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New Hampshire Civil War History and Genealogy

Letters Home From The Civil War

This section is dedicated to the words of those brave men and women who participated in the American Civil War and shared their experiences with friends and loved ones through the written word.

All letters archived at this site are authentic and have not been edited by me in any way. If you have a letter or series of letters that were written during the Civil War, please consider submitting them for inclusion on this site. e-mail


SOURCE: Rochester Courier, March 4, 1864

SUBMITTED BY: Transcribed by Theresa Annis 8/22/2000



Camp near Cattlett’s Station, Va.
February 12, 1864.

Mr. Editor: 

I am not gifted in the art of letter writing, but having been requested to indite a few lines for publication in your excellent sheet, I can but comply. I am well aware that any news your readers may receive from the Army of the Potomac, from any source, will prove interesting. The reasons are obvious. The war has continued for such a length of time, that it is difficult to 
find a family from which at least one loved one has not been torn to mingle in the strife, and battle in behalf of his country. Mothers, with many tear, have parted with sons, wives and husbands, and sweethearts with lovers, and bade them go forth at the call of their country. Never shall I forget a scene I witnessed in my native town, situated only a short distance from 
yours, in the month of May, 1861. I was at that time in the employ of a mercantile firm in New York City, but was on a visit home. It was Sunday in the afternoon, the various houses of worship were closed, and all assembled on the green, to bid farewell to a company of men about to start for the seat of war. Many an eye was moist with the unbidden tear, as the multitude said good bye, and God Bless you,, to that noble few. The war has continued for nearly three years since that time, and perhaps many of those men have fallen in battle. Let their friends be consoled.-- They died in a holy cause.
The Army of the Potomac had been in winter quarters, undisturbed by the tumult of war, until Saturday last, when the order was given to be ready on the following morning, to march once more against the enemy. The true soldier, regardless of self, obeys without murmuring, the orders of his superiors; consequently an early hour on Sunday morning, found ever thing in 
readiness for the start. Reconnoitering parties are, of course, frequent and necessary to the safety of an army, but it is a sight seldom witnessed --a whole army leaving their camps in charge of a few sentinels, and going forth to meet the enemy. The mud was deep-- the soldier sinking nearly to his knees at every step, but still he was not discouraged. Having confidence in 
the instigator of the movement he knew his sufferings would be the offspring of good. The results of the reconnoisance were probably satisfactory to Major general Sedgewick. He found out that the enemy was in force in front of our army, and occupying a strongly entrenched position. Our loss during the reconnoisance, was about two hundred men. On Monday the army returned to their camps, and are now enjoying the same quiet as heretofore. The army is probably better supplied at the present time, than it ever was before. The men have plenty of clothing to protect them from the inclemencies of the 
season. As for food, no soldier can complain of the amount received. We have fresh bread every day, beans, rice, potatoes and beef in abundance. The camps of the various regiments, resemble miniature villages. The "shanties" are mostly made of logs, the crevices plastered with mud. Most of the "shanties" have fireplaces built of stone. Having a good fire in the same, 
the soldier enjoys himself very much, when he has the good fortune to be in camp and "off guard," in reading over his letters from home, and thinking of the dear ones there persons not situated as the soldier is, cannot imagine half the joy he feels when the mail arrives, and he receives a letter. It assures him that he is not forgotten, and that kind friends will be glad to welcome him, when his time shall have expired, back into their midst again. The weather during the first part of the winter, was very sever. The rivers and creeks were frozen over, capable of sustaining almost any weight upon their surface. Oh, how I wished for skates, that I might enjoy myself a while, in the pleasant exercise of skating. We have also had about a week of
fine sleighing, or would have had if sleighs could have been obtained. I was drawn by two horses, who looked as though they had seen their best days, some ten or twelve years before. The sleighing party were two young ladies. One of them was mounted on the back of one of the horses, while the other young lady sat in the sleigh and held the reins; I could not decide which of them was the driver. We have of late been having very fine weather; it has seemed more like summer than Winter. I hope it will continue, but the inhabitants warn us the month of March is always the most severe one in the year. The 5th Corps, to which I am attached, has been guarding the orange and Alexandria Railroad, from Manassas Junction to Rappshannock Station, since early Winter, a distance of about twenty miles. The distance guarded is so great, that the men have a very hard time of it, being on guard every other night. Our Corps is of course in the rear of the division here at 
Cattlett’s, is about seventeen miles from the picket line of the front consequently we do not expect attack from the rebel infantry. We are constantly reminded, however , that enemies are around and about us by the mysterious disappearance of men -- the occasional loss of an army wagon &c.Re-enforcements are coming up every day. Many regiments are also 
going home, on account of having re-enlisted. I think the number joining the army, far outnumbers those leaving. There is ever reason to believe that the Army of the Potomac will be larger when the weather permits the opening of the Spring campaign, than ever before. Let us hope that it will at least be large enough to sweep every trace of rebellion, from the once peaceful 
soil of Virginia, and that its efforts combined with the army of the South-west Va., be successful in again restoring at no distant day, peace and quietness to our country, already too long distracted with the evils of a civil war. 


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