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 - February 1, 1862
HeadQuarters Co. D., 22d Reg't Mass. Vols.
Hall's Hill, Va.,
January 24, 1862
Mr. Editor, — Since my last we have had quite a little "stirring up" in various ways.
The weather has been one long, tedious storm. Rain, snow, hail, and wind have each been plentifully mingled, and now, if a spot can be found of size sufficient for Noah's dove lo rest his foot upon, where the mud is not knee deep, I should be pleased to see it.
The right wing of the regiment returned from two day's picketing, yesterday, and a beautiful time we had of it. We left on Tuesday morning, in the midst of a severe rain storm, and the appearnacc we presented was queer, to say the least. Each man, in addition tn his blankets and equipments, carried his one-third of a tent or poncho, — an India rubber concern, invented by Day, and added to soldiers' luggage as a sort of punishment, I take it, for they are good for nothing, and are to he condemned, I am informed.
The march of about four miles, through mud and rain — the two days' duty at the lines — short rations, owing to the non arrival of our teams, which could not get to us on account of tbe miserable condition of the roads — the relief — and the march home, over or through roads worse by a two days' storm than when we went out, all endured, and we were "home again," and gladly too, only to find "marching orders." I have not seen a leisure moment since. I am stealing time now, as we march at any moment, and after we do get started, the pen will hold a quiet position for some time; and it is certain that "the day of our departure is at hand." The busy aspect of matters in camp, and the activity in the Quartermaster's and Ordnance Departments betoken a change.
Orders were issued yesterday from Head-quarters for the transportation to Washington and Georgetown of all extra luggage, and this morning several teams heavily laden with boxes, parcels, and bundles, went to the latter place for storage, until such lime us the various owners are in a condition to claim, and have opportunity to make use of them; — but when this time will arrive, nobody can tell.
Promotions have commenced. Capt. Chas. J. Paine, of Co. I, has been appointed Major in Butler's Brigade, and has left for Fortress Monroe to assume his position.
The vacancy thus created will doubtless be filled by the promotion of Lieut, Conaut, of Co. A, he being senior Lieutenant, and his post will belong to Lieut. H. C. Connor, of the same company, leaving a vacant commission, which some of the Sergeants of that company will probably receive.
First Lieut. Geo. A. Bachelder, of Co. I, has been detached to serve as Ordnance Officer on Gen. Porter's staff, and will probably receive a Captaincy, in which event, Second Lieut. Wm. D. Morris, of Co. B, will be promoted to First, and another lucky Sergeant will get his shoulder straps.
If I rember rightly, I observed in a recent number of the Chronicle, that one of your correspondents speaks of the Eighteenth Regiment as the crack regiment of the Massachusetts troops, they having received the Chasseur uniform. I know that there has been a story to tbe effect that these uniforms were presented by certain parties to be given to the best drilled regiments, but I have beard, from good authority, that they have only been put on to these regiments as a sort of pattern, and that there is a large quantity of them now in the Quartremaster's Department at Washington. Without vouching for the accuracy of my information, or entering into any argument on the merits of the matter, I will only say that for discipline or drill, the Twenty Second will stand a comparison with any of our State troops, and after a trial, all the reward they will ask in the event of winning, will be, that they may not be obliged to wear the much vaunted uniform, which has been voted by our regimament a nuisance. But let time tell, and I have no doubt that there will soon be ample chance for all to prove their value.
Our First Lieut, Wm. H. White, has just returned from an eight day furlough, at home, during which he was married to a young lady of Boston, and our Club and Band intend paying him the compliment of a serenade this evening. Lieut. White is very popular with the company, and, in fact, with all who know him, both on and off duty.
The spirits of the boys are buoyant as ever, and many of them are "spilin' for a fight," which they will most probably get in a short time.
One of our boys got off the following: our teamster was carting trees to plant in our company street, and he asked
"Why is Whit (the teamster) like the soil of Virginia?"
Of course everybody surrendered.
"Because he is teaming with trees on!"
What should be done with a man who is guilty of such things?
The only thing that troubles the Twenty Second at present is, the fear that our Colonel will be taken away from us, as he is just the kind of man that the best Brigadier Generals are made of, and he stands high in the opinions of those at Head-Quarters. It would be a great loss to us should we lose him, as he is putting the regiment into capital order, and if he remains with us will make tbe Twenty-Second a battalion hard to equal.
A very severe storm is raging to night, and we can realize its full force without experiencing much of its discomforts, situated as we are with only a single thickness of canvas as a protection from its power. We can hear it raging fearfully without, beating wildly against our white walls; we can hear the rushing of the wind, and feel all the more the comforts we enjoy, as contrasted with many of our fellow soldiers in other parts of the field, and also from our recollections of our recent service at the pickets.
If anything wakes a man up and entirely opens his eyes to all the discomforts of a soldier's life, it is just such a term of picket duty as that we have just concluded. I was fully convinced from my own painful marching experience to and from the outposts, through mud varying from eight to twelve inches in depth, that the old expression, "the blood stained soil of Virginia," although correct historically, might at the present time be as truly rendered, "the mud framed soil," &c.
The storm still rages, but by no means rages still, for it rushes by with a loud noise that annoys people whose nerves have been tempered under circumstances where noise was not allowed; and as for our regiment, whether bound off or not, we are weather-bound, and so we are obliged to be content and sit in tent, intent on household rites, and responding to anxious friends at-home. In this, I think they do right, when they do write to those who wait their return with a weight of anxious foreboding, the offspring of tender love — summoning all their fortitude to their aid; they impatiently endure, and wonder when their loved one will return.
I am convinced that the mail of our regiment for the coming two or three days, will have an augmentation of its average patronage, for just as soon as the boys get a little leisure, writing materials are above par, and unless some unexpected duty comes to mar their sport, pa and ma stand a good chance of hearing from their distant offspring.
On the morning of the second day, at about four o'clock, a little episode occurred during our late picket, which nearly resulted disastrously to several of the men. While an off relief was in one of the buildings used for the reserve, it suddenly fell, and buried in its ruins seven or eight men belonging to Co's G and I. Fortunately, the damage was confined to muskets and provisions, several of the former being ruined, while the men providentially escaped injury. Considerable excitement prevailed at the time, but it soon subsided when it waa discovered no one was hurt.
Capt. Whorf and his boys are as well as the companies in the line average, attending to drill, and of course daily improving.
The Cambridge men in the various companies of the regiment, are, I believe, all right.
The storm is over, and so is inspection, — and the day belongs to us. Nothing of interest has turned up, and we are still in suspense.
F. N. S.