Cambridge Chronicle - December 14, 1861
HeadQuarters 22d Reg't Mass. Vols.
Hall's Hill, Va.,
Mr. Editor, — Don't be surprised; it's me. I take advantage of almost my first opportunity to use pen and ink, to give you the benefit of it.
To-day is my birth-day. How differently am I spending it from those which have preceded it! — however, this much is certain: I never passed one more profitably, or in a manner to look back upon hereafter with more pride, and this is more than sufficient to atone for any little sacrifice I may be making.
I must make an apology to you for the want of interest in my communications, and plead in extenuation that if the rebels do not make incidents for me to chronicle, I am not to blame, and I am not yet up to the trick of coining stories for the purpose of contradicting them in my next, and so making material for two, but I hope to improve in this respect, and thus prove my entire <i>re-lie-ability<i/> as a correspondent.
Picket skirmishing appears to be the only source from which we derive anything like excitement, and I must say that this kind of amusement has been plentiful recently. Of course, the daily papers have kept you posted as to the main facts in all these cases, and I shall be merely repeating a "twice-told tale" in speaking of them.
Last Tuesday, a company of the Third Pennsylvania Cavalry, consisting of about one hundred and fifty, passed through our camps in the direction of Falls Church, which place they passed, taking the main road to Hunter's Mills.
When about two miles beyond Falls Church, they were attacked, front and rear, by a large force of rebel cavalry and infantry, who were lying in ambush, in a narrow defile just wide enough to admit of their passing by twos. As a natural consequence, they were thrown somewhat into confusion, and their horses being blown, their loss was greater than it otherwise would have been. As it was, they managed to retreat in order, reporting under the various heads of killed, wounded, and missing, about thirty empty saddles, beside three or four created by our boys, in the shape of led secesh horses, whose owners hit the dust before the unerring aim of some of our carbines.
Late at night, straggling groups passed through our camp, on their way back, having been separated in the melee, from the main corps. Being sergeant of the guard on that day, my duties kept me up through the night, and I thus had a good opportunily to obtain true accounts of the skirmish from the various actors in the drama.
One party had two led horses — one belonging to the second lieutenant, who was left behind — his horse giving out under him — but it was not known whether he was a prisoner or not. The other belonged to the Captain of the rebel cavalry, who was shot through the head. This horse's ear — the horse was a white one - was covered with the blood of his rider, who pitched off head foremost when shot.
Our Regiment was called out, the "long roll" being beaten, and we were kept in readiness to move at a moment's warning, but nothing came of it, except that we slept on our arms, with equipments all on, and momentarily expecting the order to march.
To atone for this, our folks gave them a sort of dressing down at Drainsville, ten or fifteen miles from us, up the river, on Thursday, where our scouts and pickets took thirteen prisoners, including two
commissioned officers, and drove their force from the town.
This, and tidings of similar successes in other quarters, together with the glorious doings of our fleet, seem to indicate that, at last, the tide is turning, and we are to have our run of success.
We are to have a funeral this afternoon. Private Frank Brown, of Co. B, is to be buried with the usual ceremonies. He died yesterday, of typhoid fever, and is to be interred for a short time, to await the arrival of his father, who is to take the body home, the expenses of transportation having been borne by a regimental contribution, the boys having willingly given their mites for the purpose.
The Band have been rehearsing the Dead March, "Unveil thy bosom, faithful tomb," all the forenoon, and the solemn strains have been ringing in my ears during all the time I have been writing, so that I have had a reminder of the solemn scene I am soon to participate in.
The regiment, despite the fact that the rainy season is about setting in, is generally in good health, but there are some cases of fever reported in the hospital ward. How long this state of things will continue after the rains are well upon us, remains to be seen, — for when it rains here, it rains, it does, and no mistake, as we have had reason to know long before this time, having experienced some three or four of the kind of showers which prevail in this part of the country at about this season of the year.
We have about made up our minds that we are doomed to winter somewhere in our present vicinity, and if so, we shall endeavor to be reconciled to our lot, and in the mean time to improve in drill and discipline.
You should see our camp as it is arranged at present. Each company street is lined with trees which have been cut in the neighboring woodd and set out to break off the wind which would otherwise have full sweep.
Capt. Whorf's quartes are a perfect arbor; the boys of Co. G having taken some pride in their street, it is the best looking one on the ground.
Yours, F. N. S.