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Journal 2: Camp Near White Oak Church, Va. 16th Regiment, N.Y.S.Volunteers.

          Dec 22d 1862. Now my own dear wify I must go back to the 4th of Dec, to where I left off after meeting Ball & Vedder on the road. We are now encamped some distance back from the Rappahannock; very pretty & it is about 10 o'clock at night. We have been singing hymns here in the Col. tent. The Major, the two doctors, Dr. Crandall & Murphy, the col. & myself. But they have now gone out and I will write some. Well, while walking on with Ball on the 4th of Dec., soon at dusk we met Capt. Barker of the 16th Regt. on horseback & he went with me to see where I should look for the camp of the 16th. And after he had given me what information he had time to, he bid me good night & I continued on alone & ere long met a poor soldier lying by the road side, perfectly fagged out by the march; his name was George Percy of the 15th New Jersey. I assisted him to rise & took his haversack for him & giving him my arm, went on with him slowly while we found the camp of the regiment. Oh, how beautifully the army looked as we viewed it from the hill upon which we were. All around were the bright camp fires. I helped the poor man to his regiment & it is happened we came out just by the tent of his captain & the poor fellow threw himself down by the camp fire, seemingly quite grateful for what had been done for him. Then, I wandered through the different regiments, asking where the 16th N.Y. was and after being misdirected several times, at length when I had gone nearly 3/4 of a mile further, I reached the point (?), for I stepped up to a camp fire in front of a marque & asked an officer standing there if this was the 16th Regt. When he replied yes & then I asked where I could find Major Palmer, when to my surprise the officer extended his hand & said, "Why Mr. Hall, how do you do." It was the Major himself. He immediately introduced me to the other officers. The Col. & Drs. Murphy & Crandall, with whom I am now associated. We sat down together round the fire & talked over the events of the day till quite late, and my relation to all became, I may say, immediately very pleasant. We had supper & then the major took me down to Pliny Moore's tent & to see the other.
          Dec 28th. Well, my dear wify, today I rose about 8 o'clock. The Major and I sleep together always on the left hand side of the Col's tent, on blankets spread out upon boughs. After breakfast, I went down to the hospital tents, where I go now every morning at 1/2 past nine & afternoon at 1/4 before 4. I red my usual service there, one verse of a hymn passage of scripture, a few remarks & prayer. Then Dr. Purdy & I rode over together on horseback to Falmouth. We are now encamped about 4 miles to the eastward of that place. Dr. & myself first stopped at Gen. Burnside's headquarters & I saw him for a moment at his tent door. Then we rode on to Gen. Sumner's head quarters at a large & elegant dwelling of some Virginian. Thence we rode down to the general area of the large division hospitals & I waited there, talking to the wounded on the ambulances while Dr. Purdy rode over to the sanitary commission tents to get his ambulance stored with comforts for our sick. We have about 17 in our hospital here in camp. Since I rode over & joined the Dr. at the tents of the Sanitary Commission & found him just about ready to start. I was sorry to leave the poor wounded men, but it was necessary for us to go on, so we set out for our return to camp. Right opposite the Sanitary Commission was the balloon half inflated, held down with its sand bags. The name printed on it in large letters is "Eagle". On our way back we found the whole of Gen. Wilcox's Corps in review before Gen. Sumner (about 10,000 perhaps). I waited to see Gen. Sumner & Wilcox pass & then hurried back, stopping at a log cabin on the way back to see a sick soldier whom the Major & I saw (at night before ten) when we went over together at dusk to bring one of our boys to white oak church. After seeing this man & finding him improving I let Zollicoffer take his course through the woods & he brought me right into camp, coming out just in time for dinner by our hospital tents. The men are being paid off today & they have lots of money. I have just finished reading a very sweet letter from Mr. Eddy. Well now to return to the 4th of December. The night I first came into camp, I slept in the Major's bed, a camp cot with blankets & he slept down in camp. Next morning I commenced & went into the tents, tent by tent, seeing the men but had not gone through more than ten when the order came to move & the tents were soon struck & we were on the march & I walked all the way by the side of Pliny Moore & Oh what roads. Towards evening also it commenced to rain & snow & finally we emerged from the woods & came down upon a dreary old plain called Belle Plain on the shores of the Potomac or of a kind of bay that sets in there.

