Baton Rouge, Aug. 14th. 1863
I have recd. two Letters dated 18th & 20th of July since I came to the Regt. and I will write a few lines in answer but Lutes I cannot answer at present. I was rather surprised to get such long ones from you and was made happy to know how well you are getting along. I was just going on Picket and thought I should have something to write about.
We had over 50 Men. 15 Posts and our line was most a Mile long through a large Swamp where the Weeds were 3 feet over my head. I tell you it was a dismal and boggy looking hole but when it came to the woods I was in my element. I was on the Reserve but went the rounds 3 times to change the Posts so to have our line connect with the other Brigades. We had some awful Thunder Showers in the afternoon & I got wet through being caught out but I took off my Clothes & it didn't take long for them to dry. You can have no idea what hot weather we are having here and will have for another Month to come. Why! while I write the "Sweat" runs off me & I stop to wipe it off with the Big Handkerchief Lute sent me
I feel as well now as I ever did in my Life and weigh 134 lbs which is pretty good for me but my nerves are all "unstrung" and if I went through another Campaign I should lose my health but I trust the work in this Dept. has been done in Shape and we shall hold what weve got and let Grant, Rosecrans & Meade do the fighting which may not be so hard as we imagine.1
I have observed how things are going on out here & shall expect to hear something from Mobile very soon The people at New Orleans are beginning to feel the effect of opening the Mississippi for loads of Produce have gone down and they will soon be flooded with Provisions.
I was afraid we would not have a very healthy season but I think different now. Our Camp is in a very healthy place and we have good food & plenty of it. I dont believe you ever heard me complain of my rations since I've been out, to be sure we have seen hungry times on our long Marches but while in Camp we live better than any Soldiers in the World. It's only the idea of being away from home and the hard work but I am willing to make most any sacrifice & I think I have thus far willingly.
I remember what Mr. Webb said to me when I first made arrangements to go to war. & what answer I gave. he said his Henry was willing to go when they wanted him. I told him I was whether they wanted me or not. I was disappointed because he wasnt drafted & I believe he would have paid $300. & the same with Albert Twombly.2 I dont know how they feel about about it but I should want to keep out of sight. All of the Men out here feel the necessity of carrying on the War & is very discouraging to have them act so at home. I believe if our Regt. or any Potomac Regt. should charge on any crowd of them, they would'nt give them quarter so quick as they would the Rebs. They will have to come to it soon & in the next law passed about drafting $300 wont be looked at. If we could have Men enough to push up the advantage we have gained we would finish this business before another Year but, as I have thought for this 10 Mos. another year will hardly do it but it may be done sooner than we think.
I had quite a nice time down Town this forenoon seeing the sights & went to the Christian Commission where I read the Papers and got a Bottle of Ink with which I am writing: They do an immense good to the Soldiers but the Sanitary I dont think quite so much of though it cant help being a benefit:
There has been a number of Cargoes of Provision Landed here for the Citizens who are very destitute especially the Poor but the Upper Crust or Aristocracy and very wealthy and should pay for their part: If the Patriotic of Boston would show it by sending us something of the kind we would be better able to serve our Glorious Country.
I see that "Oliver" subscribed $100 for this Place: I dont believe he would if there had not been any Music Trade here: I can read him: 3
I was very [ ] to hear of Dr. Fields Death for I thought a great deal of him & enjoyed myself well while there: I hope the Family will not want for anything but should think they would have to do something:
Have you seen Annies Husband? I should like to hear from them very much: I did not know that I promised Sarah I would write but I will write to Marthy & send her a word, Speaking of her reminds me of Aunt Martha who I am very anxious to hear about, the next time you write:
Remember me to Mr. Sloane & Cousin George also to Lizzie the next time you see her: I am real glad she has got settled down:
1 General Grant had relieved Major Gen. John A. McClernand during the siege of Vicksburg and President Lincoln, on August 12, refused to give McClernand a new command. General William S. Rosecrans was steadily forcing the Confederate army of Braxton Bragg back through Tennessee toward Chattanooga. Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade's army of the Potomac, in mid July, had crossed the Potomac and was in pursuit of Lee's army. Meade, a carear officer, was nicknamed Old Snapping Turtle.
2 Henry is not shy about expressing his feelings toward those inclined to buy their way out of the draft. In this paragraph he references Mr. Webb's son Henry and Albert Twombly. Henry and Albert were the sons of the founders of the Webb & Twombly Chocolate Company in Milton Village (Charles Henry Webb, born 11 January 1841 and Albert Thomas Twombly, born January 11, 1844 - both in Dorchester).
3 Henry takes another pot shot at his employer, Oliver Ditson, president of the Oliver Ditson Company, 135 Washington Street, Boston.