William J. Bancroft directed this letter to his sisters in Shortsville, Ontario county, New York. He wrote the letter from Camp Stoneman near Washington D. C.
[Washington] D. C.
Saturday, April 2d 1864
Susie! I received your kind and very welcome note yesterday and was glad to see that you had not forgotten me — poor little me. I was surprised that you had not engaged a school but it is not yet too late to succeed. Do not give it up. If you cannot get one near home, try one away somewhere. There is a small school at Littleville. There is one up by Mr. Turner’s and the one up by Nate Smith’s or Wilkinson Herendeen’s District. Any of them would be good to begin at. I should not advise you to try Shortsville even if you could get it. It is too large for you. You want to get a school where there are not so many scholars but that you can attend properly to all and thus get yourself a name as a thorough, faithful teacher. But you have taken too much pains to fit yourself to give up for a trifle. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.
I was glad to hear that you enjoyed yourself so well at the hook. I should like to have been there but the Lord is moving the hearts of men by His spirit and there is an interesting work of grace progressing in the camp about one mile from here. I was over there night before last. 3 or 4 went forward for prayers and it was given out that tomorrow the ordinance of baptism would be administered to one or more and the Lord’s Supper it to be eaten after the baptism of those who may present themselves. I do not know yet whether I can be present or not. It storms now very steadily and if it does not clear up, I shall have to stay at home as we say here. They hold meetings every night and I am informed that there has been some considerable interest in them. I saw some commissioned officers too over there who did not seem to think it beneath them to take seats in the chapel tent and listen to the words of life as they fell from the lips of first a young man and then from an aged laborer of the Lord who has come to the army though over 60 years of age.
Afternoon and most dark. I left this unfinished to await the mail but nothing for me. It still continues to pour. We — that is, Sergt. Palmer and I — have been to the woods and got all the wood we could carry and the vote is unanimous to keep the tent as comfortable as possible for the evening. Our stove draws the wrong way and of course it is pleasant but we do have pleasant times when the weather is fair. This rain cannot last long and he is no man who will let such trifles as a few days of discomfort make him complain and lose his temper. The order has just come to go up to the Captain’s tent to sign the pay roll and payday is now close at hand — perhaps tomorrow. Send no money. Tell Father if it is not already on the way I may yet send the money to Coleman.
[written in margin of letter in period ink: Shot at Cold Harbor, June 2, 1864. Albert died in prison in Andersonville, August 10, 1864.]