1864: Emile Gavarret to Friend

I believe this letter was written by Asst. Surgeon Emile Gavarret, a native of France, who served aboard the U.S.S. Marmora in 1864. He had previously served on board the Receiving Ship Clara Dolson at Cairo, Illinois. After the Civil War, he opened a medical practice in St. Louis, Missouri, at 5 South 4th Street.

Thomas Gibson, Acting Master commanding the USS Marmora in September 1864 complained to Rear Admiral David D. Porter that a smallpox outbreak onboard his vessel threatened the crew and that he had “no surgeon attached to the vessel…since the 20th of June.”

USS Marmora was a stern wheel paddle steamer in the United States Navy. Marmora was built at Monongahela, Pennsylvania, in 1862, was purchased by the Navy at St. Louis, Missouri, on 17 September 1862 from Messrs. Brenan, Nelson, and McDonnell; and commissioned at Carondelet, Missouri, on 21 October 1862, Captain Robert Getty in command. The ship saw action at Vicksburg, Mississippi, November/December, 1862; Fort Hindman, Arkansas, January 4 to 11, 1863; Yazoo River operations, February/March, 1863; various action along Mississippi River, 1863; Yazoo City, Mississippi, March, 1864; in reserve at Mound City, Illinois until decommissioning. Three Marmora sailors were awarded the Medal of Honor for action at Yazoo City, March 5, 1864.


U.S.S. Marmora
January 7th 1864

Dear Friend,

I received a letter this week from Em & Lucy written the middle of last month. I judge you had written one previously that I haven’t received.

There is nothing particularly new. It has been very cold here. There at C[orinth] ice is passing down the river in large pieces so as to half cover the river.

We seized a government cotton boat today. Are on track of two. It is not yet known whether or not they will be condemned. We are having a very comfortable time—have fresh hog in abundancy etc. Had possum today. Will have some ducks tomorrow. Had turkey Tuesday. Our mess for two months is $7.00 against $50 for that time at Newport.

Monday Eve.

It is becoming quite warm again although communication between Memphis & Cairo is cut off by ice. How long it will continue is unknown.

I think it is likely something was written in regard to Little in the letter I have not received. Please inform me what.

Enclosed you will find some sewing silk and less I forget it, it cost 60 cents for 28 skeins.

I suppose I left my commission at home, did I not? Our Captain let his prize go, I presume he would do the same if he should capture 40.

When you hear from Daniel, write from what he wrote me the 5th December. I expect he has been to Washington.

I saw a patient on a cotton boat yesterday who died of lockjaw—a negro. Was well till night before. He died at 10 A. M. yesterday. It was the 1st case I ever saw.

If Daniel is at home and is coming out this way, I wish he would bring some French Grammars. Also a Botany of Vinnie if he can get it conveniently.


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