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6th Vermont Infantry

Kimball Collection

Letter to the Editor

From the Third Regiment
Camp Griffin, Va., Feb. 18th, 1862

FRIEND EARLE.-'Tis Tuesday eve, the bugle has sounded, and all is now quiet in camp, and I once again take the pen to give you a short account of some of the passing events down in the land of Dixie. The Vermont brigade remains in the same place it has been in for the past three months, doing but very little now, except our regular routine of picket and police general duty. We have drilled very little the past month, owing to the bad weather. From other divisions of the army we have heard of other duties being performed beside picket and police guard. But a short time since we received the news of the battle of Mill Springs. Our troops victorious. Their general slain; their army completely routed, and all their cannon, teams, camp equipage and military stores, fell into the hands of our troops. This was thought by us to be quite a victory. The loss of a General like Zollicoffer, they must have felt very severely; this we know by experience. One on whom they counted as much as they did on him must have caused much sorrow in their army. Not so among our troops. Joy reigned supreme throughout our camps on the reception of the news of the above-mentioned victory. One at least of the head leaders of rebellion-one of the worst of traitors has received what many of them justly deserve. The news of this splendid achievement, or the excitement which it caused had scarcely abated when the more cheering news of the capture of Fort Henry reached us.-This, like the battle of Mill Springs, was a complete success of our troops. Quite a lot of prisoners, the guns belonging to the fort, &c., &c., were captured. We had but very little time to rejoice over this, ere the news of a still greater victory reached us; so great that we almost forget the previous achievements. This was the capture of Roanoke Island. The whole army captured, and in short every thing on the island fell into the hands of the Union troops. Burnside's expedition, of which there has been much anxiety manifested by Northern people on account of the gale which it encountered, proves a perfect success. On the reception of this news the several companies of our regiment fell in, and when we were called upon by our captain to give three cheers on this occasion; we gave them a three-fold ratio, which made secesh tremble. I would not have you think that ours was the only regiment that rejoiced. As the news spread from headquarters to the several regiments of the division, they cheered heartily for general Burnside and his gallant achievement. Shout after shout could be heard along the Potomac, telling the tale of good news. But this news was soon to be cast aside, to receive that which told of a victory which you can count such: General Grant takes Fort Donelson and the whole force, 15,000 men, including the rebel General Johnson and Buckner. All their cannon (65) and 20,000 stand of arms, 3,000 horses, besides a large quantity of military stores. A few victories like this and secession will be on the decline. Those persons in Vermont and other Northern states, who have been finding so much fault with McClellan, his delays, his not being capable of filling his place, &c., &c., will soon, if they are not now, be convinced that he knows what he is about and what they say will not make him change his designs in the least. Congress men and more or less of all classes of the Northern people have for the last three or four months been trying to hasten the thing on. This is all well enough; but let those do it who are appointed to, and let others keep their cool. McClellan is a man who acts upon his own judgment, and moves when he is ready, and the whole North cannot make him start one moment before. The plan for crushing this rebellion was laid long ago, and is being worked out as fast as any reasonable person could expect. Much, very much has been said about delay; but waiting until ready has brought about these victories. Moving when wholly unprepared to fight was the cause of the defeat at Bull Run. This and Ball's Bluff are the only defeats in which our troops have suffered much. The author of Ball's Bluff was no doubt General Stone. But he is where he will not be likely to cause the massacre of many more troops. He is in my opinion a "secesh." He has been confined in Fort Lafayette by Gen McClellean, there to await his trial. He is no doubt guilty. No doubt he was the cause of that defeat and if proved so hanging is too good for him. I can think of no punishment severe enough. Can it be that he was the cause of the death of that noble, gallant and brave Baker. I believe he was. Although he talks union I think he has a secesh heart within. Almost every one since that terrible disaster, has thought there was something wrong about the affair, and I believe it is fast coming to light. While I am writing, we are receiving the news of the capture of Savannah. This looks as though McClellan would soon make all things right. He will follow secesh, now he is ready, in a way not at all acceptable to them. He is at them on so many different points that they know not which way to look for Sunday. Not but a short time hence all will be right and every one fully satisfied with the manner in which their leader has performed the task.

Our brigade is under marching orders. An order has been issued to both officers and soldiers to reduce their baggage to the lowest possible amount necessary. Regimental surgeons have also had orders to, and are sending those sick in regimental hospitals and those in quarters, who are not able to stand the fatigue of a march to the general hospitals at Washington and elsewhere. New regiments are frequently arriving from Washington here, strengthening us; and likewise new batteries. Last week one of the nicest batteries, --I thin the best I ever saw-was added to the number in our division.

The weather still continues very unfavorable, snowing one day a little and raining the next, which makes it almost impossible for any kind of transportation to be carried on by teams. Mud we have in any quantity. As far as that is concerned Virginia exceeds Vermont in the highest degree; but we have had no winter compared to the ones in Vermont. Three inches of snow is the most we have had at any time, and that of very short duration.

A few words in relation to the regiment, and particularly our company, and I will close. The health of this regiment is, as it always has been, very good compared with other regiments, suffering a less number of deaths than almost any other one I know in the service. Scarcely one-third the number have died in this that has in either of the three Vermont regiments that came out last fall. Our company has lost but two, and there are but very few sick now; Scarcely one but would, if called upon to shoulder his musket to meet his rebel foe, in the shortest space of time be ready for action, and I may safely add, the number here is by no means small, who are aching for a chance to pitch in and help their brothers fight the good fight. It is getting late and I must close. Hoping I shall hear from you soon, I remain, as ever.

Yours, &c.,



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