Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]
I received your letter in due time, and should have answered it before, but for this reason - viz The day I received it there was a great battle going on but 14 miles from here - and we were in a great flurry lest we should be ordered to the battle field, and still we are under some excitement as the battle is still raging. Ever since last Friday our ears have been ringing with the terrific roar of the deadly canon. Last night we could hear the boom of artilery till after eleven oclock, and it is the music that has lulled me to sleep every night this week. I you will look upon the map you will see about when we are and how near we lay to the battle field. Leesburgh was the stem of the first action, or first days fighting. We are but 11 miles from Leesburgh down the river. As the battle went on from day to day it did not received much from us though the field of action changed but took a sort of [ ] down the river. To day the firing has been more distant. We have no means of knowing what the result of the fighting has been. So much for the war.
You cannot know how much happiness it gives me to learn of the good health of you
and the children. It makes me cheerful and happy, and I go to me duties every
morning with an elasity that surprises myself. How many times I have wished that
you could see me when I attend to the "Surgeons call" Every morning, There will
come up to the "Call" from 70. to 100 men to be examined to be excused from
duty, and you may be assured that I have my patience sorely tried with some of
the scamps. I talk to them sometimes in such a manner
that you would think that I had a heart of stone. Some are so nasty that they
are very offensive, others are miserable shirks.
language is not over refined. Then again I usually get eloquent. Why men often come to me that were examplary men at home for [ ] and [ ] of dress - so nasty that you cannot tell the original color of their hands - ears looking like hogs so full of filth are they, cloths unbrushed, nasty shirts on, and their bodies completely covered with lice. Sick men will be sick and it is nothing but their complete indifferance to personal cleanliness that makes them sick. We are having an epidemic of Typhoid fever in our camp just now and hair lost some 13 or 14 men in ad. not a bad mortality.
I have got my winter quarters nearly finished and a nicer and more cozy place is
not to be found in this section, a number of the officers have been in to day to
look at them and have gone to work to build them something like mind. Perhaps it
would interest you some to know how I am fixed. In the first plan I have a tent
at the back of it I have built a "log cabin" just the size of the tent. We are
located on the side of a hill in a pine grove, therefore in order to get my
cabin floor on a boat with the tent I had todig into the side hill so when I got
it down there nothing but the roof near the whole length if it above ground. I
have a window in the gable and which face directly north. We cant buy anything
here without paying four times what it is worth therefore thing come into camp
very mistriously. When even I have wanted any thing I would simply say in the
presence of some of the soldiers that I wish I had some boards to make a floor
of, or a window for my cabin, or any thing else I might mention, and the next
morning I am very sure to find the media articles laying beofre my tenet, and
before night some of them came and offer to do what work I want done. If any
officer asks where another gets any thing he forfits a bottle
of Whisky, therefore no questions are asked except, is there any more where that came from? There is great variety of feeling among the officers of our regiment, especially the Field & Staff. But this is a discussion. Let us return to the cabin. I have no door to the cabin, but in order to get into it I have riped open a [ ] in the back of the tent, which gives me a house with two rooms in it, I have set up my stove in one corner of the cabin a wash stand in another my bed in another the bookcase & table in the other, in fact it is our bed room (Dr Clark tents with me. In the front room we keep our trunks saddles and bridles, have lounge when we can it or lay down and when "Moses the Moor" as we call my darky sleeps at night. The stove warms both rooms sufficiently for comfort. The roof is made of cloth. This is a plan of my Mary Cand home.
As I write this the rain is pattering smartly upon the roof. The weather quite warm day times but chilly nights - for two nights part we have had a white fort.
We have a great note on of Lieut Col. He has a man that is remarkable for nothing
but her enormous belly - and we often leave him about his man bring with fole.
Last Monday we had a review by the Brigader General, and we were all out in full
uniform and mounted, and I must say that we made a very fine appearance, and
in course of the review the Field & Staff
officers happened to be all together and feeling well, and some of war remarking
about the nuttal of our horse, where of course the Lieut Cols horse had to come
in for a shoe. It was too good an opportunity for me to let slip - for a joke on
him - and I asked him if he did forage for two hours. You can imagine the effect
it had on the crowd. Nov 6th. I have got seated again in my log cabin to finish
this letter. When I am about day times
I think of a thousand things I want to write, but when I get ready to write they are all gone.
I am going to Washington the first chance I can get & see if I cant get some pay. When I do get it I shall send home all I get expect what I shall need for my necessary expenses.
You cannot imagine how happy it makes me to read your letters when they speak of how healthy our children are, and what vivid pictures of home happiness I paint in my mind after reading them. If God will but spare them to us till I can see them again my cap of happiness will be in a [ ] full. How often I think of our dear Daughter Helen and how I wish she could be here with me, but that cannot be. But would not Jacob enjoy the air and confusion of [ ] away? How he would enjoy the sound of the fife & drum, the marching of the men and parade of muster that we have every day. I tell you as familiar as this thing is to me I were see it but I wish my soldier boy was with me. Tell Kittie that I see most every day some little girls that are about as big as she is just as black as papias old hat, they look so cuning with their white teeth sharp black eyes. How often I think of how little yours were between my legs and clung to me when I was home from Brattleboro. I tell you those little [ ] of home are green spots in my money and are powerfed magnets that are constantly drawing my thoughts to you and the children. If it were not for there I do not think I could so willingly ensue the many hardships incident to the are army in the field, pillow my head may a night on the cold earth and eat much food as you would think not fit for any thing to eat yest it is good and holesome. But this is only when we are on marches. remember me to our friends &c Kiss the children for me. Love to yourself
Ever thineJ. C. Rutherford