A good war-date Union soldier’s letter, 4pp. 8vo., written by Pvt. Harlan P. Martin, Co. E, 123rd New York Vols., Stafford Court House, Va., Mar. 19, 1863 to his mother:
Camp near Stafford Court House, Va.
Thursday, March 19th 1863
Yours of the 8th inst. came to hand safe & sound and I was very glad to hear from you. I am well at present. Since we moved to our new camp, there has been very little sickness in the regiment. It was never better.
Our Division was reviewed today by General Hooker. I was disappointed in his looks. He did not look a bit as I thought he would. He looks like some old farmer or deacon. He looks as if he had been out sucking blood where they have killed cattle. He rode a nice white horse and rode like the wind. He was not dressed over and above well but very plain. He was not dressed as well or half as gaudy as some of our brigadier generals. He wore an old slouch hat and rest to correspond.
You said that a telegraph dispatch had come to Hartford that our regiment had been cut to pieces by rebel cavalry. Now it is all news to me. In the first place, I did not ]know] that the telegraph run through to Hartford. Pray [tell me] when was it done. In the second place, I never saw a wild rebel in my life — that is, a free one. To be sure I have seen prisoners, but that is all. We have been routed out a number of nights by the long roll but nothing has happened beyond that to wear our domestic happiness. But I suppose before long — a few weeks at the least — that we will have to face the batteries at Fredericksburg. There is nothing of interest transpiring at present.
The weather is very fair now and the ground is fast drying up. I wrote you a letter about a week ago. I got the pills. Why didn’t you send the Ledgers? I wish you [to] send me 25 cts worth of stamps and some 1 cent stamps also. I wish you would send two or three more fish hooks. I have heard nothing of either Ed or Billy Warner since they left.
Sunday, March 22nd
I just come in off from picket this morning and had rather a rough time of it as it snowed and rained all the time. There is nothing new — only it stormed the two past days with a fall of about two inches of snow. The pills don’t seem to do me any good. I have taken nearly the whole of them. I believe it is the itch I have got and I wished you would make me some itch ointment and send it to me as soon as you get this without any delay. A little will do and you can send it in a newspaper.
We heard today by a fellow in the Granville company that Ed and Billy [Warner] was caught. ¹ He just got home from there on a furlough. Pete’s time was up last night but he has not got back yet. ² What is Aleck driving at now-a-days? Does Andover [?] make his appearance around? Tell John that I want him to write. I must draw to a close. Write soon and write the news. So farewell.
— Harlan P. Martin
¹ Edmund Warner enlisted at age 35 in August 1862 at Granville as a private in Co. K. He deserted on 22 January 1863. William H. Warner enlisted at age 22 in August 1862 at Hartford as a private in Co. E. He deserted on 22 January 1863 near Dumfries, Virginia.
² This was probably Peter Boushe who enlisted at age 25 at Hartford as a private in Co. E.