Will Fisher to his cousin Julia
Camp of the 123rd Regt. NYS Vols.
Fairfax Station, Virginia
December 26, 1862

Dear Cousin Julia,

As I have an opportunity just now, I will try and answer your letter before I forget it, but I think I am not quite so apt to forget my correspondents as some of the friends at home that have good tables & everything convenient to write, while I have to lay down on the ground & write on my knapsacks.
I had quite come to the conclusion that Uncle N. was not going to write till he killed his pork next year. I was very glad you took the matter in hand for a letter is better late than never. I have not done much writing lately for we have just completed a 7 days march. I tell you it was a tough one & a long one.
We started from Harpers Ferry the 11th of the month (having received marching orders the 10th) & marched down the valley in Loudoun County towards Hillsboro & by night we had made about 15 miles & carried our heavy loaded knapsacks, 2 days rations, 80 rounds of ammunition & our guns & just let me inform you that this is full as much of a load as any common man wants to carry.
We camped for the night near Wheatland called so on account of its being a great wheat country. We were quite still & lame the next morning. We camped in a field of about 75 acres. Just one brigade going into the field & in less than 15 minutes there was not a sign of a rail in sight & there was a good fence all around. There was also 9 stacks of wheat near by which was not threshed & this went full as quick as the rails. If you could see how just our little brigade swept things you might imagine what kind of doings a whole corps of 60,000 men would do. There was full more than this number on the road. It is quite a sight to see a movement of the army when they march. A brigade goes in the following manner; first goes the artillery, there being two or three batteries to every brigade. Well, then goes 3 regts. of infantry, next the wagons & then the 4th regt. of infantry brings up the rear. One brigade marching in close order occupies 3 miles of road.
The second day we passed through Leesburg. This day we made 21 miles which was the biggest day’s march we made. At night the program consisted of about the same destruction of property but one consolation is that they are all open “secesh” in this country with but few exceptions.
The next day being Saturday, we expected we would lay by that night for over “Sunday” but we were disappointed for about daylight we received orders to “Sling knapsacks” & “fall in.” By Saturday night we had got to Centerville near “Bull Run” battle ground. About noon Sunday we arrived at Fairfax Courthouse. While there I saw Frank Ketchum, the one that used to study medicine with Dr. Kennedy at Cambridge. He is Medical Director of Gen. Stoughten’s Division. He ranks as a major.
About a quarter of a mile beyond we came to the camp of the 14th Vermont Regt. There I saw Bill Smart the minister. He is chaplain of that regt. That night we arrived at this place called Fairfax Station, it being the nearest railroad station to the courthouse.
The next morning we started again & marched 2 days through a perfect wilderness and the mud was awful. There was lots of horses & mules would sink down into the mud & die of exhaustion. It looks hard, but there is no end to suffering in war times.
If there is anyone connected with this war who is guilty of trying to prolong it for any profit to himself I think he will have as big a load on his shoulders to answer for as any other class of sinners.
By Tuesday night we had reached Dumfries within 20 miles of Fredericksburg. At this point we received the news of Burnside’s disaster & also the Rebels would not allow us to advance any further so we had to turn around and march back. By Wednesday night we had got back to Fairfax Station where we have remained ever since.
This march was the hardest soldiering I have ever had to endure, but I stood it first rate & I think that I can stand about as much as any of them, at least I did this time. Tonight is the first night I have had a tent to go into since I started on the march. I have just got one since dark & put it up & am now writing to you in it just to try it.
We are about 20 miles from Washington now. Jimmy Sherman & about 26 others were left behind at Harpers Ferry who were sick with colds & did not feel able to march & after the troops had about all left the Ferry, there was about 400 Rebel cavalry made a dash on the place & took about 300 prisoners, Jim & the rest of them among the number. I reckon they looked rather wild when they first came up. The Rebels paroled them immediately after taking them. They are all at Alexandria now in the camp of paroled prisoners. They will probably join the regt. in a few days. Perhaps this will turn out to be only a report, but I saw it in the papers & am afraid it is true.
We all expected to spend Christmas in Richmond, but we are disappointed this time & I am afraid we won’t enjoy that privilege very soon for if we are not able to make fortifications before Fredericksburg, I think those before Richmond must be impregnable.
But I still live in hopes that this wicked war will soon be over. I think I enjoy myself better when we are moving around & busily engaged than I do laying in winter quarters. I never enjoyed better health & felt more contented than I have been for the last two months & furthermore, I believe that I make just as good a soldier in every shape as any of the rest of them if some folks did think I was a little discontented fool that couldn’t stay at home. I never have seen a homesick moment & if I am spared I intend to serve till the war shall have come to a close, but we cannot tell much about when that time shall come.
Well, I guess you will be tired of reading this military news & wish for a change of subject, but the fact is I have no other news to write here, no parties to attend & then to comment on. I am afraid I shall not know how to perform the ceremony of attending a party when I get home.
But I guess I’ll close this long yarn while I think of it. One of my follies is I judge other folks by myself and consequently I think they like to read long letters.
Lemuel is well and sends love to your folks. I should like to see little John & Willie & Satie, you will just leave my best respects with them. Tell John I will come with that nice pony & carriage & give him a ride. Does Aunt Sarah gain any or fail? I am afraid I shall never be permitted to see her again. Remember me to Pat & Ellen, Margaret also. I suppose Uncle Lemuel’s folks feel rather thin this winter with so small a family. I should like to have George write an answer to that letter I wrote him some time ago.

Love to all the folks & please receive this from your cousin.
Will G. F.