Roswell Farnham to Laura

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Camp of 12th. Regt. Vermont Vols.Near Wolf Run Ford on theOccoquan, Va.Jan'y 22d. 1863Thursday EvningDear Laura:

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Your letter of Jan'y 7th. was duly rec'd while in camp at Fairfax Ct. House. We were ordered last Monday afternoon (Jan'y 19th) to be ready the next morning at seven o'clk to move with 24 hours rations. At first we supposed it to be only for picket duty or perhaps guard duty at the station, but we soon learned that we were to leave camp for good & that we were to come to this place. We are now about twelve miles in a straight line south of our old camp. We are also about twelve miles from Dumfries & about thirty from Fredericksburgh.

Mary stayed in camp the morning we left till after the whole Regt. had departed, so that she had the mournful pleasure of seeing us break up camp once in earnest. She is now at Mr. Whiley's, where she will remain till we get somewhat settled here.

Tuesday was a splendid day & the boys marched

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the distance in good spirits in about 4-1/2 hours. The ground was frozen hard & the travelling was very rough. I thought the road from the Ct. House to the station was the worst I ever saw, but from the station to this place beats that all hollow. The road itself was so bad that most of the way the teams turned out of the roads & went in the fields & thro' the woods. We were sent down here with the 13th. Regt. & a battery which has not yet got here, all in command of Col. Blunt, to guard the Ford at this place. We found an old encampment, left the same morning by the 3d. Wisconsin in which we have made ourselves as comfortable as circumstances would allow We had but six teams - Three of those had to draw provisions & three camp equipage. Not a third of our tents were brought & not half of them are here yet. My tent is not here. Maj. Kingsly & I have put the fly of his tent, (that is a sort of extra roof) over an old shanty & we have stayed in it, altho' the water has run in above & below. It rained hard Tuesday night & has rained ever since. The roads are now almost impassable. We have a hard time to get enough provision forward, without trying to get our tents. The men have their shelter tents which they brought with them. With those they

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make themselves comfortable in the old shanties. They are making stockades for their tents as fast as possible so when they get here we shall be in camp at once. The old shanties in which we now are have no roofs except the boys shelter tents.

We are now at the front, that is there are no troops between us & the rebel forces. They are said to have a force at Brentsville about ten miles from here in the direction of Warrenton. To protect us we have the Occoquan River, now, not fordable for cavalry infantry & hardly so for cavalry. There are no bridges here in this country except on the turnpikes. When the river goes down we shall depend upon our pickets to apprize us of the approach of danger. I will explain to you what pickets are. About half a mile in front of us, within half rifle shot of the river, are posted two companies of infantry. They keep out a dozen or twenty sentinels on the lookout night & day to watch the approach of troops from that direction. Still nearer the river are the cavalry pickets, consisting of one, two or three horsemen who watch all the roads & especially the fords to warn the infantry of the approach of the enemy. There are cavalry pickets upon every road

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from Dumfries to Poolesville a distance of a hundred miles. Inside of this cavalry picket & in our rear is a line of infantry pickets completely encircling the city of Washington so that no person can pass in or out by day without a pass, or by night without the countersign. Should the rebels attempt to cross the ford, our infantry pickets would resist their attempt till we came up to their assistance.

Tell Charlie Harding that I rec'd three Auroras last night from him. I should be glad to hear by letter. Give my best regards Mr. & Mrs. Strickland & others that enquire.

Young Stratton of Fairlee, that we left sick at Fairfax of Small Pox, died yesterday. When we left we understood that he was getting better. Quite a number have been exposed but it is not yet time for them to be sick. I hope we shall not have many cases for we are not very well situated here to take care of sick men. Our Bradford boys are most of them pretty well.

Enclosed I send you an order for three dollars which Mr. Blodgett will probably give you the money on. Write soon & direct as usual. Let me know whether you get the money on this.

Your affect. brothRoswell Farnham