Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Major Wilder Dwight, May 9, 1862

camp Near New Market, Virginia, May 9, 1862.

After passing three days in bivouac on the other side of the gap, we returned here last night, and went again into camp

Our cavalry made a brisk and bold charge the other day. They are coming up finely under the new general, Hatch. They actually brought in ten men wounded with sabre-cuts; a thing not before done in the war, and really a most healthy indication.

Our life in the woods on the mountain was listless, but pleasant enough. I got a letter from Mrs. Ticknor, which I have answered. I hope your funds will all be saved against the wants which weather or battle will surely develop before autumn. It is a pity that your fund should not do its utmost good, and in this direction that work can best be done.

Just now our own prospects are not such as to give us much claim on home solicitude or benevolence. The Secretary of War has ordered us back to Strasburg.

Shields, now a major-general! takes his division across the gap to McDowell. General Banks remains with two brigades, one of them ours, at Strasburg. This is the programme.

With that pitiful force to which Banks's “army corps” is now reduced, and at that point fifty miles back of our recent advance, we have no other hope or purpose than protecting Maryland! A proud sequel, is it not?

Of course all this is a severe trial to me, — the severest, I think, of my life. But equally, of course, I keep a cheerful spirit, and mean to do my best to the end. Whether the whirligig of time has any revenges in our favor or not we must wait to see.

Service is obeying orders, and we are in service. Perhaps we shall make some effort to get into an active department as soon as things have taken shape. We certainly shall if we can see any way to do so. It is rather hard luck for the first regiment recruited for the war, isn't it?

We are having very bright, warm weather, and this valley is beautiful under it. On our night march through the gap, we had sunrise just at the crest of the mountain. Both the valleys lay beneath us in their morning bath of sunshine, picturesque with camps and wheat-fields and villages.

Yesterday the box arrived; the blanket is just what I want; the stockings went right on men's feet

I wait patiently for news from William. It may well be that his opportunity will soon come or has come.

It is a year since our camp life at West Roxbury. What a different year from that to which we then looked forward!

May the next year be a different one from that which now appears before us.

Love to all at home.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Amelia Dwight, Editor, Life and Letters of Wilder Dwight: Lieut.-Col. Second Mass. Inf. Vols., p. 244-5

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