Ezra Cornell to Mary Ann Cornell. July 23, 1861. Autograph letter signed.
Willards Hotel Washington July 23, 1861
Dear Mary Ann
Rev. D. Torry, John Kendall, Perry & my self went to Alexandria Saturday eve. from thence we advanced Sunday with the De Kalb Reg and a detachment of 35 of the 32nd NY Vol. who were left in camp when regiment marched a few days before. We went by RR to Fairfax Station, thence we moved on in advance of the De K. Reg. with the 32nd boys and reached the battle field just in time to see that division of our army make its panic stricken retreat.
We advanced (after soldiers left us on their retreat) a few miles further on, to where we found some of our army rallying and forming. Now it was 8 P.M. and our party got separated. I went to looking them up, first found Mr. Torry, next found Perry, and finally found Kendall, and we retreated down the road toward F. Court Ho with the retreating straglers & baggage of army about one mile. There we turned to the right across fields half a mile got [supper?] to a secession farmers house. Went to bed about 10 P.M., slept well till one A.M. Monday morning when Kendall (who could not sleap) awoke me and whispered to me that he heard a nois about the house that made him think we were betrayed by our host and would be surrounded & captured. We dressed, called up the servant paid our bill $2 to him & left on our march back to Alexandria.
By daylight it began to rain. We reached Alexandria about 2 P.M. in a drenching rain after a steady march of 25 miles, wet, sore, and tired. Could not pass the lines at Alexandria had to stay there till this A.M. when we got a pass to cross the lines and walked to Wash 10 miles. We have some trofies. Perry thinks he has seen enough of war.
I think he will start for home in day or two. I shall not remain here a great while before I leave for home.
The 32 Reg has got back to camp all well none killed or wounded.
I think the Ithaca boys have safe officers and wont require any hospital stores.
Yours affectionately, E. Cornell
Note: Spelling and punctuation have been transcribed exactly from the original.