Tuesday, January 22, 2013

1863 January 9 across the Rapphannock from Fredericksburg, Va.

   Head Quarters 15th Regt. C. V.                                       Camp opposite Fredericksburg
                                                  (No 7)     Jan 9th 1863
Dear Sister Helen
                                                 I received your letter
No 2 this morning and also one from
Geo  No 3. enclosing his Photograph which
I think is first rate    it seems as if he had
changed a little since I left home or
perhaps it is because he has got on his
store clothes.   your pictures I like very
much and you have got a new dress
I should think   It would seem funny
for me to go home and dress up once
more.   I should hardly know how to
act with a besom [?] shirt on but it
make very little difference down here
what we wear or rather we wear the same
thing right along..  but I manage to
wash once in a while and get my
clothes washed about once in 2 weeks
but it is different from a change twice
a week at home..   It is still very fine
weather    have had but one rain this
year   There was a Grand Review this

[page 2]
week    Burnside received the whole of
the 9th Corps d’ Armies and I rather
think there were a few men together then
it was a big sight but I was surprised
that they did not cheer him more
than they did   he rode down the entire
line with his cap off and they only
cheered him very faintly on the right
flank    I think it is strange as this
is his old Corps ( the 9th)   I have seen
Burnside now 3 times   he rides an old
bay horse   very large and thin a tail
with very ^ ‘little’ hair on it and he looks like
“time”   but the way he can travel is
immence [sic]  his staff and long train of aids
and orderlies have hard work to keep
up with him..   We had a grand
time here the other evening – Phil
Chapin, Col’s orderly, John Pondeford the
sutler, Ed Kimball, Q.M. Sergt.  All of
them young fellows, the Chaplin and my
self   thought we would make some molas-
ses candy and we had first rate luck and
a first rate time too – we boiled it on our
little stove in a mess pan and then
went to pulling   Chas Brown Adjt dropped
his hunk and stuck it all full of hay
that is on the floor of our tent.   We have
some pretty good times here once in awhile.
The Col’ tent is fixed up the best of any
of the staff and it is real cosy    there are two

[page 3]
bedsteads in it    Phil sleeps on one and
the Chaplin on the other and I make up
a bed on the floor in the hay   we keep
a fire all night and make it quite
comfortable.   Chaplin D. Henry left for
a leave of absence for 20 days   he
is not going home as he is not well
enough to travel so far and would be
bothered so much with visitors that he
would have no rest – will send for his
wife to take care of him in Washington
so you see Phil & I are going to have
a good easy time while he is gone.  I shall
occupy his bed and we have nothing to
do   take our three meals a day and keep
comfortable   I act as postmaster while
he is gone,   we receive and send a mail
every day.        I get along first rate   take
to go down to Falmouth Station about
2 miles to water the horses and I go
as often as I please..   I am getting real
fat the boys say   am very well except that
diarrhea which hangs to me yet..   We
have first rate living   Fresh meat twice
a day certain – pancakes – apple dumpling
hasty pudding etc   They have a strange
way of killing beef here   they shoot them
with a musket then the butcher rushes
up cuts its throat and actually skins it

[page 4]
and cuts it up before it stops kicking                            
          But we have got wretched
hospital accommodations here   there are
about 12 crowded into a small wall
tent where they lie on the cold ground
without a fire as they have no stove yet
but have been trying to get them for a
good while and it is really tough but
I’m thankful that Eugene is so well
that he won’t have to suffer there any
more    I am so glad that he is about
again – for one while I really thought
we should have to bury him in cracker
boxes for don’t you think they have to
nail 2 or 3 of those hard tack boxes to-
gether for a coffin as we can’t get boards
out here.   It seems horrid but it is a
fact.       I begin to think that we
are going to spend the winter here
although the Division Surgeon was over
here the other day and said that it
was an unhealthy place here.  but I
don’t see any sighns [sic] of moving except
that the ballon [sic] which is stationed near
us here goes up oftener and last night
they sent up signal ballons of different
colored lights and again this morning
small ballons have been sent up from
Burnsides Head Quarters not far from here
        I have not received “any” letter from
Hattie M. – but expect one from Hattie J.B.

