Mary E. Farnham to Henry

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Near Fairfax Court House VirginiaDec. 24th 1862
Tuesday nightDear Brother Henry:

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I think by this time a line from your sister Mary would be acceptable. I want you to read the last letter I wrote to Laura. Then you would know about my journey here. We came here one week ago tomorrow. We are very near the Rebels and our army here may be attacked any day. But rebels treat women well, and there are three of us Northern ladies here so I should have company, and we could skedaddle in haste. We have engaged the Suttler to carry us away in haste!! Now laugh. Our Regt. was out on duty when we came here, and the second night nine men and sixteen of our Calvary were taken prisoners. It is in a very bad place - Centreville Look on the map and find the place. We are going out to Chantilly battle field soon if we are all well. There is a Mr. Redington here from St. Johnsbury who went out there today. There were men half burried. He brought home a Ball taken from between a man's fingers that he found half burried his arm laying out. The mother of the lady we board

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with lives very near the battle field. There were wounded soldiers on both sides brought into her house, and some died there. We are going to call on her and hear Mrs. Stewart tell incidents of the war. Every place near here has its story for here has been both Rebels and Unionists. Mrs. Whiley with whom we board has seen three thousand Calvary all armed, their sabres glistening in the sun, pass in front of this house at a time, their horses tongues out and the men screaming with a horrid yell - They thinking they were about to take some of our men that they thought were at the Court House here - but when they got there they found themselves mistaken for our men had gone from there. I do hope there will be no trouble here this winter. Yet they expect it. There are five Regts here. Our 12th have a beautiful place to encamp in. I have been up every day but two since I came. And it is one mile from here which makes quite a walk for me. Sunday morning I went out with John Whiley a little boy to see if there was a Rabbit in his trap. But nary rabbit did we find. But the day before he caught one and brought it home alive. We had it for breakfast. We had two dogs to go with us, rather bigger than Mac I reckon. You never saw such briers as they have here the ground is covered with low blackberry bushes, and Bramberry, which grows as high as your head bright green stalk. Tis awful to go through I assure you. There is among the briers a kind of grass which they call hens grass. The boys gather it to make their beds of. It looks like oats growing. The soil is as red as brick in most places. There is no snow to be seen.

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One day is cold the next is as warm as summer. Today the Thermometer is or I think must be up to seventy five. Nelson Rodgers has been over to see me today. He took dinner with us. I am in hopes he can go over to see Zeke tomorrow. But he is building a log cabin for Col. Farnham and Col Blunt is having one built for the second time this winter. I do hope they will not be obliged to move again, if they do, I hope it will be towards Washington.

I went up to Camp yesterday and went round to see the place. Went into the Commissary department Quarter Master's department Hospital, Suttlers &c. In the Hosptial I did not find but one man that I knew. There was no one from Bradford. There was a good many sick with coughs and Jaundice. Poor fellows they looked homesick enough. I shall call on the Bradford boys when I go again. Henry Colby called into Col. F.'s tent when I was there. I think he will get the situation he wishe in the Navy. He goes soon to be examined. He will get seven or eight hundred dollars a year if he passes the examination. They boys have gained in flesh most of them. The California fireplace is as comfortable as any fireplace at home and it warms the ground all around it And all the boys can have one. For they only dig a hole in the ground and place a flat stone over it and leave a place for the smoke to go out. They build a little chimly which looks like a play house chimly. The boys are stockading their tents, which makes them very comfortable.

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Wednesday Night. Mrs. Blunt Mrs. Stearns and myself were invited up to Camp to dine today. We had chickens potatoes Pickels Bread butter coffee and some jelly Aunt Lucy Jane sent Ros. There were the Chaplin Major Col Blunt and Farnham We had a pleasant time. Mr. Peach is the cook, and he does first rate. They all like him. He can make almost every thing. And he has some hungry months to satisfy I assure you. I have seen Kemp. He is improving very slowly. I shall find something for his cough if I can. There is a plenty of hoarhound that can be had by going after it.

Herrick called on me today He is looking very well. Is tough and hearty: I do not know many of the Bradford Boys in this Regt. I shall find them out if they are sick. Cousin Nelson started for Rockville to see Zeke today. He was going as far as Munson Hill today to see Annette's husband, and tomorrow he goes to see Zeke and Horace. It has been very pleasant weather ever since we came here. But rain will come pretty soon I expect. Thermometer up to 60° today. So you see this is not much like Chrismas in Vermont. But by tomorrow it may be cold as Greenland. We have very changeable weather. Some one of the family saw a Robin here today: Mr. Whiley said it was a sure sign of a mild winter: I hope you are having good success in your school. I know it is a bad school, and I feel anxious to hear from you. Be sure and write me how you are getting along, and how Father and Mother are. I have not heard from them since I left Bradford. Much love to them and Grandma and Grandpa Johnson. Do write me where Ruth and Ben are. I have written them but have received no answer, and do not know where to write again. Be sure and write as soon as you get this letter, so I can write Ruth. Remember me to all who enquire. I hope I shall be as well the rest of the time as I have been. Ros is looking very well. I dread to have the 12th go on picket again. It is so dangerous. And they suffer so with the cold. Do write and Direct to Lieut. Col. Roswell Farnham 12th Regt. Vermont Vol. Washing D. C. Write soon

From your sisterMary J. Farnham