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Perceptions of Stonewall Jackson - September 8, 1862
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Source: Rutgers University Special Collections and University Archives.
Transcript
Direct to Lieut. E. Hamilton
Co. E. 15th Reg. N.J.V.
Washington D.C. Camp "Morris"9 miles from Wash.
Sept. 8, 1862
My own Dear Grandma,
We are now encamped in a beautiful spot on the side of a hill and a clear brook runs along near our campground, where we wash our clothes and persons.
We are building a fortification on the brow of the hill and are preparing for another on another hill about a quarter of a mile distant.
We were at work all day yesterday (Sunday) digging on the fort and cutting down trees on the prospect for the fort. I was in command of the latter party and it was pretty hard work as they were all green hands in military affairs and don’t know how to mind yet, but as they are fresh from the woods and mountains of North Jersey they chopped away right lustily and in six hours had cleared four acres of large cedar trees so forty men in one hour and a half cleared one acre of hard woods which is pretty good cutting. Last week we were encamped in a woods on a very precipitous hill and there was no grass on the ground so it was very dirty and as it rained and blew nearly all the time we were there, we had a pretty hard time of it. While there I was sent out on picket with my company and while there Bank’s division passed us in its retreat from Washington up the Potomac; there were a pretty hard looking set half-starved and hardly any clothes as they had to throw away their knapsacks and contents to get out of the clutches of that old villain "Stonewall Jackson;" it is a singular fact that while they respect and honor Jackson for his courage and bravery yet they are not afraid of him and express their anxiety to cope with him again.
He (Jackson) is reported to have crossed the Potomac on Friday night but I think it highly improbable as he is too sly a fox for that. For if he is across he can never get back again alive at any rate if he comes across we can not have a chance for a peg at him as we are surrounded by six forts who will call on us as a reserve if he attempts to take any of them.
The other day when we were ordered down into Virginia they heard of it and each one of them (the forts) sent in a protest to the governmental headquarters not to move it and it was received and our orders countermanded as we "yet remain."
They send up signals every day across to each other and Col. Fowler can read them all as he has the signal book.
It is very pleasant here and I was never in better health in my life than I am now, and am in unusually good spirits.
I saw Aunt Fannie and Mr. Smith in Washington when I came through and had quite talk with them on the war. Tell her, the next time you write, that, she must write to me. Excuse my writing as I am very tired the weather is very warm and the dinner call has been beaten. I will write to mother this afternoon or tomorrow. You or Grandpa, write soon.
Good bye
Yours lovingly,
Ellis
Questions
  1. According to Ellis Hamilton, what are the northern soldiers' perceptions of the southern General Stonewall Jackson?
  2. How do you think these perceptions would compare with the southern soldiers' views of their General Stonewall?
  3. Ellis Hamilton is from Camden, New Jersey. This is in the central part of the state. Describe what he thinks of the soldiers from northern New Jersey.
  4. What stereotypes do we have of New Jerseyans from various sections of the state? Explain your opinion.
  5. After having read Ellis Hamilton's letter to "My Own Dear Grandma," dated September 8, 1862, identify some uncertainties with which Ellis and other soldiers had to cope while in the army. How do you think they were psychologically prepared to live with these uncertainties?
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