Fort McClellan, Suffolk, Va., Nov. 18th, 1862 4oc P.M.
My work for the day is done so I take the pencil and transmit my thoughts to you. It seems like Sunday here, the men are all gone to fight the Rebs at Blackwater. I can hear the cannon as I write. I have heard them all day. Our Regiment is there. They started at noon yesterday it was a hard march. Some came back, some cried when ordered to march and all sorts of excuses were made, so says one of the boys who were up there. Well I thank providence I was not there. I think of the boys though and as the guns roar I wonder if the shot are scattering death among them.
My appetite is good. I have the opportunity to gratify it. I thought as I was eating my toast and roast beef today with plenty of good coffee, butter and sauce sweetened ad libitum, that my privations as a soldier were yet to be. … ….
… …The officers round here think I am so pompous, if I want anything I get up and get it. They said I do more work, read more papers, run around the came more and I am a fast studier than any other man in the garrison. If they want to know the news it is “Allen what’s going on”? If they want a stool made Allen is the carpenter and so it goes. Well if they having something I want (the Officers I mean) it is just as free. I can read their books and papers, taste their “sauce” and make myself familiar in many ways, not safe to privates generally as an off set to my attentions to their wants. Frank, did you know Col. Drake had his wife here? Some of the Captains too, but to tell the truth though I would like very much to see you, I would on no account have you hear at present.
It is not a proper place for women around camp, rough jesting, course, vulgar, profane remarks greet them at every turn. Men who claim to be respectable at home use language in camp that is unfit for any thing human to pronounce. Perhaps I am modest over much but really this has been my greatest annoyance so far. True there are many exceptions but every hour in the day one hears much that disgusting and repulsive. Well Frank the “shades of eve as evening dawns” I have left my table to sit in my “tent door” like one of old at the close of the day wondering where the tide of affairs will drift us to, where this thing will end. When I shall be returned to those I love, and shall do my best to redeem lost time?
Messengers have just arrived stating our troops have fought since morning they crossed the river took one or more batteries. Our loss is considerable. They came to make room in the hospitals for the wounded, which are to arrive tonight. I am very anxious to hear who is hurt, another Brigade has gone to assist. The canons have ceased firing since dark. We shall not know till tomorrow how things stand. Our troops have mostly gone, I think. Our guns are ready 150 men in the fort. Our men sleep in there quarters, if the Rebs flank us in force they get waked up I guess. 2 batteries artillery are here yet.
I have just been over to our officers quarters, had some fun phrenologizing [sic] them. More officers came and adjourned. Came to cook room had a little prayer meeting, our new benches just came in to play. Andrew sends respects to Willy Milks and the rest of them on the hills. I heard that W. Gifford was dead, that seems to be an afflicted family. Oh Dear! The boys have come in to play cards. Their talk is not very interesting. Frank I am glad I do not know how to play. They think it very curious I do not swear, smoke, chew, drink whiskey nor play cards. I have been provoked since in the army sometimes but none can say have heard me use a profane word. Think say you, so the army has not likely injured my morals.
Well Frank there is no further news on our troops, yet someone just came says the 112th had showed great bravery but were in an exposed position at last accounts. Do you see anything Presidential in my being safe and quiet here and the rest of them suffering in hunger? I trust I am grateful though our Captain meant me no kindness in sending me here. Every step convinces me that the good Lord watches over me and I feel assured his power can protect me here just as well as any other place. Our lives are in his care as well as our happiness in a future state of existence. Those who trust and obey him have nothing to fear. Oh it is worth the entire world in times like this to be able to confide wholly in our Heavenly Parent, feeling that he will do all tings well. Well my dear one to roll is called. We get to bed some, thought, feel many without taking a thought of tomorrow I dream of thee.
Kiss the babies + Dill. To my wife O.S. Allen