1862-10-08Camp in Pleasant Valley near Harpers Ferry
Oct 8th 1862.

Camp in Pleasant Valley near Harpers Ferry

Dear Parents

This pleasant morning finds me engaged in writing to you once more. Yesterday morning we pulled up and started over the mountains for somewhere but where we know not. We left the river and went back to the mountain road and a mountain road it proved for after traveling about 4 or 5 miles we came to the top of the summit of the highest range of mountains called the South Mountain but part of the blue ridge. From the top of this height we could look back over the broad valley through which we had passed in front lay the beautiful valley called the pleasant valley and rightly named too for it is to all appearances one of the richest valleys in the watershed of Maryland. Many times while traveling up the asent I was reminded of the French armies, or of Napolean crossing the Alps and could not help thinking but what there must be a striking resemblance between the two armies only it was start of winter when the French troops crossed the Alps and drawed their cannon up by hand, and one place looked very much like the picture of Putnam going down the rocks. We had a hard journey yesterday but quite a picturesque rout to pass through but after an army like ours has passed through a country it destroys forage and crops, that is corn.

Uncle Sam pays for it all and what an amount it must cost to pay all the damage done to private citizens destroying property besides the expense of the whole army. It would be far better for the Government if we were in enemy country and allowed to forage but here what is taken has to be payed for and we must have wood so fences have to suffer and it is hard to keep so many men half fed (and mutinus all of the time) when on the march. It is hard to keep them from foraging some to get a little to eat but it is but little that we can buy or get any other way where the Rebels have been for as a_general thing they took everything in the line of rations they could get. There would be no use of our taking anything to eat if we had Officers that would tend to their business and see that we drew what belongs to us but our Capt is not worth a lame louse to see to his men getting what honestly belongs to them. If he only gets what he wants its all right. He likes to make men I first took him to be he would be beloved and respected by his men. He is probably liked by some but not by any of the boys that tent from Gaines but I suppose I have no right to find fault with my superiors now but inferiors back home.

We are now about 3 miles below Harpers Ferry and in the mouth of this valley but how long we shall remain here is uncertain. Some think we are going to western Va. and some to the South again but we do not know where we shall go until we get to our place of destination but I hope we shall winter at home though the prospect is very dull at present but it does not seem that this war will last longer than spring or till winter but we do not know how long it will last. The South are so stubborn that they will not give up when they are whipt but will fight as long as there are a thousand left but they must give up in the end and why not settle the matter before it goes any farther and all accumulates any more expense. We have enough to pay in lives now but if I am certain of our getting home I shall be perfectly happy but life is very uncertain and especially so with the Soldier exposed to all dangers of the field but we try to perform every duty without a murmur but it is hard work sometimes to submit to the orders of some officers that are devoid of feeling but enough of this.

We have been lying still for quite a little spell but what the next order will be I know not but I think we shall move toward the enemies lines soon and open the battle again to either whip them and compel them to or else get whipt to surrender by them which I have no idea they can ever do but I have written about enough for the present. Unless it is more interesting I would like to be at home this winter to help you get out saw logs this winter if you get any. I think I could stand the cold more comfortable than loitering. I shall have to stop writing but once a week until the pay day for my stamps are about out. You have not mentioned anything about getting my letter that I sent the picture in. I want to know when you get it if it looks natural or as I did when I left home. When you write let me know how you and all the folks get along around there. I hear this, that road has been laid out back of Rus Smith house this fall without any hard feelings. I hope if it is so that they all feel good over it but I must close. Hoping to hear from you soon again. My love to you and Mother and my respect to all enquiring friends.

Direct a usual. This from your Affectionate Son.

J.D. Strait

Ethan and Julania Strait