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Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

150 Years Ago (1864 2/3)

Disclaimer: In the interest of historical accuracy, I am submitting these exactly as they were written. However, some comments and words are used that, although common and acceptable in the 1860s, would be considered offensive and politically incorrect today. So don't shoot the messenger!

U.S. Barracks, Brattleboro, Feb. 3, 1864

Dear wife,

I arrived in first rate order, about 12 o'clock Saturday night. Sunday went to Hinsdale. Mary Ann can tell you. Saw her off Monday morning. Can find nothing of the letter I wrote her. The recruits have mostly left. About 70 went to the 9th Regt. This afternoon. There are a few more to go on that are here and some of the furloughed that are sick and have not come back. I looked for a letter from you tonight some. I am almost afraid to hear from home. I hope that the pestilence may be staid, but all things are in the hands of God. The same disease (Meningitis Cerebro Spinal) is here. I have heard that there were several deaths in town from it Sunday night. Three of the recruits have died with it. A postmortem examination shows the same condition as those described in that medical work Doct. Bowker had, but of this I cannot speak with any certainty, as I have not seen any Surgeon since I came back. Hope that I shall never need to see one.

I write this that any physician who wishes to learn about it may know where he can gain information. I suppose there is no doubt of disease here and in East Charleston being the same. I made its appearance in a neighborhood in the town of Wentworth and Piermont in New Hampshire, in November and it has been very fatal. I saw a man in the cars that had watched almost every night for several weeks. He was an intelligent young man. The appearance of those afflicted was the same as those in East Charleston. There were but few that recovered. One person, a young lady, had been dying for ten weeks and was alive when he left home. Doctor McNabb calls it the old fashioned spotted fever or typhus (which I understand the young man he called the same here). The people give it many names, don't know what the physicians call it. It was here before I went home. The young man sick in the house where Mrs. Chaplin was has died with it. She is now sick. I have not heard from her today.

Monday the Captain's wife sent to me that she had a parcel that had been left for me. I went over and got it. It was a present from Catherine. It was a nice little thing. Don't know what you call it. There was needles and pins, bees-wax, thread, some buttons, some medicine and a comb. It was really nice lined with a piece of a vest that I had before I went to Georgia. One pocket was made of a piece of a dress that was your mother's and hers and is now Mable's. I could not find my mittens, and lost a 2 dollar bill coming down. I found Ephraim at Derby, took out my money and paid my fare there. Ephraim carried me to Newport. I did not take out my money from the time I left Derby until I got to the Junction, a 2 dollar bill gone. The Captain got that of Allen, so I shall get along. Ephraim was very glad to see me, thinks you one of the best women in the world. He seemed to act as if he knew that I did not feel right toward him, edged round a little as if he wished to speak about it but I was off about something else. Glad that he did not speak, as I could not hold my temper than and I might have said things that I should be sorry for. I must choke it down a while longer. By & by I shall get cool enough to write to him. I would not quarrel with him for a great deal on father;s account, if fo no other reason. I thought of it as we rode along, that a few words, or a slight turn in the conversation might create a feud that would never be healed and I thought of what would be father's feelings if such should be the case and kept off. That is the best way I know of but it was hard work. If I had not had that talk with father I think I could not have done it, but as I regretted somewhat what I said to father, thought I would say nothing more to regret and some of the steam had passed off; if it had not the boiler would certainly have burst when I saw Ephraim.

I wrote a good long letter last night to Catherine all but the “good” I have, lest all the faculty I had in writing letters they will not read as I wish them to no way I can fix them. I think that another two months of hard work in the business that I have been in would spoil me entirely, but when I get among those negroes again I should come round all right. There is nary nigger here now, but I have not got among them yet, but the way I am putting them into the tactics is now slow. Why I can hardly say, in the recitations, Batallion, Company or Squad. I almost say “Colored gentlemen, attention!” “Colored gentlemen, right about!” Colored gentlemen, that will be grand, but never mind. I rode in the cars with the 6th New Hampshire. They were at Jackson, Mississippi, Vicksburg and had seen the colored gentlemen fight, and it did my heart good to hear the tell how they fought. They saw there are none of them but what will fight with a will. We will make our mark yet, and all the world shall point to us as the Saviors of the Union. This is written in jest, but the truth may be told in jest just as well by the pen as the sword.

The weather is very pleasant here now. Had quite a fall of snow Monday, but it melted some. Oh! How I wish you were here, but it is all useless, so I will grin and bear it. I am anxious to hear from home and to hear how the sick all are. How is Mr. Caruth's family and Mr. Cade? It seems to that Charlie was alive now, but that cannot be possible. I wished that I had told someone to have written to me as soon as those boys died. Remember me to them and their families. If you cannot write to me tell Mary Ann to write. Ask her how she bears the separation from the dear one. He has presented his farewell sermon in Hinsdale, but probably he soon will be in a better place and then & then ask father and mother, but the night is wearing away, and so is my paper. I am sitting up with one of our boys who is sick. It is past one. I have got my lesson and shall recite immediately after guard mount.

Yours in love and affection,


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The story continues

This continues to be a fascinating story. Thanks for continuing to share it, and sorry to see so many people getting ill all of a sudden.

Nice to see his prediction that they will, indeed, win. At the time, though, he probably had no real idea how it would turn out.

"We will make our mark yet, and all the world shall point to us as the Saviors of the Union. This is written in jest, but the truth may be told in jest just as well by the pen as the sword."

Perhaps he will be right!


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