Company "C", 16th Reg't Vt. Vols.
(transcribed from the originals)
Camp near Fairfax Courthouse
December 27, 1862
Another week is almost gone and we are still here in the pine woods mentioned in my last and likely to remain there for another week, although we had marching orders for a little while this afternoon: countermanded soon afterward. We have no field officers just now, the colonel and major being both sick, and the lieutenant colonel detailed as provost marshal of Fairfax, but managed to get along without them. We have again stockaded our tents, not in as good style as at Camp Vermont but still quite comfortably. We had but one axe to work with and went into the woods one morning, cut our timber, forged for bricks, and that night had a house to sleep in, fire place and all, notwithstanding we had gone out on battalion drill in the afternoon. The weather for the last few days has been very nice indeed, warm and pleasant, so warm that a person could perfectly be comfortable in his shirtsleeves. We had a holiday on Christmas, no drilling and no work, and moreover no marching or picket duty to do: something quite unusual for us. My humble self, Corp. Baldwin and John Knights, and Alfred went down to Fairfax Station to see the country but got back in time for Christmas dinner, which consisted of beefsteak and potatoes, both excellent.
I had a letter from Julia, and she seemed to think it was almost wicked to be comfortable because she imagined we were not. Now we keep as comfortable as we can and would advise everybody to do the same. I do not think we suffer half as much as our friends think we do. We always sleep warm, and that, you know, is something. You know that the climate is not as cold here as it is in Vermont, although the boys when they get short of grumbling timber very frequently scold about the sunny South. You in one of your last spoke of Sutler's stuff as being indigestible as bricks. Now I think quite differently as I have occasionally seen some of the boys eat pies and so on enough to have laid them out flat as pancakes had they been at home, and still come out all straight. I do not often buy anything from him unless it be occasionally a few apples or onions. Indeed I find that raw onions make a first rate salad to go with our bread at times.
Who has been questioning you in regard to what I say about our officers and why do they feel concerned about them? Our pay comes of course through the regular army paymaster, though when it will come we certainly do not know. Uncle Sawtell had not written the letter which he said he was going to, so I haven't had time and mind to write him another. How are Dr. Scott's people and the good people of Plymouth generally? I try to keep my face clean and guess I generally succeed, though it is a pretty hard case sometimes. Yesterday we could hear the boom of cannon from the middle of the forenoon until near night, and today the report is that Sigel and Stonewall Jackson had been fighting, the advantage resting with Sigel. This was probably why we were ordered to march, as Gen. Stoughton heard the firing and telegraphed to Washington for instructions, but receiving no answer to his message sent orders to the regiments of his brigade to be ready to move at a moments warning, whichever way circumstances might dictate. But the cannonading finally ceased and our orders were countermanded. I suppose that if we remain here we will have to go out beyond Centerville on picket again about the middle of the week, say, Thursday morning and could we but have as good weather as it has been for the last four days I would rather go than not.
Contributed by Linda M. Welch, Dartmouth College, Windsor County researcher.
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