22ndMass / USSC Boston Branch
"Here's a yellow sash for six feet of Virginia soil..."
Captain John F. Dunning, 22nd MVI, Co. D
Woburn Weekly Budget - December 15, 1861
Headquarters, 22d Reg. Mass. Volunteers
Hall's Hill, Va.
Dec. 15, 1861
Since my last letter we have been visited by quite a number of civilians, among them some of our own townsmen. These visits are most welcome to the soldiers, and no one comes into camp without at once being made aware of the pleasure his presence gives. Nothing the soldier dreads so much as being forgotten by the friends at home, and let the thought once gain possession of his mind that friends are indifferent towards him and he becomes miserable. He is not homesick, far from it, but to coin a word - self-sick, and this disease shows itself in indifference as to his appearance and duties. The Woburn boys have no symptoms of this complaint, for letters and papers from home are received in goodly quantities, and frequent visits of traveling friends keep alive home associations and home friendships. On Wednesday last, the day on which letters which are written at home on Sunday reach us, 63 letters were received by the Guard. This is strong proof that the soldiers are remembered, and if our Woburn friends could see their happy countenance as they receive mail, not one would doubt that news from home is welcome. Friday evening Mr. S. Kendall Richardson came into camp, and Saturday noon Mr. E. N. Blake called on us. They brought us the latest news from home, which was very acceptable. Last Thursday a party of Boston folks stopped in camp a short time just after dress parade, and among them I recognized the familiar countenance of Dr. Neal, of Boston. he Dr. addressed the soldiers and stated the party was a commission fro the Young Men's Christian Association, who had been sent out to visit the Massachusetts regiments, to see what could be done to render a more pleasant the life of the soldiers. He promised to send us books and papers, and assured us his audience that they would always be remembered by him, and commended them to the care of the Heavenly father. Mr. Demond and Mr. Bliss also addressed the regiment, and Rev. Mr. Alvord offered a prayer. This impromptu religious meeting was a pleasing incident.
Last Monday night at dress parade, the regiment was ordered to fill their canteens and fold their blankets. This produced a little excitement, but most of the men shook their heads and said it was only a ruse. Everything was quite during the night, and the next day we heard that the federal pickets had been driven in below us, and orders given us were to have us ready if it was necessary to call out a large force. Yesterday there was skirmishing below us, but nothing of importance that I could learn.
Major Tilton deserves, as he receives, the good will of the men. He has several times shown a desire to make camp life less monotonous, and to render more pleasant the life of the soldier. He has placed in every tent through the regiment an army checker-board, and this innocent game has consequently become quite popular.
Army Checker Board - Made in Boston, MA
He has also been the donor of a football, and after dress parade, the men enjoy a game on the parade ground which rivals in the famous games played on the Delta of Old Harvard. From supper time o tattoo the men have to themselves. Go in a tent, ad half the mess will be found writing letters, two will be playing checkers, others looking on and criticizing. There are several good vocalists in camp and these are generally heard singing in one of the tents. Mr. Marshall S. Pike the well known and popular vocalist and actor, is Drum Major of the regiment and his comical abilities are nightly brought into requisition, to great amusement of he mess which has been fortunate enough to secure his services. On pleasant evenings the band plays before the Colonel's quarters. So you see soldiers though away from home and pleasures, find means to amuse themselves, and life though hard, has its light spots.
Accidents are not more uncommon about here than some other localities. Yesterday a corporal in the sharpshooters, while out for target practice, carelessly set down his gun, having his thumb over the muzzle. when the gun went off, and destroyed his thumb. Another member of his company was maimed in a similar manner a short time ago. I have heard of another accident which was not so serious. The member of a certain regiment not far from ours, have dug a well about six feet deep in the low land where they are situated, and there is about three feet of water in it. A few nights ago, the officer of the day heard a sentry conversing with one of the neighboring regiments, and going to him told him not to leave his beat on any account. On his way back to the guard house he had proceeded but a short distance when he fell plump into the well. He cried lustily for the sentry to come and help him, but the soldier cooly told him he could not leave his post, and the discomfited captain was obliged to scramble out as he best could.
The bread used by this regiment amounting to over twelve hundred "family loaves" of bread, a day, is brought from Georgetown. Quartermaster Boyce has determined to build an oven here in camp, and cook the bread. By this means he will save five hundred pounds of flour daily, which will be disposed of for the benefit of the regiment. Ground was broken yesterday for the foundation of the oven, and I expect we shall soon have homemade bread. Speaking of ovens reminds me that Co. F. has got a splendid one, which bakes beans on Sunday in a manner that rivals, I had almost said excels, your Railroad street bakery. We don't have brown bread, to be sure, but the beans can't be beat in Woburn.
Our chaplain announces that he expects soon to have a large tent for holding services. It would certainly be a good thing, much better than standing in the open air around the flagstaff, which on a windy day like this is far from pleasant. The Chaplain of the 9th has procured during the past week a large tent nearly as large as a circus tent, in which he will hereafter hold services. The top is adorned with two gilded crosses, the American and Irish flags, and around the outside are planted cedar trees, the whole presenting a neat and tasteful appearance. The tent cost about a thousand dollars.
The health of the regiment continues good, and the Union Guard s very healthy. The position, now held by us, is the most healthy on the line, which is a very fortunate circumstance. As long as soldiers are healthy and contented, they are effective, and I know you will be gratified with the assurances that such is the condition of the Woburn boys.
John Lord Parker