Fort Richardson, [Virginia]
January 9, 1862
My Dear Wife,
I take this opportunity to write you a few lines hoping they will find you well. I want to be with you very much but I don’t want to be like [Charles H.] Knight—to leave the best job that I ever had to go home and starve to death. ¹ I came out here for your sake and for your sake I will stay as long as I can for I think I can do you as much good here as I can if I start for home for I could not get anything to do if I come home this winter. The Doctor says that I can work or play or lay a bed just as I like. He told our Orderly Sergeant [George Dimock] not to put me on any duty unless I asked him to. There is nothing the matter with me now but the liver complaint. Still I can’t work so hard as I did before I left home but I hope I shall get over that one of these days.
Don’t Mary Holly have a good tie with them two bones of hers. Oh my, I wonder if Holly wants me to live on that big farm of his if they have got as many children as you say they have. I pity the old cow and pigs for they will kill them with dirt there. I will bid you good night for this is all that I can do tonight. My love to you my pet.
January 10th. I will now try to write a little more. I want to see you very much but I can’t for a spell yet for they want me to stay here. You must think of me on the twenty-third of next month for then it will be just a year from your wedding day. I want you to look everything over then so that you can see if you are tired of a married life and see if I have not done all that I could for you under the circumstances. I believe that I have [done so] and I hope that you are not discontented or unhappy in the love of your unhappy husband. I call myself unhappy. It is because I am away from my heart for where you are, there my heart is. But I must stop this for I am afraid if I keep on, you will laugh at me for my trouble. You wrote some time ago that you were almost a woman but I hope that I shall find you the same little woman that I left when I get home—if I ever do—or I can’t be happy for I could kiss you when I left home and if you get too big to be kissed, you won’t be the loving little wife that I left. I want to live now that I am married just the same as I did before. I did not get married to quarrel and fight, but to live with you in my most peaceable way. And I hope you will always be my little pet and I will surely be yours as I now am as long as you wish me to be. I hope, pet, that I shall live until this war ends so that I can come and see you for I don’t think that I can before. I wish that it was so you could come here to see me but I believe it is God’s will that we should be placed as we are and if it is, all will be well one of these days. I can’t help feeling bad when I think how we felt when I left you the last time I saw you. Oh how bad I felt for I thought that I might never see you again.
I will now close this for tonight. I may not send it before we get paid off for I can’t find a postage stamp in the camp. I got your letter tonight and was very glad to hear from you. It makes me feel happy when I hear from you for I know by that that you think of me sometimes. I was a going to stop writing for tonight but I have got more time than I thought I had. Don’t get mad at me for writing so much. If you do, I will write more the next time.
I got that ring that you sent me on the finger next to the little on my left hand and I can’t get it off and I have lost the top off of it tonight somewhere in the tent. I will try to find it and get it on again if I can. Excuse the dirt on this paper for it was on when I got it. Give my love to the girls and tell them if I ever get home, I will kiss them all. I got a letter from my Mother tonight. She says that you stopped to see her when you came back from Mary’s and that you are as good and handsome as ever. I will now bid you good night [even] if you can’t hear me, and try to write more tomorrow night.
January 11th 1862. I will now try to write. Oh! I am mad for I have just spilled my ink all lover he paper. I got your kind letter this day and was glad to hear from you. I like your poetry but it is rather too sad and I hope the part of it which says that you are low on your dying bed is not true for I wish to live a little longer yet and if you die, it is me that dies.
I cannot tell you the reason why Mathews don’t write unless he don’t care enough about his folks to write to them. His son is with him. He sells papers for his father and stays with him in the tent. I don’t see him only about once a week. I don’t think that he will be fool enough to run away. He has been in the guard house once and I never have yet but I expect to go in in the morning if I don’t tonight for I have been reported as a deserter to the Colonel. But I have got our company officers on my side so I guess it won’t go very hard with me. I will tell you what I have done. I got leave to go out of camp and went and like a fool, I stayed over time and that is the worst thing a man can do here. There was one man that had his head shaved and drummed out of camp for the same thing that I did today.
I will now close this for it is about full and let you know in my next whether I go in the guard house or not. I hope you and Mrs. Mathews is friends for you have got two poor men here but bad as I am, I love my little wife. Good night, my dear little wife.
—Chet to Martha
¹ Charles H. Knight of Columbia, Connecticut, was discharged from Co. D, 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery on 7 January 1862.