7 April 1862

Abandoned winter quarters of the Rebel Army at Manassas

About 5 miles beyond Manassas
April 7th, 1862

Dear Father,

I will write letters as I have opportunities & send them the same way. Yesterday was Sunday with you but not with me. About 15 minutes to nine we gave three cheers for our old camp & took a farewell look at Washington. We went to the railroad—the one that we crossed when we went up to the 26th [New York] Regiment—& stayed there until about half past two in the afternoon. It was a beautiful day. The cars run very slow & a more crooked road you never seen. I hope that Virginia is not all like the part that I have seen. If so, it is not worth fighting for—though it is not land but principles that we fight for.

Fairfax Station has a few old houses & a church. The camps around the latter place were made of [   ], but at Manassas they were good substantial log houses & the camps laid out in streets like ours. The soil is red of iron or some other mineral & the houses or huts were mudded up with hay. Some of these they had tried to burn but the logs were green & only the shingles (which were made bustard fashion) burned. They also had tents which they left standing. The fences were all gone. The fields are free of stumps & look better than any other part of Virginia that I have seen. Dead horses laid strewn along the fields & in the little knolls were the graves of the soldiers that had died here.

They had some very good forts that commanded the rail, but no ditches like ours, & we could carry them at a charge bayonet on a good run. There are about half a dozen houses at the Junction. As we passed through some of their camps we almost had to hold our breathes, it smelt so bad. We are now about 5 miles beyond the Junction. We got here about 8 o’clock last night. Got off the cars & pitched our tents near the railroad & ours is within a rod of a grave but the body has been taken out. There was charcoal put around it to preserve it. Also a board or box. It is at the foot of a pine tree.

There are graves around through the fields & woods. I think that we shall go this afternoon. H. seen Len Nichols as we came out. The 27th [New York] Regiment is passing now. I got my knife of Dearborn by going after it. Our first corporal went to Alexandria the day before we started & has not got back yet. He had no pass. I do not know whether he will be reduced or not.

It has snowed or rained all the afternoon.

April 8th—It rained or snowed all last night. The ground is covered this morning with snow. It rains now & we are all wet. I never knew of so severe a storm in April. We all four slept in one tent last night so as to keep warm.

Yours respectfully, — Chas. E. Bradley