Battery B, 1st N. J. Artillery
[Encampment on Potomac Creek] ¹
May 30th 1863
It was with pleasure that I received your letter. I am very glad to hear that you are all well and I hope Mother will soon get entirely well. I [am] also much pleased to see Mary visit Mother. I hope things will always go on the same for I should want to go where no one would ever see me again if Mother and my wife could not agree. But I think Mother knows how such things are. She has seen a little. I wish I could be home this summer to help you. I think you must be almost discouraged by losing the colt & Dick [?]. But if Uncle Martin’s oxen are good for anything, they will do most all your ploughing and Old Black can do the corn ploughing. I should like to be home to get some strawberries & such fruit. I suppose there will be plenty this year. Wherever I see a cherry tree, it seems to be full of fruit. I have had a few strawberries about two weeks ago—that is, wild ones. I think there will be plenty blackberries this summer but I expect as soon as they get ripe, we will move and then we will lose them.
Father, I am very much obliged to you for the trouble you have taken for me. I hope that you will succeed for then I think I can help you a little. But as I am now, I begin to find out I can hardly help myself. I think I am working to cheap. The risk of my life and the privations I have to undergo are worth more than thirteen dollars a month. I am not the only one but I think I can serve the government in a different way and do better for myself. I am willing to fight but I am tired of fighting for nothing while others are making their fortunes off of us poor privates.
Well, I have heard more news from our Western army. It is as I expected. Old Rosecrans has surrendered with thirty thousand men. That is about as far as our victories go. We haven’t had a good victory this year and if a man would listen to the talk of the men, one would suppose we would never have a victory again. But Father, I am not discouraged yet. I think if God thinks our cause just, that we will yet conquer. I still think we will put this Rebellion down. I should feel very bad after being out here for nearly two years to go home [without] doing anything. I wish Old Joe [Hooker] would march right into Richmond while the enemy is engaged at Vicksburg. I think that now is the time. I believe that they have taken all the men away from here that they could spare so if we should push on now, I think we could go straight to our goal place that we have been trying for over two years. But Father, there is no use of my talking for it will do no good. So I will close with much respects to all.
Give my love to Mother. Tell her I am alright yet. We are having plenty to eat and wear. The clothing that I lost amounts to nearly thirty dollars but the Captain says he will try and have it made up to us again. I saw Robert yesterday. He is well. The rest of the boys are well. I suppose Mary has paid you what I borrowed from you. Please write soon. From your son, C. Van Houten
I thank you very much for stamps.
¹ From Michael Hanifen’s book on Battery B (p. 63), following the Battle of Chancellorsville, “We marched to Hartwood church. Next morning started for our old camp at Stoneman’s Switch. It was occupied by other troops. Capt. Clark selected a new site for camp on Potomac creek, one-half mile from the creek, about three miles away from old camp. It was on a hill. The view of the Potomac river and Acquia creek were magnificent from there. Wild cherry and dogwood trees were in blossom all around us ; beech, maple, oak and sassafras were leafing out. The varying shades of foliage, trees and landscape were lovely. It made a beautiful camp ground, was well policed and was praised by our visitors from other commands. We had the usual camp fires and camp sports.”