These nine letters were written by Henry Cole Smith (1845-1917) who enlisted in Co. E, 8th Connecticut Infantry on 28 September 1861 at the age of 15. He reenlisted as a veteran on 23 December 1863 and was discharged on disability on 28 March 1865 due to a hernia. Henry was born in Kent, Connecticut, the eldest son of Marcus DeForest Smith (1820-1910) and Harriet Cole (1821-1900) of Cornwall, Litchfield, Connecticut.
Henry wrote the letters to Nancy L. Harrison (1844-1934), the 20 year-old daughter of William Hopkins Harrison (1813-1878) and Mary Amelia Catlin (1814-1893) of Cornwall, Litchfield county, Connecticut.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Camp 8th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Near Suffolk, Virginia
May 10th 1863
I have been expecting a letter from you for quite awhile and as I have received none, I concluded that either you had not received the last letter I wrote to you or if you had received it, your letter to me in answer had been lost. So I thought I would write to you. (You must not expect very good writing for I have to hold my portfolio on my knee.)
This is a very pleasant Sunday morning. There is hardly a cloud to be seen. The sun shines bright and warm. The trees are covered with their green foliage and perched upon many a limb is some songsters merrily singing. I wish I was where I could go to church this Holy day, and not have to stay in camp all of the time.
The last two weeks the regiment has had to make corduroy roads every day, rain or shine. And the last 5 days it has rained most of the time. Our present camp is near the Nansemond River on rather low ground.
You have probably read about our taking the rebel battery the other side of the river, so I shall not need to say much about that. I was there of course. I fired my rifle 3 times. None of the boys fired more times than that, with one of our rifles, but those who had Sharps Rifles fired 5 times. Some of the boys fired none. One man of this company was wounded in his arm and leg but not seriously.
Is Edward at home this summer? Please remember me to him. Also to your other brother & sisters & parents.
There is a great anxiety felt here for Gen. Hooker. I hope he may succeed in his attempt to drive the rebels from their stronghold round Fredericksburg. I think there will be some chance for this war to end in 8 or 10 months after he has driven the enemy from Fredericksburg.
Butter here is $8.50 per pound, cheese $0.30 per pound. Please ask Charlie to write to me again.
At present we are living in small tents and 4 men are compelled to live in one of them. The tent covers a space of ground 8 feet square. In this we have to eat, drink, and sleep. We eat salt beef, or pork, & bread. Drink water or coffee and sleep all we can.
Please write soon. I cannot think of anything interesting to tell you so must close. Goodbye. From your friend, — Henry C. Smith, Co. E, 8th C. V.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Camp 8th Connecticut Volunteers
White House Landing, Virginia
June 28th 1863
I am happy to have the opportunity once more for writing to you. Your welcome letter of the 14th inst. was received in due time.
You no doubt are surprised to see a letter from me dated as this one is. We arrived here the evening of the 26th inst. The house from which this place took its name has been burned. It was burned when General McClellan evacuated this place last year. The house (I should judge from the foundation) must have been a very pretty one and was owned by Brigadier General F. H. Lee of the rebel army. He also owned the farm on which we are encamped. About an hour since, I saw an old Negro 102 years old. He says he can remember when General Washington was married in the “White House.” ¹
I think I can do better with a lead pencil as my ink is thick & poor. It doesn’t shed from the pen well.
I am glad you like your school. I wish this war was settled as I would like to have it so that I could go to school once more for I have nearly forgotten everything I ever knew—which was not much.
I think you will hear pretty good news from General Dix’s army before long. This regiment is under General Dix. Yesterday Colonel Spears of the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry and his regiment made a raid [and] captured about 200 prisoners, about 90 army wagons, destroyed a great quantity of grain, several bridges, and did other damage to the enemy. Brigaded General F. H. Lee was among his prisoners. ²
The weather has been showery and cloudy for the past week. The banks of this river [Pamunkey River] are generally very steep and from 15 to 30 feet high. The rebels had commenced to fortify the bank in several places.
