Fort Stevens, [DC?] Dec. 20th 1863
We are having very cold weather these days. You must be completely frozen of - but have had no snow as yet. Last year we had a severe snowstorm on the 7th of November - this year we have not seen a flake. I am fairly [moved?] into my new quarters - & am as comfortable as can be. We kept a hot coal fire till we got the pastering fairly dry - so we took no cold. You know I suppose something of my chum - Lt. Austin of Bat. "I". I believe I have told you that he is a [Burlington?] Collegian of three years standing, & a consistent church-member. I have learned to think very much of him - he is quiet - but of a good deal of determination - one of those fellows that would understand danger & dare to face it - is a scholarly fellow withal - Much more so than my Lt. Lewis who though he has had a good many advantages - most of them of his own making by the way - is never meant for a scholar - nothing literary about him.
I am very much pleased that circumstances have placed me with a fellow like Austin, & I know you will be . It seems less like army - & more like home. He is on a Court- Martial and at Bunker Hill - four miles off - but hes here still, has transportation in an Ambulance with Capt. Lee. He has had considerable trouble - was promoted into a Bat. against the wishes of everyone in it, but has worn well & is very much liked by all its members now excep Capt. Templeton - a worthless fellow - a disgrace to the service - & one or two of his "set" - Templeton has tried every way to get rid of him - by transfer etc - but Austin wont go - & I admire his spunk.
We are kept busy in spite of the cold weather - Yesterday Maj. Chamberlain inspected in Artillery, preparatory to the coming inspection of Gen. Barry - & he is so faithful that we nearly frose to death - My Co. did very well I thought. Today we were ordered to Slocum at 9 A.M. for Inspection which we understood to mean drill - The Major was in command - & had "Charged front forward on first Company" - the men rubbing their ears & taking no interest in the drill, when Col. Warner came out & ordered us home - "too cold to drill" - A Battalion means from two companies to [?] - & a Battalion drill is a drill of two or more companies in regimental
manouvers usually the same as a regimental drill that we can have a battalion drill at our own fort.
You have probably seen in the papers of Buford's death & the obsequies - The officers of the Division were requested to attend - & so we went down this P.M. I rode old grey - & was very comfortable in my big overcoat & cape - We were ordered to
attend assemble at Division - Haskins - Headquarters & go from there to the church - & the consequence was - intended perhaps - that we could not get in - as there were three times as many present as could be accommodated in the church. I succeeded in getting on to the threshold of the door towards the close of the service - Saw lots of big generals. Sicles is the finest looking one in the crowd -- & is quite a lion here - quite a change in the his social status in the last two years There was an escort of Infantry, Artillery & cavalry under Gen. Stoneman who has a voice like a lion - & a big procession of military men - Cavalry officers & c- But I cut for home when I had seen it pass down the Avenue. It was quite a show - & Buford deserved it-
One of my new recruits turns out non-confs - I have made out papers for his discharge - & shall write a letter to the Selectors who enlisted him giving my mind - it is a shame - & he should not be credited on their quota - I think I shall apply to Washburn to that effect.
That nigger I sent Mary is a genius I tell you - the picture is good - but dont expres his character - I sent the same to Miss Bugby much to her amusement -
I have received no letters from Henry or Edward - I think Mr. Chillis is
hurtkeeping them from correspondence with us - Don't you?
In our drills the field officers are mounted - I send a sketch of our house & our camp - Wish you could come on & see it -
I have considered that matter of the bond, & am in favor of getting it at once - Of course the coupons should be cashed as fast as due, as gold must fall to its normal condition some time -
With much love as ever Aldace F. Walker
[Sketch plans of building]
This may give you some faint idea of the plan of our shanty - 16 x 20 - 8ft. studs - open to the roof - whitewashed overhead - felt & tar roof - plastered sides - curtains - matched flooring & partitions - my little coal stove - just big enough - quarters fit for a Major General - & all for Austin & I -
[sketch plan of camp layout with Barracks and other buildings]
Laundress quarters & Ordnance [Sery etc?] to the west of all. the proportions are not very good -