Camp Banks, Frederick [Maryland]
August 29th 1861
My Dear Wife,
I now take my pen to write these few lines hoping they may find you well for I am not and I don’t think that I shall be very soon—I hope not at least. In the Navy I must go if it is a possible thing for this climate will kill me if the balls don’t. I think if I could get home for a couple of weeks, I should get well for as long as I stay here, I shall be sick. Oh that I could be at home and at peace with the world once more and that I could go to sea again. This may be a desirable life for some, but it is hard for a sick man for we have to sleep on the ground with only one blanket and that not half long enough to cover up and sometimes we have to camp on a ledge of rocks. My bones is all coming through the flesh and my face is as long as Doctor Bradford’s was the time the chimney got on fire.
Let me know if Harriet has got any more letters from this way and how Miller and his girld get along and if there is anything doing up that way. I should like to see that place once more. Give my respects to Mr. Lyons and tell him that he must write to me. Tell him that I should have wrote to him but could find nothing to write about. Let me know if any of the factories are a going and if they do anything there.
I have just been out to see some more of the works that they have here. They are running some of the boys up and down the lot [for] being asleep and not being ready to fall to at the first call to go on guard. This is Captain [Elisha S.] Kellogg’s work. He is one of the worst men there is in our regiment. There was a good many of the boys turned out to find out what they are here for and if they are ever to have any pay, but they could not get any hearing from their officers at all. They go by laws of their own making down this way. I came here like a man to fight for my country and—if need be—die for it, and I shall continue to serve my country whatever they may do.
I am writing everything that I can think of. The boys are eating supper and they want me to let you know what they have got for supper. They have got boiled rice, which is little less than half done, and boiled water seasoned with oak leaves for tea, sweetened with molasses. I had rather eat it than drink it. So I am a going to wait until they stop eating, then I am a going to eat some of the molasses on a piece of bread. We have just half enough to eat and very bad treatment. Do not let anyone see this for if they should find out what I have been writing, they would take me up as a secessionist and God knows I hate the sound of the name.
Give my love to Mother and all the little girls. Goodnight.
From your affectionate husband, — Chester A. Chapman