Cantonment Hicks Jan. 31, 1862

Dear Robert,

I have just received by to-night's
mail your good, long letter, and Vanity Fair.
I have thought very much as you have, about
these Naval Expeditions till lately, but I am
convinced now that they, bear as directly on
the rebel army of the Potomac as our force here
does If Burnside succeeds in marching as
far inland as Raleigh, it will oblige Beauregard
I think to withdraw some of his troops from Man-
assas, at the same time if the Kentucky army
forces its way through Cumberland Gap, they rebels
will be threatened on their left, then if the
roads will only let us here, on this line advance
we can't help driving them. I heard from a
source that I've no doubt is perfectly auth-
entic, that McClellan was already to move
just before this dreadful weather commen-
ced, and that everything was prepared
for the advance of the entire army, when
the rains begun, and that now the only
thing he was waiting for was for the mud

to dry up. You've no idea of the fearful state
of the camp ground, the whole surface is cov-
ered with thin mud from three inches to a
foot deep, one can't step out from a tent, with
out sinking in over his foot, and the mud
is as cold as 'slosh' so you can judge how
pleasant it is traveling up and down your
company streets. The sun hasn't been out
but twice for a fortnight. Last Saturday
I was on guard, Bob. Shaw came to me
and proposed as we couldn't go home that
we should try and get 48 hours leave from
Genl. Banks, and go down to Annapolis and
see our friends Curtis and Higginson, I agreed
of course and signed my name to an ap-
plication. He took them and carried them
himself to Gordon, Abercrombie & Banks
who all approved. We made our arrange-
ments to start from Frederick early Monday
morning, so got leave from the Col. to go
into F. Sunday night. On board the train
we found out that the train for Annapolis
did not connect with the one from Frederick
till 4 P.M. so we concluded to go on and wait
our time at Baltimore instead of at the Re-
lay House. We arrived at Baltimore at
10 A.M and took carriage for the Gilmore House, here we washed and polished up,
then took a stroll 'round the city. As I never
have been in but very few cities I can't be
good at comparison, but I was extremely
pleased with Baltimore, it seemed so
much like Boston that I kept imagining
I was on Washington St., the people too
had a very Boston look; we visited the
Washington Monument, and went to the
top, both making up our minds on the stairs
we never would go up such a place again, the
view of B. from the top however, was very fine
commanding the whole city and surrounding
country. After this we promenaded 'round for
an hour or two looking at the people, houses
& But the best fun of all was meeting on
Charles St. two ladies one right after another
both aristocratic looking and very richly
dressed, who as they passed us, gave their
dresses a slap and swept off to the further side
of the sidewalk, giving us the widest berth
possible as if we were the plague; of all
ridiculous performances this was the richest
I ever saw, I thought they had got used
to our blue coats before this. We took a lunch
in the morning at Guy's, of most delicious
broiled oysters and ale. At two we had dinner, a first rate one, soup, fish, prairie
hens, pudding pies fruit & and a bot-
tle of elegant Sherry, I'll leave you to im-
agine whether we did justice to it or not,
the first fine dinner for 8 months. At 4 we
took cars for Annapolis via Annapolis Junc-
tion, got there about 7.30 too late to go to
camp, so we contented ourselves at our stu-
pid little hotel. Early next morning we walk-
ed 'round the town, it is rather a curious
old place but otherwise very uninteresting.
After breakfast we walked out to the Caval-
ry Camp some two miles. We found it with-
out any difficulty and had Major Curtis' and
Capt Higginson's tents pointed out to us. We
made a bee line for the former's but were
disappointed at finding he had gone to
Annapolis, however, he was to be back in
half an hour. Higginson was in camp
and delighted to see us, we were busy ex -
changing news when we heard a "How
are you boys" from the outside in Curtis'
jolly natural old voice, it was quite a
meeting and I think he was as glad to
see us as we him. Curtis and I had plenty
to say to each other, so we had a good
long smoke and talk. I found that all the companies of his battalion except
Capt Higginson's and part of Capt Stevens
were embarking from Annapolis on the
Baltic that day, if the Baltic had been
able to carry the whole battalion we should
just missed seeing our friends. After a little
lunch, the Major proposed to Bob. and I that
we should take a ride over the country, we
were glad enough to accept his invitation
'though the mud was knee deep on the
roads, he honored me by letting me have
his best horse, a regular charger, he mounted
Bob. on his other horse and took one of
Higginson's for himself. I never was on
such a splendid horse before, in my life
at the start we had a little race across
some fields near the camp. My horse got
the lead and kept it going of course on
the full run, you know they never trot
in the army, there was a little stream at
the bottom of a slight inclination, I was
going to pull up at first, but changed my
mind and set him at it, he cleared it
in his stride; after this little sprint we
proceeded on more soberly, not sticking to the roads but going across fields, every
little while Curtis would say "let's take a
skip" and off we'd go again like the wind.
Bob Shaw and Curtis varied the programme
occasionally by leaping fences fallen trees
and a thing I'm not quite up to yet. We
got back to camp and had a very nice din-
ner, the evening was spent smoking and
talking over old times. We slept in the
Major's tent. Before daylight Wednesday
morning we had taken a cup of coffee
and were off on a couple of horses for
Annapolis, after bidding good bye to
our friends and wondering when and
how we should meet again. Major
Curtis told me that he was sure he could get me
a captaincy in his battalion if I would
take it, it was a sore temptation, but
I had made up my mind. We arrived
safely in camp Wednesday afternoon.
I think you will all be glad I have
had such a pleasant little trip, the long
est leave I have had since joining at
Camp Andrew! That caricature in Vanity
Fair of Gov. Andrew is capital I think.
I must say that I think it would have
been better for him if he had done, what he originally said he was going to viz
serve only one year. Some of that Butler
correspondence is very weak I think.
We have some very pleasant recitations
every day now, to Col. Gordon from Mahan:
Out post and Detachment Service and hand-
ling troops in the field, and Coppee's Evo-
lutions of the Line. They are sort of lectures
it is astonishing to see how well posted
the Colonel is on all these topics, hav-
ing a case in point for everything, from
some of Napoleon's or Wellington's battles
or from Scott's campaign in Mexico, Gordon
you know served in this latter, was at
several battles, in one of which he was woun-
ded. I dont really think I want anything
from home at present in the way of eatables
I sometimes think that the delicacies we get rather
unfit us for our kind of work, and that
we are better without them. I have some
very nice things left still from my last
box which I occasionally dip into. I wish
you would remember me to Mrs. Jones
and Marguerita and Annie when you see
them. Do get one of father's photographs when
you can and send it to me. I have got some
money to send home by the first opportunity