Headquarters, 2d Brig. 2d Div. 9th A. C.
Near Alexandria, Va., June 15, 1865.
Dear Hannah, — . . Last night three of the men who have been committing these robberies around here were caught. Two of them proved to be Mosby’s men. It has not been safe to travel at night between Washington and Alexandria for some time. . . .
[While my memory still serves me, it is perhaps well to recall a few incidents of the end of the campaign. I remember we marched on to Burkesville Junction. While there we were given several hundred prisoners to guard. Late in the afternoon we heard news of Lee’s surrender. The Confederates who were prisoners refused to believe it. One officer, a lieutenant colonel, made quite a flowery speech to me. He said, “Sooner shall the sun cease to bury herself in the Occident than Robert E. Lee surrender.” Many of them however said they were glad of it, and that they were going to make the best of it.
We marched back to City Point by easy stages, and from there were sent by transports to Alexandria, Virginia, where we remained until we came home, some time in the end of June or beginning of July. Our life there was a quiet and pleasant one, though made somewhat uneasy by the fact that the men were expecting to be discharged and did not see the necessity of much discipline. While we were waiting there, the grand review was held in Washington. I remember we were marched over and camped for the night near the Capitol, and then marched up Pennsylvania Avenue and by the Treasury Building. My men appeared very well. They wore the tall felt hats which gave them the appearance of being larger than they really were. We had a very pretty camp two or three miles out from Alexandria. Some of the men who had a taste for gardening made quite a pretty little garden in front of headquarters. On one occasion at Alexandria we gave a big dinner, at which things were rather lively. I remember a colonel, a friend of mine, got pretty tired and went to sleep in my tent, and dropped his lighted cigar in a box of ammunition. Luckily it did not go off. The ammunition was kept under my camp-bed in case of trouble, but we never had to use it. Here we passed a quiet, pleasant time until we were sent home.
We landed at Readville, and were discharged as soon as we could be mustered out. This ended my campaign.
In justice to my regiment I feel that I ought to state here that in Regimental Losses in the Civil War, by Lieutenant Colonel Fox, three hundred regiments are mentioned as having done well enough to be called the “Fighting Regiments of the War.” The 56th Massachusetts was one of these.]