Camp, near Front Royal Va June 16th 1862
I have sufficiently spoken in my letters home of my late march. I understand that a letter full of absurdity, and falsehood has been published in the Journal, purporting to give the particulars of it. You may have seen it; I have not; if you have then my account may be set down as the correct one, the Journal to the contrary not withstanding. Execrable letters get into the Boston papers from our regiment occasionally, the more’s the pity. The Transcript I believe has a good correspondent, signing himself “Corporal.” I haven’t seen any for some months. The Corporal is now the Regimental Ordinance Sergeant.
I have little in the way of military news to tell you. Gen’l Shields’ Division came into town to day. I have only seen it from a distance. It must be somewhat used up. Was it May 12th they left New Market to report to McDowell. At any rate they marched 152 miles to Falmouth, which place they reached May 23d in time to be reviewed by the President. The next day they received orders to start early on the 25th for Front Royal, which place they reached the day before we did having marched all the way. Halting but one day for us to take charge of the prisoners they took, they proceeded on to Luray & have marched and fought much since. Doubtless they have fared worse than we did, fare worse, rejoicing in their General Shields, and ruing the hour they ever heard of McDowell. It is said that they are to go back to Fredericksburgh, but I know not with what truth. Jackson is not destroyed, and he may be about to receive reinforcements. McDowell is a brother in law of Jackson. Perhaps Jackson likes such a general to contend with, the people hereabouts at least do not object to him. Gen’l Fremont, who by the way you may not know was formerly a Lieut Col. in the Regular army, of that high corps, I think, the topographical Engineers, has been following up Jackson. The New York Herald with little reason is inclined to shoulder the responsibility of the possible if not already completed failure of this campaign in the Valley upon Fremont, on the ground that he did not come to time at Port Republic, while chasing the rebels. Fremont has certainly done nobly. He marched the day after the afternoon he received his orders and overcame incredible obstacles, harassed by the enemy at all times. His troups have marched hard, fared hard, and fought hard, and are to be praised. No one who knows the character of the roads, the difficulty of obtaining supplies, and who comprehends the meaning of bridges destroyed by fire, and the raging waves, swollen by the terrible rains, and freshets, can charge Fremont with delay. In truth he was at Port Republic practically while Shields was not. But one or two brigades were at that bridge when Jackson drove them before with the loss of 8 or 9 cannon, and 1500 killed, wounded and missing. Had Shields whole force been at the bridge, the tale might have been different. The story goes however that Shields’ general was ordered to destroy the bridge, but disobeyed orders. Fremont came up in a few hours, hearing cannonading before him, but the bridge was in flames, and his progress stopped. Perhaps you do not like to read of military matters. I read a letter last night however of a gilt-stocking lady to a recipient in my company. The lady has a brother who is Captain in one of McClellan’s regiments, and another brother who is a sergeant under Gen’l Butler. She gave a well digested account of the battle of Fair Oaks, in terse language showing careful study and thorough knowledge of what she was talking about. So ladies can and do interest themselves in such matters. Yom are reading contemporary history when you read of the actions of the soldiers in the field. Never a better opportunity of studying history.
I have just finished my plain supper of hard bread and coffee, and gingerbread cakes & cheese. The coffee I boil myself in my tin mug. It is only when the sutler comes, which is not often with a new stock, that I can get cake & cheese.
I find inspite of my having filled over three pages, I have not written any thing to you of special interest. Perhaps I may write what I may omit to say now in my next letter home. It is quite cool to day, but for a few days past intensely hot. Saturday for instance when we left camp to go on picket, it was 102 in the shade. I left my blanket in camp, and slept wearing my overcoat in the evening.
Now for the small box, say as large or slightly larger than the former, not more than a foot square, that I want sent to me. Imprimis two shirts I spoke of with pockets inside on each breast, and pair of drawers, and two pair of stockings, and wash leather purse. Also a pair of suspenders - the “Eureka” suspender, patented by Cutler Walker, if possible. This is the suspender I now wear, and did wear when I left Cambridge. The two parts are joined behind by a leather piece and the eyelet &c. ??? is leather straps, price 50 cents. It is impossible to get a good suspender here. Send me also some tea; it will go well these hot days. I can’t drink coffee now in such quantities, and with such relish as in cold weather. Also a little chocolate, and a pound or two of suger. A small needle book, not stuffed just big enough for darning needles. Army/Amy? preserves &c in sealed bottles you want to send, as it may not be worth while to send cake, which may not keep if the box be delayed. A bottle of sweet oil. A little maple sugar, and such keepable delicacies. I should send for a bottle of whisky, if you deal in such articles, for I verily believe I could discuss it to the advantage of my some-what light body, for I never weighted so little as now since I have been in the army. But unfortunately you do not keep a hotel like Gen’l Butler. Send no more woolens than I ask for, but all J do. When I hear that the box will be ready to send on a certain day, I will give you directions for sending it. Put the paper I ordered in the box and a bunch of envelopes, a few wafers, & half a dozen of the French pens I like so much. Send also John Halifax, Gent. Which I think is in my room among some novels in the boxes under the shelves of the yellow book case. If you have any late novel you may send it. Send me one or two bags about 5 inches by 6, of such stuff a pant pockets are made of. These are good for coffee, rice, &c. Charles may send me a few nice cigars you don’t meet with in this country, if you inform him of your intention of making up a box for me. Send some postage stamps also in your next letter as I am all out of them.
Your Aff. Brother
John B. Noyes.