          Follow the road as below

I have taken up a sheet of paper that Col. Seaver, here in the tent was marking upon last evening to show me a map that Col. Scammon of the 5th Maine sent to Col. Adams of the 27th N.J. near us. Col. Adams was camped near Col. Scammon in the woods but had tried in vain to find Col. S.'s camp, so he sent a note to him for directions, when Col. Scammon sent back to him a piece of paper marked as on the other side. Well as I was saying, we came down upon a dreary plain at about dusk & stood halted for some time in a few inches of snow. The march had been an eventful one to me. Every house & hut we past had a guard, but you would have been amused how the men sought at any little price of shut iron or stove pipe. I was not at all tired & felt all in a glow, but the men seemed to be disheartened & well they might for our encampment that night caused several deaths & many sick. That was the reason we left 50 sick behind us in camp a few days after. Well we camped right upon the river bank, or beside the bay, in the snow. We gathered what wood we could together & soon the tents were up, with fires burning before them. Every one seemed to work silently till at last the Major commenced to sing "Old John Brown had one little Indian, two little Indians, three little Indians" & there I behind he stopped. Where upon Dr. Murphy said "sorry singing Major. It goes hard don't it." At last however we all gathered together in the Dr.'s tent & sang a number of times & became quite warm. But it was an awful night. I went among the soldiers soon & saw them covering over their camp fires & old veterans of the peninsula told me that it was the worst night they ever had since they came soldiering. Col. Seaver allowed those that wished to go off to the woods & make themselves as comfortable as possible, but most remained down on the plain. As I had taken the major's bed the night before, I resolved I would not put any one out if possible. But before I could present it, I found that the Col. had dragged out a little camp mattress of his & insisted upon my taking it. So I spread my india rubber blanket down on the tent floor & the mattress on top of it & then hid away under the blankets. I remained there till morning, but the day had been so exciting that I did not sleep much but laid awake, thinking a good part of the night & by way of amusement set some words to old John Brown, which I give you here:

Oh no never will we fail to remember
The cold dreary night of the 5th of December
When we pitched our tents amid the snow & the rain
On the Meadows of Belle Plain
We gathered up the twigs & the drift wood that lay
Scattered here & there on the shores of the Bay
And by dim smoky campfires tried we in vain
To cheer us on Belle Plain

Then we laid ourselves down on the snow covered ground
And tried to forget ourselves till reveille should sound
Such was our future mid the snow & the rain
On the Meadows of Belle Plain

But never let us murmer there are better days at hand
We are fighting for Jehovah & our own blessed land
The lord will let us triumph despite the snow & rain
On the Meadows of Belle Plain.

         The Major laughed at me much for writing verses such a night & they all wanted a copy & a few nights after we tried to sing them & were into them off preparatory to so doing when a man suddenly came into the col.'s tent & said one of the men had Just fallen down dead. The Major & I went right down into the camp of course. Well to return now to the morning of the 6th, the day after our first night on Belle Plain. Early in the morning, I went to the Dr. Crandall's tent & asked him to let me take his horse old Zollicoffer. We had seen a horse in a stable on the way over & I thought I would go back before breakfast & see if it was worth anything & buy it if it was and it could be bought. I had a splendid ride, my first ride on old Zollicoffer. I went over several miles to Col. Corceran's head quarters & saw three horses or at least found them. The last & only one that was worth anything was at Col. Corceran's head quarters. The saddle horse of a Virginian lady but she looked at me very decidedly & said "no you don't have my horse if you pay $1200 for it." So I contented myself with buying two turkies & a chicken, strapping them over my saddle horn & sailing into camp with them, much to the amusement of the officers. At breakfast I happened to ask Dr. Crandall, (not supposing that he would sell his horse), happened to ask him what he valued him at. When he said he valued him at $150, I told him at once that I would give him that price for him, when to my surprise, a few days after wards he consented to sell him to me. He said he would not have sold him out of the regiment. It is a great black horse with strong legs & easy gate & very fully quite sound, & about 6 years old. Just what I want & it seems as if God has very surely provided for me. The horse can outrun any thing in the regiment, is accustomed to the battle field, dont wind among the cannon & shells, as he well showed shortly after & is finely trained, reins very well & my rig out, they tell me is complete. Well after my ride of the sixth I took breakfast & soon the major we moved down further & camped nearer the landing & the Col. Major built a fire place & that night Pliny Moore, Liut. Barney & myself slept spoon fashion under blankets & upon cedar boughs in the middle of the Col's tent. The Col. drilled us before going to sleep with the orders "prepare to spoon". "Spoon & c & c". All turning over at the word.
