Augusta County: James R. McCutchan to Rachel Ann McCutchan,
March 17, 1862
McCutchan's letter describes the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley where his regiment is encamped, as well as the sad goodbyes he witnessed leaving Winchester and Strausburg.
March 17th, 1862
Camp Near Mt. Jackson
I received your letter some time since + would have answered sooner, but times have been too stiring for a while to spend much time writing letters.
We left Winchester on the 11th, of this month + fell back to Strausburg; we stayed there a few days, + we are now about to middle way between Edinburg + Mt. Jackson. Our encampment is a very pretty one, in a beautiful pine grove, on the bank of the Shenandoah River. The surrounding country is exceedingly beautiful rivalling any in natural charm that I have ever seen.
I felt sad when we left Winchester. although it is a very corrupt place in my estimation still there are a great many there who are true and loyal to the South + it was hard to leave them to the mercies of those who have no hearts to feel even for themselves or others. Some were laughing + some crying as we came through town + there were many sad partings too - Two companies in our regiment were principally made up in Winchester, + these were forced to part with those near and dear to them.
They were compelled to have mothers + sisters
+ wives, + little ones, who were all they had on Earth to love, + leave them too, without a hope of seeing them again + no prospect of hearing from them. I had to cry myself when I came through Strausburg. The doors + pavements were filled with ladies old + young + even the little children were weeping forced to do so by the tears of their Mothers + Sisters. Such scenes are romantic, but I envy them not their feelings, when they feel themselves cut off from their friends + left to the tender mercies of those black hearted traitors, who are strangers to mercy. [unclear: ] there is a time of retribution coming a time when we can relieve the broken hearted + lift them from the dust into which they have been trampled by the unhallowed foot of the oppressor.
Our last stopping place was between Woodstock + Edinburg; we stayed there one night. It was the most romantic place I ever saw. Right on the edge of a high cliff on the side of the Shenandoah River. The cliff is on one side of the turnpike + the railroad on the other side crosses a deep chasm on trussel work 130 feet high. I will send you some Spruce Pine that I got there. I must write some to your Ma.