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16th Vermont Infantry

Civil War Letters of Hezron G. Day
Company "C", 16th Reg't Vt. Vols.
(transcribed from the originals)

December 8, 1862

Dear Parents,

In pursuance of my plan Of writing once a week I again address myself to the business. You may perhaps wonder how we kept Thanksgiving Day. Well, we were on picket and it was a beautiful day here. For breakfast we had hard crackers, salt beef, and pork. For dinner beans and coffee. For supper hard bread, coffee, and three cents worth of hoe cake and molasses, and that was extra rations. Good enough for anybody, wasn't it? It seemed the most like Sunday on Thanksgiving Day of any day I have seen since I came to Virginia. We were out of camp and stationed at a small picket reserve back in the woods where there was nothing to molest or make us afraid, and indeed we have not seen anything to make us afraid since we came here, and why should we, as there is not an armed Reb within nobody knows how many miles of here. Surely I don't think we shall see one as long as we remain in our present position.

We are still picketing, having come into camp this morning after having been absent 24 hours, just half our usual time. we had a very good time while out. We were allowed fires on our beats and though it was quite cold we were very comfortable. The 12th that was out last before us had a cold, rough time of it, as there was another snowstorm while they were out, and some 2 or 3 inches of snow still lies on the ground. The 13th, 14th, and 15th have all got back again so we will have to go on picket only once in 5 days for 24 hours at a time. There is plenty of wood on the lines and the boys 'drawn" it with utmost freedom. You asked what our chaplain is about. Well, to all appearances I should think he was gaining flesh and taking things easy generally. He gives us one short sermon every Sunday that we are in camp, and semi-ocasionally goes round through the regiment and distributes a few tracts or something of that description. Sometimes he holds prayer meetings on Sunday evenings and that is all that we are apt to see of him unless he happens to take a fancy to go down to the colonel's quarters.

The ground is now frozen some 4 or 5 inches deep and thaws just enough in the middle of the day to make mud enough to daub. You wished to know if the journals you have sent me have come through regularly. I have received three from you besides a piece of slippery elm. The journal is always a welcome visitor and indeed I don't care if you should happen by mistake to send a little more slippery elm as that was quite acceptable and convenient. Grandma had better keep her dollar bill for the present rather than send it to me, as I have money enough.

The night before we left Brattleboro we received the State pay due us which amounted to 12 dollars and 80 cents, and I had 6 or 7 dollars besides, which made rather more than I cared to take with me. But we left Brattleboro so soon that I did not have any chance to send it home from there. There are now three good Fives riding in My shirt pocket as safe as comfortable as you please. I am sorry that Henry got so unceremoniously exiled from his school, but still it seems like a regular Hosley operation. I hope he will be more lucky next time.

Brig. Gen. Stoughton has arrived and assumed command of this brigade. Whether we shall like him or not any better than at Brattleboro I cannot say. Uncle Joseph has receives his box and has probably disposed of the contents before this time. He gave me some and it was very good though I should like the articles contained in some of their boxes. The prices of various extras at the brigade commissaries are about as follows: cheese 14 cts, butter 32, apples $3 a bushel, sweet potatoes 3 a pound, molasses 50 a gallon, sugar 12 a pound, etc. But to get the molasses and sugar you need an order from the captain of the company. They occasionally get me so reduced as to make me drink a dish of tea, though I hate the stuff. The cooks make it about half the time and I occasionally have to drink of it rather than go without. The cap you spoke of might come in handy. I had one that I bought at Brattleboro but while I was out one day somebody wanted it and so it is gone.

I am writing with ink of our own manufacture made from a berry that grows wild here in Virginia. In answer to the various little inquiries concerning my comfort, I would say that my boots are perfectly comfortable, and that we sleep as warm as need be. We have two beds in our house, one above the other. The lower one, calculated for three, and the upper for two. we spread our overcoats and fly tents under us and all the woolen blankets over us, making quite an amount of bed clothes. I must close. Yours H.G. Day.

Contributed by Linda M. Welch, Dartmouth College, Windsor County researcher.

Return to the Index of Hezron's letters..

See also Hezron's biography, and his memoir of the Gettysburg Campaign.