8 March 1863

Battery B, 1st N. J. Artillery
[Falmouth, Virginia]
March 8th 1863

Dear Father,

Your letter of the 22nd came duly to hand. I am glad to find you all so well.

You think it is hard for us in our tents but we think how unpleasant it must be to poor citizens to go out in all this snow. We don’t think any more about the cold down here in our tents than you do for we are used to it. We think how unhealthy it must be to be shut up in a tight home and be almost smothered to death. But honestly Father, we don’t care anything about the cold weather. We have been so used to mud and rain that we think it is not pleasant unless we are knee deep in the mud. But now it is getting warm and the mud is drying up so I think we will soon have a fight. It is about time we move for the wood is about all gone. When we first came here you could look as far as the eve could reach and you could see nothing but trees. But now the great wilderness is a vast plain with only here and there a tree. You would be surprised to see how much wood our army can burn in two or three months.

Father, you say you don’t see why I can not get a furlough but I can. When the order first came out to give them for only ten days, I did not want one for so short a time so I told the Captain I would not take any. Well almost all the boys wanted one so they spoke right away. So now when I come to make up my mind to come home, I find there are so many ahead of me that there is no use of my trying. But the Captain says he will do all he can for me. Since things have turned out so, I feel very anxious to come for I understand that Mary has been very sick. I hope she is better. I suppose you have seen her by this time. If you think it is really necessary for me to come, I will come but she can get along without me. I would rather remain where I am till the war is over or until I can get a longer furlough. And now that half of my time is out already and I have only a little more than sixteen months longer to stay, then I can come home and stay as long as I choose.

I hope for the time I get out of the service [when] there will be no more use of me. I would be glad to see the war through with but I don’t want it closed until every Rebel is either dead or whipped back into the Union. I am getting sick of all these peace meetings and peace propositions. I for one am willing to follow Old Joe Hooker to Richmond or elsewhere, and think anyone who is not now wiling to fight and help sustain the Union ought not to be allowed a standing in it. Nothing has done me more good than to see this Conscription Act. I don’t care how soon it is put in force. How I would like to see some of those Copperhead Democrats be forced to arms.

Give my respects to Hen[ry] Rome. Tell him I would be pleased to see him drafted. Tell Uncle Vick that the fight is not out of me yet. I intend to stick to it till it is done. I received my boots yesterday. They fit first rate. What did they cost? Tell Mother I am well. Joe sends his respects to you. Write soon and remember your son, — C. Van Houten