On Picket, 9 PM
Manassas Gap RR
Bridge Post No 18
Feb 23d 1863
Well here I am on Picket again, at Post No 18, on a Signal Post, used more, to give Signals than any thing else. Well we are keeping a good look out, as the Capt in Command, says he intends trying us, to night, & If I am not mistaken, we shall be ready for him. It is a Fact that the Guards on Picket, look out more, for our Officers than they do even, for the Enemy. the Boys all say look out for the Grand Rounds.
For fear that you may not know, what Grand Rounds is, I will explain it. the Grand Rounds is the Officer of the Out Posts, & it is his Duty, to go around & see that all are doing their Duty, once in the Day time, & once after midnight. So you see it keeps the Boys on the look out for them. The Challenge for Guard Rounds, is, Halt. Who Comes. There. And, Guard Rounds, the Guards, turn out the Guard, then Dismount Sergeant of the Guard Rounds, advance & give the Countersign, if the Countersign is right then Countersign is correct, Advance Rounds. Then the Corporal, is expected to have his men in Line, report the No of his Post, No of men & if anything has been seen out of the way to report it. the guard Rounds, was never smart enough to catch me yet.
We will not have as many poor Corporals in a Short time, as all are to be examined & the ignorant ones thrown out.
This is a pretty rough looking letter, but I am writing it on my diary, & by a poor fire. We are lucky here, in being allowed to have Fires on Picket, if it were not for that, we should suffer.
Today we had a lovely walk out here. the Snow is about 6 inches Deep on the Level, & in some places here pretty Badly Drifted. We had to break, the Roads, that made it worse. We are now, the very outside Picket, as the Cavalry Pickets, have been taken up, so that alone would make us, watchful. Now what in the world would I do, with 4 men, against any Force, with the Reserves a half a mile from me. You can just bet any thing, I shall not Fire into a Force of men, if I see I can not hold the Place. I dont risk my life that way.
As to our being off by the Reb’s, by Shooting, I am not in the least afraid of that, that is played out. I have got on my Post Wheeler, a Brother, to Oscar Reynolds Wife & a first rate Fellow he is too & knows his Business.
Did I ever tell you how Co’s were located in a Regt if not I will. Co A F D & C is the Right Wing & Co H E, K, G B, the Left. so you can always tell what Wing a Co, is in.
Tell mother to send me the Recipe for making Fried Cakes the easiest way. I want to make. the way, they make Hoe Cake here, is mix Indian Meat & Water, with a little Salt, & Bake on the Stove Griddles.
Love to all