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The following letter was written by William Darst,a volunteer in the 21st Viginia Volunteer Infantry;
Camp of Instruction
May 3,1861
Hermitage Fair Grounds Camp
My Dear Ma:
  I received your kind and affectionate letter day before yesterday. I was very anxious to hear from home and to know how you were all getting along. I expect it is right lonely since Jack and i left. I never get lonesome here surrounded by about four thousand men, of all kinds. We get along very well here, never have any disturbances at all, except at night sometimes the guard take people to the watch house. There is a guard of one hundred men detailed from the different companies every night, which are divided into five different watches and each watch stands two hours before it is relieved by the next succeeding one. The cadets have the guard under their care, the reason is they are so much better acquainted with military duty than anyone else in camp.
  Everything moves as regulary here as if moved by machinery. The drum beats at five to get up. At ten minutes after, the roll is called, at six the drill begins, ends at seven, and breakfast at eight and drill at nine, ends at ten, commences again at eleven and ends at twelve, dinner at one and then we have a recess untill three, when drill commences again and ends at four, dress parade at sundown. The people of Richmond turn out by the thousands to see this, they assemble onto seats erected on the race course. It is a beauitful sight to see four thousand soldiers in full uniform forming the hollow square with a thousand on each side.
  You must all make yourselves easy about us. I expect your anxiety is harder to bear than our hardships.
  Write soon, give my love to Mrs. Summer, tell me everything that is going on in the neighborhood.
Yours affectionately


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