From Yours Affectionately,
C. D. Westbrook
Gary M. Ingersoll, Ph.D.
Camp of 120th Regt N.Y.S.
near Fairfax Semy Va
Sunday Oct 26th 1862
Your letter of the 19th was duly received. We are still on the same spot upon which we encamped after our return from Upton’s Hill, although we have been daily expecting to remove across the creek to more favorable ground for health about a quarter of a mile distant. The nights have been cold & frosty since our return, this morning’s foggy and as we are on low ground the health of the regiment has suffered during the last week. Up to this time we have lost only one man by disease & the cause of his death was most probably his removal from Chain Bridge to our Camp on the Mt Vernon road while sick with the dysentery. I have no doubt but that a removal to better ground would return the health of the regiment. In my own tent I have a sheet iron stove, light enough to carry on a day’s march, which keeps my tent warm & dry and on which my cooking is done. My health is much better since I left the Sutler’s mess.
But I have been bound so much during the past week by the fire setting with a general Court Martial that I begin to feel the want of accustomed out door exercise. With the exception of drilling the regiment on Monday afternoon & of riding on Wednesday afternoon to see the review of Genl Sickles Division by Genl Banks & the President I have had no out door exercise whatever during the week. As there are a large number of cases on hand to be dispatched of, there is a dull prospect ahead. On Friday however the Division received orders to be ready for marching at a moments notice & the Court Martial will move with the Division if it moves. But there seems to be no more prospect of this move, than we have had daily since our arrival here.
The Regiment attended the review on Wednesday, but I was not in the ranks although I saw the Division pass in Review near the Stand of the reviewing personages.
The weather has been very dry since we have been in Virginia, but today it is storming hard. Owing to our expectation of moving my household affairs are not in the order they might have been put. Only one tent is up; the flooring not laid down & this morning the ground around my tent was not trenched, or my horse under cover. The latter is now in a stable & the ground sufficiently trenched to prevent the water from running under the tent.
My stove is in full operation & I am writing on my good table & sitting on a very good chair of domestic manufacture. Behind me is a good lounge or bed, made by stretching a sacking between two poles, of bags that have contained oats for my horse. On that rests a bed sack stuffed with hay with a pillow from home. If we march I carry the blanket, shawl, overcoat & indian rubber poncho strapped to the saddle, with two pairs of saddle bags carrying needful articles with some cooked provisions. In changing stations of course I carry tent & furniture & baggage with me, but in the field I shall carry nothing else excepting a box containing the stove & Crimean set. My travelling bag will either remain in the tent, under guard, or be stored with them.
If I go home this fall I shall bring back with me the grey horse & waggon to accompany the regiment on the march & carry my tent, cooking utensils & food. Government waggons march in trains & are not always at command for food & clothing. A night in the rain at this time of year without shelter or food would be no trifling matter.
I was glad to learn of your safe arrival at Northumberland with the children, and am glad to know that they are in a comfortable house, and not in one strange to me at Lancaster. I hope to be able to visit you there at some time in the future which is not very clear to me at present. Be careful that the children are not exposed to an attack of the croup, and that their clothing is adapted to changes of climate and of weather. If there is anything wanting either for them or yourself let me know.
Remember me to Mary, your father & mother & believe me
C. D. Westbrook