1862-09-10Camp near Brookville, MD
Camp near Brookville, MD

Sept. 10th 1862

Dear Parents

It is with pleasure that I now attempt to answer your kind and welcome letter of August 10th which just came to hand today. I have rec'd several letters of later date but it was no less welcome on account of being old. I am always glad to read your letters. Yesterday morning I burned some 200 letters and the day before about 400 in all that I have rec'd since I came into the service. I had kept them all or nearly all until then and we turned our knapsacks over to the quartermaster and I thought I had rather burn them than to have them fall into other hands as we do not know as we shall ever get our knapsacks again. Two papers you sent me while at Newport News I just got today. They all came around at last. There may be some directed to Port Royal that I have not got yet but I think not. I rec'd a letter today from George H. Freeman. The people at Addison were all well as usual when he wrote. Aunt Julia's Father is dead. You have probably heard of his death before this. George Henry said that they had heard that Luther Manley was dead but did not know how true it was. James Miles the preacher has got up one Co and Daniel Aldrich is getting up another Co. They are all getting an office probably for the sake of the pay, such is the case with the most of men that go into the army as officers though I will not ever say that it is the case of all. Uncle Norm has gone with Ryan but have not heard whether he got an office or not but I think he will make as good an officer as most of the men that go. I would like to go with him but am very well satisfied where I am for the present.

Since I wrote you on Monday we have marched but 15 miles. We are now some 20 miles North of Washington. We encamped here yesterday thinking to lay overnight. We were ordered to be ready to march this morning by 3 oclock but here we are now and it is most night. We were out of rations and our Col who is now in command of a brigade said we should not move on until we had something to eat. This afternoon a citizen came into camp with half a dozen fair sized chickens and the Col bought them and let the boys have them and he waits until pay day for the money. I think that doing pretty well. I happened to have enough to get one myself so I did not have to venture upon his hospitality but nevertheless I think full as much of him for his act. How long we shall lay here is uncertain. One good privilage we have we get a daily mail and have had ever since we came from S.C. and I hope we shall continue to get our mail as often. That likeness I sent you I mailed last Monday. I forewarn you, you will not or would not have known it if I had not told you it was mine for it looks so different from the one you have at home but it will show you something how I look when it was taken. I had been marching in the dust and was rather dirty but it is impossible for a soldier to keep clean when on the march. Last Sunday I got some very good songs from the one that had sung them to us. They sound so good I think I have to send some of them home. You will probably not think them as good as I did but I will leave that for you to judge for yourself but enough of this. I hardly know what to say in regard to this expedition. Where our destiny is I do not know. You probably have seen by the papers that Genl Burnside has taken command of the division of the army formerly held by Pope. Since the defeat at Bull Run there has been quite a change in command. Several Genl's are under arrest and are to be courtmartialed, already. Pope by his own request was assigned command of the North West. Immediately after the change he preferred charges against several Genls but McDowell the one I think most to blame and was whipt and the last one he held command of the right wing and instead of placing his men in a position to do any good he sends them all away to some other part of the field to give the rebels advantage over our army, causing the loss of thousands of brave men but our Noble McClellan is at the head again and I think he will do something the Rebels have not thought of yet. It is the report that the Rebels are making their way toward Pennsylvania with Stonewall at the head but if they get into the old Keystone with any force they will never get out alive for if old Burnside gets in the rear of them they will find their match but the drum is beating and I must stop writing for the present. The drum only beat for retreat so I will finish my letter before going to Camp. I do not know exactly the number of troops in this expedition but should think not far from 1000 at least and perhaps more, enough to give Jackson a good fleecing if we get the chance. A good many of our men swear that if ever they are called upon the field of battle and have as good a chance at McDowell as they had at Bull Run they will shoot him for they believe him to be an arch traitor. The Rebels themselves say he is a as good as 3000 men to them and such a Genl is not fit to live an hour and then to think our Government allows him to hold such a responsible position. I think it a shame but I presume it would not be very healthy for a private to say so to him, but it matters not it is my private oppinion that McDowell is an arch traitor and should be treated as such but it is near dark and I must close this letter soon. I am enjoying exceeding good health at present with the exception of a bad cold but that is nothing serious and will soon wear away. I would like to be up home to help do the fall work and get now and then a good venison just one but if there is no deer killed I get home I fear they will get most too fat but I am in hopes the war will not last always. Give my respect to all enquiring friends and my most sincere love for yourselves. Tell John to be a good boy until I get home and then I will make a soldier of him. Tell him he must take good care of the colts and keep them fat but I must bid you good night and pleasant dreams.

This from your most Affectionate Son.

J.D. Strait

Ethan and Julania Strait

Direct Washington, D.C.