New Orleans Feb 7th 1863
Dear Father & Mother
I now sit down to answer your kind letters which I recieved day before yesterday. I dont think I ever got a letter which was more welcome as is the case with all those Family letters you send.
It is a beautiful day and seems much more so as we have had very cold and disagreeable weather lately. Yesterday was pleasant and I went to Carrolton City on a Furlough. I had a good time to myself but did not see much of anything that was interesting except the great River which is a great curiosity as it has risen over 15 feet within the last month and the current is very swift & strong. The water is very muddy and runs about 10 feet above the level of the City which is protected by levies made of earth. if they should break away we would have some fine work.
Our forces operating against Vicsburg are taking advantage of this flood which has broken through the Levy above the City & forced a Channel across the rear where our Gunboats can go now.1 you can see by the map how it is & I think you will hear of it's capture before a great while. Those papers you sent I have read through and through and was surprised to hear a great many things which has been going on near us without our knowing anything about it. I am glad to hear that Burnside is still going ahead and I hope he will have better success than he did before. The Rebels are concentrating a large force up by Vicksburg I have just learned and they are pushing the Men up the River very fast. one or two desided Battles in the East and West would go a great way's towards ending this war but they dont seem to come.
We have been in this Camp longer than in any other but how much longer we shall stay I cant say. We are probably quite as well off here as anywhere. We have plenty of drilling and work enough to keep us busy most of the time. I have not been on drill this forenoon but took Acct. of the Guns and Accoutrements.
I find the best way is to do as little as possible. I never mean to hurt myself doing Camp duty or drilling. I dont think I ever had such an appetite as I have now and before long I shall write that I weigh 150. I dont mean to have John get ahead of me.
I have seen Luther this morning who is very sick but is better than he was yesterday. I told the Doctor I should write home what he said of him & he says he is better & improving although very sick. I showed him your Letters & he was much pleased with them. he is in real good spirits and if the weather keeps as it is now for a week he will be able to go out & then it wont take a great while for him to get well. he has all the care and attention that he could have at home. I never thought he would be sick but we have lost some of the most healthy looking Men in the Regiment2 so you see it is hard to tell who will stand it best . Blackman was a healthy looking fellow but sleeping on the Ground took him down & we had to leave him at Fort Monroe. We heard from him a short time since but he was not much better. You remember you told him at Lynnfield to take care of me but I had to take care of him.
I feel rather tired of writing for I wrote all the time I had yesterday afternoon & Evening. I answered a letter from Helen Green & one from Lizzie Carter & I feel about written out. I shall write to Johnny and Hattie next. Give my love to them and to all the little ones. I will write to you again the next mail & I hope I shall be able to write good news from Luther. Write as soon as you get this or when convenient.
P.S. Have you recd. The $40. we sent last? if you have write what you shall do with it
1The Union forces blew up the levee, February 3, creating a gap almost 75 yards wide. The Mississippi River gushed through, flooding the Yazoo Pass. It was hoped the flooding of this Pass would enable gunboats and troop transports to mount a second offensive and attack Vicksburg from the rear. It didn't happen and Vicksburg would not be taken for another six months.
2Lost some of the most healthy looking men in the regiment: As of the day Henry wrote this letter the regiment had not lost a soldier to combat but 14 had died of disease and 36 had been discharged for disability. One of those discharged, George E. Vose, a Milton soldier in Henry's company, died from his illness two months after returning to Milton. The 38th Regiment was formed with 1097 officers and enlisted men. By the end of the war 136 had died of disease while in service and 248 were discharged for disability - many of whom would later succumb to their military related illnesses or wounds.