Letter from Austin, Matthew S.

Soldier: Austin, Matthew S.
Allegiance: Union
Unit/Service Branch: 5th Infantry
Home State: New Jersey
Date Written: Thursday, September 18th, 1862
Location: Near Alexandria, VA.
Correspondence Type: Letter
Subjects: Commanders, Comrades, Daily Life, Eastern Theater, Family, On the March, Rumors
Camp of the Fifth N. J. Vols.

My Dear Father

We are yet under marching orders and are in constant expectation of a move. One of those indications which generally precede the “movement notice” is the removing of the “sick” and those unable to endure a march, to some general hospital. Today has been occupied somewhat by that business and the convalescents in the city have been removed to hospitals outside its limits, to give places, doubtless, to the wounded in recent battles. We do not know the direction we are expected to take but some say it will be towards the Peninsula and that the ? of this division has had orders to embark aboard transports etc. All of which may be true. But what we (or I) believe to be true is that none other than Gen. Halleck or Heintzleman if fully is correctly informed on that subject.

The news in regard to operations on the Upper Potomac is very indefinite. In this Division at least, there is much ?. We have heard so much of “splendid victories” and “thousands of prisoners” that we must see the fruits of some of them before we will accept them as truths. When our “victories” shall produce some of their legitimate results - such as the reduction of the rebel horde & the capture of its leaders, their own victories will be indeed and in truth. May all that is “removed” of their defeat and capture prove, in part, at least, true.

For camp news, we have to record the promotion of private Francis Mulvey, Co. “D” 5th Reg. N.J.V. to a Second Lieutenant of said Reg’t. The Col. Of the 5th nor the Gov. of NJ would never in all probability, have heard of this individual had it not been for the “personal influence” of F. Freeling? And perhaps other friends of said Mulvey. He has not, until now, been higher in rank than “Co. book”; but may be for ought I know to the contrary, as competent as could be wished. There is every evidence that Col. Starr was “influenced” by something beside “merit”, “personal bravery”, “personal knowledge” or the recommendation of his field or staff officers, in the selection for he made inquiries first if there was such a person under his command. As the ? has required the recommendation of the Commandant of the Reg’t in order to procure a commission, it does not require a vivid imagination to decide the power of an outside pressure. As a matter of course, it has caused commotion among the “rank” to which he has been suddenly elevated.

Eleven men from each company in this Reg’t are to leave camp at 7 am tomorrow with their days provision. Destination unknown - from this fact it is evident there will be no movement of the Division until the present expedition returns. I suppose the same order pertains to each reg’t in the Brigade.

Col. Starr left us yesterday on his 20 days leave of absence and Lt. Col. Sewell is in command. We would very much rejoice to see the last named gentleman in full command of the 5th.

Adj’t Hill of the 5th is recommended for a Captaincy.

Col. S. is very sore over the recent promotions in the Division and I hear it remarked that in consequence he has sent in his resignation and that the probabilities are he will not return to his command.

We look anxiously for important news from Cincinnati and the Upper Potomac and hope our successes may be as complete as heart could wish.

Give love to all at home and write as often as duties will permit.

Very Truly

M. S. Austin

Com. Serg’t
Fifth NJV