This letter was written by George W. March (1840-1905)—a shoemaker from Danville, Rockingham county, New Hampshire. He was the son of George H. March (1813-18xx) and Ann [ ] (1817-18xx). George was married to Helen M. Goodrich (1843-1920) in January 1870. Helen was the daughter of Andrew Jackson Goodrich (b. 1820) and Perlette St. Johns (b. 1820) of Vermont. She had previously been married to William B. Morrill. George addressed the envelope to his father but wrote the letter his sister, Abbie (b. 1844).
When George wrote this letter in November 1862, he was serving in Co. D, 14th New Hampshire Infantry. George mustered into the service on 24 September 1862 and mustered out on 19 November 1863, discharged for disability after only 14 months of a three year enlistment. The 14th Regiment was recruited mostly from the southwestern part of New Hampshire. When they were sent to Washington D. C. in late October, they were not needed by the Army of the Potomac so they were ordered to report to Gen. Grover who commanded a brigade doing picket duty along the Potomac from the District to the mouth of the Monocacy river. The brigade consisted of the 39th MA, 14th NH, 10th VT, and 23rd ME, the 10th MA Battery & two squadrons of cavalry. The 14th NH was encamped at Lock 21, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. Later in November it was moved to Rockville.
Addressed to Mr. George H. March, Danville, New Hampshire
14th Reg. New Hampshire Vols.
Rockville District, Montgomery county, Md.
November 3d, 1862
I guess you will begin to think I don’t have anything to do but to write letters because I write you so many letters but when I am sitting round having nothing in particular to do, I like to take my pen and write. Today is Monday and I and [Henry H.] Titcomb are on picket so we have not much to do. He is writing on one end of a board and I the other.
Perhaps you have heard of the great battle which is going on at Manassas. ¹ For two or three days the roar of artillery has been distinctly heard here. The great battle is not yet ended for as I write I can plainly hear the roar of cannon which at every discharge is sending many poor fellows to their last account. So far as heard from, McClellan is driving the enemy and the probability is that the glorious Union army of the North will come off victorious. The noise of the cannon sounds like distant thunder. May God give victory to the right, which is on the Union side.
This morning a company to which twenty of our men were attached for picket duty marched the men three miles and some of them were left there and the rest marched back and were placed alongside the river and canal. Three of us are on the canal. No one but canal men and cavalry men are allowed to pass. I do not think that we shall have any fighting to do this fall or winter and we are in hopes that the war will be ended before long. Most likely we shall go into winter quarters here. We are about twenty-five miles from the battle. Yesterday some few went up a great hill to see the smoke but could not see it. The horizon looked smokey but whether caused by the battle or not, I do not know.
Abbie, I received a letter from Mollie the other day and she said she had had not letter from you. She wanted to know the reason. Now, I tell you to write before you do anything else. Mother, I should like some of your [ ] boiled dinner, wouldn’t I bet some. I’ll bet I would. I think if well, I shall come home in one year or less for the war will end in that time or before so all think here.
I am pretty well and hope you [are] the same. I want to know how mother is and how she gets along with me out here. Does she worry much?
Don’t you write me another letter without filling ever page full.
How is Nellie now? Is her arm any better? Tell Father to write and tell me about shoemaking and the news in general. Give my love to all the people who enquire after me. Has the 15th Regt. started yet? Write soon.
Your affectionate son, — George
¹ George erred in concluding the Army of the Potomac was engaged at Manassas. The cannonading he heard was from the vicinity of Philomont in Loudon county, Virginia—about 25 miles to the west. The guns were those of Confederate artillery officer John Pelham attached to Jeb Stuart’s Cavalry as they attempted to intercede in the march of McClellan’s army up the east side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. After considerable prodding by Lincoln, it was McClellan’s scheme to engage Lee’s army before they could return to the vicinity of Richmond from their Maryland Campaign but McClellan seemed to be in no hurry. As a consequence, Lee’s army returned safely to the south side of the Rappahannock river. McClellan was replaced as commander of the Army of the Potomac on 5 November 1862.