Salmon Dutton to John Wolcott Phelps
I write at this time to enquire if you have appointed your "Aides de Camp"? If not to tender you my services in that Capacity.
I have since the 23d ult. acted as "Aide" to Gen Smith and am now acting in that
capacity; and I will explain how. I came to be thus situated. Upon my return home
after our Regt. was mustered out I paid at Brattleboro Vt. in accordance with your
advice. I went to St. Johnsbury & tendered my services to Gov. Fairbanks. While
"en route" I rec'd a Telegram from Mr. Proctor (a brother-in law) who is Gen. Smiths
Brigade Q. Master, asking me to come immediately to Camp Lyon D. C. as by so doing I
could have the appointment of Adjutant of the 3d Vt. Reg. there encamped as Mr. Blunt
the former Adjt. was acting Brigade Commissary & daily expected his commission
& appointment which rec'd, I would be installed in his place. I proceeded to St.
Johnsbury & showed the Telegram to the Gov. who gave me
a letter to Gen. Smith asking my appointment as Mr. Blunt's successor. Having spent two days at home, I started for Camp Lyon & having arrived, reported myself to Gen Smith, who by the way, ordered the Telegram sent me- who informed me that my appointment as Adjt. was only a matter of time, & that in the mean time, I would act as his "Aide". In that capacity I acted to the best of my ability, mounting the Brigade Picket guard, and doing other business pertaining to the post of aide while at Camp Lyon. Tuesday Evening the 3d inst. an advance was made to this place during which I acted as Gen. Smith's Aide carrying orders to the various Regiments comprising the advancing column. Since then I have worked night & day being in the Saddle most of the time. Before we left Camp Lyon I suggested to the Gen. my appointment as one of his "aides" When I was informed that he had committed himself to two Gentlemen to fill the possition. I am now only waiting the arrival of Mr Blunt's papers to commence the duties of Adj't but I would prefer the post of "Aide" to that of "Adj't" the Rank being the same the pay of the one, one dollar per month more than the other, which of course amounts to nothing. On the other hand you are aware how slow is the process in the army, especially at this time of transacting this species of business & as I have been two weeks on duty
without pay, the prospects so promising for an onward movement, & not knowing where I may be in forty eight hours perhaps wounded & maimed for life that I feel some little solicitude for my future. I have been offered the Captaincy of a Co. in the 3d Vt Reg. also recruiting papers from Gov. Fairbanks both which I refused as in very truth I felt - myself to inexperienced to take command of a Company. For these several reasons, I come to you Gen. Phelps tendering you my services, knowing that you can judge my ability to perform the duties & I would further more ask your advice as to what cours I had best pursue feeling that you will advise me, if at all, wisely. What troubles me, is the uncertainty. I know not when Mr Blunt will receive his papers, until then I do not wish to commence the duties of Adjt. which by the way I performed from the time we left Newport News until mustered out of U.S. Service & as this command is now situated, appointments, you are well aware, are of little consequence. I would be most happy to act as one of your "Aides" if you have not appointed them & see fit to appoint - pledging you my best endeavors to do my duty to you, & to my Country.
In conclusion I may say & of that if at all you will remember me as Cap. Tuttles 2d Lieut. & if you see fit to respond to this, you will direct to Care of Gen. Wm. F. Smith.
As you may be interested General
to know our strength I will give you some details. Our whole force numbers some 7000 troops. There are two Vt. Regts. 2d & 3d. Wisconsin 2d & 5th Maine 6th N.Y. 33d & 79th Indianna 19th Col. Barker's Regt. [ ] Regt, under Col. Barker's command. Three companies of Artilery, Three companies of Cavalry.
They are rapidly erecting entrenchments & batteries. An order was rec'd from Maj. Gen. McClellan last eve that tents for this Command would be dispensed with until further orders. Gen King is in command at Camp Lyon & from what I have seen I judge it quite probable that he will soon take command here, & this Brigade will make another advance. The troops are in fine spirits & in as good disciplined state as our Volunteer Army will average, & several Regts much better. The Cavalry Number 216 & are said to be well drilled. Last night was a watchful one, for this command as an attack was most certainly expected, as troops at Manassas Junction were on the march, but as their Tents were Struck it seems probable their movement was in another direction. But I may close, begging your pardon for this long & unimportant letter.
With much respect I remain
your obdt servant.Salmon Dutton