Camp Maskell, December 28, 1862.
Dearest:— Sunday evening. Captain Hunter brings me the spurs and pictures; for which, thanks. I will send the old spurs home the first chance. There will be a good many [chances] soon. Don't let Dr. Joe forget to bring back his sword-belt for me, and a piece of old carpet or backing.
General Ewing has ordered one officer, three non-commissioned officers, and ten privates to go home a week from today! And what is still stranger our men are asking not to be sent home so soon! The explanation of this latter wonder is that a paymaster is pretty certain to be along about the 10th of January and the men want to see him before going home. Unless General Ewing's orders are changed you will soon see some of our men. My orderly (cook), William T. Crump, will stop with you. If you are curious to know how we live, put him in the kitchen a day or two. The children will like him.
We have had no serious accidents with all our chopping, logging, and hauling. On Christmas I was alarmed. John Harvey (the boys remember him) driving a team with a big log at the sawmill was thrown off and the wheel ran across his ankle. It was thought to be a crusher but turns out merely a slight sprain.
Nobody sick in the hospital and only four excused from duty by Dr. Barrett!
I dined the four cousins on Christmas day. Had a good time. The regiment fired volleys in the morning. In the afternoon I gave a turkey and two bottles of wine to the three best marksmen. Target firing all the afternoon. A week more [of] pleasant weather will put us entirely “out of the suds,” or out of the mud.
We had our first dress parade this evening. The old flag was brought out with honors. The companies look smaller than they did at the last parade I saw on Upton's Hill, near Washington, almost four months ago, but they looked well and happy.
The weather here is warm and bright. Very favorable for our making camp. I am thinking how happy the boys are with their uncles. It would be jolly to see you all. I love you ever so much. Tell me about the Christmas doings. Love to all.
SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 381