This letter was written by Stephen Adams Dodge (1836-1862), the son of Sylvester Dodge (1798-1865) and Sarah Adams (1797-1875) of Woolwich, Sagadahoc county, Maine. Stephen enlisted in June 1861 in Co. D, 3rd Maine Infantry and served until September 1862 when he was killed in the Battle at Chantilly on 1 September 1862.
Addressed to Mr. George S. Dodge, Woolwich, Maine
Camp Howard near Alexandria, Va.
January 4th 1862
Your letter of the 29th of December came to hand last Thursday. Was pleased to hear you were all well and hope a kind Providence will continue its [ ] upon you and for which we all should be ever mindful and revere our constant Preserver.
We are still on the old ground which we moved onto the 1st of October last. When we came here, it was pretty well covered with stumps but now there is not one to be found near the encampment. [We] have got the ground graded and lain out in streets which are built properly by digging the sides down and throwing the dirt into the centre so to turn the water off & they keep us fixing them over every once in awhile. Every company has set out a row of cedar trees on each side of their streets (only stick them unto the ground) and several have arches of various descriptions over them. On one end of one we have got an arch with the letter D and the stars and on the other we have the name of the street made out of cedar fastened onto a board. Brown — the fellow that went down from Hallowell with you and Banettall [?] — put them on. They call it Sampson Street. It makes the camp look pretty. Ed Hinson got your letter but I did not know it till you wrote me so I asked him. Getchell says he won’t read his letters before them but will stop till they all go to sleep. He still likes to sit up and sleep late but we have to turn out sometimes before daylight to answer to roll call.
Robert [J.] Morgan has been detailed for the Signal Corps. Two privates and a lieutenant from this regiment — they get extra pay. I think it will will be a good suit for Bob. They are to carry the signal lights or flags by night or day when the regiment goes out a reconnoitering or in battle to distinguish foes from friendly. Several mishaps have already occurred in the army by our troops firing at each other. One took place at Big Bethel last summer.
In the letter I wrote to Sarah, I stated that the pickets of Howard’s Brigade were attacked by the rebels but I learned that it was not so! The firing I guess was for the departing year and the advent of the new.
One of the recruits has ran off but if he gets clear, he’s a smart fellow. Corp. Shaw is trying to get the 2 Lieutenants birth. He got up a petition and tried to get the men to sign it or I would have said a recommendation. He asks several to sign it but they told him he had ought to get the Capt. to sign it first. Lately he has not shown it. Captain [William] Watson said he once thought Shaw was quite a chap but since he has made such a fool of himself, he thinks he is rather deft. He told me he got a lot of letters from the girls. I guess Nettie Shaw was the news of him getting them. A good many of the fellows call him [ ] and he grins and laughs George Shaw like.
I hope you will learn well this winter and you must write composition every day — a page or so. I heard you and David had to leave your old place on account of [ ]. Well I don’t know but it will be better for you as will not have as much to divest your [ ] from your [ ].
The Niggers had their frolics from Christmas till New Years. Some of the boys was to one of their shanties during the holidays. I was on guard when they got back. It was about one o’clock at night. When you write again, let me know if the [ ] will have their Betting Club this winter. I hear they have got one over to Murphie’s Corner. I hear that the Smellers are doing well this winter.
Sarah wrote that Alpheus was getting recruits for the 7th Regiment. Let me know how many he has got when you write again. Give my love to all.
From your brother, — Stephen A. Dodge