Friday, January 25, 2013

1863 January 15-17 Camp Pitcher Falmouth Va

Camp Pitcher, Falmouth Va
Jany 15th 1863
My dear Miss Cabeen
Your letter of the
___inst duly reached me a few
days since.  Tonight Ned Bowen &
I are hard at work (excuse me
industriously engaged, I should say)
in writing letters, sitting at a
table up in y tent for we don't
know when we shall have another
opportunity.  We are upon the
eve of a movement, whether
forward, backward or sideways
I can't say for it would be contra
band, besides  which I don't know
myself.  It may all end in our
remaining just where we are
for the actual orders to cook
rations, pack up & strike tents are

[page 2]
not yet received, merely expected.
However, we place all our sick,
who are unable to march, in the
Division Hospital this afternoon
& all the other infallible signs
tend towards an early departure.
One rumor says we are going
to Suffolk to reinforce the army
now there, another that we
are going to cross the river again,
this time where the roads are
not quite so rough as we found
them on a previous occasion.
Speaking of that previous occasion
reminds me that you want to
know what Co. F did then &
there, particularly what your
humble servant did.  Modesty
forbids that I should say we
all acted like  heroes.  I will
leave that for some future historian
of the war.  So far as my idea

[page 3]
of a battle is concerned, I am perfectly
willing to give it.  I should have
been very unwilling to go home
unable to say that I had been in
one, but having had that amount
of experience, I am not at all
anxious to have been in two,  I
suppose your idea of a soldier is
that he is always grieving when
he hasn't an opportunity to fight,
delights in bloodshed &c &c.  My
experience is to the contrary, as I
find the older a soldier becomes
the less anxiety he has for such
scenes. Of course I did not come
out, without expecting to have to
fight, and when it is my duty
intend to do it, but I am merely
giving you my preferences.  I
won't give you any details of
the battle now for you must know
them by heart by this time, and

[page 4]
besides I don't wish to remember
the horrible scenes of the field
any longer than I can help.  For
two or three days we talked
ourselves to death about them,
then they faded away, and in
a week we had almost for-
gotten all about them.  So let
me take some more interesting
subject.  Last Monday a
dashing looking turnout stopped
in front of our tent.  Upon
going out we saw an ambulance,
nothing remarkable in itself
but containing a most remarkable
cargo, consisting of Mrs Eliot
Miss Hattie Dorr and a venerable
looking gentleman whom they
had induced to act as escort from
Washington.  You can fancy our

[page 5]
feelings.  Their stay was short
but while here we tendered
them all the hospitality we
could.  I, personally, ordered
what I consider a magnificent
dinner, served at 6 P.M., and
regret to say that I do not think
they appreciated it.  Perhaps the
thought that they had to leave us
in an hour spoiled their appetites,
but I am certain they did not
see the merits of our hot cakes
&c &c.  Miss Dorr tried very hard
to eat one.  They took the last
train back to Acquia Creek, &
we were left wondering whether
or not we had seen a vision.
Are Mrs Eliot & Miss Dorr
remarkably pretty, agreeable and
all that, or did we merely think
so, because we had not seen a
lady for four months, or was it

[page 6]
a mixture of both?  Of course
Capt. E. monopolised Mrs E.  Ned
Bowen & I devoted ourselves to
the single lady & set her down
for an angel.  If you know
any ladies suffering from a dearth
of admirers send them down
here.  We will do anything for
them.  Yesterday, Genl Birney had
us out all the afternoon merely
because some ladies from Philada
wanted to see a drill.  Mrs
Birney is down, & among others,
Miss Maggie Fassitt.
  The greatest event of this week
(always excepting the visit
before mentioned) came off
last night. Capt E.R. Bowen
was tried by a court, convened
to meet at the Colonels Head
quarters, on a very serious
charge! viz:- that he was at

[page 7]
the battle of Fredericksburg, Dec 13
1862,when he ought to have been
at home with his wife & family.
The testimony was overwhelming
of course on both sides.  The defense
was conducted by his Counsel, the
Quartermaster, very ingeniously &
it was proved that he had no
wife & family, that he ran away
from the battlefield & went to
his wife & family, that he never
was at the battlefield at all,
and lastly that he was insane.
You may guess that his counsel was
ab Irishman.  The verdict was
unanimous, Guilty on the ground
of Insanity, and the verdict sentence
was in the same spirit.  The
proceedings were very amusing.
The testimony in proof of his
insanity, among other things, alluded
to the frequency & great length of his

[page 8]
narrations at the Battle of Cross-
Keys, Life at Fort Delaware (three
months campaign) and other
things of which you say I warned
you not to get him talking.
We are hereafter going to have
"social" gatherings at the colonels
twice a week.  Next time will be
charades, in which we will try to
make up for want of material
by extra ingenuity. While we
have the chance we intend to
have a good time, and if our
friends at home think we are
grieving ourselves to death, by slow
degrees I beg leave to say, they
are mistaken.  I am afraid
that the tone of my letter is too
cheerful and you may think
I don't want to come home,  I am
so well satisfied with this life.
You insinuate that my last was

[page 9]
too much so, considering that three
men had just frozen to death, but
is it not best to look at the
brightest sides of things?  For
my part, notwithstanding my
opinions of the conduct, present
object (the everlasting nigger)
and probably results of the
war, I have never lost heart yet,
though I believe the happiest day
of my life will be when I return
to Philada. with the regiment.
Remember me to your Mother Y Father
& to Frank.  Has the latter lost the
military aspirations he had when
we were at Camp Banks?  There
are no vacancies for drummer boys
yet.  Please tell Annie Duhring
that I will remember her request,
though I think cats are like every-
thing else living (apart from our
own armies) scarce articles down

[page 10]
here.  Have you heard the bad
news? The Germantown Cornet
Band are no more.  The night we
retreated across the river they, being
in the rear with other supernumaries[sic]
slept too soundly, and the next
morning exchanged the arms of
Morpheus for those of Jeff. Davis.
"We their loss most deeply feel."
Ned Bowen desires to be remembered
to you.  He recently got off an epistle
to miss Fanny C.  At the same
time, I one to sister Gertrude,
which we hope duly reached their
destinations.  I am concluding
this Saturday morning (17th) and
we are under orders to march
tomorrow at 1 P.M. I trust t his
may reach you more promptly than
the other written on the eve of
our last movement, though these
movements are damaging to both

[page 11]
species of males.  Mr. Johnson is
down here again and though very
glad to see him, I begin to look
upon his appearance as the shad-
ows which coming events cast before
them, Excuse the excessive length
of this communication.  I expect I
am as bad as Ned with his battle
              Very Truly Yr Friend
                                 Jos. T. Lea

Joseph Tatnall Lea, Co. F., 114th Pennsylvania, to his future wife Annie Cabeen

MSS 11412

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