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

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Target practice; Sounds in the night.

"Fairfax Station Feb 6th 1863

Capt. Co. H
"Dear Father
        "Having a few leisure moments this forenoon, I take the pen to improve them by writing you to inform you that I am well and enjoying myself finely. I take it you are well as I hear nothing to the contrary.  I have expected a letter from you for a long time but dont appear to come. I make due allowance for I know you are always busy and seldom write to anybody unless on business.  I have written to Lorette most every day since I got able to and have not received but one letter for over a fortnight.  Something about the mail is not right I think for I know she has written.  Rumors are that the mail was broken open at Alexandria the other day.  I presume you do not get all the letters that I write you .  

"I have got entirely over the measles and have been on duty 4 days.  I got along with them nicely but I thought it pretty hard for 2 or 3 days when sickest.  There has been over 100 cases of measles but few have died.  Not a man of my Co has died since we left Vermont. This is about the only Co but what has lost one or more. One Co has lost 10, Co F. of Windham County. 

"I have been Capt. of this Co since Dec 31st.  I had a pretty hard time at first straightening out things to my liking which were all in a hub but just as our Capt. used to do every thing.  I have got two good Lieuts to help me now and things go on very easily.  One is acting Adjutant* and I fear I am going to lose him as there is one to be appointed soon.  

"There has been lots of promotions and resignations mostly on account of fear to go before the Military Board of Examination to see if they were qualified to hold their respective positions.  But few ever [come] back that go before the Board so most of them resign with out going.  But few are sent only those that are not wanted here.  

"I have a large tent for myself and one for the 2 Lieuts. We do not live separately however but put the tents up together and and make our site larger.  We have two bunks one above the other : long and wide enough for two made just like two sinks.  The sides are hewed out of logs and the bottom covered with boards on which we lay with simply one army blanket under us.  It isn't always we get so good a bed as this.  I rest nicely every night.  At first my hip bones were about 8 inches longer in the morning then when I went to bed. That is they felt as though were.  

"We live as well as I care to while we remain in camp where we are now.  My waiter goes to Alexandria once a week and buys what ever we want.  We have no pies nor fine fixings nor do I care for any.  We have got used to going without and do not think of them.  My waiter had a box come from Vermont with some pies in which tasted awful good I tell you.  We can not buy good pies.  I dont believe there is a decent one in Va.  

"Suppose you keep all your colts yet.  I hope you never will sell any to go into the army.  They work them all day in many cases without a thing to eat and at night tie them to a hut or post there to stand all night in the cold and if it rains it makes no difference.  I wake up very often in the night and hear them making dreadful pitiful sounds and whinneys.  

"It has rained or snowed most of the time for a week past.  We have had a foot of snow and I guess more.  Yesterday morn and night before last was terrible cold.  Cold as Vermont.

"Come! come in and have some dinner with me.  It is all ready. We have ham & eggs enough for all. It is no use to ask you for you never eat away from home. Never mind we have ham & eggs for 3 of us.  I guess we are good for them.  Give my love to Mrs. Fay ...Albert Herrick is sick with measles.  Elmer"
  E. D. Keyes, Captain, Company H, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of February 6, 1863

"February 6. Our target practice is getting to be an interesting exercise. Col. Nichols, wishing to know which company possessed the greatest ability in marksmanship, ordered the battalion out, each man with forty rounds of cartridges, and on testing their ability, the honor was conferred upon Company B. Sixty round are being used daily for this practice."  J. C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp, 79 (1864)

*Harland Orlando Peabody, Andover, age 23, promoted 1st Lieut. Co. H, then Adjutant. "Our 2nd Lt. Peabody has been promoted to 1st Lt.,...The boys all... like Peabody first rate."  ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of January 15, 1863

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