The Henry B. Atherton Collection
Smith's Division, Camp in the Field; 25 miles from Richmond, 16 May, 1862
To: Captain Henry B. Atherton, Cavendish, Vt.
From: Wheelock G. Veazey
My Dear Atherton, My Dear Captain. Here I am keeping my promise promptly for once. Please put it down to my credit. [I] Suppose you have been following us by aid of the "ever accurate press" since you left us so honorably but unfortunately. I have missed you more than I thought I should anyone. I used to go over to regiment and the 5th so often, or if I did not go I always knew I could and that makes one feel so well. But now you and Major P. [Redfield Proctor] are gone. Captain: I believe I never shall make any more confidential friends here. I have been a year in the Army with so many good fellows and away from everybody else, yet I have not added one to the list of friends that you and Proctor belong to. How are you and your wife? Why haven't you written? I ought not to write out of spite for your neglect, but I promised and must fulfill. That is rather girlish, I suppose you say. I'd rather you would call it nonsense.
How happy you are with your wife. How I should like such pleasure a few days and always if possible. How delightfully disappointed we were that fine Sunday morning to wake up to find our Rebel neighbors had departed without shooting any more of our good fellows. Our Division was the first in their works anywhere on the line and we took the front. Night and Williamsburg brought us up. The next day it was hard to tell which came thickest, rain or bullets. Each is bad enough but each makes the other more unpleasant. I had the opportunity to make many respectful bows to a goodly number of shells that day. I wish I could keep my head up. I believe I could do better if the others would. There seems to be a sympathy in bowing to shells. When with General Smith alone I can stand up straight because he don't dodge, I suspect. We had bad generalship that day.
Hancock's Brigade saved the day. He made a magnificent fight. Had General Smith's plan been adopted we should have caught thousands of them and destroyed their baggage. Our men were pushed in just when the Rebels wanted them and where they could, and did kill them. 2,000 won't more than count the killed and wounded on our side. We had terrible roads after that for some distance, then a beautiful country and now we are here on the Curtis Estate where Washington lost his heart and got a wife. Nothing unpleasant about it though. It is delightful here. Some 7,000 acres and a beautiful and navigable river within 20 rods of the house and Negroes by the hundreds. Who could ask for more? Yet the princely owner has thrown it all up for an illusion or delusive idea. To what depths may a man fall? But it tells how much in earnest these people are. I have no idea whether they will fight in Virginia or not. They know how to fight and are not cowards. With all their losses they can trouble us long yet. Their next line of defense will be more successful than any they have made. They have learned much from experience thus far. Everybody says they will resign at Richmond. I do not, but I hate to go further south. The Southern experience has not always been pleasant to me. Pingree is not expected to live. What a loss his would be.
Remember me to your wife and to Proctor and write to me my brother. Sincerely your friend - W. G. Veazey
This document is from the Henry B. Atherton Collection, contributed by Linda M. Welch, genealogist and historian of southern Windsor County, Vermont towns. She has many more of these letters and is planning to publish a book in the near future which will include them all."