James writes this letter while stationed at Camp Gregg, located at Moss Neck Manor in Caroline County, Virginia.
Camp Gregg, near Fredericksburg-May 10, 1862
My Dear Wife,
Although I wrote once since I have been here. I cannot let so favorable an opportunity as the present pass without writing, even though I have to write with my knapsack for a writing desk. Mr. Charley Wynne15 came up this morning to bring Mr. Lieut. Bransford16 who is in Johnson’s artillery, and who is sick and as Mr. W. is going down tomorrow, I thought it a good opportunity to send a letter by him through Mr. Jas. Walford.17 I wrote to you Tuesday. Did you get the letter? I was then quite unwell and thought I was going to be quite sick. I was very much in hopes of hearing from you today and hope you will write, if you have not already written. We have had some excitement here since I wrote to you. On Thursday very unexpectedly the long roll, which is the signal for every man to call in, was beat from the quarters of Gen. Gregg18 and in a few moments an aide rode up from him with an order for the Crenshaw Battery to prepare instantly for action. We were hitched up in a very short time, and stood waiting for further orders, when the General rode up and asked whether we were ready. The answer was quickly given, when we were started immediately in the direction of Fredericksburg, along with several thousand infantry who had preceded us. We marched slowly along, expecting to meet the Yankees, who were reported as having started towards us. The report turned out to be unfounded, and after proceeding as far as Massaponac church19 in the direction of Fredericksburg, we were halted, and without meeting the enemy, we returned to camp, and arrived about sundown. I hear from Mr. Wynne that there has been considerable excitement in Richmond on account of the report that the enemy were coming up James River. I don’t think there need be any apprehension on that account, as the river will certainly be blockaded before they get up as far as Rocketts. I should like very much to hear how your pa is, and how you and the children are getting along. Have you heard anything from King & Queen yet, whether sister Harriett is certainly dead, as I have not heard. I have made good many inquiries concerning Willie, and the company he is in, but as yet I have not heard nothing concerning him. There are a great many cavalry companies in this division of the army and some near here, but I have not found out who they were. Our company has been tolerable healthy until now, but they are getting in the same category with the others with regard to sickness. There are some measles, mumps and one case of the Typhoid fever in our company, but as yet we have not had any deaths. I left my carpet sack at the fair ground and asked one of the men to bring it up on the cars for me, and he misunderstood me, and put it in a box, and had it sent down to Crenshaw & Co.’s store in Richmond. It has a part of my things in it, and I have the key, so you had just as well let it stay there for the present. It is reported here now that the Yankees have evacuated Fredericksburg, and gone back towards Washington, but I think it very improbable. But we have seen very large fires in that direction yesterday and today, which indicates they are at the work of destruction. From Mr. Wynne’s account, I judge that was a very dear bought victory at Williamsburg, if a victory at all, as he says our loss was very severe. He says most of the peninsula army are now within fifteen miles of Richmond. The Yankees seem to be bringing things to a close as fast as possible. But I still hope that they will be disappointed about taking Richmond. Mr. Charles Trabue20 has been here drilling our company ever since we have been here. He is an excellent drill master and the company desires very much to get him permanently, as an officer, but he will not consent to stay. He seems to be a [missing] The men are all out drilling now and being corporal of the guard today, I am in the tent by myself thinking about you all at home. O how I wish I could see you at least once a week, like I used to when at the Fair Grounds. When are you going to the country? I should like for you to go on the ground of economy, for if nothing else. I don’t know whether you can read this letter or not, as it is so hastily and imperfectly written, but you must read as much as you can, and guess at the rest, as you know how I usually talk and write. We may leave here any day or night, but that need not keep you from writing, as letters will be forwarded to us, I suppose. Remember me to your pa and ma, Bet and Ellen, and kiss both Florence and Nannie for me. Should you need any assistance or advice, please apply to Mr. Ellyson, as I think he would be glad to serve you.
And now my dearest, I must close, as my paper is exhausted and remain
Your devoted husband