Mary E. Farnham to Henry
You do not usually have to wait long for an answer to your letters. But this time
I had five or more to answer, so did not answer yours first. I have written
Ezekiel and Hattie this week. And this evening have received a letter from
Hattie. She is well and also is Jennie & babies, wants me to be sure and
visit them this spring, but I cannot as I am stopping on the Occoquan longer
than I intended to. There is no move here at present, and any time there should
be I should leave here immediately. I cannot impede or hasten their movements.
Col. F. thinks I have been here so long, he shall be lonely to have me leave. So
I keep staying a day longer. I think every day I will go into Washington. This
place is a very important point to be held in the defence of Washington, and is
on the extreme front. For the Rebels patrol come very near us. Our pickets two
nights ago were fired into a short distance from here. Also some five were taken
a week ago nearly. We within a week past have taken a Rebel Major & three
privates who were within our lines. Last Saturday our Scouts were fired into and
one Cavalry man shot who has since died. So both Regts.
were under arms for hours, expecting the enemy, but they did not appear. We have had two lately and we are very cautious now, for there is a report that Rebel Cavalry are within our lines.
Two days ago we heard the cannonading at Kelly's Ford when our Cavalry crossed
over and they had an engagement, of which I presume you have seen an account.
The firing was quite rapid for some time. I think they kept it up five hours. We
knew by the sound that it was an engagement. The men fought with their Sabres,
but the cannonading was kept up to protect them while crossing the River which
is quite wide there and only one could ford it at a time. We have not heard the
number killed only that our men drove them back. We do not see many days cole
without something to remind us of the Rebs, constant
alarms. So the people at home will have the pleasure now of trying the southern climate with their wives. I am very glad to have them just try
it. All I regret is that some of the old men over forty-five are not
obliged to come. This is one of the worst and most unhealthy places we have yet
been in. Nine men have died in two weeks, and three in one twelve hours. Stevens
Dr Henry Dickey, C. C. Carpenter have died in the Bradford Co. And some twenty
more are off duty. But none but what they think will recover. Benton is much
better. He is as hungry as can be. Just beginning to eat. Hubbard John I think
is his name is sick, but not very. Also is Wright and
quite a number more are unwell. Capt Chamberlin is much better. I sent him, and two others some Jelly today. I might work hard all the time for these poor boys. I feel as though I would do much more, but you know I am not strong. Mrs. Peach does a good deal for them. I tell you, Henry, it is war here indeed in these Hospitals. They are not sick but a short time some of them. Surgeon Conn thinks it is bad water. I do not allow myself to drink much of anything.
Col. Blunt is in command of the Brigade, and his Head Quarters are at the Station. Col. F. takes his place, and has to work hard. Have orders coming in continually, and two Orderleys in the front part of this tent who are always near to wait upon all who come. Which makes us rather crowded.
Friday Morning: I had so many calls last evening that I did not find time to
finish my letter. It is snowing hard this morning. I shall be glad when this
weather is over. Rain or snow continually, which makes it very unpleasant. Yet I
have had one pleasant ride this week over to Woodyard's Ford, where the
Pennsilvanians are stationed. It was over a very muddy rough road. We were
obliged to hold back the pines so to keep them from brushing us off from our
horses. You ought to see what these trained horses will go through. You can only
see a path but the trees or branches overhead are so thick that you can not
see through them. And they do not mind it, but brush straight through. We went down the steepest hills and then at the bottom would be a brook to wade through. My horse always will stop in the middle of every stream, so I have to whip him through. He is a horse Col. F. has bought lately. A well trained animal, and not very handsome. Burnnie is getting better but it will be many weeks before he will be well enough to use. All young horses have the horse distemper here. That horse William Wallace brought out is dead. Ros lost some on him, but am in hopes to make it up on this last horse. William is some better himself, but is quite sick now. I do not know any one who feels very well. We have such bad weather.
I suppose by this time you have got into your regular hours for study, and other duties. I am in hopes I shall hear from you soon. Write me soon and direct as usual For I shall be in Washington if not here, till I see Ezekiel. Remember me to Marshal Stebbens. I think you might enjoy yourselves very well there. There is plenty of time now for you to write Hattie, Zeke and I. Write soon from your Sister
Mary E. Farnham