Valentine G. Barney to Maria Barney

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Fort Yorktown VaJuly 31st 1863Dear Maria

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I presume you will be astonished to get a letter from me written on larger sized letter paper and perhaps more so if I should happen to fill the sheet. I should have written to you yesterday but was on duty as officer of the day and my time was wholly occupied. I will give you an idea of the duties. We mount guard at 8 oc and it is at that time I have to commence by appearing in front of the guard immediately after inspec- tion of the guard with the old officer of the day, the guard is marched past us in review, and I then get my orders from the old officer and report immediately to Hd Qrs for new orders. The duties in general are to see that the guard do their duties and for this purpose I have to visit each sentinel at different times during the day and go the guard rounds after 12 oc at night with an escort. Also to see that the camps are cleaned

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and to see especially that the sinks are kept in good order. Also to see that all orders from the genl are obeyed with regard to drills, roll calls &c &c. The next morning on being relieved I have to make out a written report of how things are found and report all irregularities and neglects and hand in the report in person. This last duty is the hardest for me to perform as you know I am a poor hand to put ideas on paper, but I manage to get along. I recieved a letter from you last night dated July 26th and mailed the 28th so you see your letters are the same as mine as regards starting as soon as written. I must always send my letters the same day they are written and why they should be stamped two days after is more than I can tell but I presume they go to the Fortress and lay over night. This letter will leave here tomorrow at 2 oc. P.M. sure. You speak of my letters being very short and five or six days between them and written in a hurried manner. All this is true and I am vexed at myself when I think that I dont write often and more interesting letters. but somehow

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most every time I should write you I am busy with some thing close and even when I do get to writing my mind is often excited and though I have plenty of time my letters partake of my feelings at the time and they look to you as though they were written while I have other duties on hand. I hope you will pardon me for the past and in future I will try and write when I am more composed. I am aware that I in all my letters of late I have given you merely a general idea of how things are here and I will now commence and give more of the particulars as I know such are more interesting to you I really hope my dear Maria you will not ever entertain the idea that I have in the least forgotten you or that my feelings towards you have in the least diminished for such is not the case and could I not look forward with the hope of sometime living with you and enjoying the security of my dear little family the world would have but few charms for me. This long absence from you is very hard for me to submit to, but you know I am not much of a hand to tell all my troubles and I will not complain

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Saturday Morning Aug 1st 63
Dear Wife I was obliged to quit writing last night on account of having company call. Capt Reynolds A.A.G. on Gen Wistars staff called and wanted to have a sing so I sent down and had Capt Seligson come up with his music & guitar and we passed an hour very pleasantly and after my company left I having been up the night before nearly all night was glad to go to bed. I would have rested finely had it not been for the fleas. They are very thick here and we are completely covered with their bites and I dont know but I would prefer living in a tent to a log house on that account. I am now sitting on my table and Lieut Viele our A.Q.M. (who rooms with me) is still a bed and I have been plaguing him and trying to get him up as breakfast is nearly ready. Yes it is ready for I hear John (our colored man) coming ringing the cowbell so I will have to stop, get up Qr. Ms. and go to mess- Well I have had a good breakfast and plenty of good coffee and since then have signed 50 passes for men to go out to pick berries &c. This is a splendid morning and the cove breeze from the river is

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very refreshing. We get showers here every day and not a day has passed since we came here but what we have had rain. Day before yesterday the lightning struck about 10 Rods from here and killed a battery horse and injured some 5 or 6 more. The health of our regiment is not first rate at present we have about 50 sick but deaths are not few compared the amount of sickness. We are favored however when we consider the health of the other regiments here. The 19th Wis have 250 sick and more coming down every day. We are doing every thing we can to keep the men healthy and to keep clean is one great object My health continues good and I think if I am carefull I will get along without getting sick. This country is a very interest ing part of the world. it was just outside the fort where Lord Cornwallis surrendered to Gen Washington which perhaps decided the fate of our country. Two small trees are growing there to mark the spot. About three miles from here is where the battle of Lees Mills was fought and where the noble Vt. boys charged across the Warwick Creek

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under a murderous fire from the rebel guns I have not yet visited the place but shall as soon as Surgeon Carpenter can get away with me. he was there at the time of the fight and can tell all the particulars. I have visited many of McClelans fortifications and his famous curderoy road and they are worth looking at, but one cant but think of the hundreds who worked them- selves to death building them, and fell by the bullets of the rebel sharp shooters. Our Reg. got paid off day before yesterday but as I was not mustered as Lt. Col. could not draw pay. I was mustered yesterday and will draw pay as Lt.Col. from 1st of July. I hope soon to hear that peace is declared on some honorable terms so that we can all return to our quiet homes and once more enjoy the comforts of a pleasant home. I hope our regiment will get filled up with conscripts soon for it is very small but I fear they will all be sent to other regts where they are more needed at present I am afraid too that we will get but a few any way for it seems that nearly all are paying the $300 - even if it is all they are worth and I learn that in some town they have voted to pay

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the amt for every one who is drafted and raise the money on the grand list. I think this is perfectly disgraceful for a Vt town and if possible is worse than rebellion itself but I presume if the quota is not raised they will have the pleasure of paying $300- more shortly and continue to pay it till the required number is raised but I presume there are many who would rather see a dishonorable peace than pay a cent or go to war or send their sons these are the ones I would be glad to see obliged to face the enemy in battle but I am writing more than I ought to for once and perhaps will use up all my stock so as to leave my next short of foundation matters I hope to hear you have succeeded in getting a barn under way and the blinds also. Give my love to Mary and remember me to all my friends. Kiss Fred and Carrie and if possible get their photos taken and send to me.

Your Affectionate
Husband V.G. Barney
Lt. Col 9th Vt