Dec 27th 1861
My Dear Wife
I thought that you had heard enough about Ball's Bluff, but I will try to answer you inquiries.
The others of the party with which I crossed the river had gotten their frail support launched into the river when I joined them. Major Kimball was with them, but concluded to strike out by himself before we started. When I joined them the Colonel told me to get lost, and he was very much averse to letting me go with them. He asked if I could swim and thinking that he wanted me to swim alone, I told him that I could not. "For God's sake" he said, "Don't come here then." I said that if I found that I was hindering their progress I would let go and swim alone. "You will not" said Colonel Devens, "you will only endanger the safety of us all." But by this time I had a hold on the branch and plank and I began vigorously to push it into the river.
On one side were Fred Sibly, Col. Devens and George Ross; on the other side Augustus Simonds, Lt. Eager and myself. Sibly and Simonds being first and Col. Devens and I opposite each. With my left hand I held the Colonel, sometimes by his arm and sometimes by his chin. I do not mean that I held him all the time, but when he would get to struggling and get his head under the water I would catch him and hold him up until he could recover his breath. Several times he would have given up and stopped trying to escape if we had not kept talking to him and urging him to work as hard as he could.
After all, Col. Devens had never so much as thanked us or noticed us in any way or manner. Some officers have more straps than manners (or brains). So that it about the end of it. I try not to think of it except to answer your queries.
Please give my love to all and save the greatest part for yourself.
Your Loving Husband,
Walter A. Eames