Roswell Farnham to Laura

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Camp of Vermont 12th Regt.Near Fairfax Ct. House, Va.Dec. 31st 1862Sister Laura:

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Your letter mailed the 28th rec'd tonight. We are still in our camp here but how long we shall be I dont know for we have been threatened by the rebels for the last three or four days & are now under orders to be ready to march at a moments notice with two days rations. My trunks are all packed & every thing lies ready for moving instantly.

Mary is still boarding at Mr. Whiley's - She has not yet stopped in camp as it is hardly safe & it will not do for me to be absent for we are liable to be called at any time.

We had quite an excitement & a little fight the other night about a mile from here. Mary did not sleep much thro' the night I reckon. Our Regt. was ordered out Sunday evening while Mary was here, & we left while she was still in camp. Col. Blunt was gone to Fairfax Seminary about eighteen miles from here & the command of the Regt. devolved upon me. We marched up to the Court House & then took the road o Washington till we came to a redoubt & some rifle pits about

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a mile beyond the Ct. House. Just before we were posted I learned for the first time that a large force of rebel cavalry was expected down the road towards us. A battery of artillery was posted in the road, the 12th. Regt. on the right, the 13th. on the left & the 14th in the rear. Two companies of the 12th. were thrown forward as skirmishers - Cos. B. & G. from Woodstock and Brandon. It was a beautiful night but rather cold. The boys were as calm as you please. There was a great deal of riding backwards & forwards by aids & orderlies - just enough going on to keep the boys rather excited when some scouts came rushing in saying that they had been chased by the rebels. The command was given at once to load. But before the men had loaded their pieces we heard a yell & then a volley in the woods where the skirmishers were stationed. A body of rebel cavalry had charged upon the picket set in the road by the skirmishers. As the rebels started the boys ran into the woods & at the same moment our men fired. The rebels took themselves out of the way as fast as possible. They left two dead horses in the road & we have since learned that quite a number were wounded. Of course we expected the full force upon us at once. The boys were still & finished their loading.

The main body came up to within about three quarters of a mile of us & set the woods on fire.

Gen. Stoughton ordered some men to go out & re

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connoitre. A sergeant & a few men started from Co. G. of the 12th & the sergt. tied his handkerchief to his gun & walked boldly into the rebel camp. They asked him who he was & what he wanted - He told them he was a Union Soldier & wanted to know whether they were friends or foes - After conferring with their higher officers the sergt. was told that the Genl. would communicate with our forces in the morning - Stoughton concluded not to wait till morning but threw a few shells among them & they moved.

We remained in our position a couple of hours longer when I was ordered to take the 12th. on the double quick thro' the town to the Chantilly road. The boys hurried down to the Ct. Hourse. I reported to the Genl. & he told me that he had heard from the enemy between there & Chantilly - The latter place is only four miles from the Ct. House - and directed me to post the 12th so as to command the road. We moved out beyond the village, a battery accompanying us, and posted ourselves in a position to control the road completely & at the same time we were almost entirely safe from a cavalry charge - We waited there rather impatiently till morning - & marched into camp about six o'clock -

I went over to see Mary & took breakfast with her - She & Mrs. Blunt had not slept much - The firing had caused them a great deal of anxiety. Mary thinks she is seeing enough of war.

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The cavalry was under Genl Stuart & was two or three thousand strong - They passed around us, but we, not having any cavalry, could do nothing with them.

They have gone up towards Harper's Ferry, it is said.

Since I have commenced writing here I learn that Jackson with twelve thousand men is on the way here. He crossed the Occoquan 20 miles from here at 11 o'clk today. I expected that the Rebels would make some demonstration about New Years to offset the Presidents Proclamation.

We may have an engagement tomorrow or next day & it may be that Jackson is only making a feint & intends to move in some other direction.

Tell Charlie Harding that I have written him one or two letters since I have heard from him -

I had a letter from Col. Andross last night.

I intended to write a long letter to Charlie about our affair the other night but have not had time.

I should have added that the Rebs. run the telegraph at Burks station two or three hours & arranged some matters to suit themselves. We were cut off from Washington about 18 hours - Col. Blunt got home safely the next day -

Remember me to all who enquire -

Write to Mary again & direct to me.

Yours trulyRoswell Farnham