This letter was written by Pvt. William Roberts (1843-1923) of Co. E, 25th Maine Infantry (9 months, 1862-63). William was the son of Charles Roberts (1804-1896) and Eleanor J. Chenery of Westbrook, Cumberland county, Maine. He married Ellen A. Knight (1845-1912).
Most likely he wrote the letter to his sister, Marietta Roberts (1835-1871).
The 25th Maine saw garrison duty in the defenses of Washington, D. C., October 18, 1862, to March 24, 1863. They moved to Chantilly, Va., March 24, and stood picket duty there till June 26. (Temporarily attached to 12th Army Corps, Army Potomac.) Moved to Arlington Heights June 26, thence ordered home June 30. Mustered out July 10, 1863, expiration of term.
See also—“Wishing you a Merry Christmas from a one horse town,” by Brian Swartz.
Camp Tom Casey
March 15, 1863
I received your letter last Friday. I was disappointed in not receiving it before and began to think it had miscarried or that you had a big snow storm there, but when I got it I saw that it was all right and that you had had a big snowstorm there sure enough.
We are having a hail storm here accompanied by some pretty heavy claps of thunder. The past week has been a pretty cold one—not much rain, but plenty of wind with now and then a snow squal making it very uncomfortable for us diggers. We have worked in all about 12 days and shall probably make out fifteen when we shall have to go on guard again, but it will not be as bad as it used to be as they have got sentry boxes at most of the posts and will probably have at all before long.
This morning at 9 o’clock, we had a company inspection and at half past eleven, we had to fall into line for review by Colonel [Francis] Fessenden and they would not let us wear our overcoats because Senator [William P.] Fessenden was going to be there and they wanted us to look well. They have to take us out every once and awhile Sunday to review us because they can’t get any other time.
I sent a letter last week to Randall and one to Sylvanus and going to write one to Albert this week. That record ¹ which Father received was sent by me and I forgot to tell you of it before. It cost one dollar and looks quite well in a frame but I don’t think it ought to cost quite so much.
Our kitten left again shortly after she came back and we have given up having one here at all. John found seven mice in our bunk the other day and killed four of them and I suppose he is going to keep the rest to fat.
I haven’t read the Conscription Act but think well enough of it—what I have heard of it. They say that men that are out here now can’t be drafted before two years from next April.
Monday morning, March 16th—It has not cleared off yet but it don’t storm any now. There is about an inch or so of snow and hail on the ground. They say that Colonel Shaw’s wife has gone home this morning and some of them say that we are going to leave here but I can’t see it. I can’t think of anything to write this morning. I don’t know what [the] reason is.
We are living lately mostly on salt beef, apple sauce, and hasty pudding—high living, isn’t it? But then we have beans and fresh beef and molasses sometimes but not as often as formerly.
Tell Charlie that I want him to plant some of the two earliest papers of melon seeds that were put up in 1862 and he will find them where I used to keep them upstairs in the clothes press on this end of the shelf. I am going to send some money home one of these days when I can get a 20 dollar bill changed as I don’t want to send it all at once. I just went up to the sutler’s and got him to change my 20 dollar bill for me so I shall send a ten dollar bill this time. I thought that was enough to risk at once. If this gets home safe, I will send some more some other time. Give my love to all of the folks and all other friends. This seems to be about all that I can think of so goodbye till next Sunday.
From your brother, — William Roberts, Co. E, 25th Maine Regiment
Arlington Heights, Virginia
¹ The “record” was probably a “Soldier’s Memorial” such as this example which gave the names of the members of each company in the 25th Maine Infantry. These were sold by civilian entrepreneurs who visited the camps and hawked them to the soldiers for $1.