Will Fisher to his mother
Fairfax Station, Virginia
January 12, 1863

Dear Mother,

Good morning again today. I had a little diarrhea this morning so I did not get out to drill, & will take the time to write you. At the penning of my last, we were in picket down to Bull Run, but we have since been relieved & marched into camp yesterday.
It rained all the night before & made it very muddy & bad walking & we raced it all the time on double quick Monday evening.
I did not write much this morning so I will write tonight.
I am sitting up with a fellow by the name of Cobb from Easton. He was unwell all day & about dark we found him standing up in the middle of the tent with his hat off & would not speak a word to anyone. He called on the Dr. at once & he pronounced him deranged. We had to take him down by force & pour the medicine down him. About this time he began to talk & chatter, but after awhile we got him to sleep & now he is easy.
The sick boys have at last got here. They came in today about noon on the cars with Capt. Hall who went after them. Jimmy & Legas Skellie have recovered & look well. Jimmy has not heard from his mother since we left the Ferry. George Wells told him that his mother had fell down stairs & hurt her. Is it so or not? He is going to write home today so he will hear soon.
Everybody thinks that we are going to stay here a spell now, & I guess you had better have Mr. Culver make me another pair of boots & start your things. My other boots were worn out marching before we got half of the 7 days march in, & I throwed them away. Now I am wearing government shoes, but they won’t answer when the wet season comes on, & don’t think that 4 or 5 dollars is as much of an object as my health.
Tell Fort to put in some pop corn in the ear into my box & some walnuts. One of my tent mates had a little tea pot full of tea come in a box & it was a nice thing to have a drawing of tea. I would like to have you put in a pepper box full of pepper. We have plenty of salt but no pepper & I would like to have a few bunches of matches. If Uncle Nat’s folks have lots of honey to spare, just give them an invite to put in a little & anything you think I would like.
My boots I want like the other ones, a trifle larger, & be sure & have them sewed heavy calf. I have often thought of things that I would like to have but I can never think of it when I want to write.
Almost every man in the army that I see are getting tired & sick of jamming around without any signs of the war ending. They all seem to have seen enough of soldiering, but as for me, I ain’t none sick of it yet. To be sure, I would like to see the war closed, but I live in hopes for I believe that the war will be brought to a close before the fourth of July next, & myself home in Cambridge. I am surprised to see so much homesickness amongst the soldiers. But it is a lamentable fact (& one which I believe) that there is hardly a man in the army but what loses all his patriotism that he ever had, & it is because there is so much rascality & roguery and deviltry & some one must be accountable for it.
I think more & more of Col. McDougall every day. He is the best officer in the regt. except A. Shiland. He is an honest kind hearted man & will do anything for his men & I hope he will be rewarded for it some time. He does not know so much about military matters as some, but he keeps learning.
As for our surgeons, I will not say that I ever saw them drunk, but they do misuse their men most shamefully, they are hard hearted. Most every body says that they have seen them drunk, but you must remember that Dr. Kennedy is not with us so don’t let the blame run on him. He is on detached service at Harpers Ferry.
I don’t know as you are acquainted with the way they do business in the army. You see, in the morning, right after roll call, they have the surgeons call & then the orderlies of the men who are sick to the Dr.’s tent & they examine them & prescribe medicine for them, & those they think are sick enough, they excuse from all duty for that day, but if they don’t see fit to excuse you, let you be ever so sick, you must work or be punished. You take the prescription & go to the hospital store tent & get the medicine. Some mornings there will be perhaps 50 patients & they have to stand out in the cold about 5 o’clock in the morning till their turn comes, often times 3 or 4 hours. And now there is another thing, all the men in the regt. who do not attend surgeon’s call or are not excused by the Dr. are reported for duty. Say, for instance, there is 700 men reported for duty in the regt. & we are called out on drill, & the Capt. should excuse some, the general would see how many men we had, &, if it didn’t agree with the number the surgeon’s reported, he would raise a row, because there is no one got the right but the surgeons.
You wished to know whose brigade we were in. I think I told you in one of my letters, if not excuse my negligence. Well, in the first place, remember we are in the 12th Army Corps commanded by Gen. Slocum (not Perry Slocum), & in the 1st Division of the Corps. commanded by Gen. Williams, & in the 2nd Brigade of that division com’d by General Thos. L. Kane, a brother of the Kane renowned for exploring the arctic regions.
You rather thought in your letter I did not write often enough, but I deem it a pleasure as well as a duty to write & I don’t think you ever found any fault when I was in pack camp where I could write. You spoke of writing on the bottom of my plate when on the march, but I will venture to say there was not a letter written on the march in the whole brigade, for we were on the road before day light & halted after dark, & had no candles to see by. I think you will learn by experience, if we stay here this winter, that I write as often as the rest of the folks.
You said you were sorry I did not send for my gloves to come in Lemuel’s box, but I did not know that he was going to have a box till I see the box in his tent. He don’t say any more to me or Jim about such thing than if we wasn’t his cousins. I am sorry to say that Lem isn’t liked very well. Even Inman Thomas & Peter Darrow don’t like him so well as they used to. It is because he has such a disagreeable way of ordering folks around rather arbitrary, & does just as he wishes with this tent mates things, & don’t like to them do so with his. Now, I don’t notice it, but strangers do, & form a dislike on this account.
I have not received my gloves yet although there is a good many boxes coming in. I will speak to Nat Warner about the next time I see him. I would like to have been home John was there. I guess he didn’t have any money was the reason he did not to to Philadelphia.
I do not see how so many reports get home about our going on into some great battle or any such thing. You must not lay awake every stormy night all winter thinking about me for I have not suffered any this far for want of clothing, nor you need not fear about my reading your letters if the paper is small.
I think we will be paid soon, within a week.
John Marshall was court-martialed the other day & one month’s pay taken from him. It was for trying to shirk out on drill. He hid till they got out on drill. He hates to do duty awfully.
We draw first rate rations now & have for a long time, &, one thing, we draw our full rations.
Jimmy will want to have his things & mine sent together. He is going to have some boots too & Aunt Rebeckah will probably put in some things to him. But be sure & have my things marked. One thing I like to forgot & would like to have you put in an old bed tick & then I can fill it with straw. If you have it, you might put in 3 or 4 pound of buckwheat flour. Put stuff in like fried cakes but not a chicken for I don’t like um.
Mr. Gordon give them a pretty severe reprimanding last Sabbath for allowing themselves to become so demoralized. They are getting rather tough. Everybody in this regt. fairly loves Mr. Gordon.
But I must close this long letter. Jim & Lem send lots of love to you & Aunt Sarah.

Write soon to your boy,
William Garret Fisher