October 17, 1862
Here we are back in our old quarters again, but they don’t look much as they did when we left. Most of us had floors and bunks in our tents but after we left, they were stolen or sold by those left behind. When we left here, Col. Chapin expected to come back again in two or three days so the men who were detailed to pack up were told to stay and take care of the camp. But on Sunday night, they received orders from Col. [Thomas J.] Cram (the officer in command at Gettysburg) to join the regiment and on Monday evening the orders were countermanded. Instead of fetching the tents again and getting ready for us, they left things as they were and waited until we got here. I tell you, Capt. [George G.] Stanbro (who was the man left in command) got particular fits, but the tents were all put up last evening and the boys are hard at work this morning cleaning up. Capt. Stanbro is Gray’s Captain [in Co. F.]. He don’t know much.
I haven’t much time this morning as the mail is most ready but will tell you as much about our trip as I can. First, we received our orders about 1 o’clock Saturday morning to march to the depot [of the Baltimore and Harrisburg Railroad] at 8 o’clock with two days rations, which is 24 hard crackers and a piece of boiled meat, half pound of coffee, and some sugar. So we had to build fires and cook the meat. I saw the men at work and wrote you a few lines when I turned in again and had a good nap. When I first woke up, it was raining but in the morning it had cleared off and was quite pleasant.
The call to fall in was not sounded till ten, and then such cheers you never heard. The boys were delighted at the prospect of a fight with the Rebs. We arrived at the depot about eleven and had to stay there till eight before they commenced to pack us in the cars. We left the city at nine. After several delays we arrived at Gettysburg on Sunday, only about fifty miles from here. Then we had to stay there in the cars till Monday morning when we were ordered to sling knapsacks and march to the Stone Bridge [near Cashtown]—about 4 miles. This we reached about noon. Here we were to throw out pickets as the Rebs were on the retreat and it was thought they would come that way.
So about 4 o’clock, I received orders to march my company out to a mill on a road running west from the camp. I found the mill to be about three quarters of a mile from us, posted the 1st platoon (under Lt. [John R.] Dobbins) behind a fence where the road divided, and then threw out some men as pickets about two or three rods in advance, holding the second platoon in reserve some distance to the rear.
So you see that Co. B had the honor of being the first company chosen for this responsible duty. We didn’t see any rebels though. In the morning, L. Col. [Robert] Cottier came out to our lines and ordered me in as the regiment had received orders to march back to Gettysburg and get aboard the cars. When I got back to camp, I found that Capt. Sizer [of Co. G] had been out on picket to the north of us but still we take the broom as we were the first ordered and had the road to guard that the rebels would be most likely to take.
Well we all started for the cars at nine and after staying two nights on the road, reached here at six last evening, all rather tired and glad to get back. I tell you, a four mile march with a knapsack, a haversack with two day’s rations, and a canteen full of water is a “big thing.” I don’t want to try it again this week, but feel first rate this morning.
John Dobbins was a little homesick while we were out on picket. He said that he thought it was rough [and that] if he was home, wouldn’t come back for fifty dollars. The hard crackers and no coffee is what ailed him. I guess he is alright now.
I got my box of grapes last evening but a coming they were all spoiled.
I think that move of ours was a very bungling affair and I don’t wonder that the rebels get the start of us so many times. We ought t have been at the stone bridge Sunday morning early. If we had been, we might have caught some of the rebels who were only a mile from there and very near where I was Monday night.
Mr. Corbill, the postmaster, is ready to take the mail so I must close. Tell Mary that I haven’t received that letter yet. Give her my love and also all the good people at 79 Swan Street and accept much from, yours in haste, — Albert