & the horses have suffered in many batteries in consequence

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of it--I have to send every day a wagon ten miles one turn for
hY & the next for corn to keep a supply of my horses--because
the Quarter Master never has enough on hand to give me more than
a piece of a load at one time of either--& this is the case with
20 or 30 other wagons every day--

Since the weather has become cold Col Pendleton has commenced
holding services in the Church in Centreville & has them in the morning
& afternoon & they were both well attended last Sunday tho the
weather was very cold & unfavorable, and it is certainly a most
encouraging & cheering circumstance that so many officers & men out of
our army should show this lively evidence of interest in duties & ob
servances of the Sabbath as promptly to fill the church after a
very limited notice being given.

In reference to you bill with H M Smith--I thought I informed
you as I think I did one day that Farrar told me he had called
& made arrangements that satisfied Smith, tho he has paid Smith no
money, but as I wanted to know what those arrangements were I called
to see Smith about it & his clerk (named Tower) said Farrar called
& said he would try & get the money for him as soon as he could but named
no particular time--& so in coming home I made Robt Hughes get
Farrar's bond which is in the desk among the other bonds (I think) & I
think you had better take the bond & make Robt. Hughes carry it to
Farrar & tell him he must pay it or put it in the hands of John
Sclater, or if necessary a lawyer & make him collect the money--Farrar is able
to pay it he has had a considerable contract for work with the government & been
able to pay that money but I see he is not going to do it till it is taken out
of him--Give my affectionate love to Lucy Sally Dr Brent our dear
little Letty & all at home & believe me my dear father ever
your affectionate Son Cary C Cocke

[left hand margin of page 4]
I was brother Philip yesterday he was very well--& happy to add this leaves me in excellent health remember me to all the servants that have ask about me

Cary Charles Cocke of the Fluvanna Light Artillery
MSS 640

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