          We had all gathered together in the tent before going to bed & sitting round the fire place had had a very pleasant time. My position is exceedingly pleasant among the officers & all the men. For your satisfaction, dear wify, & happiness, I will tell you something. The Major, night before last, & he is a man generally of few words, said to me when sitting alone here, "The men say, Mr. Hall, they have never had a chaplain till you came." It appears the few former ones were not very efficient ones. Well, the morning of the 7th of December was very cold & cheerless & we all welcomed the order to move up into the woods above the plain to the camp ground. In the hospital Steward's tent of which I was writing the night I commenced this letter. We struck our tents & soon moved up in the woods. That was Sabbath. All day long, the men were fixing their tents & getting themselves comfortable, so we had no religious services. In the evening the Col. gathered the officers, Dr. Murphy & Crandall & Major & myself for prayers in his tent. Monday I (?). I went round with papers sent for the regiment & saw a number & also took a ride on Major's horse, with Col. Seaver & Dr. Crandall & the adjutant over to Gen. Franklin's head quarters & saw Col. Seaver mustered in as full Col. of the regiment that day in the evening. "That day, the 8th, Dr. Crandall concluded to sell me his horse & so I took old Zollicoffer into my possession. In the afternoon, I think it was, I went down with Dr. Murphy on horseback to Belle Plain to the sufferers, and after Dr. Crandall had been kind enough to send up his hospital ambulance to Potomac run with an order from me to Capt. Ketchum for my saddle box & valise so the things all came safely & I rode With Dr. Murphy on my own saddle. I went round among the men during the day & in the evening it was that I attended the first funeral, the funeral of the man who had died the night before. In the morning of the day he died, I was standing in front of head quarters looking at guard mount & as the troops moved off, one man stumbled & fell. I thought he had tripped on a stump but it was not so, it was from weakness. He was the one who fell, down dead at night. He was a Christian, said other men, Gale & Anders. I saw shortly afterwards they were very sick. One of them I took down a part of my chicken to, for broth. They both gave evidence of trust in Christ & now they also are both dead. They were among the fifty that we were obliged to leave at the Camp above Belle Plain and after the Battle of Fredericksburgh, Dr. Murphy & myself rode down to the camp & found that they had died & the men had buried them.

          It - the funeral - I speak of the funeral of the first man that died. Liut. Barney came for me as soon as the coffin was done, part of which was made out of my saddle box. & we walked down & crossed the ravine & rode & entered the woods beyond & just on a knoll they had dug the graves they lowered the coffin & then I read a passage from 1 Cot. 15:16-22 verse & some of the latter verses I have not marked them in my Bible, only the 16-22 inclusive. After that, I made a prayer. The colonel was there but we do not have a salute fired. They have dispensed with that, in these times. We placed a little board over the head with the name & c. so that the body can be found if the friends wish to remove it.

          Well the next morning, the 10th, we struck the tents & leaving the sick from necessity, moved on & bivouaced for half an hour where I write to you from Dec 10th in pencil. Now I, whence dear wify I have given a running account somewhat irregularly, written on camp letter, rolls of blankets & on horse back & amid bursting bomb shells. First, I was going to copy it off so that you could read it more distinctly, but then I thought you would rather have the letter written just as it was written, part by sunlight & part by moon light & amid vanities a few words were written right at about the middle of the pontoon bridge & one or two words just as the fine feet of old Zolicoffer stepped off the bridge on the other side of the Rappahannock. The Major was riding at my left hand. Major also thought you would like the letter just as it is. Bomb shells have burst very near these very sheets when fully was writing.

