Woburn Weekly Budget - December 8, 1861
Headquarters, 22d Reg. Mass. Volunteers
Hall's Hill, Va.
Dec 8, 1861
It is hard to persuade myself that this is winter, the weather is so mild and pleasant. Strolling near the Adjutant's tent, about one o'clock, I noticed the thermometer indicated 79 degrees above zero. During the few days that I have been in camp, the weather has been very fine, as much like the Indian summer as anything we have had at the North. Desolation is everywhere observable. In every direction may be seen the ruins of some dwellings, the forest felled, fences and orchards are destroyed, and fields that a short time ago were white with harvest, are trodden down, and made fit for only the march of armies. The hill on which the 22d is encamped, is a good location for a camp, dry, high, and healthy. It takes its name from a Mr. Hall who owns it. He resides a short distance from here, but the house has been torn down to furnish floors for the soldier's tents. The site of the camp was an extensive cornfield, and the parade ground was planted with potatoes last spring. The soldiers are at present enjoying all the comforts which men in their situation can expect. Their tents are tight and comfortable, and they are heated by subterranean oven which the ingenuity of the messes has procured. The rations are sufficient, and of excellent quality, and I doubt if you can find a hundred men in Woburn who are in any better physical condition then the members of Co. F. Most of them are contented, and even the homesick ones have a very mild type of the disease. Some of the men who came out with the company, though still on its rolls, have other places in the regiment. Edwin Wentworth is color corporal, Chas. H. Day is bugler, P. W. Gorham is steward for the non commissioned staff, Wm. S. Bowen cooks for the hospital patients.
When Col. Gove took command of the 22d, he issued an order that the best appearing soldier of each day's guard should act as his orderly for that day. This has caused a great deal of competition, and the appearances of the guard, greatly improved. Co. F. has furnished five orderlies this week, which speaks well for them.
I reached this place Wednesday evening, and found that about half the regiment had gone out on picket guard. The next morning I took a stroll over to the 9th Mass. Volunteers, where I found Surgeon S. W. Drew and Winthrop Wyman. The regiment is situated in a hollow between Miner' and Hall's Hill, and although the position is not so pleasant as that of some other regiments in the brigade, the health of the men is excellent. This is doubtless owing to the good care taken of the men. The Colonel is a fine soldier, and his staff are all men who adorn their profession. This regiment will give a good account of themselves if called into action.
In the company of Wint. Wyman I visited Falls Church the next day. There are two churches in this village; the oldest one, which gives it is name, is built of brick, and very ancient.
The carpets and some parts of the pews have been removed by our troops as relics. As I stood at the altar of the old church I seemed to see the bridal party of George Washington advancing to participate in the bridal ceremony, and going back a hundred years when the old church was in its glory, I thought how great was the change. Here in the place where the father of his country worshiped, and where were seen some of ....are endeavoring to destroy it.
Near by this is a building that looks very much like the North Woburn church. The lower story only was finished off, and was used as a school house, but now does duty as a hospital. Falls Church village may have been something of a town, but now is given to our troops, and makes a very good camp.
Returning to the 22d camp, we witnessed a soldier's funeral. John Casey, of Co. E. died on Wednesday, in apoplectic fit, and on Friday was buried. A short distance from camp is a burial place, where several soldiers are laid to rest. The regiment was drawn up after dress parade, and without arms attended the corpse to the grave. The burial service was read by Chaplain Cormack. The coffin was then deposited in the grave, a file of men fired a salute, and there we left him, away from friends and home. The occasion was a solemn one, and more affecting then any funeral I ever saw at home. I expect soon to see another such sight, as two more members of the regiment are now lying dead. One died of measles, and the other was shot accidentally. His name was William Keith, of Co. I. A member of his company had been cleaning his gun, and to clear the nipple, put on a cap and snapped it. The gun, unfortunately, was loaded, and the ball passed through the tent where Keith was standing, entered his abdomen and passed out his back. He lived but a short time. The careless soldier was put under arrest, but I have not learned what disposition will be made of him.
On Saturday I visited Alexandria, which is 12 miles from here, with two members of Co. F. This is a dirty city, and contains but little of interest. Of course we went to Marshall House, and as proof of our fortitude, we came away without writing our names on the wall. There are no stairs where Ellsworth was shot, three successive flights of steps having been taken away by relic hunters.
Lieut. Davis of Co. F. is a favorite with members of his company, and last evening they presented him with elegant field glasses. The presentation took place just after supper in the street between the tents. Private Gleason presented the glasses on behalf of the company in a brief an appropriate speech. Lieut. Davis seemed surprised and gratified at this token of the esteem of the men, and in accepting it, briefly addressed them. The band of the regiment added much to the occasion by the music with which they favored the company. The incident speaks well for the feelings which exist between this officer and the privates.
Today has been very different from Woburn Sundays. At early dawn the bugle called out the men to roll call. After breakfast there was a general inspection, and the men were dismissed until half past one, when the Chaplain held service at the flagstaff. He preached from the text, "As the Lord liveth, there is but one step between me and death". He gave a very good sermon, drawing his illustration from the sudden death of yesterday. In the evening, there was a prayer meeting in the Chaplain's tent. There was a large attendance, and the exercises were very interesting.
After dress parade this afternoon, Major J. P. Gould,of Stoneham, and Mr. G. R. gage, of Woburn, came into camp and were heartily welcomed by members of Co. F. Mr. G. was on his way to the Lower Potomac, to procure the remains of his nephew, who recently died there. He carried home with him several messages to distant friends.
I saw a secesh today. Lieut. Symonds, of Co. D. while on picket last Thursday arrested a young man who told a pitiful story, which at first seemed reasonable, and the boy came near getting through to Washington. But he soon told another story, and shortly after a different one, and after being more closely examined he is thought to be a spy, and will be treated accordingly. If he is a "specimen brick", I wouldn't give much for the pile.
Bedtime is called "taps", because when teh drum beats out the call, all lights must be put out. It is past taps, though not late, as teh men have to turn in at half past eight, but as taps does not apply to officers' quarters I have taken advantage of the light of capt. Thompson's candle to finish my letter. My first Sunday in camp has not be devoid of interest, but it would be folly to wish that the rest may be as pleasant. Winter is coming, with cloudy skies and boisterous weather, and then our endurance will be tried. I will try and give the readers of the Budget a weekly picture of our life here, and shall endeavor to make use of as many warm colors as the subject will allow.
John Lord Parker