In the letter, John is showing some level of depression and fear mostly due to being institutionalized for six weeks in a hospital ward full of sick and dying men. You can read it in his letters when he says....
"Further I let you know that my wound is healing nicely, but I don’t think that I will come home for I can’t get no furlough I don’t think, so I have to stay my three years. I am afraid if I stay alive that long. Soldiers are poorly taken care of I can tell you."
"You must excuse the bad writing because I am very nervous.".
By this time the aura and glory of fighting in a magnificent war have worn off....I think he would just like to be at home.
Excerpt from Georgetown University by Paul R. O'Neill and Paul K. Williams:
"Beginning in 1830, an infirmary (Gervase) and a large academic building (Mulledy) were added to the south side of campus. When these buildings were commandeered in 1862 for use as a Civil War hospital, enterprising Pres. John Early, S.J., (1858-1866), 1870-1873) set about counting the number of wounded soldiers and the square footage of used rooms, documented every damaged good, and presented a bill to the Office of the Quartermaster General, which ultimately went unpaid."
|Mulledy Hall - Georgetown University|
|Gervase Hall - Georgetown University|
Georgetown College Hospital
October the 16, 1862
My Dear Father and Mother,
I take my pen in hand to inform this few lines to you to let you know that I am well at present time and I hope that this few lines will find you in the same state of good health. Further I let you know that I received your letter. And had a good dinner, but I shouldn’t say a good dinner, but I had enough to eat for the first time in two weeks. Further I let you know that my wound is healing nicely, but I don’t think that I will come home for I can’t get no furlough I don’t think, so I have to stay my three years. I am afraid if I stay alive that long. Soldiers are poorly taken care of I can tell you. I only needed to pay that one letter. If you write a letter to Samuel Wampole let him know or rather hear that I am well and am hoping that they are the same. Send if you hear anything about John Beaver. You can tell him the same. I will this Hymn book to you because I can’t read it and there is some nice hymns in it for the soldiers, especially the fourth hymn. Keep it and think that it is a gift from your dear son which you might never see no more. So I don’t know much more to write this time so I wish you would answer this letter soon again. You must excuse the bad writing because I am very nervous. So I will close my letter by saying goodbye for this pleasant afternoon. This few lines from your affectionate son.
John W. Derr
Direct you letter to Georgetown College Hospital, Ward No. 2, Washington D.C.