News from Home
We camped near Leesburg, and since we would be there during the winter, started building cabins to house ourselves. I found it good to be doing a work that resulted in something of use, so I fell to it, so much so that the others had to urge me not to go at it so hard. I ignored them, and soon we had a small abode that would house eight of us in relative comfort.
It was about a month later that a letter arrived from Laurel. Before, I would have taken it back to the cabin to read it in private, but I was so eager to see what she had to stay that I tore it open right then and started reading:
August 15, 1862
My dearest husband and my love,
How I have missed you since we parted. I barely had the time to become used to being with you, my dear one, when I was torn asunder from your strong presence.
We arrived near to our cabin safely, but I needed some things in town, so we went there first. Corporal Johnson, who is a gallant and polite young man, also needed to apprise the sheriff of my situation, so while he did that, I gathered my necessaries. With that taken care of, he left me, and Caleb and I made our way to our cabin, where I received the shock of my life. Our cabin was gone, burned to the ground, and nailed to a tree was a note that read, “You were not here and so my men could not find you, but they will continue looking for you until they do. Count on it.” The note was signed “Eleanor.” I was so frightened I did not know what to do, so I sat down and thought a while, and then it occurred to me that I could go to the Widow Frederick’s place. She only recently came into that state, and I knew that she would take me in, being a fine Christian lady. That she did, and we are for now safe and sheltered, but I fear what will come. If only you were here to take care of us, I would be perfectly happy.
I hear that our army is moving in this direction, and there will be a battle soon if all goes as I have heard. I pray earnestly for your safety, and I pray that we will be reunited soon.
I am your loving wife,
Adolphus, of course, was there for mail call, but did not receive a letter. He looked over curiously. “Good news or bad?”
“Both,” I said. “Laurel got back safely, but it appears that Eleanor had our cabin burned and delivered more threats against our lives.”
“I am sorry to hear that. It is difficult to know what to do against one who is so filled with malice.”
“Yes. I wish I did know what to do.”
We went back to our cabin, where I immediately started a letter to Laurel.
September 3, 1862
My dearest Laurel,
I received your letter of the 15th ultimo, and was right glad to have it. I am beside myself with the thought of what you endured upon your return. I fear that our nemesis will never stop threatening us until she has been taken care of, if you follow my meaning. I am glad that you feel safe in your present situation with the sheriff aware of your dilemma, and I thank God for good women like the Widow Frederick. May He bless her richly for what she has done.
We are in camp, in a good situation as we are housed in cabins, awaiting our next action, which will likely not occur until next spring, it being difficult to fight in cold weather. I shall ask for leave to come see you at the first opportunity.
I miss you with every fiber of my being and I also long for the day when we can be together. Kiss our son for me. I miss him also.
I am your loving husband,
I finished my letter and took it to the tent that served as a post office to mail it. As I turned from the table where the letters were collected, I saw David Andrews, whom I had not seen since I left for Eleanor’s spy mission. I hadn’t seen him before around camp, and assumed that he was dead or otherwise out of the war. It was good to see him.
“David!” I greeted him. “It’s Caleb Dillard! I thought something had happened to you!”
He did a double take. “It is you, Caleb! I thought I’d never see you again. You just disappeared one day and no one knew where you went. What have you been doing?”
“I’ll tell you, but not now. It will take a long time, and I know we’ll have plenty of that in the next few months. Right now I have to get back and let Adolphus know you’re here.”
He waved a hand. “Adolphus knows I’m here. We’re in the same regiment, remember?”
He looked at me intently. “Have you been playing any baseball?”
“David, the situations I have been in provide neither the time nor the space in which to play a game.”
“Well, we’ve set up a diamond and play teams from other regiments. We have a game tomorrow. Do you want to play?”
“I’d like that, but I’d best come early to see if I still can play. It has been months since I touched a ball.”
“Very good. I’ll see you there. Adolphus knows where the field is.”
I went back to the cabin where Adolphus sat at a little table he told me he had made. “I did not know the regiment was playing baseball.”
He looked amused. “Most of the regiments are.”
“It caught on quickly, then.”
“That it did. We have a game tomorrow if you want to play.”
“I saw David Andrews at the post office. He told me about it.”
“Ah! Good, then. We’ll go.”
“I’ll need to arrive early to practice. I told David I hadn’t touched a ball in months.”
“We can do that. Right now, let’s go practice on some food.”
“I am for you, sir,” I said, and we both laughed.