1 February 1863

Winter on the Rappahannock

White Oak Church
December [February] 1, 1863

Dear Father,

I received your letter of the 26th inst. yesterday. You no doubt have received one if not two letters from me since you last wrote so you will know that we are back again in our old camp & in the same tent. Yesterday we fixed over our old chimney & got a load of wood & have fixed up things so that we are now more comfortable than before our last advance. The ground is covered with snow & the mud is deep. I think it will be some time before we can make a forward movement across the Rappahannock. Our last experience was that horses or mules could not draw artillery or pontoons over a corduroy road but that the never-failing soldier had to lend a helping hand & draw them out with out the aid of horse flesh. The inference drawn is that if we cannot move on a corduroy road, how can we move where there is none & draw all our supplies?

It is hard to carry on a winter campaign & then it will take some time for Congress to investigate the last move. They have removed Franklin and Sumner. It will be Hooker’s [turn] next I am afraid, but hope not until he has had a fair trial. I do not see the use of negro soldiers as long as we cannot get a general to lead the white ones. Remove a few more of our best generals & I would say as our brave Colonel (now dead) said to an aide at Gaines Mill after the regiment had fired all their cartridges & things looked gloomy, “Damn you, my men will follow without a cartridge as far as you dare go.”

We want one man & that man wants to be a good, careful general & statesman & one that when he makes up his mind that a thing is right, to push it through & not be talked out of it by those who know nothing about the matter. Old Abe is nothing more than a tool. Seward is the best man that he has about him. But one more thing [is needed]—encouragement for the old soldiers to reenlist—a small bounty & [not] have officers put over them that formerly belonged to the Home Guards & never fought a battle. We have just got one in this regiment & expect more.

Received a paper from E. W. this morning. I sent you a letter the 28th of January. Enclosed find $10 more. Do not let it out until I get through sending. I suppose that you have sent the box before this. We are expecting our old express every day. I wish that you had sold out & moved to Syracuse or some other place. I do not think that I shall stay in Spencer more than three months if I ever get out of this. I should be glad to know who has my money & the amount each has.

The 137th Regiment is about 16 miles from here. I am well & doing well.

Yours respectfully, — Chas. E. Bradley

P. S. December [February] 2nd. We had more express come last night. One of the boys got a box that was started the 3rd of last month. There is some talk of giving furloughs for 10 days to one man in a company but I guess it is just talk. Have to pay your own passage home & back. Do not think it will pay.