Alexandria La, May 9th 18631
Dear Father Mother and all
I am once more encamped after a tedious march from Oppelousas of over 90 Miles in 4 Days and as we arrived last night you can imagine me limping round with stiff legs but a full Belly. I cannot describe to you or write you our feelings on that march but you can judge for yourself after reading the brief details.
We were called before last Thursday at 3 oclock A M. and after cooking our Coffee we started at 5 came through Washington2 in the forenoon and halted at Linton 24 miles from Oppelousas. The Sun was dreadful hot and the dust several inches deep & so thick was the Air you could hardly breathe. We made few halts those were short except at noon when we rested 1/2 hour and made Coffee. Many a horse gave out and Capt. Badger lost 30 but you could pick up enough good ones. I only speak of it to show you a Man can out walk a horse & that with considerable of a load. A great many have thrown away their Over Coats but I shant mine. When that goes I go. I tell you a Canteen full of Water and a full Haversack pull down some especially after marching all day. Every morning we were up at three and started by five not getting sleep enough or time to cook a good meal and dry our blankets, but the Boys would start off in good Spirits When we are so used up we hardly ever speak & march for miles in an ugly and don't care way, When we stop it is Snap & snarl every body worn out and limping round with sore feet. My feet have not been so sore or blistered but the last two days they were awful lame and my Legs too. The 2nd day I had a bad tooth ache all day but Dr. Ward fixed that at night I have got through it whole but feel well played out. This morning we killed Hens, Pigs and Beef and shall have good living while here, how long I cant say.
The Rebs have gone to Texas but we shant follow them. I think we shall go to Port Hudson. We found 2 Gun Boats here and were glad enough to see them. The Rebels wont get any more provisions or supplies by Red River, and they will feel it very much. I suppose you heard of our Cavalry coming to Baton Rouge from Tennessee, we cheered over it. I hope we shall have good success this year and have no doubt that we shall but we wait impatiently for it.
I have not heard from Lute but I hope he is well and will soon be home. Father wrote he hoped he would stay on my acc't. but I hope he will go home. I wish you would send a little Ginger in your next Letter & a little black Linen Thread as I may not see my Knapsack for Months.
We may stay here a few weeks, if we do I shall write again Give my love to all the little ones and write often direct Regt. as usual. My love and best wishes to you all.
from your Aff. Son Henry
As the mail dont go untill night I will enclose a few more lines. I have just washed myself and Clothes not knowing when I can have another oportunity. The current is very strong and there has been narrow escapes from drowning since we arrived but Charlie Thayer3 and I had a good swim. We heard heavy firing the morning which commenced at 12 last night and continued untill 9 o'clock. I dont think it could be Port Hudson as it is over 100 Miles from here but it was in that direction Gen. Banks went down on a Gunboat the night we arrived & I guess something is up at any rate you will know it about as soon as I.
Captain is making out the Pay Rates today but I think we shall have to wait another 2 months. I would not care if I only had some things I left in my Knapsack. I hope we shall stay here for some time as it is a beautiful place most so of any we have seen. The Country through which we came is level and only cultivated along the Bayou which we followed all the way. You can see it on the Map. We saw fields of Cotton, Sugar Cane & Corn that covered hundreds of Acres and very fine Sugar Mills, worked by [N------]. I tell you they will have to take it when the War is over for their Masters that profess to be union are rank Secesh & know they cant hold them a great while. I wish those who like the [N------] so well could do the fighting for us but they all stay at home, we will fix them all right when we get home if they keep on. But things will come all right after U.S. is sucked dry — Hen
1 None of Henry's letters survive (if any were written) between his letters of April 6th and May 9th. During this lapse the 38th Regiment was engaged in its first combat in the Battle of Bisland, April 13th. There were 31 causalities — 6 killed, 25 wounded. Private John Sias of Company I (Henry's company), a Milton farmer, was among the wounded. He was discharged July 24, 1863 for disability.
2 Washington is a small town about six miles from Opelousas.
3 This is Henry's last mention of his Milton friend, Corp. Charlie Thayer, who was killed in the first engagement at Port Hudson, May 25, 1863.