28 April 1862

Camp Winfield Scott, Va.
April 28th 1862

Dear Sister,

Yours of the 22nd came to hand today and I was glad to hear that you were all well and hope this may find you the same. I am quite well — never felt better in my life than I do at present. We have plenty to eat and I am always ready for my share. And as long as I can [have] that, I guess I shall stand it. You write that you heard we were going into the field of battle before long but we have not yet.

Since my last, we have moved forward about 4 miles towards Yorktown and are within 8 miles of the place and 2 [miles] of some of their batteries, but we have got breastworks within rifle shot distance of them and we have sharpshooters there to pick them off and they have the same. And they use all kinds of tricks to get each other in sight. We have got one man there that was taken by the Indians when he was 5 years old. He was brought up in California and he is sure death to them if he gets sight of them. The works have to be built in the night or the Rebels would pick them off without any trouble. And to keep them busy, about every half hour we send over a shell or two and so they manage to keep them quiet. And in the daytime the sharpshooters watch them and keep them from loading their cannons. They have two regiments of cattle [chattel?]  there and they send them to do the unlucky job but they have poor luck. Mr. darkie creeps up with all care and is about to put in the charge when away goes his hand and on goes a wooden one. And the report today is that they have left the battery and 3 regiments of our men have taken their places and one or two more are in line of battle to support them if the Rebs resent it.

This morning we extended our picket lines and had quite a skirmish but I have not heard the particulars. We are on the reserve and have picket duty to do about 1 mile from camp and part of the boys tell of seeing Rebs and some get shot at but I was out two days last week and stood on the same posts that they did but did not see any or hear any. I have no better luck seeing Rebs than I used to have seeing coons when I used to go cooning and I have not seen any yet.

It is the roughest country and woods that we have to go through that you can imagine. The timber is thick — mostly pine — and lies scattered over the ground and once in awhile there is an old swamp hole to go through and a little brook and then comes a hole. And through all this we have to march night and day. But we have good luck and I have not caught a fall yet and all the injury I have had happen to me is to get my feet wet once in awhile. It seems as though a hand was guiding us lest we should fall. To have a better idea of it, you had ought to go through Allen Woods Swamp some dark night and that will give you a good idea of it.

The spring is rather backwards here but it will make no difference for there is no signs of any farming here and nothing can live that is not in the army, and everything lies common and if a stray pig or cow or anything else eatable comes along, the first man he meets is a butcher and he is soon made meat of. But we have plenty of good food furnished us and it is done more for wanton than anything else and I guess it will be done away with.

You want to know how high paper comes here. We can get off the sutler as cheap as you can but newspapers are the scarcest. I have not had one since I left Washington. You wanted me to let you know how the boots fit. I have not got them yet but will have them in the course of the week for the Captain started for there this morning to be gone 2 or 3 days and when he comes back, I will let you know how they fit. Dave has got back. He was over to our regiment the other day. They are stationed near us and Tip is too. He is well also. H — the dear child — is well but has a poor opinion of soldiering.

But as it is late, I must close. Write soon and if you want to hear from me again before pay day, you had better send me some stamps, and tell how much it cost to send the books. I will send those verses in print to you. I think they are very pretty. Write soon and remember your soldier brother, — A. H. B.