[Different handwriting on top]
No. 223 Mailed at Port Royal
Recd Apr. 22
April 9, 1864
The Co.'s of the regiment are falling in for picket duty. I am not on this time on account
of being appointed on a board of survey, as I'm junior officer of the Board, of course as is
the custom have all the writing to do. I'm going to take my time about it tho' [though] so
will commence with a letter to you.
I have before me on the table some of your letters. First is dated Jany 23, a good long
one, Jan'y 31, Feby 14 & 28, March 6 & 13th. 13th I think is the last date from you-just
before going into the fight at Olustee. I destroyed quite a number of letters. One or two
might have been yours. This will account for any that may be missing. I don't know but
what I am foolish in this but I have a perfect detestation of having any foul and traitorous
hands upon so pure and true an article as one of your letters.
The picket have gone and the camp is very quiet. How much you would enjoy it, Mother,
if you could walk into our encampment and into my tent and sit down for a short time this
afternoon. I wish you might. Why wont you some afternoon? Come early and bring
your knitting. If you don't like to come alone, Why ask Grandma Hyde, Emma & Mary
to come too. Should be delighted to see them all. Shan't ask the gentlemen for we have
enough without them, unless any one wishes to enlist then come with all my heart.
You may think I could not find room for you all, but don't allow this to trouble you the
least, providing you will all leave your hoop skirts at home there'l [sic] not be any
At 4:30 I should have to go out with my Co. on Dress parade, but you would all be
interested in this, for its a very fine parade of good clothes and White Gloves and blacked
boots and shining brasses. So, I would direct you where to stand to witness all. After this
is over, you may laugh, but I should insist upon you all taking tea with Capt. Jones and
myself. The table should be spread upon the large table covered by the new table cloth.
Well I can't say what we should have for supper, a cup of tea I know John would have,
and that would suit Grandma and you. Some nice bread and butter, warm biscuit and
tarts the which John makes very nice. Upon this occasion I should send for some peaches
for desert [dessert]. At any rate we would have a good supper for you for we boast of as
good a Cook as there is in the regiment. As to cleanliness I don't think you would have
occasion to find fault, for I am very particular you know about this. Every morning just
before 9 P.M. I go to every tent in the company and see that every man has swept out,
folded his coat and blanket (if not out airing), see that his clothes are neatly packed in
knapsack, equipment hung up etc. At this time I inspect both the Co. cook house and our
own, and if I find a dirty dish or any thing out of order they catch it. The men tho
[though] are generally quite neat and try to keep clean always.
You asked me [what] I think in your last [letter] about the intelligence etc. of our men-
about the reading and writing. There are but very few perhaps 6 in the Co. who can not
read or write. You are right they are by far a more intelligent [intelligent] class-better
educated a great deal than southern negroes.
Well should you happen here in the morning I should not be ashamed to have you
accompany me on my inspection so that you might see how they live.
All this castle building is very fun-but really Mother it would be pleasant could it be
Mr. Hyde (your cousin I think) called on me about 10 days ago. Tis the one father spoke
about in one of his letters received on Morris Island. He is Chaplain of a New York
Regiment. I had but a moment to speak with him as my company was waiting for me to
start on picket. I of course was glad to see him on account of his being a relative of
yours, and shall try and call on him for your sake.
Mother, you so often commence your letters by saying "I am alone in the dining room,"
etc. I as often wish you could have your baby Lieut [Lieutenant] by your side for a little
time, just to see him as he is now, see how he looks and acts as an officer just to talk with
him a little you. But, I had ceased this castle building once.
I have never thanked Mary Hyde for the photograph. She must think I am very heartless.
I will certainly write very soon to her and to William Hyde. I have never thanked him for
the straps, "my shoulder straps," and now he has sent another pair with a bar. T[h]at
means that I'm a 1st Lieut.I suppose if you are pleased I am satisfied and will try and do
justice to the position for your sake.
You ask how our wounded men are, etc. They are all getting along well-are at Beaufort
S. C. in Hospital. The two men who were reported as missing have turned up. They
came in two days after the fight. The reports in relation to the treatment of Colored
soldiers taken prisoners are often exaggerated [exaggerated] more or less. There are some
cases of cruil [cruel] treatment but not always. By Flag of Truce we learned that our
men, Northern men, were treated as prisoners, but southern negroes from Regts
[Regiments] raised south-they are returned to slavery to masters on plantations when
not wanted for serving on earth works etc. One of our men, a Serg't [Sergeant], on the
retreat was helping along a wounded man when he was overtaken by reb. Cavalry- and
ordered to surrender. He dropped his comrade brought his gun to his shoulder, but the
officer in charge of reb. cavalry aimed his revolver at his heart. Both fired at once-the
Sg't shot dead, the officer wounded. A case of firmness and bravery-don't you think so?
Am quite sorry to hear that Mrs. Willy is so unwell. She must have failed very much
since I was at home. Then she was, or looked at least, well and hearty. Do you hear from
Cousin Henry and Mr. L. at Portland? If you write please not forgot to give my love to
them. I have not written to them for a long time. I should love to write but I never get an
I must begin to think about closing this letter. We are looking with impatience for
another mail-next Sunday will bring one I think.
Love to all
Your Affc. Son
Please to tell Emma that I shall very soon answer her very kind letter. Dont forget to
come with your work and spend the P.M. No, No Work, don't wish you to bring any.
Because I fear it will burden you to bring work. If you want some work, can't get on
without it I have not much doubt but what I can find some for you.
Mother, excuse this blot. Jimmy "gagled" the table
I don't know as Will would allow me to drive that fire colt of his now tho'[though], but I
guess he will about the time my leave of absence comes.
I am rejoiced tho' that he has a horse both for his sake & your own. Improve every
opportunity to ride in the fresh air. I wish I was there to ride with you.
What a horseman "Will" is getting to be-he will never be good for book business. No
kind of business except Livery Stable or something of the kind.
Transcribed by Nicole J. Milano, University of Florida, 2008.