This letter is from Jane Richardson’s great-uncle Hiram Chambers, who enlisted in the Civil War from Worcester, MA. Transcribed by Lisa Shea. Let her know of any errors you spot.
Poolsville, MD Aug 28
It is with pleasure though I am very tired that I take the present oportunity [sic] of writing to you and letting you know how I am getting along and what we have gone through with the loss of only one man. I received Catoin’s (?) letter and was surprised to hear that you had not received my first letter by I have heard since or just the same as heard that you had received it and was glad from it I wish you would let me know whether it was missed or not it cost me some anxiety at first for I did not know whether it had gone out of camp or not.
I was a going to write to you sunday but it so hapened [sic] that I was on guard that day and just as we were a going on guard the order came for us to march as soon as we could get ready I was on the second relief and had two hours before I was to go on guard I had to get my things together and pack my knapsack and by this time it was time to go on guard well I had to stand there two hours and there was no signs of them getting the weapons packed for two hours to come they had got to pack their wagons and wait for some U.S. wagons to carry our knapsacks and such other stuff as we could not carry on ours well I expected to get time to write a few lines and let you know that we were a going to march about 35 miles from the city up the Potomac to Poolsville a little town about 4 miles from the river we are stationed under Gen Stone and have a batery with us.
Now I will give you some incidents of the march. Hold on I will tell you the reason I did not write it was this after I got off from guard I was ordered to head quarters to help strike the the [sic] tents and pack their goods in to the wagons this was kind of tough we got through about 4 o’clock after this we had to put on our accoutriments with our ammunition of which I had 26 cartridges and our little gun and get ready for a little 7 mile march that night before we camped for the night.
We got started about 5 o’clock and halted by 7 o’clock having made 7 miles. We halted and I with the rest more called out to do guard duty there was several taken off to go out about a mile on picket then there was some more amongst the rest was myself to go down the the [sic] road about 25 or 30 rods down the road [scratched out] as inside picket I was on the 3rd relief so that I did not come on till 3 o’clock in the morning so I expected to have a pretty good nights rest out of it.
I had not laid more more [sic] than 20 minutes when the horses which were near me begun to kick and one of them got loose and I and one of the teamsters caught it and tied it on the other side of the road and laid down again with the expectations of resting well I got to sleep and slep [sic] about and I slep about [sic doubled] an hour when the corperal [sic] came round and waked me up and wanted to know if I was not on the second relief I told him no
I had just got into a drowse when he waked me again he did this three or four times at last he found them all and I as glad of it for now I knew that I should get some more sleep which I needed very much indeed I droped [sic] to sleep and slept till half past three we went on and staid till five without any disturbance but once this was by a young fellow who came along from the inside the line and wanted to go home very much indeed we wanted to know where he had been he said he had been a sparking to a house down the road and a little ways we told him that our orders were very strict indeed and we could not let him off without the officers of the day would pass him he went back to get a pass from the officers
I did not know whether he was lucky enough to find the officer or not for I did not get up till after 7 I was pretty well rested we got ready for the day’s march we started this day we made over 20 miles stoping [sic] at sundown
this was a first rate march having made over 27 miles inside of 24 hours this being more than a forced march sometimes at the rate of over 4 miles and [sic] hour we halted on a splend campground in the most splendid grove I have seen since I started we had a good cup of coffee and some hard bread and got our blankets and went to bed and had a good nights rest got up at 4 or 5 put our blankets up and had our breakfast and started on the last end of the march
we got to our present destination about 11 1/2 or 12 oclock pitched our tents got our stoves and in a little while we had a good cup of coffee and felt pretty well we laid down till super [sic] time
I got some change from lieutenant Fuller and got over the line to the store and got 1/2 doz eggs some syrup and a pie and divided the whole between Charley and myself we always do this we are just like two brothers we had a splendid supper two cups of coffee three eggs 1/2 a pie any quantity of hard bread and syrup I tell you it was splendid
we are now stationed about 4 miles from Edwards Ferry and 10 miles from Leasburg the HeadQuarters of the Confederate Army of the Potomac. We have got a pretty good camp ground and are under Brig. Gen. Stone and he is just first rate. Gen he has given our quartermaster a blowing up already because he fed us poorly and we have began to live better already.
If I keep on I shall make out quite a letter I have been ever since yesterday foremoon writing this the reason is this I have to keep stoping [sic] to go and drill and I would hardly get started before it would be time for another drill Tc. Tc.
At 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon we buried one of the men of the regiment the first man we have lost since we have been in camp it was a sad sight the chaplin Mr. Scandlan seemed to take a great deal of interst and felt very bad indeed he beged [sic] of the men not to write anything home about it this mail but to let him for he would write home to his folks and he would break it more kindly to them and they would take it better and would not come so hard for them
Calvin spoke something about liking to share the hardships with me. little does he know what a soldier has to go through or he would not wish so. Well, well, I shall have to close pretty soon I shall not be able to get this ready for the P.O.
Calvin asked me to write something about Charley well I will he marched all the way but about a mile the second day of the march he is first rate he is like the rest of us kind of desponding once in the while and wishes himself home again and if he was he never would engage in military duty again.
My love remains to you my parents as ever. I never did know I had so much regard for you till now. every day seems to increase it. O that I could get a honorable discharge from this ever tiring and low lifed business that I am now engaged in.
Give my respects to Marrilla and the rest of inquiring friends. As soon as you get this Parish you would write to Grandmother and let her know where I am and to her I will write before long. also let Zadock and Julia know right off
you can let them know and I can’t very well as I do not now have time. a soldier does not have so much time after all
they used to say that the soldier had plenty of time but we have not no
do confer this favor on me it may be the last one I shall ever ask of you
well I must close right off or I shall never stop
God bless you and good bye and may I return to you save [sic] and sound as ever
good byes my love to all
Your loving son Hiram
Direct your letter as before
HeadQuarters 15th Reg M.V. Washington Q.C.