Saturday, June 30, 2012

Blog in Real Time, June 30th 1862, Manassas Jctn

Camp Whitcomb, near Manassas Junction Va
              Monday June 30th 1862
Dear Martha,
Your letter of the 20th inst came to hand on the 24th.  The only fault I had to find with it was its brevity.  I wanted to know all about how the people looked in the church and on the green Class day, whether the Seniors were dressed in light blue breetches and dark blouses, and nice wide army brogans, or whether they looked just as they always do, awfully hot black vested, pantalooned and dress-coated and high booted martyrs to female loveliness. Tell me all about it.  You occupied so much space, would it had been doubled, in describing Emma’s visit to you that you had but a few lines to devote to that great day – Class day. How could you have made so great a mistake as to think you had written to me of Emma’s visit to You?
I recollect that you wrote that she was expected to visit Cambridge, and I was in hopes of hearing from her and you at the same time. Such a letter would have been very welcome after the exhausting marches which ended at Front Royal, especially since one of my old female correspondents ceased, though sometime before, to write her sparkling letters.  I take it for granted that you are staying with Cousin Sumner. Give my love to the family what little of it remains in town.  I should like to be with you in the sitting room and chat with Mrs. Wheeler; as old. They tell me at home that another grand daughter Alice Ellesmere, has opened her eyes upon this naughty world.  If the war now raging is to last 20 years, Alice Ellesmere should have been a boy.  It shows more patriotism now, as in the dawning days of the Amer. Revolution to have boy babies. Should Cousin Alice and Mr Sargent come to Framingham while you are there, give them my best regards.  x  x  x  x  x  Remember me to the rest of my friends in Framingham whose names I will not attempt to write down for the rest I hope you will have a good time in F. and I don’t see how you can very well help to.  Write me of your mode of spending the time, and the sights you see. The towns people must be very proud of Gen’l Gordon who maneuvered one of Bank’s Brigades in his late masterly retreat to the Maryland side of the Potomac – a retreat caused by the withdrawal for Banks of Shield’s Division about the 12th of May, not to speak of the previous detachment of the 12th & 13th Mass. Regts the 12th & 16th Ind. & 9th N.Y. Regts on the 21st March last which fought in the battle of Winchester, which was fought on the 22d march.  Were you in Framingham at the time of his recent visit after receiving his appointment as Brig General ?
     Matters hearabouts are in satis quo all except this paper which I can scarcely keep down even by the use of inkstand, a portfolio, diary, and both hands.  It will fly up occasionally to my discomfort, as I hate to blot my paper even when writing in a gale of wind at the seat of war.  I suppose some of our secession quaker & peace punsters call the seat of war a cane, i.e. Cain seat, a pun which will not bear again repeating.  We, that is Hartsuff’s Brigade, of Ricketts Div., of McDowell’s Corps, of Pope’s Department are here far from war’s changing and banging, drilling as if to make up for lost time.  During the whole of our stay in and about Front Royal we had no drills whatever, the men not being in a state to exert themselves greatly unless under absolute necessity; but the moment we came to this place a new leaf was turned and we now have a company or battalion drill in the morning and a brigade drill in the afternoon. The latter drill is conducted by Gen’l Hartsufff, the former by our company officers or by the Colonel.  The worst about the drills is that it is very hot and dusty.  X  x  x  x  x     Gen’l Shields Division went to Alexandria day before yesterday.  Another Division it is said is to leave McDowell, but whether ours, or that commanded by Gen’l King is uncertain. Manassas does not now present the same appearance as when we first came to it last March. Then all was bleak, barren ruin and desolation.  The place then destitute of ordered and cut up with ruts is now grassed over, and all that once disgusted the eye and offended the nostrils, rebel rubbish has been cleared away.  To be sure the evidence of rebel occupation and of the battle, source of many of our woes are numerous. Comfortable log–houses built for winter quarters fortifications and earthworks, leveled forests & now & then a ruined building speak of war. Near the station many saloons have been built and sutler’s stands for the accommodation of civilians visiting the battle field, and the soldiers. All-together the place is quite lively. You may never have seen a camp of wall tents, or Sibley tents, much less of shelter tents.  I may never have described the difference, just because it was so familiar to me, as you thought informing me that Ike Bradford and Geo Francis were engaged & married, never thought to tell me to whom, a matter upon which I am curious. It is now too late to speak of Sibley tents, because they have been forcibly taken from us by McDowell. The wall tent accommodating 6, 8 or 10 men is a square tent has been generally exchanged for the bill shaped Sibley tent.  The shelter tent is composed of three pieces in our Regiment, of two in the 9th N.Y., each piece about 5 feet square. Two side pieces button upon each other.  x  x  x  x  x  We sleep head to the side of the tent, and not to the end which may be opened or shut at pleasure. This is because we are unable to sit up straight unless under the line where the two side pieces are buttoned together.  x  x  x
     [the letter giving the description of the tent is torn & illegible](JBN).

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