January 1863

From the 6th Regiment
Camp near Belle Plain, Va.
January 10th, 1863

Editors Republic:- It has been raining steadily all day, quite to the satisfaction of those who desire no movement of the army this winter, and to the despondency of those whose desires and anticipations were of a contrary desire. December came in, and continued quite cold until just before the battle of Fredericksburg, when it moderated, and from that time up to the present, it has been beautiful. Today however indicates a change.
This Brigade is quite well prepared for cold weather, having been at work building "winter quarters" since Dec. 23d, the day we arrived in this camp.
In the battle of Fredericksburg, our Brigade was more fortunate, as regards loss, than in any of their preceding engagements. The 6th had none killed, and but very few wounded. I think the confidence in Gen. Burnside was not diminished materially by the repulse we received at Fredericksburg. The arm admire his generosity and frankness, and his explanation of his reasons for attacking the enemy when and where he did seem quite satisfactory to those who witnessed the affair, and who could but approve of the wisdom of the plan ere it had become a failure. He is so modest and ready to assume every responsibility and acknowledge that he is more incapable than others to command the army, that he almost seems to lack the great essential of self confidence, which is entirely and forcible contradicted by his conduct in the field. He conceived the plan of crossing the river at a time and place contrary to the expectations of the President and Gen. in Chief, when he must have felt that defeat would bring upon him the severest criticism of the Nation. The task was a dangerous one, but he believed he could succeed, and he had nerve enough to undertake it. After the well known delay, the crossing was effected and the fortifications stormed, but without avail. the command still believed that it was possible to carry the works, but rather than sacrifice the number of lives which he saw it would be inevitably necessary to sacrifice he chose to retreat and subject his conduct to the judgment of his country. It is hoped that he may be allowed to try again.
There is something however, outside the army, that threatens to be a more serious impediment to the success of out arms, than any lack of skill which may be evinced by our Generals. It is a powerful political element in the country, which has for its object the closing of the war, by a resistance to the measures of an honest Government, and by concessions to traitors, which will be even more humiliating to the Union soldiers who claim to have possessed a spark of patriotism, than the saddest defeat which it is possible for him to receive on the field.
This element has become so bold that it hesitates not to take direct issue with the Governor elect of New York, grateful to the cry arbitrary arrests, which contributed so much to his success, now calls upon his subordinates, to take care that no person is arrested or taken away with out what he terms "legal authority."
they are not the lovers of the Union, who are so boisterous against what are termed "arbitrary arrests." those who claim to have been unjustly arrested or imprisoned, will mostly be found to be of the stamp of the Editor of the Dubuque Herald, who was released in the midst of a thousand protestations of loyalty, and now boldly charges the President with having destroyed the Nation. I doubt that there is a loyal man in the country who would not himself, be willing to abide by the existing measures to punish traitors in our midst. Out hopes of the country are most sanguine, when we see that its administrators are determined to punish its enemies. A Government that is true to itself, is more or less sensitive like individuals, and will look with suspicion, and jealousy on its secret enemies.
We desire peace, but not such an one as would forever glare upon us the stinging conviction that our efforts to sustain our Government by war, were but an error of misguided patriotism, and that the blood of our brothers and comrades was shed for naught.
A bill for the consolidation of Regiments in the field, which contemplates giving each one thousand effectives, is being urged in Congress. While this blending together of numbers will destroy their identity and thereby undoubtedly displease many, the measure if it takes effect will certainly be of great benefit to the Government.
Gen. Wadsworth now commands our division, and Gen. Meredith the Brigade. Gen. Doubleday had command of the Div. l in the battle of Fredericksburg. I was glad to see by the last Republic, that Capt. Noyes had arrived home safely. May he soon recover under the tender care of friends, and the sanitary influence of a quiet home.
Hoping that the remnant of co. A has not become entirely foreign to your kind remembrance, I remain Yours truly.