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
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.