Light house Point, James River, Va.,
Sunday, May 7, 1865.
Dear Sister L.:—
The regiment moved a short distance the morning after my arrival, but far enough to break up everything, and with the expectation of remaining there some time we began preparing camp for permanent quarters, and I drew and issued a larger amount of clothing than I had ever issued at one time before. This and my share in fixing camp occupied my time and I had just got through and began to think of writing some letters when marching orders came. We moved early on Wednesday morning, passing through Petersburg, and were detained in town (the trains were) a long time by the passing of the Fifth Corps on its way home. I sat on my horse and watched them pass and it was one of the happiest days I’ve seen in the army.
I saw Colonel Rogers of the Eighty-third first in the morning. He told me they were coming and after a while I met in the street Milo, my old chum, who is still carrying the mail, and by and by the regiment came along. I should never have known it for the same regiment. Not a dozen of the old men who were in the ranks when I left remained, but there were a few and that few greeted me joyfully. The old “Charlie” I used to ride was at headquarters yet, and not killed, as I heard.
They would not believe they had started for home, but knew they were going to Richmond, and now they know they are going home, marching overland to Washington, over the roads they have marched before so many weary days.
My faith was too weak when I left you to believe the rebellion could so utterly collapse in one short month. Sherman’s army has started for home. They are to march to Washington via Petersburg and Richmond. Two corps were left in North Carolina and two of the Army of the James are left here, the Twenty-fourth at Richmond and the Twenty-fifth Corps here. There are rumors already looking to the final disposition of the colored troops that I expected to be made. They will not be discharged till Congress has made some provision to incorporate a portion of them into the regular army. The men are to be re-enlisted, those who choose to do so, and the officers are to pass a far more rigid examination and receive commissions in the regular army. There are to be no more “U. S. C. T.” but “U. S. A.” Twenty-four regiments of two thousand men each are to be organized—so says General Casey.
Well, we may say the war is over—”this cruel war is over.” The joy of the nation is tempered by its grief at the base assassination of the President, but we can console ourselves by the thought that he had accomplished his work. His murderer is also dead, and Jeff Davis, the instigator of the fearful deed, is fleeing from the wrath to come— proclaimed an outlaw and $100,000 offered for his head.
From home I have bad news. Mother has been sick some time and Father is afloat again. It is too sad to think of, but its frequent recurrence has made it seem almost a thing of course. The saddest part of all is that his trouble in the church was caused by copperheads who hated his war preaching. My indignation at that has no bounds. I cannot say I am astonished. A copperhead is fit for any meanness this side of hell. If there is a hell they are on the road to it and the sooner they arrive at their journey’s end the better it will suit me. They had better leave or turn strong war men before that old Army of the Potomac gets north, for, my word for it, those old veterans I saw marching through Petersburg the other day will not listen quietly to any of their balderdash. I can listen with a quiet smile to the sad story of a rebel soldier who has fought bravely through the war for a bad cause and acknowledges himself beaten. That is punishment enough for him, but for the villain at home too cowardly to fight for the cause he helped with his tongue and influence, I have only infinite scorn and loathing. I curse him from the bottom of my heart. Earth is too good for him and hell is full of just such men.
Well, my sheet is full and I must close. Write to me soon—same address.