Fifteen miles south of Fredericksburg, Va.
[near 2nd Corps Headquarters]
May 16th 1864
As we have a short resting spell. I shall improve the time by writing a few lines to you. This morning I had an opportunity to send a few lines to Mary but was in much haste. I could not say much. We have been fighting from the fourth [of May]. Our Battery has not been engaged all the time but the army has. We have been marched and countermarched and with little or nothing to eat so long that we are all played out. There has not been much fighting today so we can have a little rest and get some grub.
Our army has lost heavily in killed and wounded but we are victorious. Thank God we have a commander that knows how to use the johnnies up. I do not know whether the news is true or not but we have heard some very favorable news. There is no use of me telling you the news for you know better than I do. All I can tell you is myself and the boys thank God I am safe and sound yet. But God only knows how long I may be so. Only one of our boys is wounded. That is Peter Van Dyne [Vandine]. He was wounded in the arm on the 10th. They say he has gone to the Newark Hospital. You must look for him when you go down.
All the rest of us are well and ready to go wherever General Grant may want us. We are either going to erase the Rebels from Virginia or we are going to get whipped but I believe Grant will lose his whole army before he will let General Lee whip him. This is the hardest campaign we have ever been in and I hope it may be the last. We have fought hard enough already to have peace but the Rebels are a stubborn set of men. They will not give up till they are all killed or taken prisoners and I hope that may be pretty soon. After this summer, I don’t think there will be much left of the Army of the Potomac. We have had reinforcement to a good extent. I do not know how many. We have full confidence in our general for he is a praying man and God will prosper those who look to him for assistance.
I suppose you received my letter of April. I have not received an answer to it yet. I have received but one letter since we left camp. That was from Libby. We started on the Fourth. We are not in the Reserve any more but you must direct my letter there. It has been stormy here for five days but I think it will clear up tomorrow. I expect we will have another hard fight tomorrow. Everything seems preparing for it. I think if General Grant wished to drive the enemy, he could do it but I believe he only wishes to harass them here so the other armies can work to a better advantage.
I hope my commission is ready for me in that Heavy Artillery. I have passed the examining board for a commission in a negro regiment but I hope I will get one from home first. You must all do your best at home to get one for we are all doing our best out here. I hope the house is getting on well & you are all well. I hope all your anxiety will be at an end now on my account. Remember if I get killed, I die a live man for my country. But I hope God will spare me to enjoy the fruits of our labor. With love to all, I remain your son, — C. Van Houten