          Well now wify, my next place to continue on from is from the evening of the 13th, Saturday evening, where I left off by saying the Jerseys have taken a redoubt. The old 16th had been in the ravine, but the order had come for them to unsling napsacks & mount the hill. Now we thought the time had come. I had only been with the regiment a few days, but felt so identified with it that the tears came trickling down when the noble fellows went up the hill. When we reached the top, Capt. Wood seemed to take notice of me, of my feeling & he turned round & I shall not forget his expression. He looked earnestly & said "Chaplain, we will give a grand account of ourselves." They all laid down behind a hedge & waited & waited, but the enemy did not approach. The pickets kept firing but no enemy came. The sun went down & we made ready to lay down & get some rest, kindling little fires. The enemy was on & soon it came to be about 1/2 past ten o'clock at night. Just then it occurred to me that there might be some work for me coming, the multitude of wounded & dying at the hospital & I suggested to the major that I should ride over there for an hour or two & see if I could be of service. He said yes; he thought it would be well. So, I mounted old Zollicoffer & cantered off in the darkness, guided by the bivouac fires of the various regiments & crossed the plain by the aid of sundry directions of sundry soldiers, reaching at last the old stone Virginia manor house of Mr. Bernard, then used as a division hospital. It so happened that our own surgeon Dr. Crandall, had been detailed as the general superintendent of the hospital of which I speak. So, on riding up before the portico & tying my horse to a tree, I inquired immediately on the stoop, from the sentries for Dr. Crandall. They gave me entrance to the great hall & it was filled with wounded, lying upon stretchers. About the first man I saw was a poor fellow bruised & so cut & covered with blood that it was almost impossible to distinguish a human face. It was too late to speak to him, he was just hurting but unconscious. He was dying; wounded men were all about him & by the dim candles that lighted up the scene, there was certainly presented a most solemn spectacle. I turned from the hall, to the left into the operating room, where they were busily at work, men already upon the tables & others waiting. I was directed again to the left into an elegant old chamber where walls were hung with cherie paintings. Dido & AEneas was one & another large one Obsession & the cross. The room was panelled & with a large, old fashioned open fire place. There were a number of physicians in it & in the recess of a window, lying down on some books & c. (I think it was). I found Dr. Crandall. He was perfectly fagged out, he said. He was very glad to see me; jumped up & introduced me to several of the physicians & then in a darkened corner of the room, pointed out to me a pallet where a wounded man was lying. That is Col. Hatch of the 4th New Jersey. We have just amputated his leg, he says. As we went nearer, I saw the noble features of the Col. & his superb uniform, Just as he had been brought in from his field charge. He was wandering & talking incoherently & the Dr. said but a moment ago had, in his ravings, as if addressing his orderly. "Orderly, ask permission to charge again. I have a regiment that can not be overcome. Let us charge again." Poor Col.; he had made his last charge; perhaps, you say, on account of his death. He died a day or two afterwards. To the right, in another corner lay another officer. Crandall then led me out into the operating room & they were Just bringing in a secess, prisoner, wounded, one where could not line a sweet face, beautiful eyes - a young man from Georgia. I bent over him & whispered to him of Jesus & he told me his long hope was there, intending that he was a christian. He was soon removed to the lower corridor. We then went below through the vaults below & rooms all around & all seemed to be full. Wounded, dying & dead. The building is some what of this shape of solid stone & a number of bomb proof vaults below.

