Two letters from Shaw, to his fiance Annie and his sister Effie:

Stafford C. H. [BCF]
Jan. 25,1863

Dear Annie,

I found your letter of the 14th here, last night, when we arrived. Please do not think of not sending me a letter, because you fancy it stupid; for they always give me a great deal of pleasure. Since I have been at home, I have begun to think that the war may very possibly come to a more sudden end than I have hitherto supposed, unless there is a great change in the feelings of the people. What I saw and heard in public conveyances and hotels surprised me very much; and one would think that the men who have remained quietly at their firesides were the principal sufferers, to judge from their complaints. Morse and I left Washington yesterday morning, and came down to Aquia Landing by boat. There we took the train to Brooke’s Station, which is three miles from here, and walked the rest of the way. The roads are in a condition which no one who has not seen them could imagine, and as it was quite dark we floundered about in the mud, in a very uncertain manner. We finally came across an officer, who directed us to our camp, and we got safely in about 8 P.M.

The corps had a very hard march down here;—while it was so cloudy and threatening at Lenox, it was raining hard here, and every one was soaked through and through for two or three days. The artillery had to throw away their ammunition, and the commissaries the rations, in order to get their wagons through the mud. As it was, many waggons were abandoned, and many mules were so hopelessly stuck in the mud, that they had to be left to end their days there. They sunk so deep in some places that only their heads could be seen,—so I am told, at least; but the story seems rather a startling one. The rate of marching was two to three miles a day; and the last day the men were without a morsel of food. You can imagine the difficulties of a winter
campaign in Virginia. In Washington, I heard, and you probably know by this time, that Burnside’s move is entirely given up, the whole army having stuck in the mud.

Dear Annie, I have thought a great deal of you‚—indeed almost all the time since I left Lenox‚—and of my visit to you, especially the last part of it. O, dear! you don’t know how much I should like to see you again!

Good night; with much love, your


Stafford CourtHouse Va. [HL]
January 25 1863

Dear Effie,

Your letter from Milton of Jan. 18 induces me to address myself to you this morning. I wrote to Father & Mother from Washington & hope they received my letters.

Morse & I left that town yesterday morning & came by boat to Aquia Cr. Landing. We arrived there about 1 P.M. and waited for a train until about 4— having got some bean (pebble) soup on board a canal boat for dinner. The cars took us to Brooke’s Station about three miles from this camp, and from there we walked through the mud & darkness. After many inquiries & many unsatisfactory & often impertinent answers from individuals who had apparently been riled by having been asked similar questions from early dawn, we finally stumbled on C. Wheaton, Jr. the illustrious. The sight of him calmed our ire, which was fast rising at hearing a man advise another (as we turned our backs) to tell the first person who asked him a question “to go to hell.” Wheaton directed us on our way and we soon arrived within sight of our camp-fires.

We find that we escaped the most miserable march the regiment ever made. The storm on Wednesday & Thursday was very severe and put the roads in such a condition that rations & ammunition had to be thrown away, many (even empty) wagons abandoned and mules left to die in mud holes. It rained hard for two days & on one of them the men went for nearly 24 hours without food. As I wrote Father, the movement of Burnside’s Army has been entirely abandoned. They say the Rebels put out a large placard opposite Falmouth, saying: “Burnside stuck in the mud.” “Shan’t we come across & help you with your pontoons?” The letters were large enough to be easily read from our side. I hope you wrote or will write to Annie H. as you intended to, and that you will get well acquainted with her when she comes down to stay with Susie. Tell her to stand straight. No you needn’t say so from me. I don’t feel certain that she considers the matter entirely settled.

They think here that the political troubles at home are going to finish the war before long. If we are not going to fight it out, the sooner it ends, the better. If we do make a peace now, we shall have to go at it again one of these days, I am sure, unless slavery dies out in the mean time.

The Paymaster came up with us, and we arc going to receive four months’ pay.

Did you go to tea at Col. Lowell’s at last?

Give my love to Nellie. I am waiting to hear about the secret society.

Your loving brother