Christmas and New Year’s at Fort Lincoln, religious services, hopes for a move upon Richmond in the spring, Colonel Augustus A. Gibson, sickness in camp, death of James Gilbert.
Sunday Evening, January 4, 1863
Dear Friend Mrs. Richards,
I am happy to say that I have received the box & and your very welcomed letter enclosed. William Davis joins with me in much thanks for the very useful & comfortable contents. I can assure you that we feel very proud in our gay caps & when on guard we will defy “the cold chilly winds” & bless you over and over again. We must say that everything is satisfactory. Please give our best thanks to Mr. Roberts for the [news]papers, books, etc. I read the lecture with great pleasure & the Welsh boys are all delighted with it. I was very happy to hear that you were well & comfortable & that little Nettie was improving. I hope that you will continue so doing. William & me sent our photographs to you Thursday. I hope [you] received them.
The weather so far has been quite pleasant. But there are signs of a change today for rough weather. Let it come, we are now well prepared as to quarters, [with our] caps and mittens.
Christmas passed very pleasantly with us, but New Year’s was rather dull. As to life in general in the army, it is not after all very dull, except on Sunday. Sunday is a very mean day. It is not looked upon with desire in camp. Since I [have been] in the Army I have not heard services [until] last Sunday, and that was by a stranger from Pittston. There is a Chaplain connected with this regiment, but that class is as neglectful of their duties as they can be. It is now just 5:30 pm, the very time to think of preparing to go to church. I am all ready & [have] a strong desire [to attend], but there is no church. There is no Hyde Park, no Welsh Church, no nothing here but the imperative “roll call,” — “tattoo” & “taps.”
It is generally believed that we will winter in Ft. Lincoln, but I believe as soon as Spring arrives we will be “Onward to Richmond.” The 112th Regiment 2nd Artillery is considered one of the strongest and most effective Regiments in the field. Our Col. Gibson is a Captain [in the] Regular Army and an old Mexico Veteran. The others officers are all picked men, and the Regiment is to be recruited 18,000 strong. Four companies garrison Fort Lincoln, the rest are in Forts Thayer, Saratoga, Bunker Hill, and Totten. Rumors are currently [circulating] of a “Siege Train” being prepared for us, destined for the siege of Richmond. Others say Forts Sumter & Charleston. When we move I hope you will hear [a] good [account] of us. We shall try & do our best anyway.
Please tell Henry that the “negro on the fence” is not a negro, but a monkey. I have had some fun over his antics and gymnastic exercises. Tell him I believe he is “stuck” and will come to the same sad end as the monkey on board ship – being decapitated.
Please give my best respects to [your son] Joshua & wish him & his wife much joy. Tell him to cable his son, William, for me (??)….as if a lady didn’t object to it. Please give my best respects to [your daughters] Susan & Jenny Richards, [and to] Mr. & Mrs. Davis & family.
I was very sorry to hear that there were some cases of smallpox in Hyde Park. I hope that you will be cleared of it very soon. There was some cases of it here & we all got vaccinated & it is gone now. The health of the company is not as good as usual. Frank Long is in the hospital. One of our company [named] James Gilbert ♠ of Pittston died last week. The company embalmed him and sent him home to his friends. It cost us some 50 dollars. The Boys are all determined to send their comrades home if possible but I hope when I come I’ll come with a passenger ticket, and not labeled.
I shall now conclude [this letter] with best regards to Mr. Richards & Mr. Roberts & Kisses many for little Nettie. Yours truly – William B. Phillips
I hope to hear from you again soon.
LETTER 10 NOTES
♠ James Gilbert died at Fort Saratoga on December 31, 1862. Unit records show that he enlisted on 11 August 1862.