Letter. "Quad" [Oliver Waldo West], Fort Nansemond, near Suffolk, Virginia, to [Sarah Stilson], Lima, New York
West responds to Stilson's letter of 24 December, above. Discusses the character of the regimental surgeon Benjamin Kneeland; speculates on the emergence of a military dictator ("I can very easily conceive of circumstances quite possible to us, when a Caesar would be welcome and necessary, viz: When the Government . . . shall have lost the confidence of the people and become weak and powerless, and it only is a question whether a Northern general or a Southern general shall conquer and rule the whole, our people would not be long in choosing between Halleck or Lee, Butler or Stonewall Jackson, McClellan or Davis. And I can tell you one thing for certain: If the occasion should ever force McClellan to ask; where are my men? the armies of the tottering Republic would with but very slight exception dip their banners to the hero of Antietam and hail him as their chosen chieftain, and follow him wherever he should lead till he should triumph over all that oppose him and proclaim peace to a distracted Continent"). Questions the efficacy of the Emancipation Proclamation: ". . . is my boy Lewis . . . any more free now than before? Not a bit. Bah! Paper edicts won't give us victory. We must rely on the army and Little Mac."