Tuesday, December 4, 2012

1862 December 5 12 miles below Port Tobacco

[letter of Captain Henry S. Spaulding of the 38th New Jersey to  his wife "Birdie" continues]

Dec. 5th
The drum beat the march & hurried
us off. We are now about 12 miles
below Port Tobacco.  It is now 10 minutes
past 4 o clock in the morning & am on duty
& trying to use extra minutes by the dim
fire light to give you some idea of our
change & prospects.  We left Camp Cum
berland ten oclock last Monday A.M.
It rained some & was quite muddy &
slippery.  Our Brigade consists of the
24th N.J. &  28th N.J. 27th con. & 127 Pa
Regts commanded by Col. Jennings of
the 127 Pa. Regt.  He is acting Brigr Genl
We marched under sealed orders to Wash
ington, Reported to Genl. Heintzleman &
after a halt of about 2 1/2 hours started on
the march again, still under sealed orders
As we took the direction of the navy
yard Capt. D. thought we would go on board
transports & be sent down the Poto
mac river.  But not so we crossed
the south branch of the Potomac &
continued on southward.  Every day
since we have marched all day.
The weather has been very fine since
Monday, & the roads excellent.
We have the little shelter tents, each
soldier carrying one of his own h[alf?]
in his knapsack At night two put
their halves together.  Some

[page 3]
put join 2 & 3 tents together.
With the 3d one they close up the
ends.  Be doing this & gathering hay
or grass, or getting straw, & laying
rubber blankets under us we
some can sleep pretty comfortable, though some
complain a good deal.  It certainly
goes a little hard, when we had fixed
fix our tents for winter quarters very
As to the country we have passed
through, it certainly is very fine.
The soil is mostly sandy enough
for easy cultivation I.E. the timber is
generally large like, like western
timber. There are some magnificent
oaks.  many of the plantations
are large & very fine, & show an excel-
lent degree of cultivation.  The dwell
ings are fine buildings, some of
them nearly mansions, & their sit
uations & general appearance shows
far more taste & refinements than
could be imagined of the ignorant
heathenish natives that we have
read so much about in the south.
I think the people are not generally
very enthusiastic lovers of the
northern soldiers from their fact
that there have been no great
union demonstration south of
Washington  There is universally
a quiet partially interested ap
pearance among the inhabitants.

[page 4]
All along the route the soldiers
fall out & ask for something
to eat, & are generally given plenty
eleven sat down to one table
yesterday & had a nice, good
dinner, & were not charged one cent
Some of the people claim to be eaten
out of house & home nearly & dont
give much.  O how do you ask
how the soldiers return such
favours? Well Tuesday night they
commenced burning fences killing
pigs, sheep, calves, turkeys, geese
ducks & chickens.  Wednesday night
there was on continual cracking of
guns, & all over the country, & bringing in
dressing & cooking all of the above
named articles, during the whole
night.  Last night it was the same
way. They scour the country from
3 to 5 miles each way. Last night
they commenced on grown cattle.
The brigade that preceded us took
several large fat hogs that the
owner had killed, dressed & hung
up, off from the poles, before
his eyes.  If a man says any
thing no matter how mildly,

[top margin of page one]
he is cursed & threatened to be
shot.  Wednesday 3 horses were
taken by our brigade & yesterday
morning those who took them
started in a [?] with two of
them, went into a field caught
two beautiful match mules, left
the tow horses & came on.

MSS 38-156

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