"..it never shall be said that I was found skulking.."
Being fairly new and still on the march, Philip drew guard duty many times. The night of the 25th of October was one of which he wrote Roby a lengthy letter which spanned several days. His paper had an engraved letterhead with a caption that read: "Great Naval Engagement off Fort Jackson". His letter of the 25th:
Dam no 4 Picket Stop [or Station?]
Oct 25 1862
My Dearest Wife
As I will not have time to write this letter in the morning I will commence now ~ it is precisely 1/2 past 3 [a.m.] I have been up all night & now my fire is bright enough to see to write ~ I have not been relieved yet no won't be probably untill we go back to camp which will be in the forenoon some time probably ~ It is now Saturday again & it seems as if this week had passed away very quick [.] Time passes very fast to us now ~ it is a little over 3 months since I enlisted & I do not know just how long since I have seen you[.] I did not keep track of the time [.] Our boys took 2 Rebels prisoners yesterday ~ both gave themselves up [.] The Rumor is here that the body of the Enemys troops were falling back upon Winchester ~ as we were making our Rounds last night we saw some of the most curious Signal Lights you could imagine [.] I do not know what McClellan intends doing with us but we are under strict marching orders [.] We expect to go through Virginia every day & how I do dread that march too ~ we have an awful heavy load to carry & it is a poor Country to march in ~ water is poor & Scarce ~ it is very desolate & completely ravaged [.] The people are so disgusted with war they won't look a Soldier in the face but pass him with heads down..I don't know whether it is their secession proclivities or not but I guess it is ~ we find a good deal of it here in Maryland ~ we probably will have considerable fighting to do should we cross but and fighting that is somewhat harder than our Regt has done yet but it never shall be said that I was found skulking ~ [a term which defined in a dictionary means " to lie in hiding, as out of cowardice or bad conscience"] this is no useless bragging now for I have passed through one fire & I know what I can stand ~ you don't know how much a coward is detested here & yet there is a great deal of Skulking done in the hour of battle -- I would a good deal rather my bones should lay here in the South than be found in that situation [.]"
I don't need to comment on the absolute need and ability of a soldier to be fearless or the reality of them being quite human in a time of stress. Philip goes on to describe the scene of his writing:
"I wish you could see me writing here during the night
Well there you have it--fried onions and potatoes twice a week = health!
And now DEB'S DATE IN HISTORY: June 27, 1864
"...had my mustache and whiskers shaved off..." !
NEXT WEEK MY FOCUS WILL BE ON GETTYSBURG AND THE 151TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE AND PHILIP'S INVOLVEMENT IN IT!
HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND AND HOPE TO SEE YOU THEN!