Homer Curtiss, 2nd C.H.A., November 5, 1864
Relay House, 9 miles S. of Balt.
Sat. noon Nov. 5th 1864
Dr Ma + girls
I am so far on my way to the
regt - at last - I did not expect such delay, and in
such out of the way places too, in going to the front,
but I am learning patience if nothing else from the
experiences of the past week. I recapitulate -
1st delay in getting transportation in Annapolis, and
consequent delay in starting from there. 2nd Wrong
transportation for you will perceive ere this
that I ought not to have gone to Washington at all,
but I have been sent by the N. route in the first place
I was sent to Wn which caused 3d delays without
number, in getting transportation, tickets and seat
on a train, part of which is anticipatory, as I
left myself at the "Home" in Wn - in my last -
I wrote no. 7 from this "Home" and spoke confidently
of going up to Martinsburg that (Thurs.) evening,
too confidently as it turned out. For though I went
early to the depot, and staid late, I could not get
even a ticket that evening, so after vainly trying to
get away until near 10 o'c. p.m. and when the last
train had gone, I took my luggage up to the Home
and myself to Springmans Columbian Hotel (euphonious
appellation for a small and rather neat little house
near the Capitol on the Av.) where I found a decent
bed which I occupied until morning, + slept well.
I tried again in the morning to get off but saw it was
no use - depot cars - street even more jammed with
soldiers going home to vote, so as I was bound
as it were - I concluded to enjoy it the best I could
happy that it was no worse, so I went up to the
San'y Com.n Home and wrote a letter and my diary,
then went to the Capitol and roamed over it an hour
and from there I took car for Smithsonian Institute
where I spent the day. Found some new curiosities
in the museum and a new picture + statuary room
and library opened since I visited it last.
I spent several hours very leisurely and also very
pleasantly in the pretty library with its stained glass
windows and good collection of current literature.
Read some of Abbott's Napoleon whitewash, battles of
Wagram and the island in the Rhine, also of the
divorce, which, like every other one I have known
of seemed scandalous, villainous, altogether bad.
Then I read some stray chapters of Bleak House
which I found was quite new and interesting
to me. I also read some in my little Bible that
I commenced reading by course in Annapolis.
How very interesting, by the way is Bible history,
so clear and terse. I am more and more
delighted with it the more I read it. I never
fail to find new beauties in every chapter I
read and every time I read. Great book indeed.
At last it came to be time to close the library
so I stopped reading and went out. Got a late
dinner at 8 o'c and went over for a grand effort
to get away from Wn by the 8.30 train. I got
my ticket for Martinsburg without much trouble
and felt much encouraged. But it was no use
no use. I couldn't get away. Waited and tried
patiently until 10 o'c then retired in good order
to my sheer Springmans where I spent another
night, and this brings me up to this morning.
Got up in good season and went over to the depot
not confident now but dogged and obstinate, with
my mind made up to try as hard as ever, but
expecting to fail this day, as I had done
before. Got down in time for the train, but it
was full up, not a shadow of a chance on it,
so I watched it glide away without any very
decided emotions on the subject, but when I
saw the next trains back in to the depot I made
a flank movement by the right, and took it easy
got the first seat in one of the best cars and
at the important moment, when I usually
retired quite downcast, I rode away triumphant
I was not sorry to leave the shabby suburbs of
Washington, and hoping to see them neatly
built up and the Capitol completed when I
came back, I left the City of Magnificent
Distances, and at a pleasant speed came up
to this place, a place of no particular size or
importance, where I have to wait until 10 o'c
this evening before I make another advance
which will be in the direction of Harper's Ferry
If nothing unfavorable occurs, I hope to be in
Martinsburg to morrow morning. Farther than
that I have little or no idea of time or space
no. 8 con.
that intervenes between my goal and I.
If I am successful in the prosecution of my
journey, I will advise you of all the stages
of its progress, but if you please I will not
anticipate any more, but wait until each is
concluded before I describe it.
