March 27, 1863
Winchester, Va., March 20, 1863.
“After so long a time,” we of Romney, are safely transferred to General Milroy’s division, in Winchester. What a change too. Romney – a poor, miserable, muddy, mountain village, and Winchester quite a city in the valley.
The 116th and 123d Ohio, accompanied by the noble company of cavalry, commanded by Captain White, left the 54th Penna., and the 1st Va., to guard Romney, and started for this place last Sunday morning.
The weather was cool, the roads frozen, and we consequently made good time through.
Nothing worth mentioning happened on the way, except one thing, and it would be better described by a poet than any one else. It was growing dark on the evening of the first day, the snow falling, and the sky dull and low, as we approached that awful pass in the mountains, know[n] as “Blue’s Gap.” As we entered the cavernous gloom, a bright flash passed before our eyes, and the thunder muttered and echoed through the mountains. It was sublime beyond anything the writer ever witnessed before.
Once arrived here, we found everything warlike. A force of ten thousand or more, all lately paid off and in good health and spirits.
Fortifications are thrown up on the hill above town, and everything ready to receive any advancing foe. It appears as if the whole army have caught the heroic enthusiasm of the old Grey Eagle, and were eager for any hardships or daring enterprise.
These legions of patriotic men, we feel assured, will render a good account of themselves when the day of trial comes.
The boys are continually picking up old bombshells that are lying about former battle fields. One of my fellow-soldiers picked up one a few days ago, and wishing to get at the powder, sat down and taking it between his knees commenced hammering it to break it open, when suddenly it exploded with a terrific sound, and inflicted several severe wounds, none of which, however, are thought dangerous.
Another rather amusing accident, that came near resulting seriously to one of our best officers, happened in a tent of the 122d O. Vi. I., a few days ago. It appears that some of the said officer’s friends had sent him several cans of fruit – a practice which is at present very common, and a highly commendable one, indeed. A servant was engaged in the rather novel act of boiling some peaches in the can yet sealed, and the officer was performing his ablutions in the most approved Turkish style in the same tent. But, lo! the can burst to pieces, and plastered the hot contents all over the bare back of the officer! This will serve as a timely caution to the hundreds of officers who hereafter shall receive canned fruit from kind friends at home.
A large force is reported near us, but we have no apprehensions of anything of the kind.
You have had frequent descriptions of this town as it is now, I suppose (?) If not, put a star to the left of my signature, and I shall take that as a delicate hint to send you “A description of Winchester as it is.”
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: March 1863