General writes his wife

Date Written

Jan. 26, 1863

Clark Swett Edwards was 38 years old when this was written.
The recipient, Maria Antionette Mason Edwards, was 34 when it was received.

Clark Swett Edwards died 40 years, 3 months, 7 days after writing this.
It was written 160 years, 8 months, 7 days ago.
It was a Monday.

Head Quarters 5th Maine Vol.
Camp near White Oak Church, Va.
January 26th

My Dear Wife,

It is now eleven o’clock at night but I thought I would commence a letter as I am alone and quiet. I put in my papers tonight for a leave but do not know how it will turn out as I hear all the leading Generals are a leaving and there will be no one for a few days to grant leaves. If it be true that there is to be another change in our commander, it will be hard for anyone to leave at present.

Tuesday morn. I have just heard that Burnside, Sumner, & Franklin have been relieved from their commands. If so, I hardly see what we are coming to but perhaps it is all for the best. In looking over the Dr. note, I find one word I do not take well. It does not exactly suit. One of his remarks is this — that “I trust you will be loyal and hopeful.” Now I want to know if there is anyone that doubts my loyalty. Is there a person that would sacrifice all the comforts of a good home and expose himself in as many fights as I have done and have gone through with as much and not shone the white feather before this? I do not think the Dr. thought harm, but still such language had better be applied to those who ought to bare it. I am ready to do anything within my power to restore the Union. Our two last moves I felt to be out of place & out of season &c., but not a man under me ever heard a murmur or complaint against the move and I have always been ready to reprimand all officers under me where I heard a complaint against the government.

I know I have wrote you some things against the powers at Washington for removing Little Mac, and now I think they done wrong. But not an enlisted man ever heard me complain of it.

I will drop that subject now and write something else. Today it rains quite fast but is warmer. We have a plenty of mud but no snow since we left Stafford Court House but then I should prefer snow to rain anyway. Yesterday our Regiment were out under arms to receive our old Gen’l Slocum. He made us a short call. He is one of the best generals in the army. If Franklin leaves — which we hear he has — we hope that Gen. Slocum will get his place as he is deserving of it. He told me that [Col. Nathaniel James] Jackson did not get along very well with his Brigade and has but three small regiments so you can see he is not getting along very fast.

I expect you are in need of some money at this time. I give you an idea of what I have now on hand and what is due me. My last pay was a little rising six hundred dollars as I was paid for four months. I took a check on the U. States Treasury at New York for five hundred dollars payable to your order so if I should get killed or drop off suddenly, you could draw it at once. That I thought it best to keep till I went home or if I could not go I shall send it to you soon & you can exchange it in Portland and get some forty dollars premium. The government is now owing me about five hundred more — one thousand now due me — which will pay up that mortgage. I also have one good horse that is worth one hundred and twenty-five dollars and one that is not worth much that I ride on the moves. I have two saddles worth thirty dollars, one pair of revolvers with fifty dollars, and my clothing, belts, swords, coffee glass and others is worth at least one hundred dollars more. So if I should go now, I could take home thirteen hundred dollars or its value, but this I want you to keep to yourself. I have saved every dollar that I could and I think but few officers have done better.

I have just heard that my papers have been approved at Div. Head Quarters and I think I may get away soon — perhaps soon after this reaches you. All is now quiet here in camp. The boys are all as well as usual. Bryce, I think, is still at Washington unless he has gone home. Regards to all.

— C. S. E.

Scans of Letter