9 October 1861: “I don’t think there is half the excitement down here in the guard to the war that there is up in Bedford.”

Item description: Letter, 9 October 1861, from Robert W. Parker to his wife Rebecca, describing camp life.

Robert W. Parker was born in 1838 in Pittsylvania County, Va. His father, Ammon H. Parker, and mother, Frances Goggin Parker, eventually settled in Bedford County, Va., where Robert became a farmer. Robert served in the 2nd Virginia Cavalry of the Confederate States of America Army from the onset of the American Civil War, and attained the rank of 4th Sergeant. Robert was killed in action at Appomattox Courthouse, Va., on the morning of 9 April 1865, the same day that Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to the Union Army. Surviving him was his wife, Rebecca Louise Fitzhugh Walker Parker, and two sons.

Item citation: From volume 1 in the Robert W. Parker Papers, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Cavalry Camp New Fairfax – CH

Oct the 9, 61

Your letter of the first was received with the greatest pleasure yesterday you can’t imagine the relief it afforded me to hear from you and that you were well and doing well. I was also glad to hear our neighbors and friends were well. I have nothing that will interest you. I am enjoying very good health and doing well. Night before last was I think one of the rainiest nights I ever saw, [bitter] … hard wind with it. I think over half of the tents in our encampment blew down. Kind providence blessed me with the good luck of not being Tennessee out of doors. As good luck would have it we happened to pitch our tent better than common ditched round it well, whiched saved us from a dreadful nights rest. I thorwed down my oil cloth an blankets on the ground and had a very good nights rest while a good many of our company were out taking it fair and easy.

There is but little excitement in camp at this time. Some of our pickets were run in last night which caused us to be roused up before day and get breakfast no harm done as yet our camp has become quiet.

I understand a few days since some four or six of our souldiers were getting chestnuts near falls church were surprised and taken by the yankees at one tree a lieutenant was at the threshing and three privates picking up I guess they felt rather singular when the yankeys road up we are now situated three miles northeast of the CH a very good looking part of the world. We are expecting to move soon two or three miles north of this. and I think from the general move of the regiment we will be apt to go to leesburg soon. I hope we will. There has been a good deal of heavy cannonading for the last two or three days in the direction of Fawls Church. & alexandrea it has been quite heavy this morning it may be just the enemy firing off their guns.

There has been such news in camp as some of our forces having a fight near Falls church day before yesterday which resulted in one forces whipping the enemy misinformation was not definite, as to the number killed or wounded I know not.

The great fever in regard to the expected fight at or near alexandrea is some what a bating I don’t think there is half the excitement down here in the guard to the war that there is up in bedford. we have to serve one day and night in every four or five on picket generally I prefer it to camp duty. I must stop this. You may make me a [waistcoat]… home spun jacket. and send it down when you have the chance as to my cloths I am doing very well —- my cloths are tolerably good yet when it turns a little I pull on both my jackets so I get on finely. I am sorry to hear old Pit has been acting so badly he will ruin his character if he does not change. I don’t know what name to give you for your Puppy. I recon you had better name him Beaureguard or Beal. beal is the name of an officer in this regiment and a fine young man.

The general health of our company is tolerably good. Jo Burrough & Tom Bernard are a bout ready for duty a gain. I have not heard from captain Graves since he left hope he is improving. Colonel Radford has returned to camp though not entirely well; he looks better than he did before he went home he seems a great deal more mild than he use to be. I was some what surprised to hear of such luck from Mr. B. I should like to see her with that little creature in her arms don’t you think she could settle a sick stomach with her soft talk for she [cant alwas] use enough when she [knew] before she was married. You asked me if I didn’t think I would feel quite strange to have one of those lovely little creatures to greet me home no indeed I am more and more attached to the little creatures coming off of picket the other day I saw one and could hardly keep from stopping to have a runup with it. Some of the boys saw me notice it and said they expected I would have a young Beaureaguard before long as they call every one of the little creatures young Beaureguards… You asked me to kiss myself for you for you I think that will rather hard to do but I’ll try. My whiskers and mustache are quite short yet.

I must close kiss your self for me I have wished so often I had your likeness I wish I could get it some way or other. I’ve given you all the news write don’t wait for me I’ll try and write often I get a letter generally every six or eight days give my love to your Pa ma and family and a large portion in fact all for your self farewell Dear wife I remain as ever your Devoted but unworthy husband.

R.W. Parker

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