Maggie who went to town today brought Sister Sarah a letter from Rufus, who is still in camp on the Potomac.
Julia's nephew, Rufus R. Dawes (a son of Sarah Cutler Dawes) was at Arlington Heights, defending Washington, DC, with the Army of the Potomac. Up to this point, they had seen little action.
During the continuance of bad weather, target shooting was about the only exercise required, and Colonel Cutler* offered small prizes for excellence. Our Belgian muskets had been exchanged for Springfield rifles, a much lighter and better gun, and this gave great satisfaction. Washington's birthday was celebrated by Congress with appropriate ceremonies. Our brigade formed in a semi-circle in close column before the broad portico of the Arlington House, and listened to the reading of Washington's farewell address, and to an excellent oration from Brigadier General, Rufus King. The columns were then deployed and battalion volleys of blank cartridges were fired in honor of the day. The inspiration of the occasion was felt more deeply because we stood upon ground once owned by Washington.
*Colonel Lysander Cutler was not related to our Marietta Cutler family.
The above quote is taken from Rufus' book, Service with the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers, which he wrote based on his Civil War letters and journals.
Rufus is correct in that the ground was once owned by Washington. The house itself was built by slaves in 1802 for the Custis family and became the home of Robert E. Lee. During the Civil War, it was used by Union soldiers and the grounds later became a national cemetery.
|Arlington House in 1861|
|Arlington House with Union Soldiers|