[On the Rappahannock]
January 22, 1863
Thinking that perhaps there were all sorts of rumors about the “Army of the Potomac,” so I will let you [know] what we have done so far. The 20th we left camp about noon & marched about 8 miles farther up the river and camped for the night. That night about bed time, it commenced to rain & the wind to blow very cold.
21st—Woke up—or rather was awake most all night—had wet blankets but on the whole was in very good shape. We broke camp this morning & marched on two or three miles, it raining all the time. At first we were ordered out to build fires but soon it was countermanded & were ordered to pitch tents & night found us with our tents up, good fires, wet blankets, overcoats, & wet, cold ground to sleep on. In fact, there was but a small part of us but what was wet all over.
22nd—It rained all night & the wind blew cold. Our things were about ringing wet. It has rained most all day today but it would not be so bad if the wind did not blow so cold. We struck tents this morning but were ordered to put them up again. We look like a lot of drowned rats. Some of the boys swear some at one thing & some at another. Some joke & laugh. The latter, I think, is for the best. (The storm is not over.) The second day the Orderly got up in the morning & could hardly walk so I had to take his place. He has caught up.
We got whiskey this morning. I called the roll to give it out—that is as much as I would have to do with it. Lieut. wanted to have me keep a canteen of what was left but I told him that he had better keep it so he did. I think that if we had of got across [the Rappahannock] here when we intended, we would have thrashed the Rebs. But you can have no idea of the storm & mud. Four miles a day is as much as I want to go. Pontoons the men had to help along with ropes. I have heard some cheering tonight that “they say” is sure to bring a fight tomorrow. Still I do not believe it.
We have received two days rations tonight. I have to give them out. This winter campaign will kill a great many men. We get coffee, sugar, or pork & crackers. The boys say there was one gun cannon fired the first day & thrice last night. The latter they think as signals.
If you were to ask me how I felt tonight, I should say, “Bully.” I think that I am about as tough as any of them but no one can tell how long he will be so. It is cold & cloudy tonight but does not rain. I hope it will not. I cannot describe to you the pleasure of sleeping with wet clothes & blanket. Still I have no cold which I suppose you fellows are blessed with. I do hope that this army will give them Rebs a good thrashing. I am willing to help.
Write soon & give me all the news. Excuse writing, mistakes, &c.
Yours respectfully, — Chas. E. Bradley