Algiers1 Apr 6th 1863
Dear Father & Mother
No doubt you will be surprised to hear from me at this place, but a Soldiers life is uncertain quite as much out, as in Battle. We left Baton Rouge on the night of the 1st. and arrived here the next morning, where we are now waiting the arrival of Cars to take us to Berwicks Bay, there to reinforce Gen Wietzet, who has been repulsed. They have just sent 20,000 Men and the Cars are coming back by the hundreds some of them loaded with Cotton, Sugar and Molasses which has been confiscated and worth Millions to Government. We had a hard time unloading the Boat which took us most all day and the next.
I heard from Luther who sent for me, but I was so tired I could not go but the next day (4th). I went over and staid all day with him. he felt very bad on seeing me but he looks much better than when I left him before, although his Leg is worse. Col Rodman & our Surgeons are getting his discharge for him and if we stay here a few days longer they will succeed.
I am very sorry he has not recieved the Box I sent him from Baton Rouge and I am affraid he will never see it although he recieved Letters and Papers which I sent the same time. He has a very neat place and there are others with him from the Regt. and one from our Company who do a great deal for him and make it pleasanter for him.
When I got back I talked with Col Rodman2 for over half an hour and he is aquainted with Forbes, Holmes and has been at Milton several times. I like him very much. he takes so much interest in Luther and one of these days he may do me a good turn.
I am on Guard today and write now my relief is off duty. The Regt. has gone out for Drill and nothing can be seen but the White Tents of our Division which extends as far as you can see and then round the bend of the River.
The City here is a dismal and dirty looking hole but a great business place before the War. There is the largest Iron Foundry that I ever saw but it is deserted as is all the large Buildings. Those that are rich here are rotten with money, and I never saw such a display of Wealth in dress and the like.
Geo Farnum and several of the 42 were here yesterday and today I expect George Sloane and more of them. They wont see any more service and will be home soon but we have got to stick it out. The many toilsome and hungry days we have had is but a taste of what's before us but let it come. I'm all right and good for it too.3
We have lived very poorly ever since we left New Orleans except when we foraged. which fault is in the Quarter Master Dept. The Boys are mostly troubled with the Diarrhea and Walt Bradlee has just gone into the Hospital, but he will get well there for we cant get Pies there & he can take care of himself. It has not troubled me since I came out and it's not unfrequently I take a dose of Saults.
I noticed one Company (G) that went out for drill with only 18 Men & When we made the 23 Mile March at Baltimore not one of that Co fell out. I suppose there are about 25 or 30 Men in the Co fit for duty out of that 100. Our Co has about 40 fit for duty and the Regt. numbers about 450 effective men out of the 1000 and over who left Lynnfield. but so gradually has the ranks diminished that it has been little noticed. but if it keeps on like this through the coming Summer I am afraid that those who are left are few.
Hyram Nye is not very well but the rest of the Milton Boys are in prime health and Spirits. Charlie Thayer looks better now than I ever saw him and the same with John Crossman & Chas Hunt. as for me I never felt better in fact I feel "Bully" and that dont express it either.
I think by taking good care of myself I shall come out all hunk. We have not been paid off yet but Geo Farnum made me take 50c as he has been paid off & should spend it if I didnt. I shall remember him for it has done me heaps of good.
We had a large Prayer Meeting last night together with the 16th. N.H. and it was the best I have attended since we left home. John, Charlie and a good share of the Boys were there and were much interested. I go to most of the Meetings for I like to know that its Sunday & we have no other exercises to show that its different from other week days. I would go some ways to hear a Sermon for I like to hear an interesting Preacher and we had one in the 16th N.H. who preached to both Regiments yesterday afternoon.
Since leaving New Orleans two Sundays have passed without my knowing it untill the next day. there being so much work to do and to excite and take up my mind.
I had much rather be at Baton Rouge for it was a Bluff or Hill there but here we are on a level with the River and there are no Woods and Shrubs. It is worse than New Orleans but I hope and think we shall eventually see Texas. at any rate it wont be many hours before we are in the Cars and "En Route" for Berwicks Bay so we can afford to put up with it for the present.
I suppose your Winter is most over with by this time and Spring coming on fast. how much I should like to be at home with you to enjoy it. I very often think what good times I had at home but I notice they were mostly before I left to throw myself away in Boston and when I think of going back there to give up all ideas of enjoyment, it makes me feel rather bad. I hope I shall be the only one you can call Merchant. I have no doubt when I go back I shall live up to it too.4
I have just written an answer to Hattie E's Letter that came in the Box. I should have written before but was out of Stamps. I have got some now but not enough for them all, so you will have to come down on this but I mean to have enough to last after we are paid off. I believe there is a Mail at the City for us and perhaps Letters from you so I will not seal this untill I find out. I hope you got the Flowers & Roses I have sent home tell me if you have in your next.
Our cooks have cooked 3 days rations and we may start tonight but I hope not untile tomorrow. There was a Battery left on the Cars this morning and several other heavy Guns which looks like work ahead, but the 38th has got clear of fighting so far & I think they will this time, but I should really like to have one chance at them. The Mail will be here this afternoon and we expect a very large one. I had a good wash in the River this morning and feel first rate. Oh! I hope I shall be able to go through it all with good health, but if I cant I'll make the best of it.
Give my love to Johnny, Hattie, Carrie & little Charlie & tell them not to forget Henry. My Love to you both & hope you will not worry about me & Enjoy yourselves all you can. From your Aff Son Henry
1 Algiers: Henry's regiment arrived at the city of Algiers April first. Algiers is on the bank of the Mississippi, opposite the city of New Orleans.
2 Col Rodman: Henry mentioned Lt. Col. Rodman in his Feb 24, 1863 letter to his mother "a thick headed man ... we call the Jack of Clubs". Henry has a new opinion of the Col. but this is the last time he is mentioned. Col. Rodman is killed in the first assault on Port Hudson, May 27, 1863.
3 Geo Farnum, & George Sloane were from Dorchester, MA. They enlisted in 42 Regiment for nine months, September 1862. January 1, 1863 they and several others from the Regiment were captured by the Confederates and later paroled from Galveston, Texas. They were returning home to serve out their enlistment to be mustered out August 1863. Henry's enlistment is three years - a long way to go yet.
4 Henry, in this paragraph, continues to gripe about his employment with The Ditson Music Company. We haven't heard the last on this subject.