150 Years Ago (1863 09/13)

Camp on Long Island, Boston Harbor

Sept. 13th, 1863

 Dearest wife,

I commenced a letter to you yesterday. I believe that I dated it the 11th by mistake for the
days have all been so mixed up since I left home that I can hardly tell whether September or October. I had just commenced writing, when there was a call for Co. to fall in, every man to bring his blanket, where we were standing sometime and then dismissed. The trouble was a careless fellow had lost his blanket, then calling out
every man with his blanket left a good chance to search the tents, it was found. The same this morning, some fellow lost his cap, but there was not time enough left to write.

We remained in Burlington until Thursday morning, lived well enough and went where we pleased. I kept my vest as it was so cool. Most of the boys kept theirs also. We came to Brattleboro, were formed in two lines face to face, knapsack taken off laid before us and opened, and all having on vests ordered to take them off, and those having hats were told to lay them out. I took off my vest put it in my knapsack, where it is now. Shall send it home by express. They took all the others and their hats. What they do with them I know not. They had combs and such things in their pockets and forgot to take them out. Why mine was not taken I cannot tell, as it was in the face of them all. The night that I spent in Brattleboro was not the most pleasant. Left there in the morning, reached Boston about 3 o’clock P.M. Marched through the streets to the boat and came here before sun down, furnished with tents, put them up in a few minutes and passed the night very pleasantly, or at least slept very soundly and rose well in the morning. It was the first night that I have slept since I left home. This island is about six miles from Boston. It is as pleasant as any camp can be, but there can be no camp pleasant to me but the camp at home. I have seen no liquor drank since I left home. There is not much chance to get it here, and I am most thankful for it, for there are a great many men on the Island, men from many nations and all the New England states. The detachments from each State are camped by themselves. There are 240 from Vermont on the ground this morning with a few in the Guard House. They are a good looking set of men, but there are many among them that would soon be wild if they could get rum. To tell you how close they are watched I will give you an incident, or perhaps some of the parties would call it an accident. A conscript in the cars told a soldier who was standing by the car windows, that he would give him fifty cents if he would get him a pint of whiskey. He had none of the accoutrements but a haversack. He meets an officer who says “let me see your canteen.” “ I have none, Sir.” “What have you in your haversack?” “Some tobacco.” “Let me see!” Out comes the bottle and away it goes against a car wheel. The officer says “I shall report you.” I had intended to have written as much as two sheets, but it has ben a rainy day, and we have had so many calls that I have not written so much as I had intended. I shall write often while we remain here.


Yours in love,



I could not finish this last night and improved the time this morning. I dreamed of home last night. I cannot feel easy until I hear from you. This letter leaves here at 8 O’clock A.M. And will not leave Boston until tomorrow. You will not get it until Wednesday. Kiss all the children for me and tell them that I wish them to be good, very good. It is useless for me to try to express the feelings of my heart here, how it yearns to embrace


Comments | 2

  • The night that I spent in Brattleboro was not the most pleasant.

    Where did you find this great letter? The discussion of liquor and avoiding it seems to be an important topic for this gentleman.

    • It's my great-great-grandfather

      Transcripts of letters written by him to his wife, plus a few other letters written by his acquaintances. About to post the next one.

      Meant to post this one on Friday to be exactly 150 years ago, but true to Friday the 13th, I was away at a meeting in a place having wifi issues…

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