Baton Rouge Mar 21st 1863
Dear Father & Mother
It is but a very short time since I wrote, and I little expected then I should have another opportunity so soon and under so favorable circumstances. but I dont care how often the chance comes for I like to write to you if nothing more than to let you know that I am well We are now about 2 miles from the City resting from the fatigue of the last weeks Marching and knocking round.
We are below the City on a Bluff which is the first as you assend the River and encamped in a Grove of Magnolia Trees which makes me think of Camp Cram at Baltimore. We had a hard march of 12 miles to get here under a hot Sun and a great many had to leave the Ranks from fatigue. The great fault is, the Boys carry too heavy Knapsacks but I dont mean to let that trouble me. All I shall keep or need is my Rubber Blanket, one pair of Draws & a Shirt which I wear, towell and Writing paper. The Warm Weather is coming on very fast and before a great while we shall feel like getting out of the Sun and covering ourselves with Water, I have just had a good wash in the River which runs before us, and I can say I never felt better in my life or more contented. some times on the March I feel like smashing my gun on the Ground when it happens to Cut into my Shoulder too hard but if my discharge Papers were before me I would not take them and I am not the only one who thinks so.
I feel encouraged when I read the papers you sent. for I find more news than I expected. The Conscription Bill1 looks as if Government meant to do something and I hope Congress will be united and the President more firm and not quite so dependent on others as he has been. There are a great many who think Abe Lincoln's everything and the Man for this imergency, and they think everything he does must be right. I like him because I believe him honest, but if his policy intereferes with the Army as it did with McClellan, I look on both sides and judge for myself, but it dont do any good to talk about it. in the Army a Soldier has no right to Criticize his superior in Rank but who may be his inferior in everything else. The Army is better disciplined in Rank & File than it has ever been before, but untill the Officers are sifted down from the highest to the lowest Grade, it will be far short of what it should and ought to be. I suppose there is a good thing being done at Vicksburg, by Gen Grant and as soon as he clears that place, Banks will probably join him and soon clear the west of Rebels. If we had cleared the River when Butler first came here we should have starved them out by this time for all their Supplies came by the Red River from Texas. I am glad to see the expences reduced by our catching prizes worth a Million to us and Millions to the Rebels when they get them. Grant will probably take a great many Millions worth of Cotton for our Government and it would be well at all time to remember the Confissation Bill and put in into force for it weakens the Rebels more than we have any idea of and brings the day nearer when the last part of the Rebeldons shall be squashed out.
Its reported that Gen Emory, who commands our division is to be superceded and sent to his old command at Baltimore. We are his "Body Guard" and he can take us with him if he wants too. I had much rather be in this than in the Potomac Army where, if we went at all, we should be but it would be pleasant to hear so often from you and to have Boxes. When I wrote before the Box you sent was at Baton Rouge but it came up to our Camp just before we left. The apples were all rotten but one & that was rich for it was a long time between that and the last. The Jam Bottle was squashed in & the juice all gone, some of it on the 1st page of this sheet, so I could not get that to Lute but I Boxed all up but one can of Soup & one of Coffee which were excellent and sent it back to Lute at Carrollton. Oh! How I long to get back to the land of Seed Cakes and Hot Doughnuts, it would take considerable to get me away again. I think more of home now than I ever did before and perhaps the time will soon come when I shall be there. It's a long time to look ahead but time flies very fast and to look back it seems only yesterday when I came out of the front Door the last time. I remember it well & how you all look & sometimes in imagination I can run my eye over every part of the old house and yard. But we have to much to do to think of home all the time. This morning we fired off our Guns and cleaned them and we have inspection at two Oclock. I suppose we shall go back out cleaning and shining Brasses & Blacking Boots which always has been part of our Camp duties & which we have been free from since we left New Orleans.
I hope we shall stay here a few weeks but we may leave at any time. I am sitting on a Mound, leaning against a tree & can took down upon the River which nearly overflows it's Banks and catch the cool breeze that come across. It don look much wider than the Neponset but it is the Great Mississippi. I hope we shall not go back that way but follow the Rebels up to Richmond & clean everything as we go along, If we are here in fruit time we'll enjoy ourselves some and we will now if we are paid off soon. There is most 3 Months pay due us but we shant get only two. I think to carry out my object. which I have blowed enough about, I shall have to send some Money to Mother, I shall do all I can to have her carry it out.
What will Mr. Twombly think when Albert is compelled to go to war. I think he had better send him to Canada and go himself, dont you? I would like to be at home just to see how folks take it for I think it will gall some terribly2.
I want you to write me a long letter. Father too for I do love to hear from him. I hope he will take good care of himself and not work hard. but enjoy himself that's in his power. Are you going to let John learn a trade? I hope so, I shall speak to him about it.
I would send you some Flowers but shall have to much to put in the Envelope. I hope you get all I send you. They must contrast with the appearance of things at home. Perhaps everything covered with Snow I was much pleased with Hattie Eleason's Letter & shall answer it soon. Give my respects to her & to all inquiring Friends and writ as soon as convenient
1 The Conscription Bill authorized states to implement a draft. The draft was put in place in Mass. June & July 1863. The total eligible for draft was 164,178. Of this 32,079 names were drawn but only 743 actually joined the service. Massachusetts, in actuality, met all previous service commitments with volunteer enlistees and filled all subsequent calls without resorting to a draft.
2 Mr. Twombly, son Albert, etc.: This is an interesting paragraph. Mr. Twombly, who is mentioned frequently in Henry's letters, was Josiah F. Twombley, co-founder of Webb & Twombley Chocolate Company in Milton. Albert Twombley, son of Josiah, at age 20, was eligible for the draft. Mr. Twombley, at 48 was not — the cut-off age being 45. There is no record that Albert Twombley served in the military. Albert was a grocer when he married in 1875.