4 September 1863

Saturday, [September] 4, 1863
[Camp near Warrenton, Virginia]

Dear Father,

As I have a little spare time this morning, I thought the best way I could employ it would be to write to you. I am very well at present excepting my cold but it is a great deal better. I hope Mother is better. I wish I was well. I think she would be far better if she would not worry so much about me. Tell her I am doing first rate. I never was healthier or happier than I am now. I wish Mother could only realize how contented I am. I have good fellows for tent mates. I have sufficient resolution not to let them tempt me to anything wrong. I wish I could make Mother to feel satisfied. I am only doing my duty. I think she would have more occasion to worry if I had stayed sluggishly at home and let my country go to ruin, or if after I had volunteered to assist my government, to run away and leave the rest of my countrymen in trouble. No Father, I hope sometime you & Mother may be proud that you had a boy to go and fight.

If I should get killed in battle, all you ought to regret is that you hadn’t another to take my place for I think our cause is a good one and with the help of God, we will conquer. We have been a long time at it, but still we are gaining everyday. I begin to see it now more than ever. The enemy are coming over by hundreds. About three nights Aho there was 150 commissioned officers and men came into our lines from real starvation. They say they are almost starved out. They don’t think the Rebels will hold out three months longer.

It is very cold and windy here. It is almost as cold as it has been this winter. Father, I have often thought since I have been back whether or not you was angry with me for not letting Mary come and live home with you. I hope you are not. Now Mary think great deal of you and Mother and the rest. That is why she cannot come and live home. You know yourself how long a Mother & daughter-in-law can live together. I never saw an instance yet but there would be some trouble if a son’s wife goes to live with his family. Therefore, as Mary has a home to go to and plenty to live on, she shall never with my consent live with my parents. Father, I do this only because I have so great an esteem for my parents. I want everything to go on as smoothly as possible.

I suppose you have heard by this time that I did not return on Sunday as I expected but it was all right. There was nothing said. There is a rumor afloat that our Corps—that is the Third commanded by Gen. Sickles—is going to remain here to protect the communication between Hooker’s Army and Washington. If so, we will have fine times this summer. Remember me to all enquiring friends. Don’t forget to get Grandfather’s clock for me. Please write as soon as you can. Get Mother well as soon as you can. Tell me all the news. Tell Sammy to be a good boy and take care of Joe.

We expect to be paid soon and then I will send you some money. I must close with much respect. I remain your dutiful son, — C. Van Houten

P. S. Have you seen Mr. [Frederick T.] Frelinghuysen yet?

My address:

Cornelius Van Housen
Battery B, 1st New Jersey Artillery
2nd Corps
Washington D. C.
Care of Capt. A. J. Clark