January 1, 1864. The army is comfortably quartered in log huts, and horse racing, games, etc., are under full headway. The rebel army still confronts us as defiantly as ever, and is securely entrenched on the other side of the Rapidan. Who would have dreamed in ’61, that those of us who started out to finish the war in the course of a three months’ service, would still be in the field three years afterwards, with the task still unaccomplished? Immense changes have occurred; in the meantime we have had a vast experience in war and are no longer enthusiastic boys, but veteran soldiers, taught in the best of all military schools, actual service, in campaigns that have had no equal in modern times.
Over one half of our original number has disappeared from the muster rolls; killed in action; died of wounds, of disease, of fatigue and exposure, or perhaps resigned, unable to stand the constant shock of arms. This old state of Virginia has become a vast cemetery, in which thousands of once bright and ambitious men belonging to the army of the Potomac now lie scattered in its shady nooks or somber woods, unmarked except by their bleaching bones and the accumulation of various parts of their accoutrements, which still lay rusting and rotting about them. Amongst the survivors, the excitement and enthusiasm of early days has long since passed away, but the resolve still remains, and until the work is done this army will never lay down its arms.
Our daily life seems natural enough to most of us, and fighting battles and campaigning the ordinary routine of life. There is not much talk of the end of the war, and yet we know it cannot be so far away; still these people have fought so well, made such extraordinary good use of their limited resources and prolonged the contest so unexpectedly that one is loth to express any opinion respecting the ultimate collapse. They will no doubt, fight to the death, in the last ditch, as they suggestively put it, and we shall have many more battles to fight, marches to make, and sacrifice of lives, before the end comes; but come it must, and this grand old army will surely one day parade to receive the submission of what is left of its great antagonist, then quietly disband never to meet again.