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6th Vermont Infantry

Kimball Collection

Letter to the Editor

From the Eleventh Regiment.



April 24, 1863

MR. EDITOR : Thinking that a letter from the 11th Vermont might be interesting, I take this opportunity to ventilate a little of the past history and present condition of the same to you, (with your permission,) to the numerous readers of your excellent paper.

Though a stranger to you, I am not to the Standard, the weekly visits of which are occasions of much interest to our company. Last Monday morning was an exciting time with the 11th. The cooks of the several companies were roused from their beds about 3 o'clock in the morning, and ordered to have a day's rations cooked immediately. From the fact that but one day's rations were ordered, we at once concluded that we were going to the city of Washington to do provost guard duty as we had had some reports to that effect before. The news of the prospect of a march was soon communicated to the barracks. The boys were up and dressed earlier than usual. Their blankets were rolled, their knapsacks packed, equipments put on, and everything, in short time, was in readiness for the command to 'fall in.'

Though we have many comforts and conveniences here that we could not enjoy if doing active service in the field, or frequently moving from place to place-yet the boys, (with few exceptions) were delighted with the prospect of moving.-There were some tears shed by the gentler sex, whose husbands were thus suddenly called to leave them. I was glad that I had not so much to leave, though I had almost envied them before.

We took an early dinner, and finally started at half past 11, with the (as yet) unstained banner of our idolized State waving over us, our hearts filled with patriotic devotion to our beloved country, and a willingness to do, and if need be, to die in her defence. The day was a rainy one, and the mud in some places was from 6 inches to 2 feet deep, making it very disagreeable traveling for the soldiers, and almost impossible for teams. We reached the place of our destination at half past 3 o'clock, P. M. It was about 3 miles from Fort Slocum, and one mile from Washington. The principal feature of the place was long rows of barracks sufficient for the accommodation of three or four regiments. The place was called Cliffburne barracks.-Our stay here, however, was quite short, for at 3 o'clock, P. M. of Wednesday, the 22d we received orders to prepare immediately to march back to our old quarters.

The idea of retreating was disagreeable to some who wished to go into the field; but the larger, and, we think, the wiser portion knew and appreciated the immense advantages for the preservation of life and health we possess, over those who are in the field, and were not at all disposed to complain of this change in the programme. We reached our old camp about sundown; and as the boys broke ranks, they gave three loud hurrahs from each company, which made the woods ring again; but whether their journey was at an end, and they might relieve themselves of the cumbersome knapsacks, or because they had, as it were, got home again, I am unable to say ;-but I am quite sure that even the brief experience of those three days has taught us how better to appreciate the peculiar advantages of our position.

When we went away from here, I think it was the opinion of a majority of the regiment, both among the officers and men, that we would not return; but here we are, with a probability of remaining for five or six months to come. It is now quite certain that our regiment is to be filled up, and I hope and trust with volunteers. But it is for the good people of Vermont to say whether they will enlist or be drafted. Most of the companies have sent home two non-commissioned officers, (sergeant and corporal,) to give the patriotic, able-bodied men up there a chance to do something for their country. The delegates from this company will probably make their appearance there before this letter will reach you, and we hope they will meet with such a reception as the interest of their errand demands. Men should not need urging, when outraged principles and an imperiled country call for their earnest and energetic efforts. The justice of the principles which we are fighting for, is acknowledged all over the world. On the contrary, the base designs of our enemies are manifest to all lovers of justice, liberty and humanity.

One could hardly enlist under more favorable circumstances than corporal Sargeant offers to the people of Orleans county. The recruit will come into a good company, well-officered, and into a regiment possessing a very desirable situation. But I need not say more, only to state that the regiment has been gradually improving in health for the last two months. Fine weather is fairly upon us, and under its influence we are rapidly improving in health and spirits.-In our present position we experience but few of the inconveniences, dangers and privations of our brothers in the field. We enjoy ourselves well, except an occasional longing for the society and friends which we left in Vermont.

Wishing you much success in diffusing the principles of justice and truth thro' the columns of the Standard, and a speedy close of this infamous rebellion, I will bring this letter, which is already too long, to a close.

Yours truly,GEO. P. KEELER



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