Camp Hicks, December 23, 1861.
Dear D——, — I do assure you that your Christmas remembrance has warmed and cheered and brightened this sombre morning in camp. Our wooded camp had been hail-rattled and rain-rattled all night. The half-broke morning was dull with falling snows. The ice-crowned trees bowed their heads and bent their branches, winter-laden. A moaning wind chimed to the ear the sad tones whose corresponding hues darkened the eye. But just as your gift arrived the sun broke, also the clouds. Sun-lightened was the air, and sun-lightened, also, was my spirit. I rejoiced in home memories and associations. And now, the day really is a good day. I expect many empty hours in camp this winter, and hope to fill some of the pleasantest of them with Napier. Unless something more serious than the present threatenings indicate should occur at Falling Waters, we shall probably pass a quiet winter in our present favorable camp. The division is placed here because of the abundant forage of this county and the direct rail communication. I am quite a convert to the wisdom and necessity of taking good care of our army, and saving it up for spring. Events are favoring us rapidly now of their own accord.
The English question does not yet take shape enough to enable one to judge of it. I have no fear of a war with England. The cause is inadequate. The right of search and seizure is one that I hope we shall exercise sparingly. The game is not worth the candle. Still, I enjoy the joke of the seizure of Slidell and Mason, and am curious to see the ground of England's vigorous protest. England is base and mean in her treatment of us; and if we were only stronger, I should enjoy a war with her. As it is, I suppose we must wait, like Dr. Winship, till we have trained a couple of years, and then, perhaps, we shall be up to a fight with her.
It really seems, this evening, as if winter, Northern winter, had come. If he visits Manassas as he does Frederick, how the Rebels must be shivering in their shoes, if, indeed, they have any shoes to shiver in.
Howard's position I rejoice in. I quite believe that he will rise in his regiment and see service. I repeat my thanks, and wish you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
SOURCE: Elizabeth Amelia Dwight, Editor, Life and Letters of Wilder Dwight: Lieut.-Col. Second Mass. Inf. Vols., p. 179-80