I marched one hundred and eighteen miles over the worst ground, under a considerable weight, almost without sleep and with insufficient food. I have been so hungry that I seized eagerly on a sweet potato left in the mud and half covered with it, and ate it as I never ate anything before. . . . . I suffered so from sleeplessness and hunger that it seems a dreadful dream, and my friends told me that my face was like an old man's, so that no one would have thought me young.A fortnight later a comrade wrote of him:—
His sufferings on the late march to and from Goldsborough must have been intense, such as would have compelled many a man to class himself among the sick and wounded. And his conduct at Whitehall too, where he fought bravely with the right-flank company, with which he had been marching, instead of seeking his own company, which he must have known was much less exposed to the enemy's fire, show the bravery of a true soul.He plucked new confidence from the ‘nettle danger,’ and his letters at this time breathe a cheerful expectation of usefulness once more at home, as well as in the field. He would like to do a little political campaigning again. ‘Don't fancy,’ he writes to his brother,
from my anticipating work in the political field that I propose competing for any political prize. I acquired bitter experience at second hand out West, and shall keep my life clear of that. “ I had rather be a kitten and cry mew, than such a Roman.” But I am sure that, if I live till 1864, I shall grow furious at the old rascality, and shall want to do my part to cut it down, if I can spare a fortnight in New York.The next letter, dated January 20, 1863, is in a strange hand, though worded by the same tender and thoughtful heart, telling of sickness, following a chill he got, and which had brought him to the Stanley Hospital to be treated. The surgeons pronounced his disease a mild form of typhoid fever. He was already better; so he wrote his mother, ‘You spoke once of coming to me if I were sick. I really do not need you; and you would not be allowed to come.’ He was carefully and kindly tended in his sickness by a Sister of Charity, and, when it was possible, by his attentive comrades.