Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

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Camp Douglas Chicago Ills Feb 22Dear Maria

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I will now write you an- other of my dry letters for nothing transpires worth writing and so I have but little material of course they and dry I have just been to dinner of buckwheats and find I am able to make way with my share of them and I am still very fleshy. You say you hope it is not by drinking that I have become so fleshy. When I was unwell for a few days about a month ago, the Doctor advised me to drink ale every day and so I have and I think it keeps me in a better state of health than I could enjoy otherwise and I think so long as I stay I this climate it is best for me to use it, but I use it temperately and have no fear of becoming so habit- uated to it as to be unable to quit it at any time. To day is very cold and the wind is blowing perfect gale and as there is a light snow on the ground it is flying in every direction and the boys are having a hard time on guard and they complain bitterly because they are obliged to go on so often, and many of them have got very severe colds and some are getting to be quite sick and quite a number have lost their voices but none of my Co. Lieut Jewett is very hoarse and it is with an effort that he can talk at all. he has just got a letter from his wife

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and he is now reading it and is expecting to find that some of his folks are dead. I got the letter from the office and before giving it to him I painted it around with ink and made it like a mourning envelope, and his eyes stuck out when he first saw it. now he has smelt the rat and the boys are having quite laugh at him to think how he was fooled We have to make a little fun occasionally some way and sometimes at someones expense. for without we had something of that kind to enliven our spirits in this monotonous camp life, we would all rust out. We sing considerable and we think we do justice to the pieces we sing my favorite is (“Brave Boys are they”) but the rebels generally leave when we commence our patriotic songs and keep clear of our Barracks This morning quite an intelegent Rebel came into my room and I had a long talk with him he was very strongly attached to the South and said he would sooner cut his throat than take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, but he says we are a better set of fellows up here than he ever supposed he dont see why we are not all just alike- I hear that the small pox is raging in Swanton and that Mrs Meigs has got it if that is so it will not be very pleasant for you living so near to them but I hope you will keep the children from taking

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it but it will be almost a wonder if others dont take it their neighbors are so close by. How does your cold get along I hope you will not be sick and me away for I dont know what I would do. I wrote mother yesterday and hope to hear from her soon. I am going to attend Court Martial tomorrow again as we have some pretty hard cases, I presume we will not get through for some time to come one of my men is still confined for trying to persuade others to desert with him and I think he will be severely dealt with. I think Miss Mary Brayton was very kind and showed good judgement in giving what she did and at the time she did and from all I see and hear I think you are blessed with many kind friends in Swanton and I am not sure but you will like there better than in Danby How does Hattie get along is she contented and is she attending school now. I think Carrie does finely and I shall have to answer her letter soon. Poor Fred he thinks of me and would be as glad to see me no doubt as you would and I hope I may be permitted to again return to my dear little family and make them glad as well as myself and that before long. Kiss the little ones and have Carrie write again, There is no use telling you to write for I know you will

Truly Your Aff Hus V.G. Barney