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Camp near Bunker Hill, Va.
March 9th 1862

My Dear Mother,

At last we are in Dixie, our Brigade constituting the extreme right of Banks’ Division. A strong force under Genl. Shields is expected to reinforce us before long and then we shall advance against Winchester.

Knowing that a long and tedious campaign awaited us this summer I was in no hurry to join the regiment when it left Hancock on Saturday morning and I spent the morning in settling up bills and business and bidding my friends farewell. I had become much attached to Hancock and many of the citizens, the ladies especially evinced considerable feeling when the Brigade left. Many of the officers were boarding among the different families and some had struck up intimacies and flirtations. Capt. Chapman and I remained until the village was deserted by all except a few stragglers and then followed on in a light wagon which was carrying some trunks to Clear Spring.

As I mentioned before, the Brigade was reduced to its “fighting weight,” the sick and disabled having been sent down the canal in a boat and thence to the hospital at Hagerstown. We have been lightened of our superfluous baggage too, a fact I was forcibly reminded of last night by sleeping cold, as I have once or twice before on this march owing to sending away our blankets. Capt. Corliss and I have but one trunk between us and all our camp stools have been sent off too.

We passed two nights at Williamsport, one in camp and one in the various churches, and on Monday morning crossed the Potomac in a flat boat, holding about a company at once. As soon as the regiment had crossed we marched on towards Martinsburg. Here we saw the disastrous results of secesh rule. Forty or fifty locomotive engines have been utterly ruined and the wrecks were lying about, presenting a sad spectacle.

While in Martinsburg, I saw men who had held commissions in the Virginia Militia and there were a few a very few Union families. I was fortunate enough to happen upon one of the latter and enjoyed a good curtained bed and first-rate breakfast from their hospitality. They complain greatly of the expense of living, the common luxuries, coffee, tea and sugar commanding an enormous price. Salt is far more valuable than its weight in Jeff. Davis’s scrip. One of the people in this vicinity after admiring an immense pair of horse hide boots which adorned my extremities for some time asked the price and remarked that such boots would cost fifteen dollars about here.

We pitched camp at Martinsburg with great ease and spent a whole day in making the tents as comfortable as possible. Of course we moved next day that being the invariable rule when we have attained anything approaching to comfort or convenience.

Since our arrival here our company has been on picket duty, which is a more exciting business here than it was on that odious tow path along the Potomac. Capt. C. and I built an immense fire in rear of the line of pickets and bivouacked very comfortably, having got the men to erect a hut of evergreens to protect us from the wind. Our regiment and the 46th Pa. with some cavalry and artillery were sent out to reconnoitre day before yesterday and fell in with a company of Ashby’s cavalry which are the scourge of the borders. They were well armed and equipped, carrying Colt’s revolving rifle[s] in addition to their sabres and pistols. Our cavalry exchanged shots with them and several were wounded on both sides. Capt. Williams [Wilkins], Asst. Adjt. Genl., and the Capt. of our cavalry had their horses shot under them and there was right smart whistling of bullets for a time but we failed in an attempt to surround them and they went off like the wind, taking hedges, ditches and fences in their course. You must not be startled at hearing of a battle in this quarter before long, probably between Winchester and Strasburg.

As I was writing the above, Capt. Ives came in and asked how I would like to be in New Haven today on the way to church. I should love to hear those sweet peals of church bells this lovely Sabbath morning and see the throngs wending their way to church across the green. A man must be something more or less than human, never to feel heart-sick and homesick during the tedium of camp life.

I have written to [sister] Mary since our arrival at Hancock but have received no answer as yet. Our mails are very irregular at present but we may expect an improvement before long. I wrote one letter which was published in the [Litchfield] Enquirer from Frederick and one from Hancock making four in all. I scarcely take up a paper but that I see some notice of my acquaintances receiving military appointments. I was surprised and shocked to hear of Lander’s death in the midst of his glorious career. But the mail is going and I must bid you good bye.

Your affectionate Son,

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