King’s Mill Landing
15th August, 1861
My very dear Wife:
I returned yesterday to this place after an absence of twelve days and a march of twenty miles yesterday between 12 and 6½ o’clock. I found your letter awaiting me advising a box by Mrs. Stewart which was also received last evening, with bread, crackers, melons, tomatoes, etc., all of which were very acceptable. I am afraid Dr. Daggett gave you rather a glowing account of our camp life. We have had a very hard time, no doubt about it, but I am thankful to say that in spite of scorching suns, drive rain, cold east winds, without shelter, and very coarse fare, I am now and have been very well and that the men cheerfully bear all as good soldiers, and our sick list tho large is not alarmingly so, considering the season of the year and the unhealthiness of the location. I wrote you a hasty note from Bethel on a scrap of paper, giving you an account of the camp life we were leading, which is not now necessary to repeat. Suffice it to say it was as hard as it could well be, and but for the excitement of a visit to Hampton and the expectation of having a regular pitched battle with the Yankees at Newport News or Hampton, I do not think we would have been able to stand the march. We bullied them under the guns of Fortress Monroe and took a position in an open field where they could see our strength and they could have a fair fight (with the advantage of odds in their favour) and no masqued batteries to frighten them, and yet they kept in their stronghold, frightened to death as we afterwards learned. We have slept on the ground, in swamps, raining, with the meanest pond water to drink, pickles, pork and ship biscuit for fare, and yet got on first rate, and am truly thankful to find myself back in our comfortable tents at this place. It is now two months since I saw you all, and would be made happy if I could spend a few days with you. The ragged condition of my Company may require the General to give me leave to go up. If I cannot get up a few days or procure the clothes, shoes, hats, etc., for them by letter, which I shall try, we will have an entire new uniform, and as clothes are so very high I will have to look to the ladies to make it up for me, so I speak in time for Centenary and the other Methodist Church ladies to help me out, for we are now in rags. I shall write today to Jno C. Page to make me a pair of shoes and boots which I must have. When you are down there, see that he makes them.
As regards Mrs. Bell’s daughter either boarding or living in my family. I am opposed to it. I have no idea of you being used to bring them into society, or being surrounded by beaux and such annoyances, so cut that off at once. I am glad you have the opportunity of being kind to Mrs. Ryan, and I have no doubt they appreciate it. Vulgarity from a fashionable standpoint is frequently (unreadable), which is preferable to refined deceit.
Tell the children that I read their letters and was much pleased. Miss the little darlings for father.
I shall write Bro. David today and get me a buffalo robe. I want to provide against the winter’s cold. If he gets it, put it up in tobacco and keep it for me till I need it.
Remember me kindly to all friends who inquire.
I think from the tone of the Northern press that they would like now to have peace, which I hope they will not have until they are humbled and it be a lasting peace. We can maintain our independence , whether England and France recognize it or not. I doubt whether the North can keep up her arms in the field with all their boasted wealth and patriotic devotion to the Union. God grant to give us success to bring speedily to a termination this war, and illuminate the mind of our enemies and convert their hearts from error. May the Lord uphold and keep you and protect our little ones is my constant prayer.
Yours very affectionately,
Jno. S. Walker