          Then we went up stairs & the piteous cries of the different men: "Dr. my wound's bleeding," "my bandage is too tight" & etc. The Dr. wanted me to stay all night but I said I could only stay a short time. He then urged me to stay to supper, which I did & ate heartily of beef steak & it certainly was grateful. After tea, Dr. Kelly said there were some he thought that could not live (up stairs). He would go with me. We went into the 2d story front room, left-hand side & there lay poor Gen. Bayard, the chief of the Cavelry, stretched upon the floor, his thigh completely blown to pieces. He died the next day. He had been struck near this hospital about 40 rods off, while standing quite near to Gen. Franklin. I tried very hard to have permission to say a few words to him, Dr. Kelly speaking to his aid, but the aid said he was all right & steadily refused to have him waked; that his father would be there in the morning & if he was willing to have him spoken to, he had no objections to my doing so. I could do nothing, so we came down stairs. The Gen. died the next day, but his father never came. I was there the next day, but it was about the last of life with him. He was just passing away. Well after a continuance of such sorrowful scenes, I started out about twelve o'clock to return to the regiment. I found Sam, the Dr.'s contraband, posted by old Zollicoffer, just where we had left him, so, bidding the Dr. good night, I rode off and after a while arrived safely in the midst of the 16th! One of the men led Zollicoffer in between the sleeping soldiers, lest in the dark the horse might have trodden upon muskets, or their owners. I crawled in beside the Major between the blankets under the hedge & there remained till day break. Multitudes of troops past during the night. At day break, we all rose, I took coffee, pork & hard tack. And when it began to be quite light, right on our left, the cannons opened. However, there was no opening of action. Soon, an order came to move out further & stand posted behind an old barn & cabins. The identical barn where Pete & I gathered the corn husks. When we had all, by small parties, arrived there in safety the Col. called the men to attention for prayers. It was Sabbath morning. I read, standing in the midst of the regiment as they lay upon the ground, the 51 Psalm & sang one verse of the Rock of Ages, the first verse & then prayed. All were very attentive; the Col. joined in the singing. We had not been there long before we were moved to where another regiment on the right, lying under the curl of a hill. The Col. & I had a very interesting conversation there. He seems to be very thoughtful & soon I Joined Dr. Murphy for a few moments, when I received a message from the Col. saying that if I had nothing to do I would oblige him much by riding over to the hospital for the tobacco that Dr. Crandall had promised them the night before, through me. I at once rode off & reached the hospital in a little while. Saw my rebel victim spoken of before. He was yet living, laying down in the lower corridor & by his side another, a comrade of the same regiment. The latter shot in the abdomen, both wounded mortally. I took their names & address & names of wives & children so that after the war perhaps, I might give some comfort through a letter to the poor wives & children. Then I find another who also was dying with whom I did the same & in the room were two rebel officers, a Col. & a Captain. The Captain was a very fine looking young man & a cousin of ours, a van Vetterburgh, his father having removed to Georgia from Albany. I was polite, but dodged more than civility & past on. Then I saw a dying Liut. of our army & next a soldier bending over the body of his dying brother, just in the last gasps - had met the men bringing him on a stretcher. He was unconscious. The poor man grieved greatly. I conversed with him & then helped him to draw a ring off of the dying man's hand. Says he, "I am not strong enough, will you not help me." I took soap & removed it in that way, one of the nurses telling me so to do & handing me a piece. It was hard to go but my place was with my regiment. The Dr., before going, gave me a little latin book as a momento of the hospital. I rode back to the lines & Col. Seaver was in advance of the column on the top of the crest & I was just about riding out on Zollicoffer when the men stopped me, saying as they lay on the ground, "Chaplain, don't go out there on horse back." So I descended & joined the Col. on foot when just at that moment a sharp shooter shot at us, the ball striking somewhere about our heels. The Col. took the tobacco & thanked me & as I nearly reached the line, another ball singed right by my ear. The men told me it went right between the Col. & I. Shortly after I received own dear wify's letter warning me on every page to keep out of danger and it made me feel bad to think that perhaps I had done more than I should have done. Still it will not do for me to show the least timidity with the men. In the first place. I don't feel it you know, & in the next place it would injure my influence. The men themselves & all don't want me to go into action with them, but all know that their chaplain is ready to go any where where duty calls & dear wify, hall has found that God has caused him to leave no influence by it. The probability is that now we are going into winter quarters and we will have little or nothing more to do that has any danger in it. I slept with Dr. Murphy that night, for wify's sake & the Major wanted me too. The men were yet in the lines.
