Saturday, September 3, 2016

Major Wilder Dwight to Elizabeth White Dwight, April 13, 1862

camp Near Edinburg, Virginia, April 13, 1862.

My Dear Mother, — We have been stirred by the news from Grant's and Buell's armies since I wrote, and even more, perhaps, by the attitude of McClellan's forces near Yorktown. This letter can hardly have a rapid flight enough to reach you as soon as decisive news from the Army of the Potomac. I hope large results; yet, in doing so, I must shut my eyes to everything around me, torpid as it is with the paralysis of — incapacity, shall I say? or mischance? To-day we obey the order of the War Department, and give thanks for our victories. The regiment will shortly be formed for that purpose. The time is a fitting one. It is the anniversary of that sombre Sunday of the dishonored flag which brought us the news of the fall of Sumter. It is also a fit time for McClellan's coup de grace. I received yesterday your copy of Howard's letter from Pea Ridge. Its clear description of what he saw and heard and did there is very interesting. After all, I was wiser for him than for myself, and urged him to go to the field where victory has come to be almost monotonous.

Our life here since I wrote is full of emptiness. Picket duty and occasional shelling. Now and then I go down and let the enemy's pickets fire at me, just by way of keeping up the illusion of war. One of our pickets the other day got hit, but the miss is the rule. Out of this nettle safety we will pluck the flower danger one of these days, but not yet. . . . .

Since I laid down my pen our service has taken place. I watched the faces of the men, and missed the light which gladdens them whenever they are called to action. Veterans in everything but conflict, it only quickens their impatience to hear of other achievements.

We shall stay here some days longer, I think. Subsistence, clothing, transportation, all limp and halt and stagger.

We are the most timid and scrupulous invaders in all history. It must be delicious to the finer feelings of some people to watch our velvet-footed advance. It keeps me in a state of chronic contempt.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Amelia Dwight, Editor, Life and Letters of Wilder Dwight: Lieut.-Col. Second Mass. Inf. Vols., p. 232-3

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