July 18, 1861 [Clearfield Republican: 8-6-1861].
Hampshire Co., VA –
It is with the greatest pleasure that I seat myself to write a few lines to you. I received two letters last night, and I must answer them both at once. One of them was from J. and the other from W.
When I last wrote I told you that I would not write again until after I had been in a fight: but it is all nonsense talking about that. We cannot get a fight out of them. Our fellows took the town named New Creek Station, and the rebels were going to take it back. We were about two and a half miles from the town when the news came, and they called on the Cadets to go forward at once – and you may be sure that pleased us first rate. We got ready and started and met James M. Welch who told us to hurry, and we went on a double quick for about two miles. We were all running and the Captain said no man must flinch now. You had better think there was a boy about my size felt for fight.
We ran into town and the women and children were all at a little house at the river side, in the cellar. We crossed the river on a fish dam, and saw the citizens climbing up the rocks on the hill. I thought that looked like fight. We stopped in the town and the Colonel went to find a place for us to stay. Some of our men were breaking down the brush between them and the road. This looked ominous. When the Colonel returned we were marched up the creek about a quarter of a mile, and to a church standing on a nob [sic], in a nice grove and a valley all around us, presenting a beautiful view of the country. Six of the stoutest men were taken for guard duty. The rest of our company were quartered at the church.
I was on guard, and stationed at a rebel’s house, and told to let no person into or out of it. That was to keep the news from getting out. I was concealed from view. Well, the old Secesh wanted out, but I told him what the consequences would be if he did not be still. I kept my ear cocked for him. The women were much scared, and told me he was a good Union man. I said, “in a pig’s eye he is a Union man.” They wanted me to take something to eat, but I told them I had plenty to eat in my haversack, and I guess they thought I was older than I looked to be.
We wanted for the rebels to come and take us, but they did not come. We were on the lookout all night, and in the morning about daylight we formed in ranks, the Captain telling us that the town was to be attacked and that this was the time they expected it. But the rebels would not come. We then started for Romney. I was on guard at the baggage wagon. After going about five miles the news met us that the town was burnt and the fort in the possession of Union troops. We were again cut out of the fight, and had to turn back.
Yesterday the Capt. and W. Behan were out looking around and saw a squad of rebels drilling in a field about three hundred rods from them. The rebels saw them though and ran like the d—l. The Captain came and got a squad and went after them but they could not be found any place.
Our guns are the old musket, but we will get rifles after while. We started off in such a hurry that we could not get rifles. A Havelock is something like a bonnet, fixed on our caps to keep the sun off our necks. It is a nice thing.
I am glad to hear that your corn is growing so well, and that your spring wheat is so good. I want you to have the new house ready for that dance we are to have in the fall. I think that I will be home this fall. Yesterday I was thinking about home, and I thought I would give all I was worth to get a letter from you or from V. You would not know how glad I was when Billy O. gave me those two letters. I tore them open and read them pretty quick, and then I was not satisfied and read them over again to see if I could get something else out of them. They were not half long enough for me. I would like to get a letter from you about three sheets full. I am coming to the end of the sheet; but I am not half done writing. O, what a blessing that I can write to let you know that I am well. Good bye, for this time.