Fort Jefferson Apr 19th 1862
Dear Wife & Children
I have had no Mail since I wrote you before but will commence a letter against the time the next Mail leaves. My health is very good I am on duty every day. It is very warm drilling I sweat as much as I should in Haying at home. Col Put has not arrived but we expect him & Gen Brannan with Staff today or Monday. It is very monotonous here, on Guard once in about 10 days the next day off duty till Dress Parade, the day after on Regtl Police when I have to Boss 16 men but do not work much myself; the rest of the time it is Battallion Drill at 9AM Co Drill at 4PM Dress Parade at 530 Roll Call at 830 Taps at 9 when we are all in bed, and every day Equipments to clean & keep in order So that there is but very little leisure time and the men get sick of one thing right over again every day.
I have been off the Key last Tuesday but once & I must tell you about it Lieuts House & Williams Sergt Davis & Self got a Sail Boat & started for East Key the wind shifted and we had to boat a long time but at least we arrived the sea was rather rough & we got pretty wet Williams was pretty well frightened but got quieted down after I laughed at him a spell By the way I will tell what we were after and dont laugh it was Birds Eggs, We had but an hour & a quarter to stay Oh! how we wished we could have had all day & Oh! how I wished you all could have been there & see the Thousands on Thousands of Birds Black & white about the sise of wild Pigeons they were very pretty & their cries were almost deafning & so tame that I could have caught hundreds with my hands but it was no fun to catch them they were so tame it was eggs we wanted & I never worked much harder than I did hunting them the Island is covered with Bushes from four to eight ft high crooked scraggy things & grow in the coral Sand the birds lay one egg in a place they build no nest but hollow out the sand slightly. the eggs are about the sise of a Pullets with spots a little darker than a Turkies. House found 75 Williams 51 Davis 48 self 52 & I have lived the best that I have since enlisted I pd 20 cts for 1/2 lb of stinking Butter & lived high on poached & Boiled eggs Williams poached some did not like them & gave the rest away, I expect it was because they were wild Birds eggs I like them as well as Hen"s eggs three of the Boys went over Thursday and got over 400 they were gone all day, I mean to go again they are the only luxury I have had
The Men are awfull Grouty & growing uglier every day for they expect House will be Capt Sergt Lane 1st Lieut Sergt Prescott 2d [ ] and they hate all of them awfully the last is between you & I all but 4 or 5 in the Co want me for Capt but that cannot be probably for they cannot have their say and I should hate awfully to hold a commision under any of them for they are allmighty mean Men & will have their hands full to handle the Co they are all afraid & jealous of me and know the feelings of the Co consequently I am a thorn in their sides that hurts them bad & will hurt them wirse if they dont use me better than they have done
Sunday 20th Last night the Schooner Tortugas arrived from Key West with news of a great fight on the Mississippi it is reported here that 20,000 Union & 4,000 Rebels are killed we think it must be exaggerated I presume you have heard all the particulars long ago & we are very ancious too The Tortugas brought no Mail and I am very ancious to hear from you You dont know how glad I am to get a letter from home bringing words of Sympathy & love in the words of the Poet It is joy unspeakable to know that they miss me at home I am perfectly disgusted with the officers of the 7th they dont seem to know as much as they did at Camp Hale when we came here there was a lot of Beef Cattle in the Fort the Col had them all carried over to Hog Island to prevent them from eating the Officers; they being the greenest things in the Fort not excepting a brood of young Ducks
I have got a pint dish tin plate & basin two saucers & one cup knife fork & spoon I think I am well provided with kitchen furniture I think Coffee & tea tastes much better from a cup & saucer than an old black tin cup. I broke one cup & bought another cup & saucer that is the reason I have two. It is very plesant but hot I sit on my Bunk as I write look out of a Port-hole on the waters of the Gulf of Mexico breaking on the reef restless as the Passions of Man it is rather dull musnt after one gets accustomed to it Sam has had a touch of the Rheumatism in his left knee which made him quite lame for several days he is now nearly recovered & is otherwise well he would like to have his Folks write him he sends his regards to all. There is a good many men sick yet one was buried yesterday from Co I he died of Consumption. Some of the men are to lazy to write home, but I judge you by myself; ie you wish me to write every Mail that leaves here & I have done so although my letters have been rather dull and uninteresting the fact is there is nothing to write about here after it is once told over.
21st The Old Light Keeper here has two slaves one a girl about 20 years old I should judge & a boy about 15 bright & keen as a brier; when the Zouaves left the boy left with them his master found it out & recovered him: the rule is here that a Master shall not whip a slave without permission from the Comndr of the Post; So the old Fellow went to Col Put & requested leave to whip the Boy stating that he deserved it. Col Put very quietly heard him through with his statements & request when he looked up at him & with emphasis said: You Go to Hell; and took no further notice of him It is showery here today cool & quite refreshing House is Officer of the Guard today after Guard Mount & review when he was marching the Guard to its Post he made one of his usual blunders and scattered the men over half the Parade ground; I would resign a Commsission mighty quick if I held one, if I did not forget more every day than he knows
22nd The Mail leaves this PM & I will close it We are expecting a Mail every hour and very ancious to hear the particulars of the big Fight some here think it will decide the war & that we shall be discharged soon but I dont think so there are some things that make me think that we shall be orderd from here into active service but it is only guess work. I find that men"s judgement"s are varied very much by their wishes and that which they desire most, ie, a discharge will come immediately in that: they will be disapointed.
The Goats have got a number of Kids they are cunning little things I wish the Children could see them there are King Birds Swallows & Golden Robins here in the Fort among the trees but not many of them Mr Sweetser has just brought in a young bird that is very tame he is running round on the floor catching flies.
I think Miner is a little homesick but he wont own it he & Everett are tending for the Sutler when he is not on duty I want you to write often & long letters so that I shall keep posted on what is going on in Enfield & vicinity
They are getting more strict one Capt put 9 men in the Guard House today for not being at drill & House has ordered one man of Co C in for failing to be at Battalion Drill this AM
I have just been to dinner we had boiled Pork Potatoes & a peice of Bread & a dish of Rain water with wiggles in it we drink lots of wiggles & the Bread is well filled with Black Bugs about 1/4 of an inch long we pick out some of them & eat the rest there is scarcly anything that turns my stomach now it has got to be proof against dirt & nastiness