James writes from Camp Taylor after returning from a furlough.
Camp Taylor, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 1864
My Dear Wife,
I arrived here safely on Saturday, and found everything quiet as when I left. I remained in Richmond one day as I expected, and visited a good many of my old friends, all of whom appeared glad to see me, and therefore enjoyed my trip exceedingly. Florence appeared very much elated at the prospect of seeing her grandma, and when we reached the depot, we walked up to the house, she skipped along before me, as though she was perfectly happy at the idea of getting back to Richmond again. And when we arrived at your ma’s, which we did about sunset, we found them all at home and well, and they appeared delighted to see us, and Florence particularly. She seems to be very well satisfied so far. I saw Fanny, who said she had been well, and was getting along tolerably. I left Jim there, as your brother told me he thought he could hire him for his victuals and clothes. I also heard from Henry, who is hired this year for $60, but who I am sorry to say, has the smallpox at present, and had to be sent to the hospital where he had been about eight days. This is a very unfortunate occurrence, as it costs five dollars per day while he remains there, besides which he will have to be furnished with a new suit of clothes when he comes out, if he ever comes out. In consequence of this, I was not able to collect anything for his last year’s hire, as the hospital fees will have to be paid as soon as he comes out. He was supposed to be getting better when I left, which I hope is the case. Bet and Ellen inquired very particularly after you, and seemed very anxious to see you. I took dinner at Mrs. Morriss’s Friday, and saw her and Mrs. Harriett, and all asked about you. Isaac is well and is working as a foreman at the Illustrated News Office.50 I went to the Baptist church at Mechanicksville Sunday, and saw and spoke to Mrs. Johnston, who asked about you, and invited me to called down and see her. She is looking very well. I found everything more quiet than I expected when I got back to camp, and as there has been a snow since my return, and still a probability or more severe weather, I suppose we will be likely to remain here for some time to come. Well, I came off and forgot my toothbrush at last. But I have had to procure another, and you can save that one if you choose, in case I should need it when I comedown again. I also brought away Florence’s gloves by mistake in my pocket, which I will send her in a letter soon. How I hated to leave you soon, my dearest, no one but myself can know. I felt like I was leaving, for a time, at least, all that I hold dear on earth. I only hope that the separation may not be as long as it was the last time. So I will try to bear it as well as I can, hoping, as I do, that it all may be for the best. But since I got back to camp, I feel the separation more than I ever I did, sometimes imagining that I feel the empress of your precious kisses upon my lips when I lie down to rest. O that I may have that exquisite pleasure again before many months pass. I sent you by Mrs. Gresham the bundle from Bet, some candy for the children, and some paper for yourself, as I promised, which your brother gave me. As some of it is unruled, you can let Mr. G. use it if it does not suit you. How does dear little Nannie get on without her sister. I suppose she asks after her very often. But I hope, my dear, that you will be able to make yourself satisfied, at least for the while, about Florence, as you will very likely have less trouble, now that Jim is away. And as for Mr. G. suggested that you should room with Ellen, probably you will become reconciled. What I am uneasy about is that I fear Florence will be an encumbrance to your ma, who no doubt has a hard time enough to get along and make a proper support. Florence was fast asleep when I left, as it was very early in the morning and I did not like to wake her. We are living here very poorly now, as we can get nothing but corn meal, and not half enough meat. And we can buy very little now in the neighborhood, as everything the people could spare has been given up already. I could not eat the rations we had when I first got back, as my appetite had been spoiled, but I will have to come down to it or go without. Your letter was awaiting me when I returned, and was read, as usual, with great pleasure, though some of its contents had been anticipated. The verses were very pretty, and highly appreciated, I assure you. I think you would laugh, dearest, if you could just step in and see us as we are now seated around our fire in our little log shanty. [ ] is seated in one corner, busy darning some of his clothes, Wm. G. Jones is up to his elbows in the wash tub, and I am mounted on a stool in the other corner, busy writing, and every now and then someone comes in to borrow a tin plate or a spoon, which are very scarce in camp, and literally pass from mouth to mouth. W.G. expects a furlough in a day or two, and W.E. Jones is expected back today. I must stop, as my paper has run out, and hope you will write immediately and inform me how you and Nan are getting on, and remember me to all
Your loving husband,
J. Harvey Campbell