         Monday 15th. There was some firing but very little. There was a mysterious quiet throughout the whole lines. Some picket firing but not much. (old Mr. Buse has just brought into in the mail into the Dr. (Murphy's) tent, where I am now writing today, Dec. 24th, so I may have a letter. No there is no letter for me. I have not received one for several days. Well, all day (during Dec 14th) & for several days as the men had letters but no mail bag to send them in. They had given them to me, some desiring me to keep them till after the conflict & with all well on them if they were alive. This afforded me a good opportunity to see many men alone & speak to each apart from the rest. I find a great many thoughtful ones. Well, during the day, Hastings, our cook, made his appearance, much to the gratification of all. It now began to look like rain and as I had only one rubber blanket & three other ones, I concluded to get a pass from the col. as the work for the day was now done (it being then about seven o'clock). I concluded to go over the river down to White Oak Church & get my three other blankets that I had down there & the 2nd India Rubber one, my poncho & c & c; Dr. Murphy wanting me to go get some things for him also. So, I started over the plain, Just like I had an hour or two before to catch the mail boy with the mail bag. I rode past the same dead horse again & Zollicoffer again showing some disinclination to pass him, but soon we reached the pontoons together & the sentinel, on examining my pass, allowed me to go across at once and I started off across the country, regardless of roads until I came to a ditch too big to leap & so I had to traverse the fields for some distance, at last coming to a fence & road. I asked a man some directions when to my surprise he said to me "Why Chaplain, is that you?" It was Hastings with his wagon. I was soon off again & after a good trot of some four miles, reached White Oak Church, where our park of wagons were. The boys unpacked the officers baggage for me & got me all I wanted & being quite glad to see me too & then I set off to return by a different road & reached the bridge about 12 o'clock at night. I can carry on old Zollicoffer all I want & more too. The fellows think my saddle bags quite an institution. It was nearly a week before I had any thing more than my valise & saddle box having been left behind. On reaching the bridge or on crossing near to it, what was my surprise to find infantry, cavelry & artillery all coming over the three bridges. The wounded from the hospital had been all removed over the river during the afternoon, but it did not make us suspect anything. Also, the ammunitions had been coming across but we thought it only an expedient. Col. Seaver told me afterwards that he had suspected something for several days. Well, I now stood & looked at the scene, a scene I would not have but for much. Some told me the 16th N.Y. had already come over & some again said the troops were recrossing at the upper bridges opposite Fredericksburgh. Once I thought I would ride up two miles to the city & see, but then it seemed best not, but I should lose the 16th. I stood looking to the continuous streaming of troops for nearly an hour. Then I finally determined to get across (regardless) of what the guards told me to the contrary, so I rode down to the bridge, when one of them seemed comparatively clear and asked a guard if I could go across. He replied in the negative & directed me to an officer at a distance. Then I told him I was Chaplain of the 16th N.Y. & had gone down to the church some four hours before & now wanted to rejoin my regiment. He hesitates for a moment & then said, moving his hand quick, "Well, go then quick." So, over I went & was soon on the plain beyond. But then came the rub: all was dark & desolate, and on asking a few men standing round a camp fire, they confirmed what I had learned on the other side - that it was a skedaddle. But, oh, so orderly & so well conducted; it was grand. But they told me that all had crossed, they thought & they believed that even the pickets were in & advised me not to go forward, but I thought to myself what was to be done. No one could tell me anything about the 16th; some said one thing & some said another. So, I finally concluded that it was my duty to make the adventure, anyway, so I stepped off old Zollicoffer cantering & slowly over the plain. It was nearly a mile over to where the regiment had been left, and I watched around. But at last I reached the ravine & looked down upon the smouldering camp fires, but saw no men. Then I moved on & finally saw the legs of a man by a fire, but I went slowly down so as to be first sure whether it was friend or foe. He could not see me anyway as it was so intensely dark, so I went on a little way further & then caught sight of the tent of Gen. Franklin. Then I thought all was right again, so I rode down to the tent & an officer was standing in front, who proved to be Col. Russell. I asked him where the 16th was & he said he did not know. He asked me who I was. I told him I was Chaplain of the 16th, when he said, "Chaplain, you had better get back as soon as possible over the river." He said that he was momentarily waiting orders to move. I told him I thought I ought to be with my regiment & would try & see whether they were in the ravine to the right, so I asked him if I could tell Col. Seaver what he had told me, when he said that probably Col. Seaver knew it already. I rode slowly over to the ravine to the right, across the road & creek & to my great satisfaction found the boys ! there. I had some one hold my horse & crawled up with one of the boys to guide me where Col. Seaver lay. He was fast asleep under blankets. The soldier left immediately & I bent down & whispered to Col. Seaver what I had seen & heard. He said it was only what he had been expecting.
