8 November 1861

Camp Duncan
Washington D. C.
November 8th 1861

Dear Mother,

This is the first opportunity I have had for writing to you. You must forgive me. We have been so busy getting our guns, horses, and everything, but now we have everything ready for action. We are drilling our best but don’t drill so very hard. We only have to drill three hours a day. It was a great deal harder work to get ready. I must go to dinner. O, I just got a letter from my dear little Mary. O Mother, she is so sweet, isn’t she? I know you will say yes. You can’t say anything else. She is well. She is mad at me for not writing her a longer letter but I guess she will soon get over it. She don’t stay mad long. I hope you are pleased with my choice. She thinks a great deal of you and Father. She likes all of our folks—especially Lib. I hope you will use her as your daughter. I know she will do in the place of me. If you love your son you will love his Mary. I told her to go and make a short visit with you after the excitement is a little over. I want her to be in everybody’s mouth and in their sight. I suppose there is a great deal of talk about us but there is no use. I understand that Jennie Andruss has a great deal to say about it. She said she felt so bad that she could not sleep for three nights because Mary had married that Cneel Van Houten. Mary said she had better look at home and see who she was going to have. Mary was very much insulted. I don’t want Mary to stay too long at home. You must [not] ask her to stay too long because there is enough there without her. I can easily support her myself although we only get thirteen dollars instead of fifteen.

I wrote to Father a week or so ago but I have not received an answer. I wrote for him to send me some tobacco and a few other things. If he has sent them, I have not received anything. If he has not sent them, he can send them with some other things that is at Albert’s to come to me. I would like to hear from home as soon as you can make it convenient. None of the girls has written to me. I would like to hear from some of my old girls. They must not wait for me to write to them. I have not got time. I can make time to read letters but that is about all.

I have been very healthy since I came here. I like it very well but it is not home. I don’t have it any harder than I expected—only I did not get my position. The Captain has not said one word about it but it don’t make much difference. The corporals only get the same [pay] as privates and they have a great deal more to do, I am a lead driver of the horses on the gun. I have a very nice team to take care of. It suits me very well. I will bet I will have some position before I come back. I have but one black mark since I came in the company and that was last night. I understand working the gun a great deal better than some of the corporals do. I think Captain has shown partiality with some men but I will be contented with my lot. I have most always been unfortunate—only in getting a wife. I was not contented at first but I think it will be best to keep still and wait.

We all got paid off yesterday. There is a great many drunk today but thank God, and you Mother, I have not touched the cup. I promised Mary not to and I have not broke my promise & I will not. I sent off my money to my wife—that is, all I could spare, which was $25. We got paid for two months. I would like to send some home but I suppose Mary will want all I can spare. I have managed it so she will get six dollars a month which will help me a great deal.

It is very pleasant today but it is the first one we have had in two weeks. It has been cold and rainy for some time back. I have seen Nathan and the other boys. They are only about two hundred rods from our camp. They are very much disappointed more so that I am for they expected to get seventeen dollars but they will only get the same as we do which is thirteen. They will not get any state pay and they are only common privates like myself. Nathan is pretty much rigged. It is good for him.

I saw General McClellan last week. He had a grand review close to our camp. He is a fine-looking man. I think he will fill the place of Old Scott. I wished I could have seen him before he left.

I am well and [hope] you are all the same. You must not worry about me for I get along very well. I have some friends in camp. There is two of our boys in the hospital—Theodore Acker and Charley Munks. Charley has the typhoid fever and Theodore is sick with the rheumatism. I am sorry to hear such bad news from the plains. I suppose there is a great time at D. M. Berry’s. Give my love to all and remember your loving son, — C. Van Houten, Washington D. C.

P. S. I received Tilly’s letters and was glad to hear you was well. Write soon.