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  • "We have commenced drilling"
  • "We have commenced drilling"
  • "We have commenced drilling"
  • "We have commenced drilling"
  • "We have commenced drilling"
Physician Christopher L. Wingfield, who enlisted on June 22, 1861, in Company F, the Leatherwood Fencibles, 42d Regiment Virginia Infantry, wrote about camp life on July 8.
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"We have commenced drilling"

Christopher. L. Wingfield to Benjamin Franklin Gravely, July 8, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.

Physician Christopher L. Wingfield enlisted on June 22, 1861, at age twenty-seven in Company F, the Leatherwood Fencibles, 42d Regiment Virginia Infantry. On July 8, he reported to Henry County merchant Benjamin Franklin Gravely on camp life before his regiment marched to the front. "Both of the surgeons for this camp being absent," Wingfield wrote, "I have had a pretty busy time of it for the last three days—as I have had to attend to several companies." The regiment, instead of marching to Manassas as anticipated, marched northwest to Monterey, in Highland County, a rendezvous point for Virginia soldiers who during the remainder of the year fought to defend the northwestern counties from United States forces. Promoted to captain on April 21, 1862, Wingfield died from wounds on September 2, 1862.

Christopher. L. Wingfield to Benjamin Franklin Gravely, July 8, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.

Camp Lee near Lynchburg Va
July 8: 1861
B. F. Gravely Esq
Dear Sir
Agreeable to promise I imbrace the present opportunity to write you a short letter. Doubtless you have heard that we reached this place in safety the day we left Danville. We were at first incamped at White Rock; but owing to the inferior quality of the water we were moved to Camp Lee near the fair grounds There are at this camp eight companies with an aggregate of about 700 men. It is almost impossible to ascertain the number of troops in and near this city as companies are daily arriving and departing But as near as I can guess I suppose about 4000, several companies leave on tomorrow for the seat of war Since I left Henry I have enjoyed find health with the exception of a severe spell of the ear-ache which you know is not very pleasant, I am fearful that my ear will rise and cause me to suffer considerably. I am much better pleased than I expected to have been under circumstances so different to what I have been accustomed, I have enough to eat, though it is pretty rough. We have shoulder meat, beef coffee sugar and occasionally molasses. I have not seen a piece of corn bread since I left Henry. I would give almost any thing for a glass of good butter milk and a nice hoe cake. We have commenced drilling under the superintendence of Cadet Waller who trots us around in a hurry. I think it very probably that our company will be under the command of Col Langhorne who has the reputation of being a good officer, and the appearance of a choice gentleman How long we shall remain here is altogether uncertain though I suppose not less than three weeks. We will I presume when we leave this place move towards Manassa Junction. News reached here this afternoon that a battle was expected at Winchester tomorrow, what reliance can be placed in the report I am unable to say. We here hear so many such reports that, none are now credited.
There has been considerable sickness in camp for the last four or five days. Fully a third of our company have had an attack of Diarrhoea though none of them have been very ill. Both of the surgeons for this camp being absent. I have had a pretty busy time of it for the last three days—as I have had to attend to several companies. The measles have broken out in camp and I fear that a great many will contract the disease none of ours have yet taken it
Our company seem in fine Spirits, and appear to enjoy themselves finely. At night some are fiddling & dancing some singing Spiritual songs, and others like myself writing to friends at home,
The camp is a great place for immorality and unless one is very much on guard he will be very apt to contract some evil practices. I believe that I have such control over my passions as to resist all things calculated degrade and demoralize—At least I hope so.
As it is getting very late at night (for I beleve every light in camp is out but mine) I will close my letter in a few more lines I wish you to write to me soon Give my respects to Mrs Gravely and to all inquiring friends,
With many kind wishes for your present prosperity and future welfare; I remain
Very truly
Your Friend
C. L. WINGFIELD
P S Excuse bad writing as I write on my knee, and in great haste and have not time to correct errors,
BAGG
11 1/2 Oclock P.M