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    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