Have you got acquainted with my Uncle Swift yet? It would seem rather strange to say Aunt Minerva, wouldn’t it? I should be very happy be able to take a sail with the young people of Cornwall the 4th of July, but I am in hopes I shall celebrate that day by marching into Richmond.
I will enclose a few flowers—the pink Larkspur I picked in the “White House” garden and the white French Lilac came from the same place. The leaf came from the Dismal Swamp and the other flowers I picked near Suffolk. And that little yellow clove I picked near Yorktown. We were encamped there 3 days.
I wish I could have seen Hattie while she was in Cornwall. It has been nearly 6 years since I have seen her. It would seem strange to go into a church and hear a minister preach the word of the Lord once more. I hope it will not be long before this war will be settled so that we can go to church and do everything else as we used to. I think it will be settled in a year.
I thank you very much for sending me a photograph of Mother. I cannot say as she has changed much in looks. I will return it in this. Please remember me to her, your other sisters, brothers and parents. Please excuse this poor writing as I am laying on my rubber blanket which is on the ground and my paper is on the rubber also.
I must close now. Accept this poor letter from your friend, — Henry C. Smith
¹ George Washington and Martha Dandridge Custis were married on 6 January 1759 at White House—the Custis Home in New Kent County, Virginia. Martha inherited the home after the death of her first husband, Daniel Parke Custis. If this Negro was 102, he was not yet born when George and Martha “got hitched.”
² At the beginning of the Gettysburg Campaign, Lee was shot in the thigh during combat at Brandy Station. He spent the next two weeks recovering at Hickory Hill, Virginia, before being captured by Union forces. As a prisoner of war, he was sent to Fort Monroe for several months, before being shipped to New York, where he was held until returned to the Confederate Army on February 25, 1864, in exchange for Union Brig. Gen. Neal S. Dow.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Camp 8th Regiment Conn. Vol.
Near Portsmouth, Virginia
March 2, 1864
Dear, dear Nancie!
Here I am in the old log house, better known as “Wadsham’s Hall.” We arrived here yesterday P. M. about 3 o’clock and to our great joy found the Hall had not been torn down. A great many of the buildings had been, but we found the Hall very dirty. We made a clean place of it though before we went to bed last night.
We left Wallingford Saturday P. M. that evening we went aboard the steamer Daniel Webster, that which was lying at the end of the “long wharf”, New Haven. We never were so crowded aboard a boat as much as we were aboard this boat. The first night the orderly (E. Wadhams) and I slept together on the deck. The second day one of the boys broke into an empty stateroom and occupied one of the bunks. I went in and monopolized the other bunk so I was better off than most of the boys. The ocean was not very rough so we may say our passage down was quite a pleasant one, but it was slow as we were going toward the wind all the time.
We arrived in “Hampton Roads” off “Fortress Monroe” about 3 o’clock yesterday A. M. and anchored there until about 10 o’clock A. M. at which time we weighed anchor and went up the Elizabeth river to Portsmouth. Then the 8th went ashore and marched up to camp. The 11th stayed aboard and went up to Gloucester Point where they were encamped before they went home.
The boys are in very good spirits. I feel more at home than I did when I was in Cornwall. I felt out of my place when I was there and now I feel as if I am where I belong. I hope and believe I shall hear from you very soon after you receive this. Have you seem the North Star since the 3rd of last month? I have and you can imagine what were my thoughts about that time. I cannot find words to express my feelings.
Did Mr. Baldwin, Mrs. Todd, or Mr. Vaile attend the next Reading Circle after the 12th of last month? What are you to read the next meeting? Keep me posted on affairs in Cornwall. My serves Sunday (the 21st last month) was Romans 6:3, and for the 28th was Psalms 39:4. The chaplain preached a short but very good sermon on the boat last Sunday. Text Hebrew 4:13, “Him with whom we have to do.” Be assured dear Nancie, that you are remembered by me in every prayer and I believe you pray for me nearly every day that I may not yield to the sins which besot me on every hand. May we so live while in this earth that if we do not meet here, we will before our Father which art in Heaven.
