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[358]

I wish that we could move immediately from here, as this fearful monotony is becoming wearisome,—anything but this passive warfare. I did not come here to wait and wear myself out with vain hopes of a speedy departure. I came here to learn to be a soldier, and then to practise; and as we have become quite efficient in this particular arm of the service, we are daily in expectation of orders to march. . . . . To-day or to-morrow I would gladly go to fight, either to distinguish myself or die. It destroys my disposition to read of victories, day by day, on all sides of us, and not be able to share in any of them. It is too bad. Never mind. I will be in a battle, if practicable in the least degree, or never go home.

The regiment was afterwards joined to the corps of General Banks, and was actively engaged in his disastrous Virginia campaign. While at Winchester, in April, Lieutenant Barker was ordered with a small body of picked men to escort General Rosecrans, of whom he speaks in the warmest terms, in a letter of May 2, 1862:—

I found General Rosecrans a man full of sympathy, amiability, and yet thoroughly strict in everything he did or ordered; and so definite was he in all details, that I had no hesitation in the performance of my duty, knowing if I acted rightly I should receive his praise, and if I erred through inattention or negligence I should receive his severest rebuke. He appeared to delight in youthful company, throwing off all restraint and that military stiffness which is so apt to paralyze the free actions and thoughts of a young fellow; but he is such a man that he won my affections so much that I felt and even wished that danger might have threatened, so I could have shown my feeling towards him by my ardor and sincerity in averting it. . . . . Besides the invaluable instruction I have received from him in person, his official business so required his presence here and there and everywhere, that I gained quite an idea of the country between Harper's Ferry and Woodstock (which was then the advanced Headquarters), a distance of sixty-two miles. My idea of scenery hitherto has been governed entirely by the region of the Catskills and Berkshire County; but never have I seen so beautiful and peaceful a scene, at the same time grand and extensive, as the Valley of the Shenandoah presented. Forever our home on the Hudson, and our haunt in the hills of Berkshire, may be silent when the recollections of Central Virginia occur.

Very soon after the Virginia campaign, about the 1st of

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