Camp Literature, &c.
It has often happened at the close of a battle that we have been able to secure bundles of letters, written from various parts of the North
to friends in the army.
In perusing these one cannot fail to be amused with the unaffected disclosures of truths and opinions found written and enlarged upon on paper — At Bull Run
, and Leesburg
many of these epistles fell into our hands, all speaking more or less timidly and with battle hope for the Federal
cause; but since the fall of Fort Henry
, &c., the character of sentiment has very much changed — thus showing that while be fore those untoward events their tone and expectations were humble, yet now the successes or the Western army have inspired McClellan
's man with unlimited ideas of conquest and spoliation.
There is undoubtedly great suffering at the North
, as evidenced in the many calls made upon the soldiery for small some of money to keep their families and kinsfolk from cheer starvation, and many other items of great interest, showing the present graduation of their social scale, but which we have not at present time or space to enlarge upon.
We subjoin brief extracts from a journal:
"Our army is laying everything wants in their march, and innumerable fields of grain are totally ruined.
We staid in several fine-looking dwellings on the route — owners fled, leaving directions to have everything burned up. The loss to property is great, yet it can't be helped — everything is 'ours' for the present, and all we can say is, ‘'The way of the transgressor is hard?'
-Camp, May 13th.--We are expecting a battle very soon now, and it will probably be a hard one.
If the rebels make up their minds to fight us here at Richmond
, they will do their best, and there is no use or sense in saying or denying that they can
They are Americans
as well as ourselves, and Americans
are not cowards.
The coming battle will probably decide the war if we are successful; but if they whip us, the war will last no one knows how long."
Extracts from another journal have the following items, viz:
"Tuesday, May 27, 1862.--We are only seven miles from Richmond
, and as the rebels have their railroad in operation, they can at any moment send a large force against us. The report is, however, that they have retreated to within two miles of Richmond
It is not known when McClellan
will attack them.--We have a very large force of artillery with us, and have no idea of retreating one step back.
Our men are all anxious to advance, and don't mean to have any more 'Bull Run
must and will be ours in a short time.
A soldier's life in the field is a hard one, and it is using up a great many of our strong men."
"Wednesday Evening, May 28.--The report about Major Kelly
was too true.
He was brigade officer of the day, and it was his duty to visit all the outposts.
He went out where the th Pennsylvania
regiment was stationed, and while there they attempted to take a house in front of our pickets.
The house was full of rebels, and they advanced and fired.--One shot hit the Major
's horse through the jaw and be became unmanageable.
They then fired another volley and his the Major
just as he was in the act of cheering on the men. He had his cap in his hand, and was just saying to the men, 'Give it to them, boys,' when he was struck by four balls, one through the chin, one through the neck, one through the side, and another in the leg. He fell from his horse, and raising himself from the ground walked about eighty rods, and then fell again, and bled to death in a few minutes."
"Friday, May 30.--Cloudy and every appearance of rain.
I was sent out with a working party this morning to help build a fort.
Each regiment furnished 50 men. About noon the enemy commenced firing at our pickets, and the firing was sharp on both sides.
Our division was soon under arms and our cannon placed in position, and the dance began.
The first fire of the enemy killed two of our horses; one of the 101st Pennsylvania was killed and several wounded.
Our gun threw in a large quantity of shells, and after a while silenced their guns.
About four o'clock it commenced raining and rained very hard all right."
A letter says, ‘"we hear you are all half-starved, Captain
, and are dying in that dreadful swampy hole near Yorktown
I have a few chickens and turkeys which I should like to send you, for I am certain you are all badly off, when officers have to complain.
Things here, Captain
,) are very poor — no business doing — lots of poor folks starving.
Your eldest daughter, Lizzie, has got a nice situation to teach school--$8 per month and board, but, then, board is something these times."’
‘&I wish the d — d rebels were all in h--,"’ writes another. "This cursed rebellion has knocked things into a cocked hat — the men have little to do and the women seem to have gone crazy, or something worse.
Nothing doing in Lowell
, I hear, and 3,000 girls without bread to eat. Don't believe it, Jack
, the rebels will fight.
I know 'em, and I shall feel glad if ever I get to Boston
This all comes of them d — d Abolitionists, and now the Union
is gone, collapsed, kerflumxed — gone up, and Old Abe nor all of 'em can bring it back again, so there's no use of any more gassing.
I got a letter from Fred.
in St. Louis
He is with the army at Pittsburg
, and was at Shiloh
— he says we must sing small about that — he knows more than be wants to say: ‘McClellan
says he's bound to have Richmond
, but there'll be great fighting first, I think."’
The general tenor of letters seen, however, call for remittances from the army, and urge their requests most pitifully, depicting their wants and necessities most graphically, portraying a sorry condition of things in Eastern cities, and representing the army as the only place to obtain the slightest means of support for the indigent of both sexes.
Thus, hundreds are compelled to enlist for bread alone, while their pay somewhat assists the necessities of those at home.
If such men can fight — if the masses can much longer bear their constantly-accumulating burdens of want, taxation, and petty despotism — it is a mystery to all. Our own condition is, perhaps, miserable; but compared with theirs, is not only tolerable, but even pleasant.
So say Federal correspondence, and so report we.