[Louisiana] Had the monthly Regimental Inspection at 10 o’clock—inspection by the field officers of the Regt., and not “by one of the General’s staff,” as we expected The men appeared better than on any other occasion of the kind. In the afternoon the tents 7 grounds were minutely inspected. After this I went down to see our sick men in the Hospital—found them all apparently improving except Gorham Gould. He had evidently failed since I last saw him—his mind has been wandering at times for a day or two, though he recognizes me & talked quite rationally a part of the time. He told me what I had never suspected, that he thought he experienced religion when seventeen years old, but of late years he had gone far astray—said he was ashamed of the bad language he had indulged in. He told me his mother & sister are Christians, & no doubt are praying for him. I told him I had long prayed for him, that if it was God’s will he might be restored to health, and if not, that he might be prepared for death. I presented his case at the prayer meeting this evening, asking the brethren to remember him at the throne of grace. May the Savior manifest himself to him, and if he has ever been a child of God, may he be brought back to the fold from which he has wandered so far, and if he has never been born again may he be led by the Spirit to cast himself wholly on the mercy of God and find true joy and peace in believing.
Finish[ed] our shanty. Weather pleasant.
[Louisiana] Wednesday. Rec’d a mail from the North. Had a letter from Pamelia, written in journal form from Jan. 1st to 9th, on which day it was mailed. All at home were well and prospering—the Good God be thanked for his mercies and loving kindness. May I be more devoted to his service, and live more to his glory.
Evening. At 12 o’clock our Brigade (1st) under command of Col. Wilson formed in line in the road between the camp & the river, & marched through several streets of the town, & out to the field opposite to our old ground, Camp Banks. Here we marched in review in columns of companies before Gen. Grover. After this Review was over we returned through the streets down by the Penitentiary, & thence back to camp, arriving about 5 o’clock. Our Reg. had only about 400 men out including officers—the other Regts. Having a few more each I should think.
[Louisiana] Tuesday. Rained hard last night & this forenoon, preventing the Grand Review of the forces which was to have taken place before Gen. Auger this afternoon. Had a Battalion drill in afternoon, but I have done no duty for the day, have a diarrhea. Have been issuing clothing to the Company, & this evening orders are issued to have all the men furnished with good suits, if they are not yet supplied. Extra clothing, baggage, & ordnance stores are to be stored at this post, which looks like a forward movement soon.
[Louisiana] Monday. Engaged a newly escaped Contraband to do our cooking. He is a mulatto, twenty-six years old, a native of New Orleans, by the name of Victor. He has lately lived with a rebel master about five miles below here, on the other side of the river. He appears intelligent & speaks French as well as English, though he cannot read. Was a house servant at New Orleans, but of late has worked at coopering. His wife came here before him, & on his arrival last Sunday found she had linked her fortune with another!
West Point Jan. 25th., 1863
Your short letter of the 18th was received on 22d inst. I suppose William started for Port Royal on the 20th. I have been expecting him here all week. I was very much disappointed at not seeing him.
I am getting along very well with my studies. I think Calculus is the easiest Math we have studied yet.
We are having very warm weather, it looks more like April than January.
How are the Limington soldiers getting along? Were any of them in this last battle?
I have no news to write. Sunday comes round so quick that it seems as though I was writing the same letter all the time. You know how it is. Your letters, I believe are not much longer than mine.
Your Affectionate Son, Malcolm McArthur
P.S. – I don’t suppose you have got a couple dollars you would like to send me?
[Louisiana] Saturday. Pretty languid and weak today, though not sick. I find that I have little physical strength here in this country, even when I feel otherwise pretty well, and think the same is true of nearly all in our Reg. The men were busy all the forenoon washing clothes, & this afternoon have been clearing up a parade ground in part of the encampment. The weather is mild this evening & the men are feeling pretty well. I think the health of the Reg. is improving.
[Louisiana] Friday. Well, the order came this forenoon to strike tents & move to ground just north of our present location, & some hundred rods distant. We began packing up at once & got our tents pitched again about 2 o’clock. The new spot is better than that we left, as the ground slopes down & can thus be more easily drained. It appears to have been a kind of common, perhaps used to pasture city cows. Old rotten stumps stand here & there, & tall woods & thorn bushes abound. With a little labor, therefore, we can put the ground in tolerable condition for our purpose. It is doubtful whether we shall be permitted to stop here long, as this is the ninth complete remove we have made within about three months! After all it makes little difference, as “the nine months are going on,” as the boys say on almost every occasion. Some fresh beef reached our camp soon after we had got the tents pitched. Two hind quarters came to our cooks & were put under a tent cloth near the fire. A short time after the Quartermaster called me aside & said: “Capt. C., they are hunting for some fresh beef that has been killed today. I thought I would just mention it to you!” I lost no time in putting the boys on their guard, & it was soon disposed of—ways that I think the rebels are hardly “up to.” Small quantities were put under tent floors, & one quarter cut into several pieces & put in a pork barrel by the cooks fire & covered with salt pork! If the owners are keen enough of scent to find it there, & can identify it, of course they will get it.
Hd Qts, near Fredricksburg, Va.
Stormed all night. Wind and rain ceased. Still threatening. The Army stuck in mud, five miles from here.