Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

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Miss M. J. Spafford
Upper FallsVermont


Mansion House Hos.Alexandria Va.April 2d/62My Dear Sister –

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Your letter written at Springfield, and mailed Mar. 31st reached me this afternoon; it came very quick, I wish all my letters would come as quick, or if that cannot be, I wish they would come sometime. Your letter satisfies me that I do not receive all the letters you write me, or at least that I have not recd them, tho’ tis possible they may yet come along. You say “Father & mother went out to see Dr. H. Mother wrote you after she got back so I suppose she told you all there was to tell about it.” I have recd no such letter; possibly it may

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yet & I feel quite anxious that it should. I wish to know what Dr. H. said, what Mother wrote &c. Again you say you sent me a letter you recd from Lizzie while she was sick in Chicago. Not having ever recd any such letter I am entirely in the dark in regard to her sickness. I had lately surposed she must be sick as I have not heard a word from her for more than a month. As to the papers you send I recd two some time ago but none since, & I do not expect they will ever reach me. – Do you receive all my letters? You can tell easy enough by the reading of them tho that numbering did not prosper well. How long are my letters generally in reaching Vt? – It grieves me to hear you speak so confident

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of my getting a furlough in a week or two. The more confident you are the greater will be your disapointment, for I am satisfied that it is impossible, indeed I doubt if by writing the Capt he could help me at all now the Regt is away. I think and am quite sure that the Surg’ns of the Regt would have to examine me, as they have to sign the furlough. Every man who receives a furlough has to be examined by the Surg’ns O Jane you know little what a complicated machine this war machine is. – Do not think by what I write that I do not care much about coming home and would not try much to do so, such is very far from being the case, and I know you will beleive it.

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You say Mother thinks I had better go to Philadelphia; prehaps I may, but after all I like this place pretty well, and know I never shall find another Dr. I like as well as I do the one I have here (Dr Adams). – I asked a 5th Regt soldier who is in this Hos. if there was a Capt Dudley in his Regt, he said there was, so it is probarbly “Jimmy”. I wonder how he got the place of Capt? it seems strange to me. There is more honor in being a Capt than there is in being a Lieut, either 1st or 2nd because the rank is higher but if I could have my choice in the three places to night I should not hesitate a moment in saying, 2d Lieut A Capt has a great responsibility on his hands & must work & watch all the time, or it takes all his wages to to pay losses on Co. property such as broken guns, canteens, haversacks & in fact everything the Capt is responsible for. A 2d Lieut has

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nothing you might say to do, & nothing to be responsible for, while his pay is but little less than a Capts. – You have told me how you pass the time away & now I will tell you how I kill it here. I get up in the morning about 7 o’clock (I can get up when I please) take my medicine (in my next I will tell you what I am taking for medicine, how I take it & all the Dr. is doing for me to night I have hardley time) build a fire & by that time my breakfast is brought in (a pint cup full of tea, & a piece of wheat bread) some go down to their meals & I could but they say nothing against bringing them up so I let them do so. After breakfast I set around my room sometimes reading sometimes writing &c. until the Dr. comes around which is generally 10

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O’clock a.m. after the Dr. has been around I do the same as before until after dinner (generally a dish of what they call oyster soup, a potatoe & piece of baked or boiled beef, & a piece of wheat bread) when I go down and get a pass which allows me to go about the city until 4. P.M. I generally wander about the city & try to pass the time off as pleasantly as possible. Most always when out run across a soldier who has taken a drop to much, and as all soldiers know each other without an introduction, have interesting conversations with them. This afternoon as I was setting in the sun on some steps, one of the above mentioned soldiers stagered up to me saying. “I say fellow do you know of any beer shops about here” O yes about every house a “beer shop”. “Well” said he “if you had just as leif tell what Regt do you belong to.” 17th

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New York said I. “Well now I belong to the Cal. 1st and was at Balls Bluff I used to like to play bluff, but when you come to play that kind of bluff it is a new game to me. They went it blind there to much, if they had had a plattoon bridge there was such as they have at Harpers Ferry we would have done well enough, but they only had a raft that would take over 50 at a time, and that was just as fast as they could kill them. All I wish is that the Cal 1st could pass sentence on that d_d old traitor Gen Stone, we would skin him alive & put salt on as fast as we got along. We have got one Co. in the Regt who are New Yorkers, & I dont say it because you fellows are all the same, but they are right ones in a fight. Well good bye” taking off his glove & giving us Walker & I his dirty paw “hope I’ll meet you again sometime” & off he

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goes to find the “beer shop”. – Our mail generally comes in about 2 o’clock P.M. so if I have any letters (I dont often) I generally find them laying on the table in my room when I come in. To day I found yours. – This morning there was a Dr. from near Burlington Vt. went throught the Hos. and looked after all the Vt boys he could find & took their names in his memorandum book, so he said if any one should inquire after any of them when he got home prehaps he could tell them when & how they were. When he came to go away he gave me his photograph, the size of the one you sent me of mothers with his address on it. It was Dr. Welch. He was a very pleasant, socible man, more so than his picture shows, that looks rather sober, while he never did. In my next letter I will send it home & let you keep it for me there. When I came in this afternoon from my walk I found a

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man by the name of Joseph Hatch from Windsor Vt.waiting to see me. He said he learned I was in this Hos. & had waited sometime for me to come in. Said he knew my father well. He asked me if there was any thing he could do for me and said he would do anything in his power that I wished, asked me if I did not want money & offered to let me have some. There was nothing, however that I wished him to do for me, & as I had money on hand needed none tho’ I felt as thankful to him as if he had done all he ofered to for me. That man is a Christian and I shall not soon forget him. - O. I forgot I was telling you how I passed my time & had got to 4 P.M the time when I come in from my walk. Well I set round till supper (5 P.M. Tea & bread) after that I read, sometimes write, (am doing so this evening) until 9 o’clock

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when I go to bed to wake in the morning to go through nearly the same programme again. – I will write the “Rules of the Hos.” which are stuck on the door of each room, prehaps it may interest you. “Smoking in the rooms or halls is not allowed. Vacant beds must not be used as lounging places. Nothing to eat or drink other than prescribed by the House will be allowed in the room unless by special permission No game of chance for money is allowed There must be no spiting on the floor. Patients will remain in thier rooms during the Surg’ns visiting hours which will be from 8. to 10. A.M. Attendants will see that the lights in the rooms are put out at 9 P.M. after which all talking & noise in the rooms will cease. These rules being for the benifit of the sick will be enforced.

(Signed) H. Lawrence Sheldon
Asst. Surgeon U.S.A.
In charge of Hospital.

I will write no more to night as tis now near 9 o’clock. My love to Father & Mother. Write me often. Good night. With much love I am as ever

Your Aff. BrotherJo. –

P.S. Will answer Abbie’s letter soon. I have plenty of butter to eat with my meals, which I get when I am out.
J. –