Third Battery Light Artillery Vermont Volunteers
Civil War Diaries and Letters of
Eugene William Rolfe, Tunbridge
Camp Destruction, Alexandria VA, Feb. 13, 1865
Mr. G. Rolfe
Dear Father. Although I am so situated that I can not get any letters from home, I can write to you. I started from Lincoln Hospital last Tuesday in a hard snowstorm and marched down to the soldiers rest as it is called, but all the rest you can get there is not much. It is in a large building something like a barn but not as warm. We lais there over night and the next morning we marched down by the capitol. Down to the foot of Maryland Avenue and getting into some coal cars we crossed the long bridge over into Virginia and ran up into this camp. On the way, I saw General Robt. Lees house off to the right of the long bridge.
We had to stand up about two hours before they let us into the barracks by means of the yards of red tape. I am in the same barracks and the same bunk that Carl and I were in before. We stayed here till last Saturday, day before yesterday when they marched us down to the wharf in Alexandria and kept us there till night and then marched us down the river about a mile and put us on to three steamers. The one I was on was called the Matilda. We laid there till morning. In the course of the night, I froze three of my fingers on my left hand. In the morning, we started down the river and went down the river about five miles when the ice boat, a iron clad steamer that went ahead to break the ice got stuck in the ice and we lay there all day with a cold a wind as ever blew through Vermont blowing into us and my lungs were so sore that I could not stir around or lay down with any comfort.
After they found out that they could not get through they backed up to Alexandria and then marched back to this camp and you may well imagine that I was glad to get into a place where I could lay down and here I am. The bottoms of my feet all raw. If you ever had frozen feet and then had to walk over frozen ground you can imagine how my feet feel and if you have ever had frozen fingers, ears, and nose with sore lungs, you can imagine how I am feeling today. They would not let us make any coffee but they would make it for us for ten cents a cup but as I had not the ten cents, I had to go without. Coffee and chewed hardtack. Out of one hardtack, I picked eleven maggots about ½ inch in length. The rest were not as bad as that but out of ten that I eat there was not one good one.
As I lay on the boat yesterday, my mind was back in old Tunbridge and as each successive hour rolled by, I would imagine to myself where you all were at that time. As 11 o'clock drew near, I could see you all passing along the road on your way to church. Then I would wonder whether it was warm and pleasant and if so whether there were many to church and how long it would before I should again have a chance to go to church. Also whether you wee all well or not and whether I should ever meet you all again or not. As evening came on I could see you sitting around the stove warm and comfortable. While I was traveling over frozen ground, cold and tired and at bedtime I could see you getting into a warm soft bed while I was glad to get a board bunk to lay on and travel around the barracks a good share of the time. In order to keep warm at that. The folks at home may think they have some pretty hard times but they will never know what a soldier has to endure. You may think by this letter that I am getting sick of my bargain but such is not the case. If I were only with my battery, I could enjoy myself, but I may not get there for a month yet. But I shall by and by and get a chance to go in the next squad that leaves here. If I succeed, I shall get to the battery the last of this week or the first of next. At any rate, you, all of you. The write as soon as you get this, no matter how many you have wrote ere this and if I am not there, Milo will take care of them till I get there. I have bought me a tin cup and plate and I want mother to go over to the store and get me a small rubber comb and do it up in the last state papers she can get hold of and send it to me. I want one about three meters in length to carry in my pocket, she need not hurry about sending it this three weeks. I want a piece of thin blotting paper sent at the same time. There is a rumor here coming through Rebel sources that we have got Branchville S. C. and they have got some good news for they have been firing a salute from the forts around and the navy yard in Washington. That, if it is true, taken with the late success at Hatchers Run will be a lot to make the Rebels a trifle sick at the stomach and perhaps they will think better of Uncle Abe's peace proposition. I hope so at least. I tell you it is a lonesome place to be shut up in with strangers not one whom you ever saw before. But I must close this long letter and I hope you will write an answer equally as long. Please write all the news. Remember that if it is uninteresting to you, it will not be so to my. Tell all to write. Give my best respects to Mr. And Mrs. Alden, Abby, Carlos, and all of Uncles Earls folks. Mr. And Mrs. Hayward and all the rest/ Please write soon and accept this with many regards to yourself, mother, Charlotte, Herbert and Eddie from Eugene W. Rolfe, 3rd Vt. Battery. W-D. C.
PS I sent you a picture of Lincoln Hospital the 8th of this month. Please inform me whether you have received it or not. If you have, please preserve it. Eugene
In the front page margin--- "I have just 200 days to serve".
Second page margin--- " Please inform me whether Stedman Howe or any one that I am acquainted with have enlisted or not. Eugene
Third page margin--- " PS. Have they had to draft in Tunbridge or have they filled their quota.
Contributed by Eugene L. Rolfe, Las Vegas, Nevada, great-grandson of Eugene William Rolfe.