Joseph Spafford to Mary Jane Spafford

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Camp Near Fairfax Station, Va.March 13th 1863Dear Sister

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I recd your letter a day or two since but have been so busy I have not found time to answer it before. For a few days past we have had battalion drills forenoon & afternoon & recitations evening, so our time has been pretty well taken up. I wrote you in regard to Stoughts capture the day after it happened. Thier is nothing new in regard to it, more than you have seen in the papers. The rebs did a pretty smart thing, took a Brig. Gen. without firing a gun. The Regts here have all been at work to day diging rifle pits & preparing the Station for defence, as a

P. S. We spilt our ink to day

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dispatch was recd from Gen. Casey to day saying that Old Stonewall was moving this way with quite a force, & ordering the Station to be held at all hazards. We dug about ¾ of a mile of pits to day & are going at it again tomorrow. I guess the old fellow wont trouble us to night, its to cold to enjoy a march, hope he wont come till the weather moderates a little & then I think we can give him [elick].

This letter is for you & mother both as your letters both came at the same time. Now a few words in regard to the “Extracts from a letter from the 16th” In the first place I would like to know whose letter they were extracted from. I hav’nt the least idea. George

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thought J.P.K.’s & prehaps wrote something he ought not to in the letter he sends with this. That was nothing, taking a little store pipe, or at least what I mean is that it is not looked upon here as it would be at home & persons that would not think of doing such a thing at home, dont mind it at all here. Now I’ll go back on to what I started on. Was the Extract, in regard to the man’s being cussed glad he had got out of the Co. from the same letter the other was? And did the Co. mean Co. E. If so, whoever it was, I’m cussed glad he has got out, for I dont want any discontented cusses around me. I suppose you know that privates in almost all cases

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like to tell stories about the Officers. They (the Pris) have to go to bed at taps, put thier lights out & keep quiet, while the Commisioned Officers can keep a light as long as they please & of course thier being close together they visit each other evenings, laugh tell stories &c. Now it makes these fellows who are obliged to be abed mad to think they have so few priveleages & when they hear laughing, or noise after taps they say the Officers are drunk & write the same stories home in many cases. Persons disappointed in getting office are the greatest cases for this & we have a number of cases of the kind in our Co. Now I have told you about how things go I will answer in regard to the truth of the statement.

See next sheet

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I was rather pleased to think neither thought it must be M- or myself. Now M- told me the other day that he used to have the name of getting drunk when he used to be round to [balls], because he acted so, but that he has always been till within a year or so as strick as Az is in regard to taking a drop of any kind of licker (you know what it means I that as near right as I can spell it.) & since that time has drunk a little if he pleased but was never drunk, & never will be. As for my self I can say that I was never drunk or tight & I never shall be so you

Jase had the same story to tell that almost all privates do – officers drunk all the time in his Regt.

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mother need’nt worry at all on that score. Dont you suppose I know better than to get tight? If I should get so I never would come any nearer home than Brattleboro, after being mustered out, I would leave imediately for the Southern Confederacy, or so other foreign nation. As far as drinking whiskey is concerned I had as soon tell you the exact truth as not which is that sometimes when I think best I take some. Any one dont know & cant see, prehaps that it is necessary if they are in a place where it never is necessary. I am convinced that it has been a good thing for me since I came out this time

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tho’it is little I have drunk but that I took when when I knew it was better for me to have it. I dont cure any thing at all for it further than what little I think necessary & after I get home shall not take it at all because it is not necessary then. Now in regard to one of Co. E’s officers getting drunk. I am sorry to inform you that Williams (I should not tell of it under other circumstances & dont wish it repeated) did get midding kind of drunk one night & once only, that was not a mistake, he was not well & took a little more than he ought to, tho’ that much at another time would not have fixed him. It is

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a new thing for him tho’ I understand & he has told me about the same himself. I’ll warrant you he never will get so again while he is with us. I thank you Jane for your confidence in me & I assure you I will not disapoint it. Now you have the whole story be so kind as to let me know whose letter you made extracts from

I will close for to night, but will write again when I get your next letter.

Jase Jones is here for a day or two. Lieut Waldo of Co A. & Lieut Graham of K have resigned & got thier papers all right ready to start for home. Gov. Fletchers son is Segt Maj. Vice Segt. Maj. Lawton promoted to 2 Lt in Co. F.

Your Aff BrotherJoseph Stafford