Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

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Camp Butler, Newport News, VaTuesday Evening, July 23d, 1861My dear wife:

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I got no letter from you tonight, but I have no reason to complain, as I have heard from you nearly every day. I wrote you Sunday evening that we had just rec'd an order to be ready to move within three days. None of us knew what the order meant, whether for home, for ditching or for fighting. We began to get things ready for a march. Packed such things as we did not want, ready to send to the fort and gradually got things into shape.

Tonight however the disastrous news from Manassas Junction puts a new face upon matters and we are told that we shall not leave here until we get ready to go to Vermont. That we shall do by the second of Aug. Dr. Wainwright of the N. Y. 4th told me that he had seen an order from the Secretary of War, ordering three months regiments to be taken home in season to be mustered out of service by the expiration of the three months for which they were received. We shall have to start from here by the second to get mustered out by the 8th. or 9th. If you should happen to be sick while we are there you can telegraph and I can come home. But I hope that will not happen till

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after I see Bradford. We are all talking about going home and begin to think a good deal of it.

We have had the last of our scouting and I shall keep safe within camp.

Yesterday a young man from the Woodstock Company who got past the lines without leave from the Col. was out riding and got shot. Some men who were out foraging found his body in the road and brought him home. He had seven buck shot in his left side and arm, one of which penetrated deeply and caused his death. A Lieut. Becker who was with him, was thrown from his mule, but he got into the woods and escaped. This event created a good deal of excitement in camp, and several companies went out at once to the scene of the murder, for it can be called little less, as Whitney was entirely unarmed. Lieut. Becker said that he saw no one, but that on the firing his mule stumbled as though wounded and threw him. Whitney's remains were sent home today in a metallic coffin.

Yesterday a rebel sloop run past us up the river. She went the other side the bar so that she was out of reach of the steamer's guns, and the gunners of the rifled cannon did not get orders to fire until she was almost out of range. They fired four times but did not hit her altho' she was within reach. She must have been three miles

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distant. She changed her course pretty quick after seeing that our first shot went over her.

Last night was the worst night that we have experienced. We had rain storm of at least six hours duration with a most violent wind. Some of the men were driven from their tents. They were completely flooded with several inches of water in them. They had to leave and take up such shelter as they could find.

None of the boys are now so sick but they could get home if we could start soon.

Mrs. Stone, the Chaplain's wife, came up with him Saturday and slept in a tent last night. I guess she got enough of camp life.

I wrote to Mr. Stebbins a few days since in regard to the settlement of father's estate. I wish you would write me whether he has received the letter or not, and what is done.

I had a letter from Blakely tonight saying that he should try to get a chance to report for some of the N. Y. troops Papers & if he could should come back here.

You must have good courage for the next few days and we shall be in Vermont. Write as often as you can and remember me to all our friends.

If I think of anything more to write I will add a line in the morning.

Your affectionate husbandRoswell Farnham