On Aug 20, 1861, Charles Brewster and the 10th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment was still drilling in preparation for being sent off to war, there was still something of a holiday spirit, note that Brewster moves back and forth from goings on in camp to thinking about friends and family in Northampton, that prevailed, as illustrated here in Brewster’s letter to his friend, Tom Boland, who would soon marry Charles’ sister Martha. Camp Brightwood was located in the northeast corner of the District of Columbia (see note #2, p. 352, When This Cruel War Is Over, ed. Blight:
Head Quarters 10th Regt Mass Vol
Camped near Brightwood, Aug 20th 1861
I have been intending to write you for some time, but what my regular duties and my home correspondence I have not had time. we are now encamped in a much pleasanter place than when you saw us, and I wish you could come and see us now. we are very busy these day’s [sic]. I have just returned from the Battery where I have been in command of a
working party of one Plattoon to day, a Pick and Shovel Party the other Plattoon with Lieut Weatherill commanding started out tonight on Piquet they remain out until 10 oclock tomorrow night. I tried to get out with them but could not arrange it as all the men I could leave my duties with were already out on other duty…. There are all sorts of rumors respecting the enemy, and every day they get up some bug bear story or other about thier [sic] coming nearer, +c +c but “I don’t see it.” Gen McClellan visited us last week and reviewed the Regiment during a drenching rain he is a small, and not uncommon looking man, he looks rather like Tom Hayden I think. I have just had a letter from Jim Ellsworth the first I’ve had since Saturday the whole company had only one letter yesterday. If you see any of my relations down in Pleasant Street (which I don’t suppose you will) just say to them that they must write oftener and that I have not had any papers this week. Three companies are going by with having just returned from the Battery with Picks + Shovels on their shoulders, singing Dixie loud enough to be heard a mile. Charlie Howes has just been in practicing his bugle or Trumpet which we are to drill by when we get anybody who can sound the call. It is a simple horn with one twist and no valves. I think I might learn to sound it myself as I can already sound five notes on it, and it is capable of only seven. The soldiery are fast spoiling the looks of this country as they are cutting down woods and orchards in every direction from the Battery, to give a fair sight of the rebels, and houses that interfere prepared so they can be fired and consumed in double quick time. We are expecting a call from our rebel friends at most any time, and many are getting impatient, that they do not come, but I am content to wait as no doubt it will come soon enough and enough of it , and the longer they delay the better for us and the worse for them but I think that if they should come now they would get most delightfully smashed.
I don’t think of anything else of interest to write so I will close give my respects to all my friends in Haydenville and my enemies too, and believe me
Very truly your friend
PS There is a box coming to use from Ansel Wrights store.
will you please telll my folks to send my Spy Glass. Please tell them at the first opportunity you have Yours +c +c