29th Decbr 1862
Ma chere ami
You doubtless think me remiss of my duty, on
my dilatory in replying to your appreciated letter of the 25th
ult. Little did you think that on the day you were writing
that I was on that day to receive a most enviable, because
comfortable, position. You are aware perhaps, that I have
been detailed by Genl McLaws to assist his brother in
the Quarter Master department. It is decidedly more
comfortable and agreeable one, although the duties are
at present very arduous. The Quarter master being a most
good natured man, took little or no interest in his business,
and having a procrastinating clerk before me, his papers
as a matter of course were behind hand. To get them
up was no little trouble, I assure you. It was like bring-
ing order out of chaos. It is for that reason that your
letter has remained so long unanswered, and not from
indisposition or indifference. I hope, in fact, know that
you will consider my excuse valid and not retaliate by a
long silence before replying. Will you?
You "people of the wilderness" have selected a peculiar time,
indeed, to trip it with "fantastic toe" and "leap with sylph-
like step o'er the dreary hours." I am glad to know that you
were not one among the "gay and fantastic crew," who, when
Providence is visiting us with such a severe chastisement
dares to defy him by thus misapplying the time he gives them
for repentance and to devote to Him.
I should like very much indeed to have been with you when
you had such agreeable company. I, however, found that your
society and that of your sisters, was as delightful as the
most fastidious could wish and doubt very much if that
of any other could add to my enjoyment more you did. Still
I know I would have enjoyed myself very much had I been
at Roseneath. I hope, as you do, that this unnatural war
may be at an end by next spring, and then I shall be able
to visit the haunts of Roseneath once more. Whatever may
be my opinion as regards the duration of this war and its
sanguinary character, still I trust and hope in that over-
ruling Power, to whom alone the future is revealed or fore-
seen, will bring peace to us soon and speedy. Some seem
to think that even now we are beginning to see our way through
and are sanguine of an early settlement of the existing troubles.
The article which appeared in the Examiner written "by a gentle-
man recently from the North" is too full of speculations upon the
all absorbing subject, and I think
icates his remarks upon a fallacy. I am not inclined to believe
anything at all that I hear unless witness by the evidenc-
es of my own senses, and then I am in considerable doubt.
Have you ever been visited by the soldiers. In other words
are there any camped near you - near enough to steal
your chickens, ducks, turkeys and burn your fence
rails. If so, I know that you have a most excellent
cause to dislike them. They are the grandest set of
rascals on earth. They are said to be almost, if not fully
as bad as the yankees. Since they have been here, my
opinion of some of our men is that, they are considerably
below par. What the Yankees did not steal from the
citizens of Fredericksburg our soldiers did. They acted
very shamefully in that respect, and much to their discredit.
I had intended to send you to day a plan of the
battlefield of this place, but have not got it finished.
As soon as I do, you shall have it. I moreover desired
to give you some account of the battle, but presume that
[you] have read a full & correct account in the newspapers. -- Our
men have a new watchword as they enter
It is "come out of those over coats! I want them!" The C.S.
comfort in them. -- Our army is at present in status
quo, if we except the recent movements of Genl Stuart
in the enemys rear. He left here on Christmas morning
to make a raid. I hope that his men may be so
fortunate as to get some of the New Years present
which the Yanks were having sent to them. They
did I am told, capture several waggon loads, containing
wines of a superior quality, besides cakes, candies and so
forth. It is to be hoped that the General and his com-
mand may not be caught in his attempt to capture more.
We are going to give the Yanks considerable trouble
this winter, and if they persist in carrying on
paign throughout the winter, with the intention to renew
it this coming spring, we will give them the soundest
drubbing which they have yet had. President Davis's
proclamation in regard to the punishment to be inflicted
upon Brute Butler and his command seems to be accep-
ted by many of our men as an inauguration of a war of exter-
mination, and the black flag policy of warfare seems
to meet with their approbation.
Has cousin Matt sent my valise? When she does ask her
please to paste a card on it addressed to care of Maj
A.H. McLaws, A.M.of McLaws Division. I will be more
certain to get it. I would rather she would send it by
private hand. We have an agent in Richmond at the Post
Office, who if he could get the valise, would send it to
me as he sends the mail. His name is Mr Tiller. If she
as an opportunity of sending it to him he will forward it
to me. Tell her to be sure not to put herself to any trouble
or inconvenience, as I would not like to have her do so.
Have you any any[sic] ducks to spare, or eggs, butter &c. I might
get off on plea of foraging for Genl. McL., to pay you a short
visit. I hope though the next visit may be one of unlimited time.
What is it you "heard of me," which you think I "would
like to know," or did you only say it to try the extent
of my curiosity. I acknowledge that I have a goodly
quantity, almost as much as the fair sex. Let me know
what it is; tell me in your next.
Give love to Cousin Matt, and all of the family. Tell
me something of each of them. How is Miss Elena
progressing with the music. Write soon.
Sincerely your friend
James W. B[eaty].
Please give the inclosed letter to cousin Matt
Tell her she can
[upside down in top margin of page 1]
If you have any old books upon which you place
no particular value, you can make a good disposition by
sending it to me. I am begging for something to read,
anything except a novel.