Note: Charlie’s letters get pretty infrequent for the rest of the year, so they’ll be posted in the near future instead of on the appropriate days. In this missive, we learn of the regiment’s strength as campaigning begins, an interesting packing list, and fish habits near rebel prisons. I haven’t had any luck with the locations that he mentions as yet, they should be somewhere near his home in Connecticut.
Murfreesboro, May 31st, 1863
I have been waiting to hear from you the last week but not a word, not a line, not a syllable has come from you. And I should perhaps have thought you all had got Conscripted if I had not got a letter from Julia today with the news that you were still in Status quo (There’s latin for you). I don’t wonder at not hearing from Johnson if he is as near gone as Julia represents, for she gives a woeful account of his doings with the gals, and from her writing I judge he will soon be labeled as “Benedict the married man.” Well poor fellow I pity him. I suppose he does nothing but sit in the moonlight and dream of his simmatora, his board must prove a good speculation for you, if he lives on moonlight and poetry after the fashion of young fellows in love. If you haven’t plenty of moonlight down there, send your patient down here to pasture. The moon is shining almost as bright as day now, and almost makes me ready to fall in love, the only obstacle is, the absence of any fair being to waste my affections and romance upon, —
I expect to start (I speak for the army) I expect to start on a campaign to-morrow and the Lord only knows when it will be terminated, you need not be frightened if you don’t hear from me for the next two weeks, as I shall not have a chance to write while out on the war path. The men are only allowed to take a change of under-clothes with them, and so I shall have no letter stock along. If we get back safe however, and I have no doubt of it but we shall, you may expect to hear of something to our advantage; The fourth cavalry is only three hundred strong in the field but every man is in the Davy Crockett style, and they will do something if they get a chance.
Our regiment is as well known in the southern army , as the old sand peddler who used to drive an ox was to the denizens of Woodbury, Cat-swamp and Weekeepeemee. I have not had the satisfaction of painting my sword with southern blood yet, onlys a pig which I transfixed at franklin was a southern, so I am a little anxious to get into a fight.
I had an awful pain in my right shoulder last night, but the Doctor painted it with iodine (my shoulder, not the pain he painted) and now it’s among the things that were. The Doctor said ‘twas a sort of wet rheumatism brought on by the rain of the last two days. He has however “warranted me for one year without repairing.” I am sorry to leave this camp and yet I am glad to go, sorry because I leave all the nice mulberries and strawberries behind, glad because the flies will a good share of them be left with the berries, and besides I want to see more of the country. I have no desire of pushing my researches quite as far as one of our Regiment did who got back to us today. He was taken prisoner last December and has been in the Confed’s prisons since. He tells pretty much the same story as all returned men about times in Dixie. He says while confined at Jackson they managed to procure a fish hook and line, and commenced to indulge in visions of fries, roasts, and stews, to accrue from their labors in the pisctory profession, but on trial found the fish would not bite; the evidently smelled the Yankee, and kept shy. I have to make up for the sleep lost last night by the shoulder and as its after Tattoo
My love to all
Charles E. Bates
Johnson may have use for some poetry in his wooing allow me to recommend the following to his notice
The Devil thought to injure me
By cutting down my apple tree
But he did not injure me at all
For I had apples all the fall