[The end of this letter is written in the top margin on page one.]
soon as I wrote her a short
time ago.   I received a
letter from Elb yesterday
shall write him this P.M.   
     You need not send me
any soap by mail as we have
pleanty here   I am not par-
ticular about having the
Sunday times every week, but
like to see it once in a while
wish you would send me
some Illustrated papers
or magazines from
time to time as
we have all the news
papers here.
     I don’t care about
each of you numbering
your letters separately
for I can’t keep track
of them all but if
you write No 1 let Geo if he writes next
number his 2 – “see”
received a paper
from Chas – hope he
won’t think I am
going to let him off
without writing
     don’t he have time
or what is the reason
he don’t like to write
me?  Write soon
      Your dear brother

                                       Head Quarters 15th C. V.
                                       Camp opposite Fredericksburg
                                             (No 8)                Jan 9th 1863
Dear Brother George,
                                                 I received your
very good letter this morning with
one from Helen   like the picture
very much   it is first rate but I cant
see where you get all your new clothes
have you wet them yet   if not you must
do the right thing by me..   Am glad
that you are having such nice times
skating and sliding   what have you done
with my skates – sell them if you can
have you had much use for my old –
long sled this winter   don’t let any
body pass you on the hill with her
there is a cushion for it all cut out up
in the closet in John & Louis’ room if
want one on it..   Do you go to school
this winter or remain in the Bank
How is Wm Harwood   do you ride with
him Saturdays as much as ever or have

[page 2]
you out grown it..   ask Wm why he don’t                            
answer my letter   I don’t care any
thing about his letter but I am
collecting my bills the 1st of Jany and
want to have him pay up but you need
not tell him the first part..
                   How does the little white nag
get along    do you ride as much as usual
     I take a horse back ride almost every day
we have to take the horses down to Falmouth
Station to water them and I ride one
just any time I wish    I go down to
the river very often and take a look
of the rebels..   Our pickets are on
this side and their’s are on the
other side and they talk and chat
across very often and sail papers
over each way on shingles.  The
City does not seem to be very thickly
inhabited just now as there was
no smoke but from very few chimneys,
and I could see through a good many
of the streets and there were very few
rebels in sight – once in a while a
group of negroes and a few soldiers
strolling along was all visible but they
are repairing the houses some and try-
ing to fix up a little again but they better
burn the city and build again   it is
pretty well riddled   the river is only
about as wide as Clark’s Pond with

[page 3]
high banks on each side and we                                      
can see very plainly what is going on
and the sharpshooters could very
easily pick off any one if they felt so
but there is no firing between the
pickets..   Our batters [sic] are planted
all along on the high bank this side
and the balloon keeps good watch
of what is going on – it is fastened
by a cord and they have a small
telegraph battery in it and just send
word down from time to time..
          The rebels have thrown up more
earth works as we can easily see the
fresh red dirt in many new places
and their camps are scattered all
along on the hills and slope –
beyond the battlefields..   Perhaps I
will take a rough sketch of them &
the city some times and send home
          Eugene is very much better
George and Aaron is all right..  How are
all the school Girls   Jennie Canklin and
the others    Give my regards to all that
inquire about me and be a good boy
keeping your nose clean..   George I like
to have you write me very much and you
are first rate about it but you must
be particular about your spelling   I
find a few words spelt wrong in each

[page 4]
letter such as nite for night    here for                          
hear etc   be a little careful and you
won’t do it    write me as often as you
please and tell me every little thing
that happens and I will answer
all of them if I get time..  Tell Charl
to send me his last picture and
I wish you would send me some
paper – envelopes & pens by mail   I
am all out    this is the last sheet’
of all that paper Helen sent in the
box..            I won’t stay to write
more now – eat all you can and
grow big
                     Your enlisted brother

                          try that again

                           that ain’t just it

                            that’s better
George – how does my over coat go this winter?

James Howard, 15th Connecticut

[transcripts by Mary Roy Dawson Edwards]

MSS 12668

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