1862-09-06Acquia Creek, Va. On picket 2 miles from Camp
On picket 2 miles from Camp

Sept. 6th 1862

Dear Parents

It is with pleasure that I again attempt to answer your kind letter. I wrote to you yesterday but not feeling in a mood for writing, I thought I would commence a letter to you although I shall not finish it today but I am going out on a scout to find some chickens but do not know what success we shall have. We are tired of nothing but hard crackers and pork but I must drink my tea and go.

Monday 8th

Dear Parents

When I commenced this letter three days ago I did not think it would be so long before I had another opportunity of writing. Perhaps you may think we are having fine times getting chickens but the day I went out we did not find any but just after we left 6 of the boys when out after a little honey. Marshall with the rest and had just started back when a band of Guerillas came down upon them. They fled to the best advantage they could but three of them were taken prisoners. Marshall was one of the three that was taken and we have not heard anything of him since only that the band stayed about 2 miles from there that night and if our officers had not been so afraid we might have taken them back and all of the band with them. There were 7 cavalry taken at the same time. I fear the boys will fare hard for want of food for the Rebels vow that they are hard up for provisions.

Now Dear Parents, as I have given you an account of what happened. on that day I will turn to our present situation. I am seated in the shade of a large oak some 10 miles North of the Capital. We left Acquia Creek on Saturday after burning everything, commissary stores and buildings. A large amount of property was burned up but it is better to burn up such things than to let it fall into the hands of the enemy. We had a pleasant ride up the grand old Potomac. We passed the home of Washington, Mount Vernon, but could not get very fair view of the place because of the woods along the river bank from what I could see I should judge that it must be a delightful place. I should have been glad of an opportunity of visiting the place but the opportunity was not to be had so I had to content myself with what could be seen from the boat. Yesterday morning we slung our knapsacks and marched through the City and camped about 2 miles out of the City where we lay until about 5 oclock. Soon after we stopped we learned that the 149th Regt was encamped near by the companies that the boys from Elk Run were in and we soon found John and Jim Farley and Rany Champney and I tell you the meeting did us both good. It seemed like meeting a brother to see John. I went up to camp with John and got my profile taken which I shall send you. I did think of sending it to Cousin Ella but I thought probably you would like to see how a weary Soldier looked after marching through the dust and heat. The picture is much too dark and does not look quite as natural as it might but it will give you something of an idea how I look now. While I was up there the Regt left and we had to follow after. We marched last night until we got tired out and we lay down about 10 oclock and we lay there until about 3 when we got up and started. We went about 2. miles and came up with the Regt. They all lay down and we soon found a bed upon the damp ground and were soon lost in sleep and this morning after sun rise we came down into an orchard where we are now encamped but how long we shall stay is uncertain. We may lay here all day and it may not be held an hour before we start and when I shall have an opportunity to mail this I do not know. I may have a chance of sending if off soon and it may be a week before I get an opportunity to send it. My hand trembles so I can scarcely write so as to be read by anyone but I will try to do the best I can. Where we are going is more than I can tell but we shall probably know before long. We are on the road leading from the City to Leesburg but our destiny is unknown to us. You spoke of the great battle on the Rappahannock. The fight was at Bull Run and our men were nearly if not quite as badly whipt this time as before. McDowel had command of the right wing and sent all of his men to the left when the Rebels came in on the right and cut our army all to pieces when if McDowel had done as he should the result would have been far different. It would have been no doubt a complete victory on our side instead of a defeat. I have no war news of importance to write. I would like to be at home to help you do your fall work but there is no use of wishing. You spoke in one of your letters of the money I have sent you, how you did not know how you could ever repay me. I think I am already and shall all my life remain indebt to you. I guess I have written about enough for the present. Those two papers you mailed with your letter of the 28th I have not read. I have not rec'd any papers except two for the last six months. They do not seem to get through so I don't know as there is any use of sending them anymore when I don't get them. I would like to be there to help get the house built, that is out of the question but I will send you what money I can spare. That will do some good. I don't know when we shall get payd off, probably not in a long time. You must not be surprised or worried if you do not hear from me very often for our chances for writing will be small henceforth but I must close hoping to hear from you soon. Please write as often as convenient. My respects to all and my love to you both from your ever Affectionate Son.

J.D. Strait

To Ethan and Julania Strait

Direct to Washington, D.C.