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    No. 63. [At a later date, this sequential number was added to the top of this letter.]

    Winchester Mar. 14/62

    My dear Helen,

    As I expected here we are
    safe & sound without a fight & the
    rebels supposed to be at a most
    respectful distance from us.
    Jackson ought not to have escaped
    us & I understand Genl Banks
    wished to come down by way of
    Millwood -- between here & Manassas
    -- & so get in his rear & cut him
    off but instead of doing so
    called a military council, which
    I believe are ever complete stoppers
    on any task in military operation
    & his Brigadiers thought there
    was too much risk & he gave it
    up; as it has turned out he might
    have done it with perfect safety.

    The morning I wrote you we
    marched to Berryville some 12 miles
    over a bad road & bivouacked in
    a wood; the evening was cold &
    rainy & windy & the men had just

    got settled about eight o'c when
    my company was ordered out on
    picket. I did not say much but
    should not like to tell you what
    I thought; We plunged through
    the mud of a by lane for some
    ways & then took to a field which
    was so full of briers that we
    had to go back to the mud
    again at last after walking nearly
    two miles in this way we arrived
    at our destination & by this time
    the moon had come out & the
    sky was perfectly clear

    While I stationed my outposts &
    sintinels I told Sawyer to take
    possession of a house close by for
    those of the men who did not
    go on duty & for another company
    which was to report to me; on my
    return I found that the house had
    turned out to be deserted by everyone
    but the negroes, the proprietor having
    left that very day for this place.
    We rummaged all over the house
    & found a couple of guns hid but

    nothing else of any interest; the
    next morning we had a famous
    breakfast of chicken & ham & bread
    & honey & the men lived on the best
    of ham which we found in the
    smoke house & corn bread; about
    noon we were relieved & returned
    to camp with many trophies in the
    shape of hams & a large demi-john
    of native wine which was quite nice
    & which was carried with my over-
    coat thrown round it to keep it
    from the gaze of envious or objecting
    eyes. Everything went on very
    quietly till Wednesday afternoon
    when mounted orderlies were seen
    coming pell mell from Charlestown
    & in a short time we were ordered
    to get ready to march immediately
    -- there was fighting at Winchester
    & Genl Shields had been captured
    & Genl Hamilton was engaged, so
    off we started about dark & had
    got three or four miles on our way
    when we met Col. Gordon returning from Winchester where he had been
    during the afternoon & his surprise
    & disgust may be imagined when
    he found the regiment moving
    on account of a rumor which
    he knew to be utterly without found-
    ation - nor have I yet heard it
    explained how the mistake occurred
    & can think of no other explanation
    than some misunderstanding of signals
    - however we pushed on & bivouacked
    about two miles north of the
    place in the woods the next day
    we pitched our camp in an
    open field & yesterday the com-
    pany came in here on Provost
    Guard duty.

    This is quite a nice town of some
    five thousand inhabitants its
    situated in a hollow & all the
    approaches are admirably adapted
    for defence & I understand the
    entrenchments are quite extensive
    but I've not yet seen them.

    We are very pleasantly quartered
    at present in a house formerly called
    the Union Hotel kept by an elderly lady

    & her daughters - the mama I dis-
    covered in conversation is a sister of
    Mrs Bruden of Mobile - do you re-
    collect an old lady dressed in black
    who used to sit in the front pew
    of the middle aisle at the church
    we patronized? because if you do
    she was the lady in question - last
    evening we sat in the parlor &
    talked while one of the young ladies
    played on a broken winded piano
    she played pretty well for this
    part of the world & knew some
    good waltzes Morning Star,
    Brightest Eyes Gallop & really played
    in excellent time.

    Brig. Genl Hamilton was called
    yesterday to Washington to take com-
    mand of Genl Heinzelmans brigade or division
    the latter being appointed to one of
    the corps d'armee' & Col. Gordon
    is appointed to the command of
    his brigade & our regiment transferred
    to that brigade Lt. Col. Andrews
    is to be relieved from the post of Provost
    Marshall & probably my company will
    be returned to the regiment shortly &
    I shall be glad of it.

    I understand Charly Horton is to

    be Col. Gordon's Acting Asst. Adjt Genl
    & Lt. Col. Batchelder of the 13th Mass.
    will succeed Col. Andrews as Pro. Mar.

    What a success it is driving the
    rebels from Manassas without a fight
    but I suppose the grumblers will
    continue to growl because McClellan
    did'nt annihilate them there but
    I fancy the effect of a retreat or
    rather a series of retreats as have been
    lately from their several strongholds
    will be as great or greater than
    a similar number of defeats - at
    Forts Henry & Donelson we showed
    that we could whip them out
    of their entrenchments & at Columbus
    & Manassas we have shown that
    we could maneuvere them into
    abandoning their fortifications & sure-
    ly the latter is best in every point
    of view military or otherwise so long
    as the desired eff object is obtained.
    I am very doubtful whether they
    will be able to make any stand
    of great consequence on their new
    line of defence from Gordonsville
    to Staunton or indeed in s this state
    but sixty days will show a great

    deal & wear out a great deal of
    shoe leather for we shall have
    to follow these fellows a long way.

    The Merrimac played us a pretty
    trick & to give the d-l his due
    did it well; if it had not
    been for the Monitor she would
    have got out & would have raised
    Ned with some of our blockading
    ships; however all's well that
    ends well & the plucky little
    Monitor showed that she could
    thrash the "iron clad monster" &
    have a little to spare; the Congress
    & Cumberland were no doubt good
    vessels in their way but as compared
    with the men-of-war of the pres-
    ent day were comparatively of
    little real service & the loss of
    life is the only thing we have
    particularly to regret in the
    late naval fight.

    How long we shall remain here
    is of course mere conjecture but I
    should fancy but a few days
    Jackson is said to be at Strasburg
    but I think will retire as we advance

    I do not know what to say
    yet about sending on the blouse
    & think you had better keep it
    for the present as Adams' Express
    has not yet penetrated as far
    as this.

    Although the mails are likely to
    be irregular for some time still they
    will come through eventually so don't
    be discouraged by not hearing from
    me as often as in the winter as I
    cannot always get an opportunity
    to write & sometimes it may become
    necessary to keep back the mails
    from the army for a few days at
    a time.

    I have received yours of the
    6th & 9th inst & enclose you Booths.
    I saw his brother Wilkes for an hour
    or so in Balte one evening & did
    not like him at all - he rants
    & his face has no more expression
    than a board fence - his voice is
    like Neds'.

    Good-bye! Love to all & a kiss
    to Georgie.
    Your Affectionate Husband