While we were in Wallingford, the Ladies had a fair. Then net proceeds were to be given to the Soldier’s Aid Society. I was picked out of the regiment as one of 6 to go to the festival and see that there was no disturbance which was quite an honor and quite a good job. But how much happier I would have been if I had been acquainted there. I wish you could have been there. I know you would have enjoyed yourself. But I must close now so goodbye for now. From your affectionate friend, — Henry C. Smith
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
Camp 8th Regt. Conn. Vol.
Near Portsmouth, Va.
March 10th 1864
Dear Friend Nancie,
Your letter of the 5th was just received by me and happy I am to hear from you again. Your letter of the 26th last month was received the day after I wrote to you last, and should have answered it then, but thought I would wait until I received an answer from the letter I wrote the day previous. I am going to try a different pen. This is a very rainy day and the roof to our house leaks a little and a drop of water has just got on my paper.
If I could have got a furlough while we were in Wallingford, I should have done so and it might have happened so that I could have visited the school with you. I have been studying the “tactics” so I feel pretty well prepared for an examination whenever I am called upon. If I receive an appointment in a Colored Regiment—either the 29th or 30th Connecticut—I will probably be able to visit Cornwall before the regiment leaves the state, ad in that case if I do not stay with you later than I did the last night, it will be strange. I feel as if I was very distant and removed while I was home. I cannot feel as if I saw you more than one quarter as much as I ought to. I am glad you still have singing schools. You say you “have been lonely.” I have been lonesome too since I come back.
Now, dear Nancie, you must not exempt yourself from company but always enjoy yourself when you can. You know that I think more of you than any other young lady, and believe you feel so in regard to me. And if that is what makes me say what I do, believe me, that I am in earnest. I am glad—yes, joyful—and happy to hear you express yourself that you feel yourself a Christian. May the Lord sustain you and keep you from being led astray from the path of duty. My prayers are for you. My verse last Sunday was Psalms 106:43 and for next Sunday it is same chapter, 8th verse. What was yours?
I should think the concert must have been a very pleasant recreation for the people of Cornwall and vicinity. I suppose Aunt Minnie has formed quite an idea of a soldier’s life while in camp, but she can form no idea of soldier’s life while on a long and weary march, or on the battlefield. If our recruits had rifles, I think it quite doubtful whether we would be here for the rebels are in considerable force toward Suffolk and there has been considerable firing in that direction for 2 or 4 days and several have been wounded on our side, and of course several have been wounded on the rebels side. And unless the rebels drive in our forces, I think it doubtful if we have to be called out. And if we are, I guess we will only have to go to breastworks which are about ¾ mile from camp.
We brought back 125 recruits and until they are armed, I think we will stay here. I think we will stay in this department anyway.
I thank you for send me a list of the mistakes in my first letter and can it be that I did not make any mistakes in my second? I judge so for the reason that you did not send me a list in your last. I hope you will not forget about it. I am very sorry you had to go to East Street all alone, but then you have been trusted alone so many times, that I suppose you are not afraid. How nice it must be to be able to take care of oneself. I guess I am improving in that respect. We have got settled down now like any housekeepers and all are puzzled to know whether it is best to get a wife to support (when this war is over) because we could live so much cheaper if we were Old Bachelors as we can cook, wash sweep, sew, and do most everything else which is useful. I guess I shan’t get any wife. But the future will decide that question.
I ought to have written to Edward before this but my time is so taken up that have not found time to do so yet, for I am studying my tactics with great application. I must close now so adieu.
From your friend, — Henry
P. S. Cable says “Tell ‘her’ that my pens-harp is broken, but the next one I get, I will try and play loud enough so she can hear.” Also he wants to know if you heard him ring my time? In haste, — Henry
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE
Addressed to Nancie L. Harrison, South Cornwall, Conn.
Postmarked Norfolk, Virginia
Camp 8th Regiment, Connecticut Vols.
