This is a second letter from Duncan McBain to Charles Cock. It is about six weeks later and the 8th Michigan is now at Newport News, Virginia having left Fredericksburg in early February. Although McBain is probably unaware of it, all of the drilling he describes is to get the regiment in shape for what would prove to be an active summer.
Between March and November, the unit would move from Virginia to Vicksburg, Mississippi by way of Baltimore and Louisville, Kentucky. The unit played a supporting role in the key Union victory at Vicksburg in July and then was transferred up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers via Cincinnati and fought at Knoxville in eastern Tennessee. Despite the 8th Michigan’s active year, it suffered only minor casualties. At the time, McBain wrote all of this was in the future.
His letter to Charlie is filled with news about local men as well as the command of the unit. He also takes time to comment on the war. He reports that he heard that the draft had taken place in Michigan and wishes he were there so that someone could give him a thousand dollar bounty to take their place. Nevertheless, he says he has come to enjoy being a soldier and would enlist for much less than that.
McBain also says that he thinks the war will end soon, if not in the coming summer, then by the next year. He believes that the Confederates last hope is that the Democrats will gain control of the government and agree to a peace treaty before the Union wins. [Many Democrats were open to the idea of a peace treaty that would accept Southern secession.] McBain, however, expresses his deep patriotic feelings for a Union victory when the Stars and Stripes will again fly over the entire nation.
March 4th 1863
Newport nuse Vra
Ma be you Will be astonished if this is my second letter to you since I received yours Charley sence we got here my writing got the start of me I had some 10 letters to answer & I have for gotten whether I answered yours or not and know I have plenty time to write & I will writ to you anyhow we have ben verrey strong to work til we got our camp fixed up I wish you could see ar camp we got the prais of having the best camp in the brigad I must sa that our regtment never ben as comfortable sence we left South as we ar know but our time is taken up mostly drilling we got to Drill 4 times a day brigad drill twice a week we ar in in the same place where we camped last summer when we came from the south it is a splendid place I tel you Charley
I hurd that draft has taken place in Mich & that George Thomas was drafted I received a letter from Will he did not say Nothing about it there ar some drafted that I am verrey glad of I wish I was there and that they wer oblige to Pay me 1,000 dollars ar com them selves Charley if I was home I would come back for 5.00 for nine mounths I got so I like Soldering pretty well sence we left the army of Potomac I do not no how long we shall Stay here all of the 9th Army Corps ar here under Major Gen Smith Gener Willcox and Bridgade irorn Poe he has command of the 1 Brigade auld Billy Fenton is Back to the regt cpt Elie is Lt Colnel Cpt Lyon is Major Company F ranks 36 men Wesly Merrifield is discharged Alonzo benet [Bennett] John Bessmer Wheeler Lester Preston diserted from the hospital an Beeby what Boys that ar here of ours ar Cp Swartout Ct Snyder John Dowd Corporal Grebel orderly nye R D Gates is forage master in the first Brigad first Division
Well Charly what a bout this war I think nothing one thing the rabels ar sufering the worst kind and bet you they will have to cave soon they ma hold out this summer But that will be all they ar on there last hope Know & that is that the Democrats will Break the union for hevensake keep them Still dont sa one word a bout the negro I tel you that this is a regular mess we must win the day we shall & we will in some day or other I hope I shall see it I hope I shall see the day when I get home shake hand with you to say charly the victory is ours we have stood the storm fought the Battle and win our freedom & know that the Glorious Baner waves over us you want to live under it yes & so do I to day congress sets we loock for some thing don But I sent much faith that they will do much I hope they will
Charley I mus close for it is tim for Brigade drill Capt Scrinsscoe has gon home this morning on a furlow so we must get a long with John D Sumner Write when you can & as often as you lik I will answer all the letter you will send Write soon We all join by sending our Best wish to you and all
As I was I am your Friend
Duncan McBain to C F Cock
Direct as Before