General Hospital, Fort Scott, March 29th, 1865.
My Dear Wife:
I received your consoling letter of the 19th inst, but in consequence of the heavy rains that have recently fallen in this country, there could no mail leave here since the reception of your last, and it is quite doubtful if this leaves for some days to come. It is the rise of the Marmaton River that causes the delays in the mails. The bridge has been carried away by the flood. My lameness is better and the pains in my leg are not so severe. I feel thankful circumstances are as well with me... and as you say, while I am here, many of my fellow soldiers are starving in southern prisons and many are daily falling by the bullets of the enemy, and many are so situated that they get no news from their dear ones at home; and it is my opinion that soon, if not ere this, the cohorts of General Sherman have been or soon will be marshalled on the dread field of battle to meet the furious and maddened foe. There, Americans meet Americans, and, in many instances, brother meets brother in the terrible conflict. Within the last few days I have come to the conclusion from what I have read that it is soon to be decided by battle whether this wicked rebellion shall soon end or whether it will continue perhaps for years to come. We can not keep from our minds that our eldest sons are there in peril. Let us pray for them that they may be permitted to return to us and their families if it is God's will, and that His sustaining grace may be imparted to them in every time of need.
The 20th Army Corps has already had some fighting. How many slain is not known here. I presume the great battle to be fought between Sherman and Johnson will come off at or near Raleigh, Capital of N.C., or at all events, some place in N.C. If Sherman overpowers Johnson and effectually defeats him, I think the war soon over and our armies will soon be disbanded. On the other hand, if Johnson defeats Sherman and drives him back to the sea, as the Rebels say they can do, the war would probably continue years longer. My own opinion is our army will be victorious... I have no desire to again ever be exposed to the enemy's shells and bullets. The dread of going into battle with me is much more than the reality. I have been exposed to the enemy's fire five days out of six -- that is, for short periods. The longest action I was in continued three hours and a half. In that time the ground was closely contested. e drove the enemy 3 or 4 miles when they greatly outnumbered us. We were ordered to retreat, as the Rebels were outflanking us, which was done in perfect order. A man asked me how long I thought we had been fighting. I told him I thought about three quarters of an hour. He said much longer than that. We later learned the action lasted three hours and a half.
The most of the men in this ward have been suffering from wounds. One died from wound a few days since. They are now all convalescent. I consider my circumstances good indeed when compared with some of suffering humanity.
You speak as though you thought I do not soon get well I could get a transfer to Prairie du Chien. I suppose I could if I would pay my own transportation. There has never been a man sent from here to his own state unless he bore his own expense. There is a young man in this ward that belongs to the 4th Iowa Cavalry who was wounded in the thigh last fall in the fights with Price. It is supposed he will always be a cripple. They are going to give him a transfer when he wants it, but he has to pay his own expenses to Keokuk, Iowa. This is so no doubt for the purpose of keeping the men here as long as possible.
I do not know when I shell get pay. My descriptive roll has not yet been sent to the hospital and the hospital rolls are made out for two months pay on the first of March. If the men here are paid before the first of May next, I cannot be paid -- through the neglect of Capt. Bernard. The first day of May there will be four months pay due me. If things are managed as usual in this department, I presume I will not get pay till the last of June, or just before there is six months pay due. I am so situated that I will pay out but little money here... Capt. Bernard was, three or four days ago, restored to his command by Gen. Blunt. He, Bernard, has gone to Hickman, Mo. in command of 100 men taken from different companies of the 3rd Wis. Cavalry. Bushwhackers are plenty there. Bernard, with all his faults, has been tried often enough to prove that he is a good fighting man...
(Not finished. Nor signed. MJM)