Winchester, January 26, 1862.
We left Romney on Thursday, and after three days we reached, on yesterday evening, our present encampment, two miles from Winchester. To-day I received your grumbling letter of 21st, in which you were bitter over my bad usage in being refused a furlough. The only matter of surprise with me is that I ever lost my temper about it, as I came to the conclusion long ago that there was no use in grumbling about anything in the army, and it was always best to bear in patience whatever happens us, with a becoming sense of gratitude that it is no worse. I think we shall remain at rest here until spring, no one being more thoroughly disgusted with a winter campaign than Jackson himself from the fruits of our expedition to Romney. Echols’ furlough expires nine days hence, and then, I think, I may safely promise myself the happiness of a visit home to enjoy for a while the loved society of wife and little ones, from whom I have been so long separated. For a while only, Love, as my duty will require me to leave you soon again. I wish to pursue such a course as will give me hereafter a good opinion of myself and the good opinion of my neighbors, and neither is to be won by shrinking from the dangers and hardships of a soldier’s life when the safety of his country requires him to endure them. But for this, the titles and applause to be won by gallantry upon the field could never tempt me from home. Would you have me return there the subject of such conversation as has been freely lavished upon those who remained behind and others who turned their backs on country and comrades? I think not.
I don’t think, Love, you would know me if you could see me just now. I think I am dirtier than I ever was before, and may be lousy besides. I have not changed clothes for two weeks, and my pants have a hole in each leg nearly big enough for a dog to creep through. I have been promising myself the luxury of soap and water all over and a change of clothes to-day, but the wind blows so hard and cold I really think I should freeze in the operation. I am afraid the dirt is striking in, as I am somewhat afflicted with the baby’s complaint—a pain under the apron. I am not much afraid of it, however, as I succeeded in getting down a good dinner, which with me is generally a sign of pretty fair health. Now, Love, I will bid you good-bye, as it is very cold and uncomfortable writing, leaving the last side of my sheet unwritten.