Near Rectorville, Va.
My dear Mother:
I received your half reproachful letter last night just after I had gone to bed, and thought that perhaps I might have made a little too much of the difficulties of writing without pens, ink, stand, and oftentimes in the cold with numb fingers after a day’s march. These things make me disinclined to write letters, yet I should know by the pleasure the receipt of your missives affords me, that to occasion like pleasure in return should be sufficient incentive to exertion. I am commencing well to-night with a small stub of a pencil, sitting in McDonald’s tent. But remember do, dear mother, when at times I prove neglectful, that all is necessarily well; that “no news is good news.”
I hardly can give you any hint of the intentions of the Army. We do not see the papers often enough to study the general movement of our troops, and cannot even make conjectures. We all hope , though, that we are engaged on some earnest and important undertaking. We feel that it is vital to act, and wish to act successfully. Burnside and McClellan are near us, and we have faith in them. I judge from some remark I read in the papers, that Connecticut has given her vote to the Democracy in the late elections. A test-vote was taken on election day in our Regiment to try the relative strengths of Seymour and Wadsworth. 168 votes were polled, of which Wadsworth received only 52. This was not so much because Seymour or his principles were popular, as for the reason that Wadsworth, long before his nomination for Governor of New-York, was generally known to the army as rather the leader of the clique, so obnoxious to the soldier, which was loud and virulent in its abuse of McClellan. The feeling was rather McClellan versus Fremont, than Seymour versus Wadsworth.
While I think of it, I will deny the story that Rockwell did not command his battery in the James Island battle. He did so, and I do not think Porter meant to deny it. Porter probably said that he (Porter) commanded Rockwell’s Battery the most of the time they were on James Island, without specifying anything regarding the fight. You know Rockwell was sick a good deal of the time, and Porter, as next in rank, did command in many of the almost daily skirmishes. Porter did first-rate service, and is too good a man, I think, to injure his own reputation by decrying another. On the day of the battle Rockwell was well enough to command in person, and to the entire satisfaction of General Stevens.
I had a letter from Horace yesterday, and should judge he was blue. The poor fellow has had discouragements enough. He writes that if the draft falls upon him, he shall enter the ranks and come out to the war. This is wrong. He should secure a Commission, or stay at home. With my present experience, I would not have leaped blindly as I did at the commencement of the war. I have had a hard struggle with pride and duty to make me persist, but a little of the caution displayed by most of my friends would have saved me many difficulties. If my friends have generally been more successful than I, I can at least feel consoled by the thought that what I have gained has been won by my own exertion. There, that is pretty egotism! Little boy blue, come blow your horn!
I wish I had seen Charley Johnson when in my neighborhood. I suppose I was off to Frederick. Charley must have been journeying to the moon, I guess, when he so narrowly escaped Stuart’s Cavalry.