          In a few minutes more (perhaps 15) up road young Bartlette, the brother & aide of Gen. Bartlette, with the order to move. We were soon in motion, leaving a corporal & one man to search the ground, lest any man should be left sleeping. But with all the precautions, our poor mail boy we think fell into the hands of the enemy. He slept a little off from the regiment. We marched back in perfect order, that is without any hurry, to the bridges & met the cavelry pickets going out to relieve the infantry pickets, after which they, the cavelry pickets, could come in very quickly. We all went safely across the river, encamping in the woods perhaps a mile beyond it. About 1/2 past one or two o'clock in the morning, the Major & I selected a cozy place & soon were fast asleep under the blankets, to be waked up however shortly, by a shower of rain that came pelting down. We took out our ponchos & covered ourselves up & then slept soundly till morning. In getting ourselves ready, a little maggot from one of the blankets or somewhere else, very impertinently made its way down my back but it soon dried up & we had a fine sleep. Seems to me I am proof against taking cold. Next night, Tuesday after staying there all day, we fixed a fly of a tent (which was all we had) on poles so as to have it go up from the ground at about an angle of 45 degrees, somewhat this way with the fire in front,

& roomy enough for 4 or five of us, No! Come to think of it, this was about a mile from that place, after we had moved on; we had arranged in the last place a hut with blankets, but just as it was finished we moved. Well, in the evening, we all sit down round the fire & had a very pleasant talk which led to a delightful religious conversation till quite late & then we slept soundly till morning. In the early part of that evening, however, I went out with some of the men & had a prayer meeting in the woods. I must say here that old Chaplain Adams of the Maine 5th came very near being taken prisoner. He was behind hand rolling up his blankets & when he started, he took the wrong road, right down to the enemies pickets, but a corporal left behind called after him & thus put him on the right road. Wednesday Morning, Major & I rode out up opposite Fredericksburgh, to make observations with glasses & saw the enemy moving. Heavy columns were moving down the river. The cars were waiting at an opening in the woods, the engine steaming & every evidence of a movement below. Perhaps it was a trick, but we don't know. That night we had our tents up & Thursday morning, Dr. Murphy & I rode down to the old camp ground in the woods above Belle Plain to see the sick. We found them comfortable. Two men had died, Gale & Anders, whom I had mentioned to you before. We gathered them together round a tent where there was a sick corporal who could not leave his tent & had prayers with them, during which some one stole the Dr.'s Flask out of his saddle pockets & my blanket. However, we did not care a great deal. On returning, we had scarcely seated ourselves, before a messenger came from White Oak Church, saying that one of our men had had his leg broken. So we went right back on horseback. I took down ink & paper & pen with me at the Major's suggestion to write a letter for the man if he should so desire it, which he did. He was laying on boughs in a tent & the Dr. found a pillow in which he bound his leg up, & left him more comfortable. That made a 24 mile ride. Friday, we moved up here near White Oak. But I must say that the day before, Thursday, the Dr. & I on our way down, found some soldiers burying two men & as there was no chaplain we dismounted & I performed the service, took their names & the direction of one, that was all we could get. Friday we moved up here, pitched tents & I went out to try to make some seats to sit on.
