Bygones of Monroe:
Our Army Correspondence from the Fourth Michigan Regiment
(The following letter from M.W. Hall, of the Hospital Department of the Fourth Michigan Regiment, came to hand just as our last issue had been put to press.)
Michigan 4th Regt., Miners Hill, VA
Dec. 6th, 1861
Mr. Editor, and Friends One and All: This is a time when the attention of the people is turned toward national affairs, with an interest never before exceeded, perhaps never equaled. For months past, dark clouds of adversity have been hanging over us, threatening our very existence as a nation, and bringing gloom, despondency and sorrow to thousands of homes and hearts. No news, I presume, is more eagerly sought at the present time than such as concerns our army. No class of citizens is more entitled to sympathy and support, or receives a larger share of the same, than the brave volunteers who have gone out from pleasant homes, profitable occupations, and beloved families and friends, to suffer exposure and privation, and peril life in defense of those rights which our fathers bequeathed to us, a sacred legacy.
From this reason and the further one of making an acknowledgement of the favors received from the good people at home, I venture to pen a few lines to Monroe friends, hoping that though it be the first communication written for the public, it may not be without interest, especially to those who have friends here, and whose homes have been made lonely, by the absence of father, husband, brother or son.
As my duties are connected with the Hospital, having the oversight of the same, I thought a few things concerning that and the general health of the men might be as interesting as anything I could write at the present time. Considering the number of men together, the change of climate to which they have been subjected, and the greater change, in my opinion, of habit in getting accustomed to camp life, the inconvenience, privations and exposures incident to the soldiers, considering these things, I think the general health of our men is good both in our own Regiment and others, so far as I know. If accounts are not exaggerated there is much more sickness among the rebels than in the Union Army, which shows that the boast of the “chivalry,” in reference to Northerners standing their climate, is about as empty as many others they have made.
We have low sick in the Hospital about fifteen. Some come in about every day and others are discharged, but this has been about the average number for some time past. The hospital is two large tents placed together, capable of holding twenty-four persons. There is a good floor on which the sick boys’ beds are placed making them as dry and comfortable as one could expect in a hospital, which must be moved whenever the Regiment marches. For warming the tents, a small parlor stove has been provided, which well answers the purpose and has proved very acceptable through the cold nights we have had for some time past. We have just received another piece of furniture in shape of a small marine clock, which is very welcome not only for its utility, but because it seems a pleasant companion cheering the long hours of the night watches, and its ceaseless ticking reminding one of home scenes, home comforts, and home friends.
The ladies of the Loyal States have been and are still making generous efforts toward giving comforts and delicacies to our sick and wounded soldiers. May God bless and repay them for their kindness. The Ladies of Monroe are not behind in this good work. We received of them in due time, the large box containing quilts, blankets, shirts, socks, wines, jellies, etc, all of which we find very desirable in this Hospital. We assure you that these favors are thankfully received and that you have a large place in our hearts. We are also happy to inform you of the good health of our Monroe boys. None of them have been in the hospital for the past four or five weeks. This I am sure will be good news to their friends.
Our letters from Michigan bring tidings of snow storms, good sleighing, etc. Here we are having beautiful weather and not so cold but that we live in our tents without great inconvenience.
There is no special war news in this immediate locality, everything remains comparatively quiet. But as we do not receive any orders relative to winter quarters we expect some move will soon be made. Our Regiment with a number of others is now out on a scouting expedition. We know not what a day may bring forth. The general news seems to us to be of an encouraging character and to show that the friends of the Union are constantly increasing in strength and numbers. May a kind Providence watch over us as a nation, give loyalty and courage to the soldiers of our army, indue our rulers now in Council with true wisdom, and hasten the day when the olive branch of peace shall wave over all our beloved land.
M.W. Hall, Hospital Dep.
(Monroe Commercial, December 19, 1861, Page 2, Column 3)