Saturday, March 11, 2017

Brigadier-General William F. Bartlett to Colonel Francis W. Palfrey, June 26, 1865

Headquarters First Division, Ninth Corps,
Near Washington, June 26, 1865.

Why shouldn't I send you a few lines this rainy afternoon, to tell you where I am and what doing? I was very sorry not to see you before I came away, but you had gone out of town. I got my orders Friday afternoon, and left two P. M. Saturday, — rather a short time in which to break up a seven months' camp. I was not able to see any one, of course; but good-by now was a much less serious matter, and more easily omitted, than it was seven months ago. I hope you and your wife are out of town by this time, enjoying fresh air and exercise.

I am rather pleasantly situated. I am commanding the First Division of the Corps. My headquarters are in a lovely oak grove, a few (2½) miles out from Georgetown, on the Tenallytown Road, the old Rockville Pike which we knew of old. I am just a little off the road, in tents. I prefer sleeping in a tent, although there is a very good house near by at my service.

The temperature out here under these trees is a very different thing from the fiendish heat of that wretched town that consists of the President's house and the Capitol. I was there a week before I came out here, and it nearly killed me.

My Division lies up the road towards Tenallytown — three brigades, well situated for water, slope, and air. One brigade is commanded by a brigadier, the other two by colonels. I found the command in rather a slack state of discipline. No attention paid to guard-duty or drill. It is natural that men should feel, now that the war for which they enlisted is over, that there is no further need of discipline, and that the strict performance of guard-duty any longer is needless. (I only name guard-duty as one of the points by which you judge of a regiment's “breeding” and efficiency.) In this they are rather encouraged by a certain class of officers, — you well know what I mean if I say the Le Barnes school, — and this feeling of expectancy and uncertainty about getting mustered out is prejudicial to discipline.

I had all the regimental and brigade commanders here the other night, and gave them a lecture of an hour and a half. You would have smiled to see me laying down the law, surrounded by about twenty of these old birds. I fancy it woke them up, for I have been pleased to see a marked change for the better already.

It seems funny to be here on this old road, in command of a Division, where I marched up under your baton not many months ago on foot. I intend to ride up to Poolesville as soon as the weather is a little cooler, if we remain here, and going over to Ball's Bluff and Leesburg. I wish you would come out and go too.

Charlie Whittier and Macy were over to see me the other day. Whit is the same fair boy as ever. I suppose the Army of the Potomac will be dissolved soon; an order will soon be out mustering out “veterans,” which will reduce it very much.

Miss Jennie Turnbull proposes to convert me from my dislike to Washington, so that I shall never want to go away from here after a little while. I should like to “give odds” on it.

Dear Frank, this isn't a very satisfactory letter. There are many things that I have to talk with you about.

Remember me to all yours. Let me have a line from you when you have a spare half hour, and believe me,

Always yours,

SOURCE: Francis Winthrop Palfrey, Memoir of William Francis Bartlett, p. 150-2

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