Washington D. C.
March 2, 1862
Thinking that perhaps you would like to know how I got along down here, so I will try and let you know. In the first place I am as well as usual and hope these few lines may find you the same. Soldiering agrees with me very well and as I have not seen you since I enlisted, I will tell you how much I have gained and see if you do not think I will be somebody if I keep on. When I left home, I weighed 127 and now I weigh 152. Ain’t hat doing well? I think it is.
The weather down here is none of the pleasantest for our cloth houses for I think that there is no time of the year in the northern states when we have as much rain as we do here, and when it does rain, the tents have a great notion of leaking. But we are now in hopes of soon having better weather and as soon as we do, there will be something done to settle this difficulty. Our regiment has not been called on but once to sling knapsacks and start and then only 4 companies started. They started at 1 o’clock p.m., marched about 6 miles when the orders were countermanded and they went back to camp and had their tents up again at 2 in the morning but my mate and myself had got about ½ a mile ahead of the rest and when we got [back?] we found that they had gone. But we borrowed no trouble about that. We found an old tent, took peaceable possession of it and stayed until morning and come back at our leisure and arrived in due time safe and sound.
We have plenty to eat — such as it is — but it is as good as soldiers can expect. But we can find no fault with the bread for it is Bakers bread — almost warm from the oven. The ovens are under the Capitol and are almost as large as bed rooms, and their dough tubs will hold two or three quarts and they manage to drive things in the bread line, and overhead they drive things in the political line. They have their Congress room and Senate Chamber or — as the Indians would say — their sacred lodge, and separate rooms for every different business, and all are furnished and finished with as much cost as possible. The inside of the building is mostly marble and of all kinds and colors and it does not seem as though the hand of man were capable of working out such wonders. One may travel all day and yet see something new at every turn, and here inside the walls of marble, it seems we are keeping our drones or fast men. We had better take the bees way of ridding the hive of its worthless members and hang them and then tey would not be picking quarrels and the stand behind the fence ready to join the biggest heap and share their profits and cry, “didn’t we give it to ’em.” But the Capitol is all that makes Washington for there are more poor, rickety old houses and three-cent grog shops here than there ought to be in seven cities and anyone that visits the city must have a keen eye to get his money’s worth.
Perhaps you would like to know how we enjoyed our ride down here in the cars. We started just at night and rode all night cramped into the second class cars and anything that they could get hold of. Part of us had fires and some had not, but the next day we tore out the inside of the car and managed to keep warm and stood it very well and at night, we changed cars at Baltimore. We marched through the City and were cheered at every step. Flags were floating at nearly every window and all seemed peaceable — quite a contrast with one year ago when our troops were mobbed in the same streets. At the depot, we were supplied bread, bacon, and coffee and at 3 in the evening we took the cars again and were until eight the next day before we got into Washington, only 30 miles. And there we were all night in cattle cars without any fire, and it seems as though I never suffered as much with cold as I did that night and in the sunny South too.
We stopped at Washington Depot until the middle of the afternoon, at the Soldier’s Rest, and then marched about 3 miles west of the city and then we had the pleasure of putting up our tents for the first time and we thought it was funny but we have got over that. We have moved twice since and have got so we do not think anything at all of moving.
I had a letter from home this week and they were all well. They have sent me a pair of new boots and tomorrow I am going to try and cross the river. But I guess that I have wrote as much as you will care about reading. Please excuse all mistakes. There is too much going on generally to write with comfort here. Write soon and direct to Albert H. Bancroft
Washington D. C., Care of W. W. Clark