Alfred P. Rockwell, 19 January 1865

Near Fort Fisher, N. C.
January 19th 1865

Dear Kate,

I am perfectly hungry for letters and news from home. Not a word since I left our old camp before Richmond and my last date from you was December 28th. We are however looking hourly for the arrival of a mail from Fortress Monroe and then I hope to be gratified and made happy.

Since the taking of the fort and my establishment on this line, I have not done or seen anything of consequence. Immediately on our landing a line of works was thrown up across the peninsula about two miles above Fort Fisher where it is only about a mile from the ocean to the river. This was our defense against an attack upon our rear while operating against the fort. As soon as the fort was taken, this line them became our front toward Wilmington. My regiment holds the right of this line directly on the sea—rather a good camping ground as a temporary matter. Now you know my position. I have not been away from camp for the past three days though very desirous, as you may suppose, of seeing by daylight the ground over which we fought by moonlight.

January 21st

A steamer came in yesterday from Fortress Monroe bringing newspapers of the 17th but no mail. Imagine my state of mind. Then on top of this came on a tremendous North Eastern—rain and wind and cold—and it blew a gale last night and our tent leaked and sprinkled us from above, and the water from outside came in under us as we laid upon the ground and but for the solidity of my character (probably) I should have floated off to sea. Now don’t you think we pay for our glory?

Well I sat grumbling and growling in my tent at everything in general and this army life in particular, eating my crust of hard bread and drinking ,y tea (Oh! what team what a luxury it has been and is!) when the General ordered me out in the rain to see to the strengthening of our line. And now I am just in from the work and find that hard work is the best antidote to all this and have concluded that it’s not so bad after all as Virginia mud [and] not so cold either—and that even if it does rain now, the storm has held off remarkably and that Heaven certainly smiled upon our undertaking. The weather from our landing for a week was perfect and sea uncommonly smooth. The night of the attack the may be said to have given us the fort, for I really think it would have been impossible for our Brigade to have carried it and found our way in the darkness. No, I will grumble no more, but be thankful for the good we have received. And then if the mail is so long in coming, there will be more letters when it does come.

We do not move at once on Wilmington but seem to be waiting orders from Grant. Indeed, our force here is much too small for any forward movement, should the enemy oppose us, as they probably would do, for we know they have from 5,000 to 1[0],000 men entrenched not far from our line, while we do not number of 8,000. Whether or not we shall try for Wilmington now, I am in doubt. I have an idea that this movement here has something to do with Sherman’s against Charleston. When he takes that city as he certainly will do, he will probably come north.

Everything seems favorable. The spring campaign will open with our armies reinforced and strengthened and flushed with success. The enemy cannot fill his thinned ranks and must become weaker. I feel very strongly that the war is nearly over, but it may not end suddenly as a war with foreign powers by a treaty of peace. The work of subjugation is a more gradual process.

Now I ask myself when I can get away. My three years expire today. I must wait till I can learn something of our future movements. I dreamed of you last night in London. It was a very common place dream however. I remember it was only on a two day’s leave—rather short for a foreign tour.

Goodbye. Yours, — Alfred

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