2 February 1862

Camp Warren
Washington [D. C.]
February 2, 1862

Dear Sister Myra,

Yours of the 26th came to hand in due time and I was very glad to hear from home & glad to hear that all are usually well and hope these few lines may find you enjoying the same great blessings. And to appreciate good health, one must try soldiering for a sick soldier stands a poor chance and the well ones have it hard enough. But if nothing happens to us but Southerners, we shall soon be at home once more. But here we are and we must stand the chances of war.

You wished me to write all of the news but I hardly know what to call news. You spoke of Captain Butler’s being shot. I have heard that he was under arrest and was to be courtmartialed and have heard that he was to be shot but have not heard that he was yet. One thing certain, he serves it if ever a man did. But it is doubtful whether [he] will be or not nut I guess not. They are across the famous Potomac in the promised land awaiting the onset and have been ever since the war began and there does not seem to be any more likelihood of an attack now than then. It seems as though they were bound that this war should be a money war and not a bloody one, but the time must come before long for this peaceable war is wasting nearly two millions each day and all of us as well as the whole world are looking with interest for the final blow to be struck — and it will be struck. I think as soon as we have settled weather and then the war will be sharp but short, and for my part I wish it would come soon so that I could do my share of the fighting and go home for this life does not pay very well for me. I have seen enough of soldier’s life and had rather try my hand in another direction for awhile. But then I am satisfied to do my duty here as long as I stay here. and I hope my stay is about at an end.

It seems rather queer to hear all of the folks tell about snow and sleigh riding when down here what little snow we do get hardly ever lasts 48 hours and sometimes it will snow part of the night and rain the rest of the night and all that it will amount to is 4 or 4 inches of mud. And if we could invent a mud sled, we might use it with some comfort, but as it is, I think it worse than nothing. I do not know as I have told you what we have received in the way of clothing since we arrived in Washington. I have drawed 1 coat, 1 pair of pants, 1 blanket, 1 pair of shoes, 1 shirt, 1 pair of drawers, and one pair of stockings so you see that Daddy Sam keeps an eye on the comfort of his boys and they are all dressed alike, and are all brothers. But Uncle Sam’s stockings do not last very well and I put on the last pair of whole stockings that I have got here and an idea come into my head last night how I could obtain them (some stockings, I mean), or anything else you might wish to send and small scale. The folks in Bristol intend to send a box of things to the boys soon and they could be delivered to Nate Mason and he would take them up there and be glad of the chance to do it.

What does Father think about the tombstones? Does he mean to get them as soon as the weather will permit? I knew it was your wish to have it done right away but Father thought that he could afford to do it better by and by and Nathan wished me to find out what he intended to do. But if he has made up his mind to have it done as soon as the weather will allow, I will say no more about it.

You sent some good advice in those verses but I have adopted the meaning of them as my motto and God being my helper, I will stick to it and try and not come home worse than when I left home and be wiser if not a better boy for this look at the world and what is in it. The Army is a good school to study human nature as it were apart from the world and women’s society and man stands in his true character without any restraint of polished or refined society. And there are some tall carrying on once in awhile, you may calculate.

Perhaps you would like to know how we spend our Sunday and part of the week days. In the first place we all fall out for roll call to see if we are all there and if we are not, that we get a black mark and have to stand on guard so much for the penalty. After roll call, we see about what there is to eat, and after that, at about 9 o’clock, the new guard is put on and the old guard excused. And then comes drill which lasts 2 hours. But today, after guard mounting comes, inspection of guns and knapsacks to see if they are in good order. And at 2 o’clock, we have divine service and as it is time now, I will close for the present and maybe I shall have something more to write about church.

Service is now over and I will try and finish this epistle. We had a very good sermon and he took his text from the 12th Chapter of Ecclesiastics — Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth &c., and the hymns were Praise to the Great Jehovah and the Holy Spirit from the Soldier’s Hymn Book, and instead of piano music we had music from the brass band. And all went off well and the sermon was as good delivered under the blue heaven as if they were delivered in halls of marble. And from [where] we stood, we had a fine view of Washington and Georgetown and a considerable of the Potomac [river], the White House, and the Capitol, all at one view with the naked eye. So you see we have quite a view and it costs us only the trouble of looking.

You sent me a leaf from Ontario and I will send you a sprig from Washington but I do not know the name of it but it is just as good too. It is quite pleasant and it [is] quite warm and pleasant overhead but rather muddy under foot. I will send, “Take care of your Health,” which our chaplain gave me this morning. I received those stamps and are much obliged to you for them but as it is rather late and having one letter to answer from Nate, I will have to close. Send Aunt Myra’s address and cousin Willie’s and please write soon and remember the Bristol box. My love to all.

And remember your soldier brother, — Alb. Bancroft