The identify of this Philadelphia soldier has not been confirmed though it seems certain he was a member of one of the early Pennsylvania Reserve Regiments. He refers to Lucretia C. Waterhouse (1834-1868) as “Sis” but I feel certain he was not her brother Frederick A. Waterhouse (b. 1837) who worked as a clerk in Philadelphia until he enlisted in 1864. Lucretia’s father was Eldbridge G. Waterhouse, a Philadelphia printer, who resided at 137 Federal Street. Elbridge married Susan B. Wheeler in Portland, Maine, in 1832.
Addressed to Miss L. C. Waterhouse, No. 137 Federal St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Fairfax county, Virginia
February 2nd 1862
Yours of the 29th came duly to hand, and once more I take my pine board upon my map to answer your letter, but I am afraid it will be like the rest of my uninteresting epistles, for ideas are rather scarce upon the so-called “Sacred Soil of Virginia” and mud has taken its place. And indeed, I do not wonder at it for the last thing we see at night is mud—upon getting up in the morning the first thing we cast of eyes upon is two large lumps of mud, which after a minute examination we find our are shoes, or as the boys calls them, “Uncle Sam’s Canal Boats.” It is impossible to get out of the mud. The boys have thought proper to change the name”Sunny South” to “Muddy South.” You say it is awful in Philadelphia, but you can form no idea how it is here. For three weeks it has rained or snowed every day. On Friday we were on picket and we actually had to wade through mud & water, in many places over our boot tops, and after arriving at the picket lines, we were not much better for there is no shelter of any kind and twenty-four hours passes very slow—especially on a rainy, disagreeable day. Well, so it is, it’s all for a good cause. I understand it is the condition of the roads that keeps us from making a forward movement. They would never be able to get the artillery along those roads.
I am glad you keep on good terms with sis. You must nurse her well and keep her in good spirits and keep her in her room until she fully recovers her health. Indeed, I do not know how I ever will be able to repay the many friends I have for I consider their friends are mine. Also, I am glad they have Ike’s photograph. They can now see me as I used to be at home—always with one of them—and here in Virginia, three of us are together. I look upon them more like a brother than as merely a friend.
Mrs. Thompson is indeed a good woman. The housework does indeed flourish. My hands never chap now. They used to when I was home. In speaking about my picture, I would willingly send you one if I could get it taken. Dick and myself tried to get a pass to go to Alexandria. Had we succeeded, I should have had a dozen. But the first chance I get, I will get them and then you shall have one with pleasure.
Sam Ford is stationed at Alexandria about 10 miles from here. I have seen him once since our encampment here. He was quite well then. I am indeed indebted to you for your kindness in telling me the truth about sis for I always like to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, the 1st puzzle I make out. “Col. Forbe’s sent his forces to take the Forts.” No. 2 Place an S before the IX. SIX. but the third one I will have to give up. I cannot understand it.
Everything here is going on the same—nothing to do. It is now supper time and as I will have to get that over soon that I can write to sis, I will have to close this by wishing to be remembered to your Mother, Father, Fred, Mr. Thomas, & Cady and all inquiring friends, and also to bed you will write soon.
To Will Bunk No. 9
Sunday afternoon 2 o’clock