E. R. Barber
Dec 15th 1862
Because I know how much you are interested in the welfare of those who are under your care as pupils, and that you do not forget them when they leave the quiet pursuit of study to mingle again with the world, I take this liberty of writing to you.
You are doubtless aware of the position of the main body of the army of the Cumberland about Nash. Our reg. -- the 24th Wis. -- belongs now to this grand division We are now lying in camp about four miles north of Nash. and are enjoying ourselves exceedingly well. We know how to prize the privilege of resting after our long and toilsome march through Kentucky. We have endured a great deal of fatigue and -- for a new regiment -- remarkably well. However our ranks have been sadly thinned: our men are in hospitals all along our life of march and now we cannot muster 700 fighting men although a little more than three months ago we were more than 1000 strong. I am happy to say for myself that I have not been sick since I left home although I was excused from duty once on account of a slight indisposition I am now enjoying excellent health and am gaining flesh every day. But is not so with us all. From our Co. alone four have died and 21 more are in hospitals. I am very thankful that my health is so good.
The 36th Ill. in which reg. are Kelly and Sherril has been in our brigade ever since we left Tenn. In Nash. I found Sheratt, Caswell, Freeman and Willis in the 74th The day after the battle of Perryville as I was returning to the camp from a walk over the battle-field I unexpectedly found my old classmate Ole Johnson engaged in writing. His seat was the ground and his table a drum. It is a great pleasure to us -- "Beloit boys" -- to meet now and then and in an hour's chat of the "good times" in college forget that we are soldiers. And we believe that we shall not long be soldiers. We encouraged as we think how much brighter the prospects of preserving our country's life and honor than it was a few months ago when we all felt an imperative call to delay no longer the assistance which our friends and brothers, already wearied and almost discouraged by long and apparently unavailing labors in the field needed.
It is raining now very hard and, consequently, it is so dark in the tent that I can hardly see to write.
Please give my respects to Mrs. E. Also to Prof. P., Prof. B. and lady, Prof. K., and Mr. Fisk. and to all other friends who may enquire of me.
Please tell Charly that I remember him and would be very glad to see him.
E, R, Barber.