Camp at Catletts Station
Near Warrenton Junction, Va.
April 24, 1862
My dear Sisters,
Your letter of the 13 (Ellie's that is) reached me at this place. The news of Harry E's recovery is most gratifying and must relieve his mother of a load of anxiety and trouble.
Our mails are very uncertain now, and will be for a time. I have had nothing to write you save that our marches have been extremely unfavorable as regards roads and weather. The snow storm you speak of we had the full benefit of. My Brigade was out in it 9 hours and some of the Regts 11 and 12. If it had not been that I stopped the trains and put the men in the Rebel's huts at Bull Run, I do not know what we should have done. Most of the cars were platform cars and the men had the full benefit of the snow and rain. They have all pretty much recovered from it now. I regret to say that I can not deny the charge made in the Tribune against the men of this Div. One of our Chaplains reported having found a surgeon of my Brigade (Dr. Donnelly from Phila.) engaged in desecrating the grave of one of our own men on the battlefield at Bull Run. When I called him up to ask him about it, he did not deny it, acknowledged that he had brought away some of the bones, but excused himself by saying they were Rebels! You better believe that I gave him a piece of my mind on the subject. I told him I should take the Chaplain's letter and publish it with my own remarks in the papers of his town so that if his sentiments meet the approval of the people there, they would welcome him on his return. There were others: a Dr. Neff of the 8th Regt. whom I understand did the same thing. In fact, I have been so much disgusted and disheartened that I sincerely thought of resigning and joining my Regt. as Lt. Col. I do not know what these men will do in action under their officers, who appear to have no control under the most ordinary circumstances and the influence of the example of many of them exceeds any I have conceived of. I have done all I could to correct these evils but must say without being able to effect much change for the better. If I brought them before a Court, it must be of their own officers and they do nothing with them.
In all this, however, I must except Col. Robert's Regt., the 1st. With it I have no fault to find. The men and officers are prompt and attentive to their duty and except for a few cases of incapacity among the officers, they are a fine body of men.
McDowell has promised me a division if he can make one up for me, tho' that is unofficial.
I leave here tomorrow for Falmouth opposite Fredricksburg with my Brigade. It is now raining very hard and we have awful roads. The victory at Pittsburg Landing was complete in frustrating the designs of Beauregard, tho' his short line of communications enabled him to get back to his entrenchments only a few miles in his rear. The surprise of an army under Grant is not surprising to me. Our men will not do their duty as soldiers should. All they care about, to hear them talk, is fight, which under favorable circumstances they will, but not under adverse ones. The siege at Yorktowne will be lengthy I think unless the Rebels get unfavorable news from the Mississippi.
Give my love to all and believe me your affectionate Brother,
John F. Reynolds