Georgetown Va. July 29th 1864
Dear Father & Mother
It would be impossible for me to tell you how glad I am to find myself in old Va. for we are in a Paradise compared with La. & I shall never be satisfied untill Father comes out here & see's for himself.
We left the Boat yesterday Morning at the Washington Arsenal, marched up into the City, over the Penn Avenue out here 7 Miles from the City. Just as we started I got a Letter from Lute & was very much surprised to know he was here: he is just across the River from here but I have had no time to go over & dont know as I shall. I expect him every minute but from fear that I shant see him have written. Some of our Corps have left here & we shall go soon. where we dont know but I think to Harpers Ferry. Although we may have a hard time before us, the Boys are in fine Spirits & we shall go ahead & keep up the reputation of the 38th. I have never felt so encouraged by the cituation & I dont know half that's been done since we left Algiers.1
They say that the Rebs are in force up the Shenandoah & near Harpers Ferry but I dont believe it. They have got Grants Army to look after & that must be over 200,000 Strong Col Ingraham was much pleased to see us and I think he will get us a good chance. He has been trying hard for it.
We are Camped in an Orchard on a Big Hill & the way we eat the apples & Black Berries was a caution. The place is full of Springs of Splendid Water and the Shade Trees are a great luxury. I have been down to the Canal & washed my things this Morning: last night we all had a great Swim. I crossed over to the other side but saw no Soldiers.2
I want to see Lute very much & I mean to if possible. I hope his health will be good so that he can enjoy his garrison Duty. He says "I dont know as you call me a Soldier" I do but it's a soft part of it. I hear that a number of the Big Boys have gone for 100 Days. If there is a Draft the Govmt. will lose by it. I detest such half way work as our Gov't. does to fill up the Army. Well: when they do come they'll have to take it & I hope I'll be at Home to see them go. "It's no Boys Play".3
Some Mail came to the Regt. Yesterday but no Letter for me. I was disappointed but I expect to hear from you soon. Mother: how do you like the idea of Lutes being at Washington? If he had seen as much service as Walt Bradlee4 I dont think he would have come, but he will be paid & more too: I had no idea how much the place was fortified I dont believe it could be taken.
I hope Father will come out & see Lute if he don't me! when this Campaign is over we shall have untill next April or May to rest, that's one consolation.
I shall write again soon whenever I can & hope you will write often.
If there is a loose Dollar or 2 lying round you may send it if you like, for my last 2 mos pay has all gone into my Belly.
With my Love & best wishes to you all, I close.
Your Aff. Son Henry
PS. direct to Washington
1 The 38th Regiment left Morganza LA aboard the steamer City of Memphis July 3 and arrived the next day at Algiers LA where it remained encamped utile July 20, after which the regiment took passage aboard the Karnack (an old ocean going transport whose previous voyage was on the Florida reefs) and 8 days later arrived at Fortress Monroe at the mouth of the Potomac.
2 Henry writes "...we are camped on a big hill..." The Regimental history records: "All summer, the troops in Louisiana had been obliged to drink warm, dirty water, from rivers, bayou, and mud-holes, and when, upon arriving at Georgetown Heights, two cool, delicious springs were found bubbling out of the rocks, the satisfaction was unbounded, and many men lingered around them as if attracted by some fairy spell."
3 The reader may recall Henry's 12 March 1863 letter to his mother when he stated "we are on the eve of a great battle" and continues "...I was very sorry he [Lute - Henry's older brother] was not well enough to go with us but it is all for the best." Luther was discharged for disability, June 1, 1863 at Baton Rouge, LA. He re-enlisted in the Mass. 6th Regiment, Co. H, (100 day Regiment) at Readville MA and arrived at the Capital July 22, 1864 where his regiment was assigned garrison duty. Henry's comment; "I hear that a number of the Big Boys have gone for 100 Days" refers to the 100 day enlistment policy the government enacted because of the hiatus between the expiration of the time of some of the veteran regiments and the coming of new organizations for three years. Ten Milton men, including Luther, were enlistees of 100 day regiments, July 1864.
4 'Walt Bradlee' (J. Walter Bradlee) was discharged July 10, 1863 for disability but not before he had participated in the deadly assaults at Port Hudson. He was for many years a town selectman and at the time of his death Chairman of the Board of Selectman. A Resolution passed by the Warrant Committee, Jan. 23, 1893 records "... He was proud of this Country, proud of our Town, proud with a soldier's pride, proud of our schools..."