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 - February 3 1862
22d Reg. Mass. Volunteers
Hall's Hill, Va.
February 3, 1862
Gen. Advance has not been seen in these parts for some time, and it is feared he has left us altogther. It is much to be regretted, as he was a great favorite with the men. Our regiment looked moved last week, but it now looks as if we are anchored here. Last Sunday we were told "You wont be inspected again on Hall's Hill", but yesterday morning Sunday inspection as usual. We are in a glorious state of uncertainty whethe we shall go or stay, and this dobt makes many of the soldiers discontented. As we understand it here, the weather decides the question; settled going will be the signal for a start, but as long as the roads continue muddy, we shall stay here. Consequently, we hail with delight a frosty night, and a long cold snap for several days. Last night was quite cold, and the road froze pretty stiff; two or three such nights will make the ground all right, and then - well, that's too good to think of. so I will change the subject.
Saturday the regiment was supplied with the leggings a la Zouave, and yesterday we appeared out in the new rig. It looks rather odd, but we shall soon get used to it, and no doubt in the course of a month or so will be able to get them on in an hour's time. At present, we need about double that. Some of the soldiers have furnished themselves with boots, and they didn't need the leggings, but to those who have only bootees, they will prove very convenient. We must all be dressed alike, you know, and so we are encased in leggings.
There have been a great many deaths in our vicinity this week. One member of the sharpshooters in our regiment, died on Tuesday. Lieut. Col. Peard of the 9th died on Monday. The Adjutant of the 18th is dead, and two members of the 2d Maine, one a Roxbury man, have also gone. The weather we have had for a fortnight has been very unhealthy, and the deaths attest to its ill effects upon the men. There is considerable sickness in the camps, and unless the weather changes we shall have a great deal of illness. Private Francis Merritt who was injured on the head by a stone thrown from Co. A, has at last got his discharge, and will go back as soon as some one goes from the regiment who can take charge of him to his home in Marblehead, as he is unable to go alone. The other invalids in the company whose discharge has been applied for are still with us, and they don't seem much nearer going home than when they first tried to get it.
The wife of our colonel has been in camp several days, and every evening the band plays before his quarters. We have frequent additions to our female society, and several of the captains have their wives here. A pleasant afternoon will be sure to bring them out as it would at home, and they call on each other with less formality perhaps, but with more enjoyment than at home. They can't go shopping very well, for our sutler don't seem to keep a very good assortment of those articles which ladies seem to enjoy examining. If there are any more ladies added to our camp, I shall expect to see a dry goods store set up at one end of the regimental streets. When the happy time arrives, we will organize a township, and call it "Wilsonville", dropping the name of camp. We are situaed in Alexandria County, and as the county is not divided into towns as is customary with us, we can do so without doing anybody injustice. We have all trades reprsented here, and not a few of them are worked at every day. Nearly every company has a tailor, who makes a "pretty penny" by mending clothes, etc. Cobblers are not scarce, and the merry tap of the hammer can be heard in more tents then one. Carpenters there are and evidences of their handiwork can be found in every tent. The blacksmiths show off in the ordance department, mend the guns,etc. The Yankee soldier can't sit still anyhow, and if they don't put us to fighting we shall colonize this portion of Old Virginia, and carry out Eli Thayer's idea of Yankeeizing the South. The soil is productive here and if it was well cultivated, which it is not, would yield large crops. We came here to fight, but if we can't do that we will be farmers.
Mr. Abel G. Alexander of Woburn, has set up a hut in the camp of the 9th regiment, and is taking the pictures of Col. Cass's boys at a jolly rate. Mr. A. has been in this vicinity several weeks, and is getting to be well known among the soldiers, and if we can judge of his popularity by the crowds which throng his saloon, he must be just the man for the business.
Our tent crew got scared the other night but got off without being hurt. A tent in the rear of ours had a chimney made of barrels, and about midnight they got afire. The reflection of the flames on the wall of our tent waked up one of our mess who shouted "fire" so lustily that we were all startled from sleep, and a stampede into the mud was the consequence. We soon learned that our tent was not in danger, so we went back to bed. These tent burnings are quite common, though generally the occupants get off without much damage to life or property.
We have entered upon a system of target practice, by which all shots fired for a certain time are recorded, and the best marksman in the company takes a company prize. After a time, the company prize takers contend for a regimental prize. There is also a brigade prize on the same principle. These prizes create competition among the men, and has a tendency to increase the effectiveness of their firing.
Corporals Dean and Gillepsie have resigned their warrants, two privates in the company have been promoted to fill their places. There is a dearth of news out here, no one having shot off a finger, broke a leg, or anything of the kind. I shall keep an eye open, and if anything does turn up, you shall know it.
John Lord Parker