Deep Creek, Virginia
March 26th, 1864
Dear Friend Nancy,
Your welcome letter of the 19th was received yesterday. It had been up to Norfolk, Ct., and from there it came direct to me, so omit “Norfolk” when you direct your envelopes after this and I will receive letters one or two days sooner.
Yesterday I was detailed for guard and on guard mount the Adjutant detailed me for “Orderly” so I could not answer your letter yesterday. You perceive that we have moved camp by the heading of this letter, which we did the 12th and now are encamped on the left bank of the “Southern Branch” of the Elizabeth River—or as it is called here by the citizens, “Deep Creek.” The soil is quite sandy, the surface about 12 feet above the water. In the summer I think we will find a good breeze on this bank. We have not the “old log house? but we have a house which is quite comfortable and very much the same shape as the “Hall” was but not as large. Instead of a “fireplace,” we have a stove. And instead of logs, we have the sides of the house built of “shakes” as the Negroes call them. To make them the Negroes cut down large pine trees, saw them up in pieces from 4 feet to 6 feet long, then take a “fro” and split the blocks up with strips about ½ inch thick and from 3 inches to 6 inches wide, which we have to use in the South for boards.
We have prayer meetings twice per week when the weather does not prevent, or something else. There is to be one tomorrow evening. My verse for tomorrow is found in Eph. 6th Chapter, 11th Verse. At the last prayer meeting, the chaplain requested us to each bring a verse at the next meeting and he would tell us what to do with it. I will tell you in my next what the result is.
Since we returned from Connecticut, there has been a pledge to “abstain from drinking all alcoholic liquors as a beverage while in the service of Uncle Sam” passed through the regiment and nearly all the officers and quite a number of the men signed the pledge. I think their example has a very good effect upon those who did not sign. I, for example, resigned, having signed while I was home.
I think the report you received as to the reason the 8th left Wallingford was not far from correct. What a shame—no curse, it is that a regiment will conduct itself so. I have not received a letter from Lydia yet although I have written her a letter. But I suppose the reason is because they have been moving. The weather the 22nd was the most disagreeable this regiment has seen since it has been in the service. That day about 9 inches of snow well and the wind blew with all its fury. There is only a little snow to be seen now, and as the soil is sandy, we are not troubled with mud.
We (the 8th) have to do the picket duty for about 4 miles. we go out for 3 days at a time. I do not know whether I will have to go on picket tomorrow or not, but I hope not. Shall expect a letter from Willie soon. He was well and enjoying himself the last time I heard from him about 2 weeks since.
Received a letter from Annie last week. All were well there. Every evening, I think well, about now Nancy is at singing school or prayer meeting or some other place. How pleasant it is for me to think of the may happy hours I spent different places during my furlough and I can anticipate as much, yes more joy, when this war is closed on honorable terms, and I return to visit with my friends again. This blank shows that I have been detained by reading a letter which I just received from Mother. I have not been able to discover any mistakes in your letters. Thank you for sending me a list on my mistakes. Please continue to do so if it is not much bother. — Henry
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIX
Addressed to Miss Nancie L. Harrison, Cornwall, Litchfield county, Conn.
Camp 8th Regt. Conn. Vols.
Near Portsmouth, Va.
April 16th 1864
I was much pleased last Monday by receiving a letter from you, and was intending to answer it Wednesday, but “Orders” prevented me from doing so, and I will tell you what the preventative was. The morning of the 13th we were ordered to go to Gettysville to attend the execution of a member of the 10th New Hampshire Regiment ¹ for deserting into the lines of the enemy, but when we got down there, and the poor fellow had been brought from the jail onto the ground, the orders—so cheering!—to the poor man came that “he was reprieved for one week,” and at the expiration of that time I think he will be sent to the “Dry Tortugas” instead of being shot.
