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[248]

camp off Fredericksburg, November 28.
We had a quiet Thanksgiving, without any extra dinner except an old goose and four very diminutively small chickens. I thought of home as I sat at the head of the mess-table (made, by the way, of cracker-boxes, and clothless), and wished that I could fill my place, for a short time at least, at home. But I have the consolation of knowing that, as I came because I ought, that same “ought” will keep me up fairly to the mark.


He writes to his father under date of December 2d, same camp:—

I hardly think I can make you a fitting return for all your affectionate and Christian care of me, or all your patient and loving waiting during my slow struggle to work my way in life and gain a place among men. I hope, if my life is spared to return, and with increased knowledge of men, with an experience in rough, practical life of the greatest value to me, and habit of prompt decision, with the attrition of a life as open and public as my former one was secluded and fastidious, to make my fortunes more rapidly than earlier years foreboded.

Opposite the lower suburbs of Fredericksburg, December 7.
Night; quiet till one A. M.; then I stump over the crusty snow in company with the officer of the day, whose duties also cover the night, unless the Rebels cross and stir up my camp. . . . . It is freezing in true New England style, and the weather is as genuine an importation from Massachusetts as is our regiment. . . . . My tramp to-night is to visit my pickets and guards. I have guards stationed at each of the guns, which peer watchfully through the embrasures of the half-moon in which they are placed. A cold time the sentinels have of it, and the greatest vigilance is needful; for a rat-tail file and a tap with a hammer would render useless in a moment a superb piece of ordnance. I don't object to the trip a bit, though it will take me nearly two hours; but for my shoes, which are in sympathy with the shoes of more than two thirds of the regiment.


His last letter, a very hurried and brief one in pencil, written on Friday, December 12th, was affectionate as usual. Amongst other things, he says:—

We shelled and half burnt Fredericksburg yesterday. My regiment and brigade was ordered to be in readiness, and was

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