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6th Vermont Infantry
Letter to the Editor
From the Cavalry Regiment.
MIDDLETOWN, Va., April 14, 1862.
FRIEND EARLE.-Since I last wrote you the Vermont cavalry has passed the ordeal of a formal introduction to the land of secessia, as we have marched nearly sixty miles direct from Harper's Ferry up the Shenandoah Valley, to Woodstock, Va. I can't give the details of our march, as it would not be interesting, for nearly all marches are attended with the same routine of duties and hardships.
At Harper's Ferry we were all very forcibly impressed with the destruction of war; in that town thirty millions of government property have been destroyed, and it can't fall far short of that amount of private property and railroad bridges. For wild, picturesque, and romantic scenery it surpasses anything I have ever witnessed, and as a military point, could easily be made almost impregnable.
A great deal has been said and written about the Union feeling of the citizens living in this valley; but I have been here a fortnight, and I fail to see or find any such feeling as has been represented. There are but few men left here, every man able to bear arms is in the rebel army, and some volunteers and others were drafted. Those who are left, and especially the women, are strongly tinctured with secesh. The men, having a little more prudence, say they are desirous of peace, but would not mind which way the affair went-union or secesh. The women are ready at all times to declare for "Jeff Davis and the Southern Confederacy."
They say "this may be a war of extermination, but they can never be subjugated." Every kind of falsehood and scandal has been told these people to cause them to hate the northern people with the most intense hatred, and when they become loyal and law abiding citizens, it will be when they are compelled to and not by voluntary action.
This is the greatest land of widows I ever saw. Go to a house and ask the lady where her husband is,-"Dead," is the blank and cheerless answer, but upon further investigation, it will appear that he is a member of Jackson's army.
Doubtless you have learned that our esteemed and able Colonel, Holliday, took his own life while the regiment was on the march from Strasburg to Woodstock.
No harder blow could have been given to our regiment, which has been divided into squadrons and companies, and will probably remain so until we get another colonel.
My company was ordered to this place about an hour after Capt. Sawyer left with the remains of Col. Holiday. Our duties are to patrol the roads, amounting in all to about thirty miles, besides, we have to do picket duty for several miles along the Shenandoah, as Ashley's cavalry are in the habit of crossing the river. Sergeant Mason, with a squad of men captured one of them yesterday, and Corporal Foster had a run after a couple of them last night. The men are crazy to have them cross and meet them. They are on guard four nights in five, but they do not complain, and are ready to go at all times; for instance, I have an order to destroy two boats to-morrow, which the enemy use in crossing the Shenandoah, and all I have to say is, "Come," and I have all the men I need for the work.
I am not at liberty to say much of the army, but Jackson is to be captured or driven from the valley
The health of the company is good; none from our company are sick except Ira S. Drew, and I am pained to say that he has lung fever; but he has every care and attention that he could at home. I obtained a room in the house of a widow, as there is no hospital here, and she is a real mother to him. She says she has attended the sick of both armies, and does it as cheerfully for one as the other.
The surgeon tells me that Ira is improving, and will get along.
H. CLAY FLINT.