[Camp near Stoneman’s Switch]
January 11, 1863
I received yours of the 6th. I was very glad to hear from home and you, but I am sorry to hear of so many being sick. I hope my Mother will soon get well. She must not worry about me if I do not write because I have not hardly had time and I have had no paper—only what I have borrowed. I am very much obliged to you for your present for it is the most acceptable gift you could have sent me. I am just out of most everything but my box will be here tonight and I suppose I will then be well supplied. I am sure of my box now. You may be sure I will be glad when it comes. If my boots are done and there is money enough in Jersey to pay for them, you may send them through by mail. I think it is the safest way. I see there is plenty of such things coming through by mail. I have a pretty good pair that I have picked up but they won’t last long. I think and I know Albert’s boots are too small for me. I had them on just before I came from home.
I am glad to hear that Grandfather has at last got clear of his farm. It was a big for nothing. Now he has the cash he ought to build himself a nice little house on my farm so it will be ready for me when I get home again. Tell him and Grandmother I am doing first rate. I am as fat as I can be and eat all I see and all I can lay my hands on. When I get paid, I will send you and Granny my likeness. It will not be very handsome but it will be a healthy and stout one. I think I would frighten Mary if she should see me now.
We have not had enough to eat for a while back but now it is coming in again. I suppose I will be like the darkies pig—a streak of lean and a streak of fat. Give my love to the old folks. Tell them I say I have killed one Rebel for each of our family for we made great destruction at the last battle [Fredericksburg].
I have written one letter to Amanda about a week ago, I suppose you have it by this time. I received a letter from Libb a few days ago. She is well. I answered it immediately. I will answer all your letters now as fast as you send them till my stamps are run out. Tell Albrtia I will be home as soon as I can. I might (if we stop this winter) get a furlough but there is not much use thinking about it. I think it is pretty near time some of us old troops has a chance to go home awhile. I shan’t stay another year without coming home. I will take a French furlough.
Tell Jim Onderdonk to send me a plug of Navy tobacco by mail. Give my respects to Nathan. Tell him to eat a dozen buckwheat cakes for me. He knows how a poor soldier would relish such a dish.
I am very sorry there are so many deserters but I expected nothing else for all they came for was the bounty. If you want to see a set of homesick men, you could have seen them in those new regiments at the Battle of Fredericksburg. We had one regiment to support our Battery and I tell you, if we didn’t have some fun. They pretend to say that if the war was over with before they were discharged, that they would be the first to go home, but I guess they will be mistaken. I have seen Robert Keistard a couple of times and he looks first rate. He never looked better. He is as fat as a little pig. He seems to like it well enough. I have not seen anyone else but William Decker. I was going to see them today but it was so wet I thought I had better wait awhile. I expect I will have another chance to go pretty soon. But I must tell you what we had for dinner today in our tent. There are six of us and one of the boys got some money from home and he bought some flour, sugar, and dried apples and he went to work and made a large pudding in a bag. We drawed a ration of molasses and we had a bully dinner. It went almost like old times.
But my paper is about covered so I shall have to close. There is a rumor in camp that we move tomorrow but I hope it is not so for we have too nice quarters to leave them this time of the year. In my next, I will tell you about the position of Fredericksburg. We are lying now about two miles from the city. ¹ We can see the Rebels breastworks as plain as can be. Write soon. Give my love to all. Tell Mother I am doing well.
— C. V. H.
¹ From Michael Hanifen’s book on Battery B (p. 40): “A site was chosen near Stoneman’s Switch, situated on the side of a hill in form of a crescent, facing south. In front was a brook ; near it a grove of young timber where shelter was erected for the horses. Each gun detachment built such quarters as materials at hand and ability and ingenuity of men in it considered best, but the chimneys showed a variety in style and skill never before seen in a small space.” Hanifen went on to say (p. 41): “The result of the battle of Fredericksburg was demoralizing to the army. The commissary and quartermaster departments were in the worst condition we ever knew. Many men were in rags and tatters, and we were rejoiced to re ceive our knapsacks January 16, 1863. Desertions were fre quent, men and officers insubordinate, discipline slack. The Jews and the sutler prospered. Men and officers lost confi dence in Gen. Burnside.”