James writes home shortly after his return to winter quarters located in Caroline County, Virginia. Depressed to return to camp and leave his family, James realizes the battery may soon again be on the move due to rumored enemy movements.
Camp near Milford – Jan. 19, 1863
My Dear Wife,
I arrived here safely on Friday about noon, after having a very pleasant trip. I was fortunate enough to procure a conveyance nearly all the way. I staid all night Thursday night at Mrs. Dews, and Billy loaned me a horse very kindly to come the balance of the way. I found, on my return, Lieut. Johnston had gone to Richmond to attend a court martial, and have had no difficulty about leaving as yet, and do not apprehend any now. Very unexpectedly to us all, orders came for us to move to the front, as it was supposed the Yankees were about to cross. The news came like a shock to us all, as we had been all making ourselves as comfortable as we could, and expected to remain at least a month or two. But such are the fortunes of war. I suppose you will be surprised to learn that I am here still. Our detachment was ordered to remain here as a camp guard. I do not know yet whether we will stay here, in the event the Battery comes back, or whether we will follow them. I suppose it will depend somewhat upon the movements of the Yankees. When I came back the boys had built a log chimney and stretched a tent over it, and had just got it finished. It is quite comfortable, and of course we do not like the idea of leaving it much, but it can’t be helped, and I expect we will have to leave all our work in a day or two. When I got here your letter, written since Christmas, and one from Vernon,33 was waiting here for me. Your brother’s was written about the same time with yours, and so there was nothing new to you in it, except acknowledging the receipt of the money I sent him. If you have made any arrangements for visiting Uncle Achilles, you had better postpone it until you hear from me again, as it is probable we will move from here. Billy Dew has just rode past here on his way to the army, and his face is about as long as my arm. He say he feels like he was on his way to the gallows. Of course he was only jesting about that. I expect to send this letter by my friend Wm. G. Jones,34 a member of our battery, who I believe is going down in the morning, and who will go by Mantua. Uncle William Courtney and John Pollard35 passed here the day after I came up on their way to the camp, and Uncle William asked particularly after you, and seemed to be anxious for you to spend some time at his house. Of course you can use your own discretion about that. I am sorry indeed I did not stay down a day or two longer, which I could have done very easily, with impunity. I felt worse after I came back to camp than I did before I went because I kept thinking about the enjoyment I had with my dear ones at home, so that it made me feel sad and gloomy. But it’s no use complaining, I suppose, but let events take their own course. I hope to see you all again though before very long, if we don’t have to leave here. Did the children say anything about my leaving. Bless her heart, she had just begun to get familiar with me again when I had to leave. How does dear little Florence take my absence. Does she talk much about me? I need not ask do you miss me. I am satisfied of that. But take courage, my own dear, and remember that the time will come soon, I hope, when we will meet again not to be separated. I still continue to hope that something will occur to end this war before very long. If you can find out from Jones when he will return, please write by him, as that will be surest way to get the letter. Give my best love to Columbia, and be sure to write me word whether the Doctor was successful in passing the Board or not. Kiss the children for me, and tell them I hope to see them again soon. I enclose in this letter twenty dollars more for your use, as I have received two months more pay and do not want to keep so much with me.
I must stop now, as I have no more time to write as Jones is going down early in the morning.
Your devoted husband
J. Harvey Campbell