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[307] or longing for home, for comforts, and for society. I do want to see you all, though, very much; and being away from you, and mother, and all, is the greatest trial I have. But this is not discouraging, only an evil every young man must bear.

On the 25th of February the Twentieth Massachusetts broke camp, preparatory to entering upon an active campaign. The regiment at this time belonged to the Third Brigrde (Dana's), Second Division (Sedgwick's), of the Second Corps (Sumner's). The division crossed the Potomac near Harper's Ferry in the early part of March, to render assistance to Genera-Banks in his advance down the Valley of the Shenandoah. Here Lieutenant Ropes received his initiation into active military life. On the 27th of March the Twentieth embarked on board the transport Catskill, on the 28th started for the Peninsula, and on the 31st landed at Hampton, Virginia. Sumner's corps marched towards Yorktown on the 5th of April, over a country utterly desolate, and through the recently abandoned fortifications of the enemy. In a letter dated Big Bethel, Virginia, April 6, 1862, when an engagement was expected to take place immediately, Lieutenant Ropes wrote as follows:—

I expect before this reaches you I shall have been in the greatest battle which ever took place on this continent. I do not like to write much, but of course I know what may happen, and I feel perfectly prepared for any result to myself, and feel only anxious to do my duty in battle. God grant I may. I do not feel much concerned for my own life, and am glad to rest the result in higher hands.

Before Yorktown the Twentieth performed its share in arduous and perilous picket duty, besides much fatigue service. It was among the first to plant its flag upon the abandoned fortifications of the enemy; and Lieutenant Ropes, temporarily in command of Company K, had the honor of leading it first within the works. From Yorktown the regiment went to West Point, and on the 7th of May were engaged with the enemy there. Of Fair Oaks Lieutenant Ropes writes—

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