Albert J. Barnard, 26 October 1862

Camp Chapin
October 26th 1862
Sunday 1.25 p.m.

Dear Mother,

I have received two letters from you since my last was written—one dated the 9th and one the 23rd—the last one just as I was going to dinner. John Dobbins received one from Lewie at the same time. You will see by the heading of this letter that I have changed the name of our camp. One morning about a week since, just at sunrise, we raised a splendid flag pole and while the Officer of the Guard was putting up the flag, Lt. Col. [Robert] Cottier proposed that hereafter this camp be known as “Camp Chapin” and so with three rousing cheers, we changed its name.

Yesterday we received orders to move our quarters to the other side of the city. We all turned out yesterday afternoon and marched over there with shovels and picks for the purpose of clearing off and putting things in shape before moving. We found rather a pleasant, though a dirty place—the barracks (for we are to occupy them instead of tents) rather out of repair. Tomorrow I am going to send a squad of men over to put new floor and bunks into Co. B’s quarters, and am sure we can make them very pleasant and much more comfortable than tents will be in we stay here this winter though I don’t think our being ordered there indicates that we will stay there.

I have had a drawing made of my company street here and will send it to you before long.

This is a chilly, wet, rainy day. The men stand around the fires some with their overcoats on and their arms folded up under the capes—others with their hands in their pockets and jumping first on one foot, then on the other—most of them talking about our new quarters. John Dobbins has gone to sit in Higgins’ tent to get warm and his broken fingers always feel the cold. John Higgins has had his cook stove put up in his tent for a day and has a fire there. I was there just before dinner—thought it rather warm. Am very comfortable here. Somehow or other I don’t feel the cold here for we do have cold mornings and nights now. I never felt better that I do now in all my life. I think so far, camp life has done me good. Once in awhile, I feel as if I should like to be at home for a little while and then I think of those who might be here as well, and better than I, and then I am contented.

Your jellies and cakes would taste good and if you have any to spare, I can dispose of them very conveniently. Have you sent the slippers yet? I am real glad to hear that Coz. Mary is receiving so much attention and guess she will enjoy her visit. I wish I could spend an evening or two with you all. I really hope she will stay with you all winter as that is the time to see Buffalo. I suppose the boys are beginning to talk skating ponds.

I should like to have been at Julia Adams’. I know they must have had a nice time, and at Mrs. Norton’s. I have always enjoyed my visits there. They are both as pleasant and so full of fun.

In every letter from you or Lewie, you say that Coz. Mary is going to write me. I have looked a good while but, “I can’t see it yet.” When she does write—if at all—I hope she will tell me of all she meets and what she thinks of them. I should like to hear her opinion of some of them. Please tell her so and tell her not to leave out any of them. I should like better to hear her tell about them though. Ask her if she has found any equal to Jane Pomeroy. If she don’t find time to write a letter soon, tell her that a note will be acceptable.

I am real sorry to hear that Jim Smith is behaving so badly. Hope when Mr.Kip gets back he will fix him—and Bill too. It is too bad for Bill is a pretty diver sort of a man.

If you have time, you may commence to knit me two pairs of thick socks as I think by the time you get them ready to send, I shall want them.

John Dobbins and I still run the company alone as my first lieutenant has not arrived yet though I expect him every day now and we run it “bull,” as you may know from what the Colonel told Dr. [C. B.] Hutchins the other day after dress parade. He said, “Co. B is the best in my regiment” and the “little captain is a brick.” I am known here as the little captain and now I will tell you why. While I was messing with Lt. Jones and others one day, I was late to dinner and Jones told his servant—a little Dutch boy—to run and tell Capt. Barnard that dinner was getting cold. He stopped a minutes and then said, “de cline capting?” which is, if pronounced as spelled here, the little captain. The boys all think it is a good joke and so that is my name. But nevertheless, my company can beat all others in the regiment in drill and appearance; on drill and dress parade. I punish all who appear without clean brasses and bright shoes by putting them on guard. At first I had a great many, but now scarcely ever have one.

And the regiment is as good as you can find. [We] drill first rate and improving all the time. Well, we have a splendid Colonel [Edward P. Chapin] and Major [George M. Love] and most of the line officers are good. We have some sticks though—Gray’s captain is one. Gray does not go on drill now unless he has command and I wouldn’t either for it is pretty hard to stand behind a company and have the captain give a wrong order and not have the authority to rectify it.

Before commencing this, I put a new point in my pencil and did not discover that it was blue until I had commenced this and it has run out. I shall have to come back to black.

I have not succeeded in finding young Grannis nor the other man yet but will try to by next time.

We are all very busy now studying Casey’s Tactics and the ARmy Regulations. We have to recite to the Colonel in both.

You ask if I saw Col. Porter. I did and had a very pleasant call. He was real pleasant and seemed glad to see me. Asked me to come again.

Am surprised that Bell Laverick is going to marry Mr. Starkey—he is so old. Shouldn’t think her Father and Mother would like it.

I am real sorry to hear that you are unwell. Hope this will find you entirely recovered. You must not worry about me for I get along first rate.

Will S. is all right. Was here a few minutes ago. Said he had three letters to write and couldn’t stay. He has had his tooth out. Grey is sound as a dollar and is getting far. Dr. [C. B.] Hutchins calls him full moon.

John Dobbins is right side up, writing to someone, I don’t know who.

Did you ever get a letter from me written at Gettysburg? Will G. wrote his mother at the same time.

John says give your mother my kind regards and am much obliged for her kind remembrance of me, and tell Lew I am going t o write him.

And now, my dear Mother, I will bid you goodbye till I hear from you again o, or it may be sooner. Please give my love to Grandpa, Grandma, and also to all who enquire for me and accept much—very much—from –Alfred

Gray is here and says he has Cashus [Cassius] Grannis in his his company.