In a letter written in November of 1861, Oliver had predicted that the war would not last longer than one and one-half years. By the time of his letter to his sister Abbie on February 27, 1862, Oliver had shortened that prediction by several months:
Every indication of a protracted War seems nearly obliterated and I think if the Lord is willing, and the creek is not high, we shall be in old Conn. by the first of Sept.
More than a prophecy, I believe this was a deep longing in his heart to return to his family and friends in Simsbury. This is revealed by his very next sentence written as part of the same paragraph.
I should think you had quite a gathering of young people the other evening.
Oliver is longing for home. He goes on in the next paragraph to inquiry further about Abbie’s keen interest in relaying the news of the absence of one particular young lady from the gathering.
I quote from your letter; “Julia Goodwin was not there.” You appear to be much interested in the welfare of J.G. I do not see why you should mention her in particular as not being there. Were all the young people of Hopmeadow there but her?
Could it be a case of long distance match-making by his younger sister? What was Oliver’s opinion of Ms. Goodwin? Oliver continues to inquire about the news from Simsbury including the fact that three of his friends were married in the same month.
The other sections of his letter cover the delay of the mail steamer which caused a great concern on the part of the soldiers. The steamer finally arrives with the mail, but some are disappointed by the lack of mail. One of Oliver’s pithier phrases of all time comes while relaying the mail saga.
You could tell by the looks of the faces who had and who had not received a portion, the former were smiling and jovial while the vizage[sp] of the latter were lengthened to an alarming extent.
Oliver reports to be in wonderful health and enjoys a large quantity of food including “at least a dozen stewed hard tack every day besides drinking over a quart of coffee and any quantity of salt horse.” Forget the fresh fruits and vegetables, nothing like hard tack, a quart of coffee and a little “salt horse” to restore you to full health!
Case also provides Abbie the latest in camp rumors including an alleged gesture from the governor of North Carolina to “recall his troops” and attempt to force the other Confederate units to leave the state in exchange for a 10-day cease fire. Oliver relates that General Burnside has granted the governor’s request and the soldiers expect to rest from fighting for at least ten days. By the way, I find nothing in the historical record of such an exchange or agreement.
Closer to home inside the 8th CVI, it seems that the commander of Company H, Capt. Douglass Fowler is resigning (more to follow on this story in a later post).
I wonder if Oliver thought back on his prediction almost seven month later as he and the other soldiers of the 8th CVI prepared for battle in the fields of Maryland.