Camp Anxiety, Va.
March 10, 1862
With longing feelings to see home and revengeful feeling towards our enemies, I will endeavor to write you a few lines. I am well and anxious to meet our foe. We are going tomorrow if Providence will permit. ¹ We expect to meet our Rebel friends before this week is out and Mother, I intend to do my duty for my country so you will not be ashamed of your good-for-nothing son. He is going to show you there is some good in him yet. I hope to see our enemy all rubbed off the face of this our once prosperous and glorious Union. And after I have seen all this, I hope I may be permitted to meet you and all the rest at home and live to bless the time I have spent in protection of our stars and stripes.
But if I should not live to see you all on earth, I hope we will all meet in that beautiful world above. O Mother, how I wish I had listened to your good teachings. But now as I am far away from you and among many wicked men and great temptations, I can only think of you and your kind precepts. If I could, I would fly to you for a few kind words to cheer me on through war. All I can do is to solicit your prayers and I thank our Pastor very much for the interest he is taking for us poor soldiers. Give him my best wishes. Tell him I will do his fighting for him if he will only pray for me for fighting cannot be done without prayer in this Christian land of ours. Tell him I have that testament he gave me and I would not part with it for its weight in gold. I would like to receive a letter from our good Mr. Harris. I hope he is well like all the rest.
I hope you are well, Mother. You must not worry about me for I am doing first rate. I have been quite unwell but now I am well and ready for everything but “Death.” Oh how I wish I was. But I shall have to stop talking so because there is no use. I hope you will forgive me for all the trials I have given you. If I ever get back, I will try and be a better boy than I used to be.
I sent a box to Father with some things in it. You may have that coat and make Sammy an overcoat of it. That bundle belongs to a fellow from Patterson. You had better keep it till someone sends for it. That testament and that other small book, please send to Mr. Ackerson’s on Black Oak Ridge. Those biscuits are a sample of what we sometimes have to live on. But I must close with a goodbye to all. Please remember your soldier son.
—Cornelius Van Houten
P. S. Write as soon as possible. I don’t expect to get a chance to write again very soon. C. V. H.
¹ Cornelius is responding to the orders that were received the previous day. In Hanifen’s book (p. 11): “March 9th orders were read forming the armies into corps of three divisions of three brigades each, and three batteries of artillery to each division. We were assigned to First Division, Third Army Corps, C. S. Hamilton’s Divis ion, the other divisions being Fighting Joe Hooker’s and Fitz John Porter’s ; Corps Commander, S. P. Heintzelman. All camp equipage and knapsacks were sent to Washington.”