"Who is this that looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?"

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Saturday, November 1, 1862. Hurry up and wait.

"Camp Seward, Near Washington DC. Saturday, November 1 1862.

"Dear Sister, I have been so busy that I have not found time to write for a number of days, but as I was on guard last night I am free from all duty to day so now after I have taken my nap I am going to write a few lines to you.

"Today we got orders about 10 o'clock to pack everything and be ready to march in half an hour. We got already and was just going to strike our tents when the order was countermanded and we are waiting now not knowing what will be the next order. We may stay here a month or we may leave in the morning." Joseph Spafford,  1st Lieutenant, Company E, Letter November 1, 1862

"Headquarters Camp Seward Washington D.C.
16th Reg't Vermont Volunteers Comp H
Nov. 1st

"My Dear Wife:

        Again I seat myself to write you although I have heard nothing from you since I came here.  I am better than I was though not well now.  Geo & Floyd are well.  Floyd is the toughest one in the lot. Darling you cant think how anxious I am to hear from you. O you will write me wont you and often too.

"We moved as I wrote you last over into Virginia and are encamped about seven miles from Washington with the rest of the Vermont regiments.  Last night we had orders to march to Fort Albany, there to be reviewed and to return at night, distance about five miles.  Our Capt. is sick and I have charge of the Co now.  We had proceeded only a short distance when we were ordered about to march quick time to our camps, there to take cooked and raw rations enough for three days and be ready to march at any moment and here I am sitting on my trunk all packed awaiting further orders. 

"It is thought that there is fighting going on near by and we are ordered to advance.  To say the least the Col. said that he should never move his men until they were better armed.  Immediately after he received the order he left for Washington and is there now.  I guess we shall have better news soon. 

"The 12th & 13th Regts are going at 12 M. unless the order is countermanded which will very probably be for that is the way things work here.  We cant get settled anywhere before we are ordered somewhere else.  

"Some of the 12th were poisoned today by eating cakes & pies that were sold by the old women and peddlers that are upon the ground. 

"There here comes the Col. waiter with the order to suspend further movements in regard to moving. I have just found an old schoolmate of mine here who has lived in Washington for five years past.  He is a cousin of the Col.  I have found out by him privately that we are to go to Alexandria tomorrow (Sunday).  I must close this letter and send it to office by him.  

"We were inspected yesterday and mustered and shall probably get some pay sometime if nothing happens.  Give my love to all and accept kisses from

                                       Elmer." ~ E. D. Keyes, 1st Lieutenant, Company H. Sixteenth Regiment, letter of November 1, 1862.

"[Saturday] morning came, the line and then the column was formed and the troops just put in motion, when an orderly came riding up with orders for us to strike our tents and in an hour be ready to march to - creek near Alexandria, three or four miles distant. Accordingly everything was packed in half an hour, and my horse stood in front of my quarters saddled and bridled with a great coat on in front and blankets behind. 

"Then the order was countermanded, as to the 14th, 15th, and 16th regiments for reason that before we moved our miserable guns are to be exchanged for something better. I am sorry to say that we cannot get the Springfield musket. We must take up Enfield, Austrian, or some old smooth bores, but anything will be better than the seven different styles, all poor that we now have." Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter No. 3. November 2, 1862

"Camp Seward, 16th Vermont November 1st, 1862

"Friend Swain:–Our regiment has been moving from one camp to another so much since we arrived at Washington that I have not before seen time to write you a word of our whereabouts.

"The 12th and 13th made an advance this afternoon.  The 16th had orders, I understand, but would not move until better armed.  The guns of this Regiment are very poor, being old muskets of 1812, and all dates, altered once.  I don’t believe there are a dozen alike in the Regiment.  It was not expected we should use them when we left Brattleboro.  

"The health of the Vermont regiments is good, and most of them seem to be cheerful and happy.  None from Reading are sick, and only eight out of the regiment are in the hospitals.  The men complain most of the warm days and cold nights.  The days since we came here, have been as warm as June in Vermont, but the nights are damp and cold and it is almost impossible with our means, to get clothes to keep warm.  Colds are the general complaint.  

"The 12th Regiment is probably the best disciplined regiment in this brigade, although I think we have as good material as any regiment from Vermont.  Most of them are our best citizens who leave the workshop, store and the quiet farm, to battle for the Stars and Stripes which our fathers loved and honored.  If they are fortunate enough to return, many will be the warm hearts to greet them; if they fall, others will live to tell the Patriot’s story.~ E. D. Keyes, 1st Lieutenant, Company H. Sixteenth Regiment, writing as "Duane" to the Bellows Falls Times, published November 7, 1862

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