New Orleans Feb 19th 20th 1863
Dear Father & Mother
I take my Pen to relieve your anxious minds as to where I have been for the last ten days and mostly to tell you that Lute is getting along finely. when I arrived this morning I had my doubts whether he was alive or not but I knew if he was he was all right. I went over the first thing and found him sitting up & Reading Parson Brownlaws Book O! how glad I was to see him. he goes out every day & I shall go over with some of the Boys to have a good time with him. You cant imagine what my feelings have been in writing to you about him for I wanted to write just as he was & I knew You (Mother) would be worried but when you get this you need worry no more.
He told me he had written to you & so did Tom Prince & Charlie Thayer so you know he has been very sick. You remember the Letter I sent the Flowers in told about my visit to Carrollton. Well: first I went to see Lute & he hardly knew me which made me feel bad enough, he will write the next mail & then I will take more time & write a lot of long Letters which I cannot do now as the Mail closes very soon but I will tell you something about our Expedition, it's object & the consequences & in my next write the particulars.
We started last Week Wednesday the 11th on the Morning Light a craft that looked inside like a floating Barn but called a River Steamer & up the River we went till night when the Fog stopped us & the next day it was foggy untill noon so that you could not see 10 feet from the Boat. at 4 oclock we stopped at Donaldsonville where there is a Fort and the first Louisiana Regt. Night found us at Plaquemine our destination which is 110 Miles from New Orleans & about 20 from Baton Rouge.
Our object was to go up the River or Bayou as it is called & which you can see by the Map runs down into the Gulf or up into the Red River where we would have gone if at all. We lay there at Plaquemine with the 31st Mass 175 New York & the 165 N.Y. while the Gun Boat went up the Bayou to clear the way, but after going about 20 miles found that the Rebels had cut down Trees on both sides of the stream which catching all the driftwood made a dam & overflows the land making it impossible to go farther.
you must know that the whole country is swamp and only settled for from ¼ to 2 miles in from the great River which is so high that if it broke through the Levy it would soon make a River or Bayou as they are called here which would soon wear a channel and never be stopped untill it reached the Gulf. The Current runs as much as 12 miles an hour at Plaquemine & is full of floating logs brush & I saw a few large Rafts go down. so you see it warnt much work to block it or overflow the Banks which were not high.
The New York 133 is doing Provost duty there but they didnt prevent our confiscating all the Molasses & Sugar we could carry off. Bradlee, Clark & I went to a Sugar House & got some kettles full & then made the [N------] harness up the best Mules & carry us back to the Boat & all in the face of the Overseer & Owner of the Plantation.
We were there 7 days & part of the time (the last) our Co was quartered in a Store where we made Molasses Candy & such a time. Sunday didnt seem much like Sunday at home I can tell you. Well as we could not do much in that direction back we started at 11 oclock yesterday & we came down the river — some-. We got here last night at 6 oclock but staid on the Boat untill this morning.2
As soon as I mail this I shall go see Lute again as I left him to write this. he sends his love & will write himself next mail. Oh! such a beautiful Day & yesterday was the same. didnt I have a time setting on the Bows as we came down the River only 15 miles an hour? Well I guess we did—some.
I will write all the particulars next mail but will close now. Remember me to all the children & keep up good spirits for I know if I can you ought. & if know you did, I should feel better still —
From your ever dutiful Son Geo H. Moulton
P.S. There was a Mail for us sent up the River yesterday which we past just below Donaldsonvill on a gunboat & we shall get it tomorrow — Henry
1 The date of this letter is a bit confusing. Feb 19 is crossed out and replaced with Feb 20 and above this line is written Saturday. February 19th fell on a Thursday in 1863 (see also footnote 2). Henry wrote his letter on Friday the twentieth after visiting his brother Lute in the hospital and then added a P.S. the next day and wrote 'Saturday' at the top of the letter. His dates do not generally name the day of the week.
2Details in Henry's letters track closely with events recorded in the Regimental History which was written in 1866. For instance, he writes, "we got here last night at 6 oclock but stayed on the boat untill this morning." The Regimental History records "...reached the landing at Carrollton at six o'clock on the evening of the 19th."