Sunday, January 22, 2012

Jauary 19, 1862: Letter from Theodore Carhart, Jr., 1st NJ Regiment

Private Theodore Carhart, Jr., Company D, 1st NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment, of Belvidere, was known to readers of The Belvidere Intelligencer as "Dora." 

On January 19, 1862, Carhart wrote a letter to his family while in Camp Seminary, Virginia, "Father and Mother: I received your letter this morning, and, as usual, felt glad to hear from you.  It always makes me feel good to receive a letter from home.  I feel lost if I do not get one a week, and I suppose it is the same with you.  

"The weather has been very bad for the last week.  The sacred soil of old Virginia has been almost knee deep.  There has been no drilling for over a week on account of the mud.  It has rained steady for three days, but slacked up a little tonight.  It was warm enough today to work outdoors with the coat off.  If the army should attempt to move while it is so bad, I think it would meet with failure, for it would be a thing almost impossible to move the artillery; and I think further, that if it should freeze up any time, that there will be a move of the Army of the Potomac; and in McClellan's words, 'it will be short but desperate.'  As I have said before, the hardest fighting will have to be done in Virginia.  You say the army has been lying idle       about long enough; so we all think, and have to take it out in thinking.  I don't believe there is a man in the Brigade but would jump and give three hearty cheers to hear an order read for an advance movement.

"Yesterday, there was a rumor in camp that there were two companies to go out of each Regiment in the Division to strengthen the outposts, and you could hear almost every private exclaim, 'Is your company going?  I only wish ours would, for I am tired of laying here and doing nothing.'  The boys who have gone in the different expeditions are having all the fun, and we are idling away our time.   Our good old General [Philip Kearny] has done more to make the men of his Brigade happy and contented than any other General in the army.  He has constructed a log hut to serve as a dining room, and for boxing and fencing - the gloves and swords free for all.  There are a dozen pair of different kinds of gloves and an equal number of swords, headplates, breastplates and jackets made for the purpose; and in fact, there is everything there that a person could ask for in the way of amusement; and this is not all - he allows troupes (not secesh) to come here and amuse the boys.  Last week, the 'Hutchinson Family' were here, and this we would like to make an engagement with our troops, and we feel confident we could fulfill it.  Only let the General point out the place, and we would get there in double quick.  

"I see, in my last week's Intelligencer, a letter from my old friend Knox [Thomas A. H. Knox].  He and Andrew Neal were down to see me some time ago, and I promised to return the compliment, but the weather has been so bad that I thought it useless to undertake the journey (it being near 20 miles to where they are) but will try the first opportunity I get, and I think I can get through safe.  Last week, we were visited by a few friends from Jersey, but not liking camp life, or the lay of the country, left rather suddenly.  All the Belvidere boys are flourishing grandly.  I receive The Intelligencer regularly every Saturday afternoon.  As I hear tattoo beating, I must close, so good night - love and respects to all. Respectfully, your son, Dora."

Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards    

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