On February 12, 1862, the 13thMichigan boarded a train at the Michigan Central Railroad Station–where the Amtrak station is located today–and headed off to the war. Their first stop, two days later, was in Jeffersonville, Indiana, just across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky. The unit then marched some 5 miles to New Albany where they set up camp. Once settled into his tent, Dewaters took time to write his first letter to his parents back in Oshtemo.
In his letter of February 16, he describes the rough accommodations in camp, mentions visiting Louisville, and reports that all the men are in good spirits but uncertain of their destination.
Feb the 16th 1862
we got thru all rite [to] Jeffersonville [on] the 14 and stade in the cars all night and next day we marched to Albany and pitched our tents we had no straw to sleep Some slep part of the night and then got up and let the rest sleep we got a camp stove in the tent i am well and hopeing that you are all the same i am not sick of camp yet we heard the guns this morning i ges thay was a pratcing we dont no wahare we sal[shall] go we talk of going down the river on the boat the boys all fel[feel] well uncle joseph is well this is a pretty large place when we came out of the cars the next morning we went up in the city and lok [looked] over on the city of Kentucky [i.e., Louisville] and see the boats cross over our Captain and Hick went over and back there is 2 or 3 rigements here i have ben over and seen them some of our boys have gon after som mules to cary our bagedg you need not wright till i wright agane we have got our fatigue coat and hats so i must bring my letter to a close so good by you must excuse my bad writing and bad speling for i haft to lay down on the ground so good by agane
From your son OH Dewaters