Do you not remember seeing in
our illustrated trip on the Balt. + Ohio. R.R. in
Harper's magazine 4 or 5 years since a very
pretty cut of the Relay House? I remember it
well and did the first time I was over the
road, when the 19th C.V. came through 2 years
ago, and I recall my disappointment when I
first saw it. The picture of the building
was correct so far as architectural outline is
concerned, but it represented it as a neat
pleasant place (at least it seemed to me) +
I think, surrounded with shrubbery. All fancy!
there is not a pleasant thing about it, (except
temporarily to me, because it is not Washington)
but on the contrary it is a mean, shabby, dirty
depot on this dirty coal hauling, coal burning,
coal built R.R. there is a little tavern
I will not honor it by the title hotel, and in
that tavern there is a room - bare, hard
coarse - but warm - and in that room, on an
old antique, awkward, (+ unique so far as I know)
musical instrument with 7 wooden legs, I
am inditing this letter. It is the sitting
room of the "Relay House", if you can ever stop
here by any mischance, peep in and see
the room and its furniture and pictures
which besides the old instrument are as follows
vix - portraits of Gen. Washington + the "Maltby
House" Baltimore, each good in its ways. A
very good map of Maryland, "My Maryland"
Free Maryland, + a chest of the Ill. Central R.R.
3 or 4 chairs, a many legged couch and a
remarkable piece of furniture it has been my
lot to witness in use, half sofa, part settee
part tete a tete and the rest casters, all
covered with red velvet. I wonder if it is
not a padein or a chefdover or the like?
A queer place, but rather pleasant this chilly
rain, gusty day. I love it a little already
No 8. con.
I sent a confused lot of papers
from Annapolis this evening before I left.
The day before, I sent a letter without any no. on
the corner of the envelope - directed to mother
and enclosing a $100.00 Treasury note, that
evening I enclosed all my old letters in No 6
envelope with a sheet to Fannie, but put it in
the express bundle with the diary finally, and so
wrote a supplementary no. 6, without the number
however, and directed to Lucy and mailed.
Have you received all these precious packets?
If so, you will need this key to show their proper
order, and if not you will wish to know the
extent of your loss. In my hurry I forgot
to correct my Letter list in the diary, so it
must remain an unfinished work unless you
will kindly consent to complete it for me.
Lou will probably wonder why I was so diffuse
in my favors. In explanation I would say
that I took tim [sic] by the forelock and did
up my transient writing there in Annapolis
where I had leisure and the other facilities.
Several of the letters were the first + last of their
respective series eg. those to Kellogg, Gen. Graham
Flora S. +c. +c. Something had to be said
in each case but one shell could contain all.
I think, so far, you cannot complain that I had
neglected you to write to aliens. For I have
written more sheets than to all the rest,
in fact I have no correspondence but you,
nor do I desire any more. I asked Flora to
write if she could find time, often writing to
her father, brothers + female friends and as
Young America puts it, I got the refusal of her,
which being interpreted is she said that she
couldn't, and as she is the only one that I
really asked, I haven't much in that line to
show for my 40 days leave. Flora is a good
deal of a a woman. I cannot describe her as
I saw her, but she was not the "Riss" of old
by any means, though still retaining many
of her ways, "little loving ways" I think is the
expression I heard applied to something in
the same way. I was very much surprised
to find her so much matured, her words
and I judge from them, her thoughts + ideas
are much in advance of those of the girls
of her age that I have met, and still
she is the dame retiring + modest little one
she always has been since I have known her.
When she is quite in earnest she talks almost
if not quite brilliantly, and it was on the strength
of some of her best talking that I asked her to
write, but she saw threw what I saw the next
week, that it wasn't best. When I fairly saw
it in that light, I wrote half or more apologetically
and that is the sum and substance of that cor-
respondence. I wrote to Geo K. all apologetically,
as I rather infamously neglected to even call
on him, although he was very kind + attentive
to me, for which he deserved my thanks, and
having failed to give them verbally I wrote
them, which explains that part of my correspdce
Most of the other foreign letters were mere
business notes, though that would not include
0the one to Eunice which if I do not forget,
was rather of the hilarious order. She and
Seymour + Datie deserved theirs for old
acquaintance sake if for nothing else.
After a long period of sour, damp, rain weather
it has first now (2 o'c p.m.) cleared off beautifully
bright and breezy, and I hope it will remain
pleasant tomorrow, for I shall probably have
to spend the coming Sunday among entire
strangers, and I shall feel happier to know
that Providence is smiling than to see his
frown on the sky, reflected by earth and
water, and I alone, among those that are
neither near + dear to me except as fellow
mortals, which after all is but a weak tie
unless reinforced by acquaintance.
I hoped to have spent tomorrow with
our boys, but it was otherwise arranged.
I wonder if I shall find Homer or Austin
or Minor or John at all. I fear they are
all gone from the regt., but if they are so
I hope it is only to go home or on some
such pleasant journey. Miner of course
is away, but I do not know where at all.
I hope you will not forget to write to
your boy now he is away, for receiving your
letters is one of his chief joys. Yours, Homer
This item has no relations.