We got back about 2 o’clock P. M.—I think it is 5 miles to Gettysville. At 4 P. M., we received orders to have 2 days rations cooked immediately and 60 rounds cartridges issued to each man and the recruits were armed and equipped. At 7 o’clock we formed line and commenced our march. We marched across the Norfolk & Petersburg Railroad and out to the Seaboard & Roanoke Railroad which goes from Portsmouth to Weldon. It is about 7 miles from camp to where we struck that railroad and we had to wade through water (which is some places was over the top of our boots) for nearly one mile. The name of the place where we struck this railroad is called “Bower’s Hill.” There we got into the cars and rode about 7 miles where we got off. We found ourselves about 3 miles from Suffolk. At this place, we lay down (at 11:45) although our feet were “sopping wet.”
We were called up by the beating of the drum at 4 o’clock A. M. the 14th, then marched until we were about ½ mile from Suffolk. There we stopped and made some coffee in our cups and ate our breakfast. About 6 o’clock we started but our march was very much delayed in different ways until about 8 o’clock—one of which was crossing a branch of the Nansemond River on the west side of Suffolk. We had to cross it on poles, one man at a time. I think there was 1500 infantry in all, besides two companies of Colored cavalry (no artillery). But finally we got under motion and marched a circuitous route until we arrived about three miles from the north side of Suffolk. It was 11:20 when we stopped to eat our dinner and at 12:50 P. M. we started back again in the same tracks and at sundown we halted and prepared to lay down and get a little rest about 2 miles east of Suffolk and near where we used to be encamped.
I think the men had sorer feet on this march than ever before because we got them so wet the night before, and then we marched about 30 miles that day. My feet were not as sore as a great many were and that evening when I took off my boots & stockings on the bank of a little brook to soak my feet in the water to take the fever out of them, I found the skin had been worn off in several places and that my feet were rather bloody. I think my feet would have been so sore. I could not have walked on them if I had not used a preventative which was to rub soap on them, which made my stockings stick to my feet and instead of my stockings slipping on my feet, my boots slipped on my stockings. This I have tried several times and found it was a great help to me on a march. I have told others of it also and they do so also.
We were woke up the next morning at 2 o’clock, went aboard the cars which took us down to Gettysville. Then we march up to camp, having been gone 36½ hours in which time we marched 45 miles, rode 17 miles on the cars, and were allowed 10 hours for sleep, which is pretty hard work. While we were doing this, Colonel [Samuel P.] Spear went out to the Blackwater River but neither he and his cavalry—or we—found any of the enemy.
You must excuse this miserable writing for I am pretty tired yet, although we got into camp yesterday morning. My feet pain me very much this morning. I have not heard from “Will” on some time. I think it is strange. Guess his letter has been missent. Hope it will come around pretty soon. And I have not received a letter from Lydia. Perhaps she does not intend to write to me. Are you going to the select school in the village this summer? I guess I will not as it is for ladies instead of gentlemen. Whose class are you in now that the classes have been reorganized in Sunday School?
From your friend, — Henry
¹ The deserter’s name was Charles Crumpton of Co. G, 10th New Hampshire Infantry. He entered the service as a substitute on 10 August 1863. What recruiters did not know when they accepted and paid Charles as a substitute was that he was actually a Confederate deserter named Henry T. Snyder (1839-1907) of Co. B, 18th Virginia Infantry. Apparently Henry deserted in April 1863 when he was ordered back to Virginia from Washington, North Carolina, after an illness that kept him from his regiment. His ruse, it seems, was to collect a bounty and then desert back to the Confederate army, but he was detected. Just before his scheduled execution, someone appealed to President Lincoln prompting him to write the following note to General Butler on 12 April 1865 asking “whether there is any ground for a pardon, or even a respite.” Butler then responded to President Lincoln stating the following particulars: “In the case of Private Charles Crumpton, Co. G, 10th Regt. New Hampshire Vols., it appearing that the accused enlisted as a substitute and received his bounty in payment thereafter, then deliberately procured a Rebel uniform with which to aid him in deserting, and did desert from his regiment, and was detected in the act, and when detected attempted to pass himself off as a rebel deserter. No excuse is left for this act, and indeed none is attempted to be given. He has been tried before a general Court Martial, and upon satisfactory evidence, he has been found guilty. The proceedings, findings, and sentence are therefore approved and confirmed.” On the 13th, Lincoln responded to Butler’s letter stating, “Yours in regard to Charles Crumpton received. I have no more to say in the case.” Crumpton was scheduled to be executed on the morning of 13 April 1864 but received a reprieve for 7 days until the response from the President was received. Though Lincoln seems to have decided not to intervene, it appears that Crumpton was given alternative punishment for he survived the war and was mustered out in July 1865.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SEVEN
Addressed to Miss Nancie L. Harrison, Cornwall, Litchfield county, Conn.
