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123rd New York Infantry - Captured at Chancellorsville & Killed at Aiken's Creek, VA

Item LTR-8641
January 1, 1863 William A. Tooley
Price: $165.00


Original Civil War soldier's letter. 4 pages, written in period ink.

Fairfax Station, VA
Thursday, January 1st 1863

Eber Tooley

Dear Brother,

I received a letter from you last night and was very glad to hear from you. I am well yet as usual. I got a letter from Horace night before last. He says he has not gained strength much but his head is better. He was troubled with a severe headache and dizziness when we left him. We have just been having a mock dress parade. We appointed all new officers and they dressed to suit themselves. Some had wood for epaulets and some soap and some paper and other things to match them. It passed off very well and made considerable sport for us. The rest of the day we have spent lying in our tents or writing and the same yesterday. We did not go out but once and that was to be mustered for pay. But the pay does not come. Today we are ordered to build winter quarters again. So I hope you have sent that box for I think we shall stay here for a while at least. We started from here last Sunday morning on a reconnaissance and camped on the bank of the Occoquan River and returned Monday night.

Friday evening. Eber, I have neglected to finish this letter, for this morning I had a chance to go over to where the 14th Vermont Regiment is camped with Steady. And it is so seldom that we have the privilege of leaving our camp, that I felt as if I must go. I saw William Munson, Moody and F. Palmer. They do not like the business very well. I think if they were at home, they would stay there as most every man says and the union might go to the Devil. We hear that on every side where ever we go. It is enough to discourage anyone to see how this war is managed. When we arrive at a new camping spot, guards are immediately thrown out to protect the houses and property of rebels for such they are. And the inhabitants will inquire of the men placed to guard them of the strength of our force and inform rebel spies of the same. Then when we are ordered to move for the purpose of intercepting their army at some point or to protect government property which may be at the mercy of the rebs, those same men that we have been guarding will ride into our camp and ascertain how many men we leave in camp and how strong a force we march with. And then it is a very easy matter for them to report to some rebel commander so that he will know exactly how many men it will required to capture the whole camp or to defeat us on the march. That is just the way the whole thing is managed. Now what is your opinion about it? When shall we conquer them in that way? Will it be this winter or sometime in the next century? But enough of this. The slave must obey his master. I have received another letter from you and mother tonight so I may as well answer them both at once. I am very glad that you write often whether I write or not. For we have to do the most of our own cooking now and drill so much of our time is taken up in fact when night comes we are tired. We get weary very easy because we have no ambition for we know we are doing that which amounts to just nothing.

Tomorrow we are ordered out on division review. If it helped to put down rebellion, I should be willing to do anything. I received a letter from Horace a few days since and was very glad to hear from him I assure you. You say he will probably rejoin his company soon. I hope he never will. I hope he will work shrewd enough to get his discharge. He nor no one else can do any good here. Eber, I know you would like to hear from me while on our marches. But it is impossible for there is no mail in or out of the army when they are moving until we know where we are going to halt for a few days. Then we are so tired that we cannot write for a day or two.

Eber, I am glad to hear that [blank] a hope that at the last day when the trumpet shall sound, he may be one of the number who may meet his God in peace. I also hear that Smith Hennet died with the same assurance. May God grant we may all be prepared to meet them there where there will be no more war. I don’t know but you may think I am having a fit of hydrophobia or blues tonight but I have written just my opinion of the management of the war and it is the opinion of everyone here. Write soon.

Goodnight Eber.

Write soon.

William A. Tooley