camp Near Harrisonburg, April 29, 1862.
I believe I wrote you a short letter since our arrival here. Written in a northeast storm, perhaps it had a little of the gloom of the sky that overhung it. Let me try what brighter skies may inspire. Sunday morning last broke; yes! broke, and the spell — of weather which had held us so long yielded at last. The snows which we found on the field vanished.
In the midst of our morning inspection an order came to march at once on a reconnoissance towards Jackson's position in the Swift Run Gap on the Blue Ridge. We got off at about eleven o'clock, with the Twenty-seventh Indiana Regiment. It was our duty to support the cavalry and artillery under General Hatch. We went out on the “mud pike” to Magaugheysville, or rather toward that euphonious town. Such a road! We toiled out eleven miles. The cavalry pushed beyond Magaugheysville and had a brisk little skirmish, in which we took two prisoners and lost one. The Rebels have the bridge that crosses the Shenandoah full of brush and combustibles, ready to burn when we press them. It is reported that Jackson is reinforced by a brigade or more, and that he will make a stand in the gap. If this is so, perhaps we may get a little fight out of him. But I am still of the persuasion which I have always held. Our problem in this valley has always been, the movement and subsistence of our army. The enemy has always been a secondary consideration, though he has kept up a vigorous resistance.
In the ripeness of time we must cross the ridge and find ourselves close on the flank of that army that resists McClellan at Yorktown. This is certainly the right way.
What politics or jealousy or a divided command may confuse us into blundering, I cannot say.
We have reduced our baggage, and I send home a trunk. The hard pan is what we come down to, and miss only the opportunity to drive twice our force of Rebels from any position they may take.
I rejoice in the capture of New Orleans, and believe that the 1st of June will show the Rebellion crushed and bleeding.
Yesterday I was busy all day on outpost duty. On Sunday our regiment marched twenty-two miles between eleven o'clock and sunset: good work. We have met one misfortune since our arrival here. A corporal of Company H, who was a capital man, and a good soldier, marched into our present camp with the regiment, was taken sick the next day of typhus fever, and died within forty-eight hours. This morning he was buried, and I could not help thinking how little of the soldier's reward he would receive, yet how much he deserves.
We are all well, and hoping to move on toward Richmond.
SOURCE: Elizabeth Amelia Dwight, Editor, Life and Letters of Wilder Dwight: Lieut.-Col. Second Mass. Inf. Vols., p. 242-3