Camp in the field
Near Sulphur Springs, Va
August 23, 1863
Dear Friend Jacob,
Some week or 10 days ago, I recd. a letter from you, in which you mentioned that you had written me another beside that, since I wrote to you. I was surprised to have you say so as I had not recd. it but on Friday night night last I recd. it. It was dated June 22nd, two days before I left Poolsville MD, exactly.
And since which time I have traveled a great many miles, have seen a great many strange places, as well as strange faces. I have seen a great deal of suffering and destitution caused by this war, more than I ever expected
(margin says: the weather has been very warm here but I stand it well Thank God there are a great many sick just now~)
to see before I enlisted, and more than I hope I shall ever see again. I have seen plenty of rebs, dead and alive, I was one of an escort that started from South Mountain with 973 rebel prisoners for Baltimore but when we got to Frederick City there was a rebel spy hanging to a tree,. I tell you it was a glorious sight to me, but you might not like to see it. Well at Frederick City we had to leave quite a number of our prisoners that were sick, and unable to travel any further. I tell you Baltimore is quite a loyal city now, moreso by a long chalk than N.Y. There was a great variety of stuff taken with these prisoners such as teams and loading. I got some of their business documents. I will send you one so you can see some cecesh Paper. I wish you could have seen the men, such a
dirty, filthy, motly looking set of soldiers I never saw before. I would defy any man to go amongst the 973 and be able to find two of them dressed alike. It made me wonder some then to see them, but I have seen so many of them since I do not look for anything else amongst them, I think if that smart man that cut down the Liberty pole, could have seen them, it would make him feels proud, to think what a glorious cause he was engaged in. I make use of the single because I do not think there is more than one person in the village that is degraded and black hearted enough to cut down the Stars and Stripes. They may talk but come to act that is another thing. We have a very good illustration of this in the draft. There are but few of the drafted men that will even dare to come out here and face the music and they do well they might get hurt if they did, but I must quit this subject as I want to touch a little on others.
I have been on Maryland hights, where little Mack drove Stonewall Jackson off from in such a hurry. I wish you could only see the hill he had to climb to do it. I have been close to the building in which John Brown was taken prisoner. I have seen the place where he was hanged also at a distance. I have been through a great many places in Virginia, have seen many splendid farms running wild. In fact the whole of VA is so, as far as I have seen and the old soldiers tell me I have not seen the worst yet. I am within 15 or 20 miles of Fredricksburg. I have seen many pretty villages almost destitute so much so that there was no business of any kind going on. The last village I have been in is what was once the pretty and I should think smart business place but the day we passed through there, they were all at the doors and windows and outdoors in the shade. I did not see one young white man. I saw a vast number of Ladys, with very long faces and pretty much all dressed in black as our whole corps passed through there that day. I suppose it rather started their ideas some, for I overheard one lady say "Oh! Dear me. I believe the whole North has turned out this time. The idea made me laugh, to think that she had not seen quite the 22nd part of our army and then we had not I think ¼ of the men we could get if we scoured the country as clean as the rebs has done. Why then will men preach up this peace party. You asked me how I liked General Burnside. I must say I did not like him, for I think at Fredricksburg he showed plainly that he lacked judgment while he was so obstinate that none of his generals could do anything with him, and what was the consequence, why he repeatedly forced men up a side hill into the mouth of the rebel cannon, and musketry behind a stone wall, where they cut down our men like grass before a scythe and kept doing so until the Generals refused to obey his orders.
This I have from good authority, as good as the report of a court martial. But I did like General Hooker, and the very thing that he was removed for, the Government adopted in two days after, namely the evacuation of MD Hights. I like General Mede so far I do not think he was to blame for letting Lee cross the Potomac again, but I utterly dislike the plan of changing these generals so often.
Please excuse me for bothering you so long with these things but when I get to talking I do not know when to stop and I must say that you have a great mind for a boy, no flattery.
Please give my respects to your father and mother and Charley grandmother too, and Chas. Duren, and Mr. and Mrs. Hapgood and Anna and old Mr. Hapgood. I guess he does not remember me. How is he now and how is grandma too? My regards to all others whom you please.
I am dear sir, respectfully yours.