Roswell Farnham to Laura
Your letter of June 16th. was received today. I am sorry to hear of the death of
Mary Wingate. Saturday Morning June 20 '63 I should be
glad to have Priscilla make usse of a portion of Cy's lot if she desires it
& the terms ifshall be satisfactory to her. When I get home I will
have something done about a stone for Ann. Cyrus was a strange fellow. He showed
me once, when I was in New York, a design for a monument for Ann that he had
either ordered or was intending to order. I wonder, when he was prosperous, that
he never did it. - If I have time I will write to Priscilla myself - I hope you
have written, telling her that she can use the lot - How soon the dead are
forgotten! At home they are forgotten soon enough, even with every effort to
preserve their memory, but here in war men die & are buried where they fell
& no one remembers them. There is a grave just back of my tent, not ten feet
from it. No one knows whose it is. There is no head board, - nothing of the
kind, just two sticks stuck into the ground, one at each end -
Just in the rear of the Chaplain's tent is also a grave with a rude headstone on which some friend has cut the words "J. R. LARKIN, Aug. 8, 1861." He was probably a rebel as they held this country at that time. The grave back of my tent was probably made about the same time. One can hardly ride anywhere without finding graves & not more than one in three has any mark to indicate who lies buried in them. On battle fields men are not buried. They are simply covered with earth where they fall. On Bull Run the other day we found a large number from whom the rain had washed the earth, & skulls & feeet lay bare to the weather. One man fell upon his face and was covered with earth in that position. Both feet were exposed. His stockings were still whole. I presume some such instance as this gave rise to the story that the rebels buried our men with their faces downward. Of course they were buried or covered with their clothes on. I saw one bony hand thrust out from beneath the scanty covereing still in the coatsleeve. Dr. Nichols, out a brass plate such as soldiers wear (U. S.) from a waist belt, still around a man's body. The Adj't. opened a cartridge box which was fastened to a body in its grave, or rather covered upon the surface of the earth. I picked a bullet from the top of a grave where the
woolen shirt of the occupant was exposed to the air. Not a mark of any kind indicated who had given up his life for his country in hundreds of instances on that fatal field. The rebels who held the field had buried their men with more care. The dead of the Vermont Second, the only Vt. Regt. in the fight, were all buried together in one trench, side by side. Col. Randall, who was with us pointed out the position of things. He was a Captain in the 2d. Life is of small account in the army. In the hasty move that has been made in the past week many poor soldiers have fallen out of the ranks through exhaustion & died by the roadside & been buried where they lay. It is horrible to think of, & I would not write these things, but I know that there are thousands at home that know nothing about the horrors of war. Six men died from the Sixth Corps the day they crossed at Wolf Run Shoals. The horrors of the battle field are hardly equal to the horrors of a march in such weather as we had during the past week.
How few at home realize the privation of the private soldier in an active
campaign. Those who have been out to visit us during the past winter know
nothing about it. On the march the private must carry everything with him. He
carries his gun, cartridge box with 40 rounds, 20 rounds in his
pockets, canteen with a quart of water, haversack with from three to seven days rations of hard bread, salt pork, coffee & sugar, overcoat, woolen blanket, rubber blanket, knapsack with change of clothing &c. Generally the boys do not carry so much this weather. They throw away either their overcoat or blanket & carry but little in their knapsacks. In addition this each man carries half a shelter tent - made of cotton drilling & about as big as a sheet. Two men button their half tents together & set them up on poles that they cut or on their guns. They will keep the sun & rain off to some extent, but our friends at home would think they had come to pretty narrow quarters if they had to crawl into their residence on hands and knees. Among the old troops when on the march each man cooks for himself. They all carry pint dippers in which they make their coffee. They broil their pork on a stick & eat hard bread with it. Sometimes a man will carry along a light fry pan & fry his hard tack in the pork gravy. And all this these brave men endure without a murmur - Yes, more - wounds and death. The old Vermont Brigade is full of hope & courage & ready to meet the rebels anywhere in an equal field. They all feel glad that Lee has left Fredericksburgh & say they can whip him in the open field.
The Col. has just told me that we are to move to the Shoals tomorrow. Love to all.