U. S. Hospital Steamer “George Leary”
Port Royal Harbor, South Carolina
December 4, 1864
For some time I have postponed writing to you as I have hoped we would have been to Fortress Monroe ‘ere this. Then I could have the pleasure of reading a letter from you, for I feel sure there is one there. If we do not go up soon, I think our mail will be sent to us. I hope it will be one or the other soon for if we do not, I shall begin to be anxious about the welfare of my friends.
we have had very peasant weather since we arrived in this Department. Our trip down was as pleasant as could be expected. Some of the sunsets are the most gorgeous I ever beheld.
A few days since I was in Beaufort. There are some handsome residences there. Sometime (after the war is over) if you wish to see handsome sights, take a trip on southern waters and in southern states for I know you would be pleased to see a small tree (the size of an apple tree) loaded with oranges. I will enclose an orange leaf (the smallest one) from Puris Island, and a leaf from Beaufort, the name of which I do not know. It is too late in the season for flowers or I would send you some specimen of South Carolina in that description. Are your flowers looking well this winter? You must let e know all the news for you know I take quite an interest in most everything and about nearly every person in Cornwall.
Hope Edward’s crops of tobacco is curing well. Guess that when I get back my mail again, there will be one letter from him. My regards to him, Charlie, & your sisters. Tell Martha I have no message for her this time—only to be a “little” girl.
I suppose Miss Lydia has returned to Cornwall. Hope she enjoyed herself in Woodbury. Please give her my regards and tell her I have not forgotten my schoolmates yet and probably shall not if I am in the army 10 years longer.
It is 7 minutes to 11 o’clock A. M. now and probably you are in the church listening to Mr. Fenn. I wish this war was settled on righteous terms so all soldiers might be home and have the privilege of listening to the word of God once more as some good minister explains it to them.
Pray for me Nancie that I may be kept in the path of life. My temptations are many but by the grace of our Lord and savior, I shall return to my friends a better being than I was when I left you. Let us not be afraid of the scoffs of the adversary, but put our trust in Him who doeth all things well and hath sent us to labor in His vineyard. With God on our side, let us not fear anyone who arrays himself against us. Address as usually. I must close now.
Yours &c. — Henry C. Smith
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER EIGHT
Addressed to Miss Nancie L. Harrison, Cornwall, Litchfield county, Conn.
Point of Rocks, Virginia
February 5th 1865
Dear Friend Nancie,
Your favor of the 27th ult. was received yesterday & as I know of no better way to spend my time, I have commenced to answer yours.
This is about as pleasant a morning as we very often have his season. I am thankful that I am able to inform you that I am nearly well, or in fact I consider myself well, but am not very strong yet. Still I am improving very fast and trust I shall be strong enough for any of them in a few days.
Was much pleased to receive such an interesting account of tat pleasant sleigh ride down to Gaylord’s Bridge. You must all have enjoyed yourselves hugely going and returning—at least I think I should if it had been my fortune to have been one of the company. Guess I would have counted “we” and if agreeable to you, you and I would have counted “us” and I guess the rest of them would have had to compose the “company.” As to the “bells of belles” I must say that I like the “bells” a few rods distant, but should not be satisfied unless I could have a “belle” in the seat with me, if some young people to try to impose upon some “belles” and call them “old maidish.”
