22ndMass / USSC Boston Branch
"Here's a yellow sash for six feet of Virginia soil..."
Captain John F. Dunning, 22nd MVI, Co. D
Cambridge Chronicle - December 28, 1861
HeadQuarters, Co. D., 22d Reg't. Mass. Vols.
Hall's Hill, Va.
December 14, 1861
Mr. Editor, — Your wholesale use of my last communications, as served up to your readers Dec. 14, renders it neccessary for me to be looking up items for material for your next.
Matters are much in their old train — even picketing failing to furnish its wonted fund of excitement, although "wolf" is cried almost daily, and like the old farmer in the fable, we do not believe when the wolf actually comes, which has occurred twice of late. "Our pickets have been attacked," "we have had a skirmish at the pickets," are stories repeated daily, and so plenty are such reports of late, that me never believe them, but twice they have proved correct.
The last, was the recent lively little time that our Pennsylvania boys had at Drainsville, a day or two since, in which about 3,000 of them had a pretty tough tussle with 4,000 rebels, consisting of South Carolina, Alabama, and Kentucky troops, probably representing first families' chivalry. The rebels were defeated, and driven from the field, with a loss of sixty killed, nineteen wounded, and some prisoners — the exact number I do not now recollect. Our boys also took a lot of plunder, consisting of overcoats, blankets, and equipments, more than they could bring away. Our loss was ten killed and a few wounded. The Washington papers of the time gave a correct account of the gallant affair, and your readers are doubtless in possession of the facts, recorded much more graphically than I can do it.
This affair and others of a similar description, which have occurred of late, not forgetting that pretty little episode at Missouri, it seems to me, demonstrate the correctness of the original calculation made by the Secesh, that five to one is about the odds, but with this little difference, scarcely worth mentioning, however, that it is "our bull which has gored their ox."
In time, they may discover their error, and let us hope that their wisdom may not be too dearly purchased, and that it may not cost us too much to teach them.
With the exception of the above, we have been , undisturbed, and we probably shall continue where we are for the present, having been for the last week engaged in fixing up our quarters, and we are now as comfortable as any one could wish.
In our quarters we have built nice bunks, each large enough for two, and with the double allowance of blankets and bedding, our little cast iron stove bought of the sutler, and plenty of wood brought by ourselves, we are all right, and our tent is rather a cheerful place. Just at this time the lodge are all present, and each one is having a good time on his own hook — rather noisy, but agreeable.
For a day or two past we have been enjoying a real New England spell of weather, during which rain, snow, hail, and sleet have been blended in "most admirable confusion," by a tremendous gale of wind. The former elements have exhausted themselves and they have left the field to the latter, and he is enjoying himself tremendously on the occasion, having "let himself loose " — probably owing to the Christmas holidays.
One good result from the blow. It bas proved the stability of our present quarters, for if they could withstand the gale of last night, they may be considered safe, and without doubt they are.
The boys are all on the qui vive for their boxes, which are to arrive to-night or to-morrow — thanks to our kind friends at home, who do not forget the absent. God bless them for it! And to-morrow will, no doubt, be in Camp Holmes "a merry Christinas," and may it be so in your homes, and it doubtless will.
And now, Mr. Editor, allow me space for a matter slightly personal. During the past week, our camp was rejoiced by the sight of two countenances familiar to your community. I allude to Revs. C. A. Skinner and C. R. Moor, who paid us a flying visit and remained one night; and you may be assured that to the Cambridge portion of the Regiment they were welcome visitants — the only drawback being that they could remain with us no longer. They expressed themselves highly pleased with our camp, and with a Rrigade drill which they witnessed on our drill ground, in which some 4,000 inlantry, cavalry, and artillery went through the various evolutions in square and line. They were about a week too early, as our division, 12,OOO strong, was reviewed by Maj. Gen. McClellan, and put through the same movements on a larger scale, on Saturday last.
Our (Porter's) division, is Gen. McClellan's favorite division, having received a high compliment from Head Quartern in a General Order, in which be calls it a " model division."
And now for the more personal, To the ladies of the First Universalist Society, I desire to return my most earnest thanks for their kind tokens of remembrance, which were received through the gentlemen above mentioned, and the kindness is appreciated. The various packages entrusted to me for distribution, have been handed over to the parties for whom tbey were intended, and the remaining articles I gave to those who appeared to need them. And now permit me to close this time hy wishing you and your large circle of readers a happy new year.
F. N. S.