1862-12-26Camp opposite Fredericksburg, Va.
Camp opposite Fredericksburg, Va.

Dec. 26th 1862

Dear Parents

This afternoon finds me trying to write a few short lines for your perusual. We spent yesterday, Christmas, on picket along the banks of the river and had considerable chat with the Rebels. Some of them came over to our side. We exchanged friendly greetings with them, also papers. One of them gave me a buiscuit and rec'd some of our hard tack in turn. We gave them each a cup of coffee which they seemed to think a great treat as they do not get anything but rye and corn as a substitute for the genuine coffee. Their papers contain nothing of importance. The Rebels think our Genl poor stock, they are also down on the Cabinet but like Genl McDowel and call Genl Banks old Jackson's Chief Cornissary.

When I first enlisted I suppose we were fighting a low degraded and almost barbarian people but that is a mistake. Since the Battle of Fredricksburg our pickets and theirs have made an agreement not to fire upon each other considering it a cowardly act of either party. All that I have conversed with seem to be smart intelligent fellows. All join in saying that they are tired of this war and wish that it was settled honorably and satisfactorily to both parties. I am of the opinion that if the privates of both parties had their way the war would soon end and the affair be settled full as honorable as it will if it is carried on in its present condition for many months more but time alone will bring around the desired news to both parties of peace being restored.

It looks hard whenever we think of the suffering caused on both sides. One day we meet in friendship and the next in deadly strife such is the nature of a Civil War. It hardly seems that mankind could become so hardened as to wish their fellow beings in deadly combat but it is strange to see with what ferocity men will sometimes fight when driven to the last extremity.

We often hear or rather see the papers of the North boasting that we can starve the Rebels out. You may cut off all their seaports and all their communication and the Rebels will live as well as we do. Their soldiers are all well dressed in grey uniforms mostly, some have overcoats. You will find a few with poor clothes. The same can be said of our army. It is all a humbug to think of starving them out, but I guess I have written all that will interest you and supper is ready now. I wish I could slip into the old log house and take supper with you but what is the use of wishing. if it would do any good to wish I should have been there before now. lf we get into winter quarters or where there is no prospect of a move I shall send for a box of notions. As to those mittens Mother is going to send I don't want them unless they are gloves for they are not handy to handle a gun. A pair of socks would be better not that I would not appreciate the gift but I do not kneed them this winter without it is stockings. I rec'd a letter from Ella, she says that she is going to stay with you if it ever comes sleighing. My sheet is full and I must bid you good night once more. Please write often as convenient. My respects to all who may be interested and my love to those who have the best right to it from your Affectionate Son.

J.D. Strait