I am glad that Capt. Gold has been home on furlough and I am especially glad that my Uncle Swift was able to get a furlough, and be permitted to see his dear wife and child. I can assure you, I think a great deal of Aunt Minnie. I consider her about as interesting a person as it has been my fortune to make an acquaintance with. I do not know your opinion on this last subject.
Am glad that W. H. Hart is teaching singing on the Plain again, for they are a source of instruction (to some) and pleasure to all. How many long winter evenings are “whiled away” which otherwise would be spent by some not very profitably, I fear. I think I know two or three young men in Cornwall that this would apply to.
Am glad you and Anna are such friends. I think if you were together more, the affection of each for the other would be still stronger. By her letters, I know that the affection you bestow upon her s not cast away. I am not acquainted with J. M. yet although I have met him once or twice. Still I have made up my mind from reports received through various sources that he is worthy of her whom he loves.
You think you recognized my signature in a Led. Enquirer of Dec. I presume you did for I considered it my duty while down there on exchange to write a few facts as I received them from the mouths of the men. Oh, words cannot portray to you their condition. I did not write for publication the most terrible stories. You may rely upon those stories as true. You must excuse this writing as it was done in somewhat a hurry. Please answer soon and address to Bermuda Hundred, Virginia.
Left the hospital the 24th of January and joined the rest of the boys on this barge, “Agnes Dun.”
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER NINE
U. S. Flag of Truce Steamer “Manhattan”
Varina Landing, Va.
March 18th, 1865
Dear Friend Nancie,
Yours of February 28th 1865 is at hand. It was received the 9th instant. Since then I have been quite busy but have commenced one letter to you, but as I did not finish it then, I will commence anew & we will see what success I have.
I had to laugh when I read how you were disappointed that Friday evening. Of course it was all owing to the mistake of my little brother Charles. You must not be offended because I laughed for really it was quite a joke, but i suppose you are not fond of having anticipations of enjoyment thwarted on account of false reports. That is my case anyway, but Nancy I guess the time is not far distant when you may look in earnest for me. By this I mean that I have great hopes of being discharged on account of disability contracted in the pursuance of my duties as a soldier while marching. Still you must not make up your mind that I am to be discharged for you might get disappointed again. Please keep this a secret, for if I succeed, I wish to surprise Cornwall people. You and “my people” are the only ones that know there is such a move on foot, I guess. You may make up your mind that an answer to this will be pretty apt to find me by my desk on the Manhattan.
The 13th instant we were transfered from the “George Leary” to this steamer. You remember this is the one I was taken sick on. She is quite a nice boat. Her accommodations for passengers are very ample, but she is getting to be quite old now. Although her accommodations are better than those on the “Leary,” she is not as well adapted to business in the Medical or Flag of Truce Departments as was the “Leary” which has gone on the mail route between Washington & City Point, I suppose. we all hated to leave the “Leary” and I must confess that it was with rather depressed spirits that we watched that noble steamer go down the river and us to be on her no more probably. Let me assure you, one may become as attached to a steamer as he can to a pet cat or dog.
I have seen Dr. Benedict since his return, but not to have a talk with him about Cornwall people, as I had not time. I am glad that concert given by Mr. Dudley’s school was such a complete success.
This is a very pleasant day. The [prisoner] exchange is progressing. I am glad you had such a pleasant visit with Mrs. S. Pierce and by your account. I guess you had a pleasant ride home with “Old Folks.”
I should not be much surprised if you should be an old maid in accordance with your resolution, because you enjoy yourself so much visiting with “Old Folks.” Perhaps you think I intend to fill this page but I doubt it some for at present I think of nothing more to communicate that will interest you—only that I enjoy myself here. We live well, have god state rooms, &c. I wish you could see my state room. It is very pleasantly situated near the stern of the boat, & on the right hand side of the saloon. On the floor is a Brussels carpe. There is a little table in it also & very pretty curtains in front of the bunks. My roommate is quite an agreeable young man of nearly my age who is acting as hospital steward. He belongs to my regiment. Adieu.