Joseph Rutherford to [Hannah Rutherford]
I have just received your very kind letter, and it came in very good time for I
was feeling a little down in the mouth, though not sick. The fact is my
thanksgiving dinner was a little too much for me, not the dinner particularly
but the getting of it up. Last monday morning I started for Washington to
purchase the things mindful for our dinner. I got them about 2 P.M. I had John
Piper (who by the way is my orderly) with me to bring
home 2 ambulances which with all the efforts I could make all the afternoon I
could not get. The runing about with the vexation I experienced I was very tired
when night came The next morning I ransacked the markets bought my stuff and had
it [ ] for camp by 11 oclock Then I got my
dinner jumped on my horse and was in camp before supper time, and I can tell you
it was no small feat. The next day I had to see to the cooking of the [ ]. But I had some help that you would not
think of, yes some ladies help. Mrs Col Jewett and two of
our Captains wives. They took hold and stuffed the turkeys made 5 chicken pies a
heap of apple pies some tarts and washing pies. You can judge what a task I had
when I tell you that we seated over 60 at our table, and the whole arrangement
was left to me and the success of the dinner depended upon the arrangments, and
let me tell you that it was a success. We had every thing to make it pleasant,
and home like, and the remark was often made while we were at the table,
what our wives would think to see us faring so sumptuously when in the camp." Every thing passed off in the greatest hurry and as strange as it may seem, there was not a drop of liquor of any kind and There were no speeches, but quite a number of toasts. So you see my dear wife that your kind wish was fully gratified.
I must confess that one thing that has made me a little down is a strong desire to see you all, another is the weather is my gloomy, snow seem 6 inches deep and the wind blowing as you never saw it blow. It looks now as though we were well fixed in our winter quarters, but there is no telling what may take plan. So uncertain is our position that I do not think of going to bed without having everything at hand for a sudden march. I have all my blankets, change of shirts, towels socks &c so I can pack [ ] and strap them to my saddle in 15 minutes time.
So you have arranged for building a house. It meets my unqualified approval. I
think you have done much better than I could have done. You know you could
always make a better trade than I could. The fact is my business qualities are
very limited. I can do the work just as well as any body but the faulty of
making it pay I never had, and that is one reason I shall do better in the army
when I have but one paymaster and some pay at that, than I can at civil
practice. But I am learning lessons here that will be of great advantage to me
when I can have the army in this respect. My former fears of giving offers and
being easy are fast disappearing. I am learning the habit of commanding
instead of asking for my nights, at the same time men are learning to obey. For instance although John Piper is my 'orderly' he more comes into my tent without touching his cap or taking it off, nor takes a seat without being asked. Yet he does not feel he looses any dignity by so doing. It is the force of discipline. Just see, a man came up to the sick call yesterday morning that had been caring up for 2 months - and had got well enough to do duty. I told he must go to duty I could excuse him no longer. He partly answered I'll go to the guard house find. Now what do you think I done? I sent him to the guard house quicker than he had traveled for some time and told him that another word of importance would cause him to carry a log of wood all day. I saw him this morning just after he came out, and asked him if he was ready for duty? He politely touched his cap and said "I am Sir". Now this man will never answer me so again, nor any who witnessed the chastiment. I have learned what a good calm dignity is worth. I must tell you a bit of camp near. The night of the 3d inst some 8 or 10 men of Co K Capt Steele. took it into their heads that they must have some turkeys and chickens for thanksgiving After the camp was quiet they started out and went to a farm house to steal their gun and told the man if he interfered they would shoot him &c &c &c Will they come well loaded. Yesterday he entered a complaint to our Col. and described the men so accurately that the Col recognized there at once and to-day they were arrested and brought before the Col - one was that Vit Ball of West Derby and another that shitter make of a Murk both of them officers, and the Col told me at supper time that he should put them through, which means a good deal.
The worst feature in the whole matter is that Capt Steele tried to sumon them, and it is the general optimism that he was knowing to fact at the time and encouraged it as he has told contradicting stories about the matter. If it is proved he is concerned in the least it will go hard with him. For his Mothers sake I hope that he may prove himself innocent. He is not a for his slackness in dicipline. This is confidintial. I have taken up nearly all my sheet with my gossip.
As regards the [ ] Mr Hull has burned his fingers badly, for he sold the note which I gave him to Childs and I paid Child up on the note all but 500$ - I will write to [ ] about the matter and put the scamp down the road. As to the Waggon I want it to go to Childs again, for it was a d- d mean thing any how, and they both know it. We did expect to be paid off this week but saturday night finds us penny less as usual.
Dec 9th I wish you could see me to day. You would hardly know me. I have the jaundice most effectually- and the reason I have not finished this before is because I did feel able. For the first time since I joined my Regt I am off duty. My [ ] is not a dangerous one but very disagreable. my skin is so yellow that it stains my shirt. I am a beauty. I can eat nothing but baked apples and [ ]. This vile makes my hair very dull, and you must not expect any thing from me for a few days. I will keep you posted as to my health. My "nigger" is sick and going to die. George Newcomb is very low - I have telegraphed for his Father.
Remember me to our dear children, and much love to your dear self.
Your affectionate husbandJ. C. Rutherford