North of the James River [Virginia]
October 10th 1864
Since I last wrote, day before yesterday, nothing of special interest has transpired. We have had no more fighting. The enemy seems to have been content with the capture of the guns & with the repulse and loss that we gave him and we have been busily lengthening and strengthening our lines. Where I was the day of the fight, our Brigade had no entrenchments. It was a square stand up fight. My men stood shoulder to shoulder and fired into the advancing enemy as if on drill. I could not ask an men to stand better. The only infantry regiment that acted disgracefully was the 100th New York which as usual broke and ran. They have been sent to the rear.
Yesterday our Division line was as busy as beavers throwing up breastworks, making abbatis &c. ready if the enemy comes again to give him a warmer reception with more safety to ourselves. I could not help thinking of how differently you were spending the day at home—a quiet, peaceful Sunday, regular autumnal weather. As we were laying low these pines, my thoughts reverted to the beautifully colored foliage of our forests, which I have not seen for so long.
Perhaps to tell the honest truth, I was yesterday a little homesick, a weakness I have today been mastering by being most actively employed as Officer of the Day. The weather is now delightful in the day time and chilly cold at night. Moonlights splendid. While you are shutting out the chilly evening and air and drawing around the first fires of the season, you may imagine me seated on a box or a log before a large blazing camp fire, forming one of a group, perhaps as picturesque as any artist would desire—indeed our whole life here is full of striking scenes which to us become common place but to new eyes are novel and interesting.
I rode over today to a part of the line held by the 18th Corps and met there Capt. [Charles M.] Coit of the 8th Connecticut. His mother is from Norwich but is boarding in New Haven. Capt. Coit had his regiment in their attack upon the works on Chaffin’s farm, where he lost eight out of thirteen officers—but himself escaped unhurt. He was well.
When out on the picket line a week or more ago, I met a young captain (John McGoon of Troy)—a brother of Mrs. F. Fellowes. I had not seen him for some eleven years and then at Sachem’s Head. It was funny meeting him at such a time and place and renewing our acquaintance that a rebel bullet might in a moment have ended and I may never chance to meet him again.
I am expecting both [Lt.] Col. Klein & Chaplain Tiffany tomorrow. I shall be glad to have them with me but expect they will bring enough of New Haven air with them and remind me so much of home as to make me homesick again, just a little you know.
What is to be done next is not entirely clear, but I think Grant’s next move will be to the left of Petersburg to cut still more completely Lee’s communication and then he must come out and fight us or leave. We are not going to dash our brains out against the heavy & strong works about Richmond. Whip Lee and he must give up Richmond. It’s the rebel army we want to destroy & not Richmond to possess only.
We may remain in our present position some days and perhaps weeks. Do not look for any march into Richmond at present. It cannot be done without terrible loss. Days are slipping by and the work must be done soon if at all this season and then we shall have rest. Goodnight.
Yours, — Alfred
Littell is received and Son of the Soil read. I quite envied him the prospect of seeing Italy.