William Latham Candler
Papers, 1861-63, Ms1997-007
December 8, 1861; letter written from Lower Potomac
Near Budds Ferry
Md. Dec. 8 - 1861
My dear Brother
I have not heard from you for a long time and have not written; my time is very much occupied and I do not find opportunities to do the writing which is actually necessary. We are still at an old camping ground, and manage to let the rebels know that we are around. They are gradually throwing their shells closer to us; one was thrown a few days ago in front of our hospital and burst there and day before yesterday another came directly into camp, and stuck in the place where one of the companies tents (which has been moved for a time) should be placed; it did not burst however and consequently did not trouble anyone. They throw nothing at us now but 64 pound rifled shells; but they are very careless about the way they toss them around. A 64 pdr. is no
is no plaything and when they go near anyone make a delightful whistle. Last night about 12 oclk I was waked up by the booming of cannon, followed by the whistling of the balls and the "thud" as they struck the ground. I could not imagine what was up and lay a few moments expecting to hear the "long roll" which did not come and I went to sleep again, this morning I found that the rebels were firing on a steamer which was going up the river, but of course did not hit her. They are the most rascally gunners that can be found, just imagine their firing 53 shots 64 pdrs at $28 apiece, at a poor little wood Schr. just moving along, and not hitting her once. It is abominable to permit such a waste. That is a fair sample of their gunning, they have never done any damage, since we have experienced less than thirty thousand dollars worth of ammunition. They are getting ready to meet us if we cross, are throwing up rifle pits and small entrenchments bearing[?] on the river, and on placing large guns in position to defend their works from an attack
in the rear. A deserter from the point battery came over night before last, he tells a very fair story and says there are two thousand Marylanders who are anxious to come back, but are afraid we will shoot them; We are now anticipating a crossing just below here; and hope to make a firm footing in the sacred soil. I expect that Burnside will go up the James River. Some of our troops are in the rear of the rebels, it has been done very quietly; Heintzelman and Sumner with sixty thousand men are entrenched at the Pacoquan Creek. Our gunboats at Washington are getting into readiness for a fight, they have some immense guns on board, and when they close in from above and below on these batteries will be able in twenty four hours to clean out the whole shore. They can make the land for the distance of two miles too hot for any human being to exist in, and undercover of their guns we can land and entrench ourselves as comfortably as we choose. We will have some hard fighting but that is what we came here for. This programme may not be carried out; but that it is in-
tended now; I am very sure. There have been no exciting or interesting scrapes for some time but there are some now on the docket out of which there will be some fun. Genl. Hooker told me of one, the other night, which will really do some material good; It will be quite an adventure and will be kept a profound secret until it is over. I have applied to get charge of the thing and if Genl decides to carry it out, I think I shall have a hand in it. If I do, and succeed, I shall be a happy man; however such things sound better in the past then in the future. We have to pick our nights for expeditions and as there is a good moon now, it is hard to get a dark enough night. We have been intending to send a boat or two close to the Virginia shore and by sundry movements raise a general alarm among their camps, by which means the man in the balloon can tell pretty nearly how many camps there are. It will be a satisfaction to rout the devils out of their beds some cold stormy night. Tuesday morn - We had a little fight down here yesterday, our gunboats came down and shelled the rebels off Freestone Point. They also
went ashore and burned two large storehouses of provisions, we shall have it every day
now. Moses Williams and Frank Kendall are here.
Your Aff Bro
I sent you last night a 64 pdr. rifled shell thrown at us by the rebels. I wish you would buy for me a lady's gold Hunting watch for a Christmas present to Fannie; get a small one and as nice a watch as you can, and give it to her on Christmas day. Have it marked with her name in full. Send me the price and I will forward all money.
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