Slaughter Mountain, Va.
Oct. 10th, 1863
Mr. Charles Blake,
Your favor of Sept. 26th was duly received, and in accordance with your directions I forwarded $5.15 to your wife – the amount of my own and Charles Smith's indebtedness to you as soon as we were paid off, directing her to write to my brother acknowledging its receipt, as I did not know where I should be at that time. I had some hesitation about sending it by mail, but the sum was so small that I did no think it was worth while to send it by express.
It affords me much pleasure to comply with your request, to commence a correspondence with you. As a tent mate I valued your society and attentions, which your experience and kind disposition enabled you to show to one so inexperienced as I, and as friendly correspondent I shall prize the information which your capacity and observation will enable you to give, as well as the satisfaction which the attentions of such a friend will afford. You probably will be pleased to learn from me if you have not already heard from some other source. What has been done since your return to Brattleboro? I am unable to give the information as others could, and can only make a plain statement of those things which I understand and in which I take and interest. But little else than a repetition of the affairs of preceding days occurred after your departure. Our time was passed in drill, guard duty, listening to stories around the camp fire, eating, sleeping, etc.
On Thursday the 1st, fifty three of the Vt. Detachment left Long Island in the Forest City in company with conscripts and substitutes from Main & N.H. Some of the latter desperate fellows who committed robberies when they had opportunity and required the constant vigilance of the guard to keep them quiet. Many little affairs occurred which would be interesting if well told. There were about 1,000 of us in all. We had a rather rough passage of 4 days and 4 nights, enough so as to make most of the men more or less sea sick. On the morning of the 5th we came in sight of Fortress Munroe, which we passed and went on to Portsmouth where the N.H. Men were landed. Portsmouth is a beautiful place with many fine residences and an abundance of beautiful shade trees. Norfolk contains some fine public buildings built of brick, but it is not so pleasant a city as Portsmouth. From Portsmouth we returned and re-passed Fts. Munroe and steamed up the Potomac to Alexandria, from which place we could see the White dome of the Capitol in Washington. We landed at Alexandria, received our guns and shelter tents, passed the night at the Soldier's Retreat and the next morning took the cars for Culpepper; arrived there at 1 P.M. And marched a distance of 10 miles – some way – to the encampment of the 2nd Regt. Of the Vt. Brigade, at which place we arrived at about eight o'clock P.M. Attended roll call and were assigned to the different Companies. I could not get transferred to the 4th with my brother, but am fortunate in having for a Sergeant a young man from Williamstown, for whose attention I am very grateful.
By the way, our Sergeant was a poor Irish boy, taken and brought up in the family of a prominent farmer
in W. whose acquaintance I never cared to make when at home. I find him an excellent soldier, whose instructions when on drill I am happy to receive, and whose commands as an officer I am pleased to obey.
My health improves in the service. The open air and soldiers' rations agree with me. Still, I do not consider myself fitted by health, character, temperament or education for a soldier. The manual of arms I find easy. The duties I like as yet, while they are new enough to give interest. What kind of soldier I shall make, or how I shall behave on the battle field time alone can determine. I hope to be brave and perform every duty well.
Still, I should never have enlisted, and when drafted should have considered the obligations to principle and to country, fulfilled by the payment of my commutation money. Could I have done so, and left the impression on the minds of my acquaintances that if it were my duty I would in amy case go. I shall be pleased to hear from you
Direct to Co. F., 2nd Regt.
Vt. Volunteers, 6th Corps, 2nd Division, 2nd
Brigade, Washington, D.C.