Plaquemine Dec 8th, 1863
I take my Pen to answer your kind Letter which was recd., as usual in due time together with one from Carrie Lowe1 and numerous Papers mostly from Lute. Having been on Picket and other Duties I could not answer it before & I feel unusually tired having worked all day with the Spade on the Fortifications. I have felt so well I could not help pitching in just as Father would and I would like to see the one who done more then I. My hands are quite sore and as your Last Letter was rather short compared with some you write I shall not attempt to write much this time. You seem to worry because you cannot always write as much as you would like to but I care not if you do not write as much, dont put yourself out to much but write if only a few lines.
We are all enjoying real good health and since the Western Troops came here our Picket duty has been very light, mine especially as well as all the Non Com's.
Lieut Williams of the 4th Wis Cavalry2 was out 30 Miles Yesterday, found the rebel Camp and drove in their Pickets, then Skedadelled pursued by a Regt of Cavalry, they thinking he had a Force behind. he had to take to the woods to get clear & arrived here this afternoon. When Banks comes up from Texas they will have to change Quarters but at present they will keep dark and clear of this place.
We have some splendid news from Gen Grant3 which will greatly raise the Spirits of the people and cheer up the Veterans of the Potomac for the great struggle before them and in which they may now be engaged. The patriotism and determination of the Army and I believe all our Soldiers has been increasing for some time and this will put the crown on. All we want is more Men and if we can have them by Spring that last ditch so often referred to will soon be filled with the Remnants of the Jeff Davis Government.
I am real glad Father has so good an opinion of the war & I hope he is as patriotic as when he sent me. I have not changed any. When this affair is settled and we all arrive home, many will be ashamed of the stand they took & if we dont talk it to them then it will be because we forget what we have endured and how this War has been prolonged by their traitorous hearts & hands. I shall wait impatiently to hear from Gen Mead but it wont be a great while. They have paid off the Troops at Baton Rouge and the Pay Master will be welcomed here in a few days.
Tell Father to write & I will give him a long answer. Give my Love to him & all the children & accept a good share for yourself
Your Aff Son Henry
1 Carrie Lowe (Caroline Augusta Lowe) corresponded with Henry during his first year's enlistment, sending him at least three letters. Born in Cambridge, MA, she would marry John D. Clapp of Dorchester, June 7, 1865, one month prior to Henry's discharge.
2 Lieutenant Williams of the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry is not mentioned again in Henry's letters but the Regimental History provides this account: "The rebels still hovered around the picket-line; and on the 8th of February, Lieut. Williams, one of the most daring of the Wisconsin officers, was killed just outside of the lines, several of his men being wounded at the same time, and the detachment which accompanied him driven back."
3 General Grant was given command October 24, 1863 of a newly formed Division of the Mississippi following Union General Rosecrans' defeat at the battle of Chickamauga (September 19-24) and his army's subsequent encirclement at Chattanooga, Tennessee, by Confederate General Braxton Bragg's forces. Grant's tenacity and steadfastness shone brightly after taking command of the army at Chattanooga. He began his offensive on November 24th with decisive victories at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge and expelled the Rebel opposition from the Chattanooga area.