"...you can read about war & hear it talked about but you cannot form no idea of what it is, it is only by seeing it that you will know what war is ~ "
Now to continue his poignant letter of March 21st, 1863...
"I suppose you have got my money by this time though I am almost sorry I sent it by mail but I thought you might want it. I dont know but I may possibly be home in a few days now though do not put to much dependence on it but I do want to see you so bad. I can hardly wait. I want to come home before we go into another battle if I can ~ but before I close this letter I can find out pretty near what my prospects will be of getting a furlough but it seems to me if I could see my family once more I could go in battle contented ~ O Roby you cannot imagine a mans feelings while in front of the Enemy & while in a post of danger especially when the chances of his escaping alive are against him ~"
Such a strong statement and eloquently written I had to highlight it. He goes on:
"I have seen many a man die here on the field when his thoughts are of his wife & family and who in their bitter agony would exclaim
'O if I could see my family and expire', and after the strife is over and that bitter hatred is gone which we invarriably (sic) feel towards our Enemy while in battle and when we all feel like brothers then to know that we have caused so many poor wretches to feel such agony then it is that the stern Soldier feels like weeping over the misery and desolation that he has helped make ~ you can read about war & hear it talked about but you cannot form no idea of what it is, it is only by seeing it that you will know what war is ~ "
The letter continues: "I send you in this letter a North Carolina Rebel Shinplaster which Orlando Lane gave me when he was exchanged as a prisoner, he got it in Richmond. It has stopped snowing for a little while now & perhaps tomorrow it will be as pleasant as summer the weather will soon be getting nice & then we will have to start out for the spring Campaign but we hear all sorts of [unintelligible word here] rumors about our brigade or Regiment, one day we hear we are agoing to Staten Island & then the next to Washington or stay here to hold a certain position while the rest of the Army does the fighting but I guess if there is any fighting in Virginia we will have our share of it but now we hear that the war is agoing to come to a close that Jeff Davis has agreed to accept our terms of Peace..." (Which obviously didn't happen)
"but the latest and last thing is we have a Spring of water here which has a peculiar property ~ just before the opening of a war it commences running & 3 months before the close of the war
it dries up at least it acted so in the Revolution war & Mexican War also the 1812 war and to crown all it dried up 2 weeks ago and of course there is a certain lot of our boys that believes the war is closing because of that circumstance ~ This spring is one mile from Fredericksburgh & 3 miles from here. The inhabitants all believe the thing & I see it is in the papers but I must close now, write soon I am agoing to write to Aby next, those stamps came just in time. George was well yesterday. You may look for me a little this week though it is some doubtfull whether I can come now or not."
Then he adds more the next day:
"Mch 22nd 1863 Sunday
It is very pleasant now to day just like summer. Write soon Love me as ever Yours PR Woodcock"
And upside-down across the bottom a post script:
"George told me when he was here that (?) was agoing in 2 or 3 days home on a furlough but maybe he did not get it. My arm is getting well it has been very sore but I did not get excused from duty. Our small pox cases have got well and came back. Kiss little Georgie for me I hope soon to see him."
And that's the entire letter!
Please join me for the next post--end of March, 1863!
Hope to see you then!