          Saturday, I cut down a tree & split it up to get wood to make an axe helve & finished it after a fashion, but it was not a very good one. In the latter part of the day & evening I thought of what my sermon would be on the morrow. I have hurried on here on my account for several days for I wish to get this off to you. I am seeing men, man by man, from time to time, Sabbath morning. The regiment was all turned out & arranged on three sides of a square & I preached holding a service of 25 minutes in all: Invocation, one verse of Shining Shore, then read Luke XIII: 18-30. Then prayed, then one verse "Jesus, I my cross have taken," then preach on Luke 13:24 "Strive to enter in the straight gate" Exhalts to gain heaven, I must strive to have the object of the strife to enter into the door (3) that door or gate, a straight gate & no idler gains heaven must strive, obstacles = spiritual sleep & spiritual opposition & objects of strife enter the gate about the door his work save us. Story of old John Maynard. The Peter -- The door or gate -- a straight gate. Admits of nothing but men destitute of every thing but christ's righteousness. No men rich in his own words can enter more than a camel enter the gate of the passenger or eye of the needle at Jerusalem. So, wake up! no longer assume! Strive for the gate & depend only the words of blind & enter the straight gate. Then short prayer. Then one verse of Rock of Ages & benediction. All very attentive & God helped Hall greatly. Appointed a prayer meeting for five o'clock in the hospital tent, but in the afternoon was called down to a funeral of the fourth man of our boys at White Oak Church. The Major & Lieut. Barney & about six of us all together buried him just at dusk; could scarcely see to read. Then returned & met old chaplain Adams here who went in with me to the prayer meeting in the hospital tents. Monday I went all through the tents of company B & in the evening the Major & I took a ride for a mile or two & yesterday, Tuesday, I went with Dr. Purdy as I told you, to Falmouth & saw all I mentioned. I am now sitting on some boughs in the Col's tent opposite the fire place. The Major & an orderly are also writing here. I rose at about 1/4 before 8, took breakfast, then wrote and at half past nine went down to the hospital tents, two very large tents placed end to end, & opening into one another. Then I returned & found the men yet being paid off at the adjutant's tent. I wrote in the Dr.'s tent for some time & then came in here where I now am. We are very comfortably situated & are expecting soon to be moved somewhere near Washington for winter quarters. The Major told me that I joined in time to have experience, that we have had, about as hard a time as they have had, & as eventful as perhaps you will see by these pages, certainly 20 rich days. I have been obliged to write so irregularly that perhaps much may be indistinct but wify can read it, I know & will be interested in every word. I have had so much satisfaction a few days back. My man, Edo, some time ago lost his brother. He is a most excellent man, but his care & sorrow brought on the same complaint as his brother, looseness of the bowel, & he had some six or eight passages daily. At last he told me he would go back with his company & by & by be down by the road side like the rest of them. We talked together late one night over a camp fire. He was utterly disheartened. I found him with his face lowered, in his lap almost, in the midst of the smoke, & my heart ached for him at last, supposing that perhaps better food might help him. I made him turn his rations in to Hastings & have him take our board. Oh! you do not know how thankful the poor man is. He is already almost all right again & cheered up amazingly. Is not that something to be happy for dear wify. He had wasted away for a month back from a man of 160 lbs to about 110 lbs. Now he has color & is doing finely. Now own dear wify, you will see that I have written, but have not, from the circumstances, been able to write quite a daily letter although I have tried lately to do that also. Good by, own one for a little while. I will write if I can daily & also a journal letter from your own ever living Hubby?

          (post script) I have a fragment of an exploded shell from the battle field of Fredericksburgh & an old gun lock as momentos. You can send me by mail all the tracts you choose as printed mater. I have distrib those that have been sent from time to time, the N.Y. Times & a Hartford paper. It will be better for me though, perhaps, to get most of the tracts from Washington. But wify will send me some good ones if she finds them, will own dear wify?

          Love & kisses to dear mother, how welcome her letter was.