James, very much enjoying civilian life for a change, goes into great detail about his trip to Richmond, and staying at the home of William J. and Martha Bowis. One can find James very much reminiscent about a former more simple life, and hopes for a brighter future with his family.
Camp Maury, Caroline, Feb 27
My Dear Wife:
I arrived here safely on Tuesday morning, without having encountered any serious obstacles on the way. I had a pretty tedious walk to the White House though, and when I got ashore from the ferry boat, the provost guard seemed to be inclined to dispute my passage, but by telling a pretty straight tale, and putting a bold fact in the matter, he finally agreed to let me get aboard the cars. So I had no further difficulty. When I got to Richmond, which was about sunset, I went straight to your pap’s where I found them all well, and very much surprised to see me, and your ma treated me very well. They are all very anxious to see you and the children, and seemed anxious to know when you were coming home. I slept in our room, which looked as natural as ever, but very desolate. The same bed, crib, and the cabinet all stand in their accustomed places, as if they were awaiting the time when they should be used again. But how long time alone can disclose. I dropt to sleep thinking about my own absent ones, which, though so recently from, still fresher in my memory than ever, and almost imagining I could hear the innocent prattle of our dear little Nannie and Florence, as they would come to give me their good night kiss. Their two little chairs are also there, and everything reminds me of home. Our clothing all seemed to be in very good condition, and not damaged with moths. I wore my citizen pants while in town, which used to be too large for me, and it was the greatest difficulty that I could make them meet on me. When I got them on I could hardly sit down, they were so tight. I left the key of your trunk in the care of your ma, who promised to take care of it, and air the things when necessary. Well, Sunday I went to Morriss’s expecting to find Lieut. Johnson, who had gone to his mother’s where his wife is staying, so I did not see him. I took dinner there and in the afternoon Isaac and myself went up to Mr. Knowles, who had plenty of the contraband, (an excellent article of French brandy) when we walked out together. On Monday I went out to see some of my acquaintances at the different offices, and spent the day pretty much in that way. I made some inquiries while in town about the difficulty of getting a detail, and a gentleman promised to make an effort to get me one, but I do not expect anything from it, as a good many have tried and failed. A friend succeeded without any difficulty in getting me a passport to come up on the cars, and I came up on Tuesday and found things pretty much as I had left them, except that all the company has gotten together, and we now number about ninety men in camp. Jones36 has been released from the guard house, after being confined for thirteen days, and seems to be very well satisfied that he got off as well. Nothing has been said to me about staying, as I had a good excuse. Lieut. Ellett37 has spoken to me once or twice very politely, since I returned, so I presumed I am all right. Fanny has not been hired out, and I do not think she will now. She says she can support herself and children until you return, which I hope will not be very long now, which will probably be better than to get a home where she will not be taken care of. Cornelius had been sick, but was getting better. You must try and get over to Essex if you cannot make arrangements with Mrs. Bell Gresham for board, as I do not feel satisfied for you to remain at Charley’s any longer, as I know he is not able to maintain you all, besides his own family, in the present state of prices. I hope he will be successful in his examination, and get his position. But you must keep me informed of your movements, as I shall endeavor to do of mine, and do not wait for my letters, as it is sometimes very inconvenient for me to write. I am very much concerned about you now, and should advise you to go back to Richmond at once, but you could not get along there now at all. So you will have to remain in the country a month or two longer at any rate. I think we will be likely to remain here at least a month longer, judging from the condition of the roads, which are worse now than they have been this winter. They will not be in a condition for artillery to move in less than a month, though I suppose some of us will go on picket in a week or two. I had a visit this morning from Mr. Woolfolk who spent a while with us, and invited me to come over. This camp is a terrible place now, with the mud about a foot deep as soon as you step out of the door. I believe we are all getting tired of winter quarters now, and must of us are longing for a little more activity. Although we are not particularly desirous of getting into a fight, still there is something very tiresome in squatting down here in the woods all the time with nothing to do. But the end will come soon enough for some of us, I judge. Did the children miss me much, or say much about me after I left. And did you miss me? I do not think you could have enjoyed my visit as much as you would if I had been more lively. The fact is, my dearest, I did feel a certain heaviness of spirit about your being absent from home and dependent upon others, more or less for your support, which I tried to subdue, but could not. And what made it more apparent to my mind was that I though I was not received as kindly at my sisters as I have been, though it may have been imagination on my part, I hope it was, for I would not wish to do her injustice. Let me hear from you soon. Remember me to all. I shall wait with anxiety to hear from you. Kiss Nannie and Florence for me, and tell them they must both be good children and obey their mama for my sake.
Your loving and devoted husband