The Calvin Shedd Papers > Transcripts of Letters > March 6, 1962

Fort Jefferson, Fla., March 6th, 1862

Dear Ones at home

I wrote you last Sunday before we came ashore and will try and write something more Cos. A & F got ashore Sunday P.M. Monday Co. C got ashore about noon [     ] we had a blow and Co G had to stay till Wed P.M. We feel very ancious about the Ship that the other six Cos are on Board of there are strang Rumors about her; it appears, the Capt of her put his Mate in command of her, and he came here in the Steamer that arrived far before we did although she did not leave NY till ten days after we did, some say he, and his Mate, are secesh and that the mate has run her ashore or delivered her over to the rebels. There was a rumor yesterday that she lay under the Guns of the Rebel Batterys at Pensacola Adjutant Henderson and the Capt of the Tycoon have gone to Key West to see if any Tidings of her may be heard, we are thanking our stars that we came on the good Barque Tycoon Capt Lewis. I have seen a little of four phases of Soldiers life.  in Camp in Barracks on Board of Transport & in Garrison I have not seen enough of garrison duty yet to judge how I shall like it but presume I shall before I get away from here the best portion of a Soldiers life is in his first Camp. Barrack life such as we had in N.Y. is very disagreable, and I have not words to describe the filth and stench bad air and bad everything on board of Transport stowed as full as it can be with men between Decks and all of the best part of the ship appropriated to the use of about 10 officers they are the ones to write glowing accounts of soldier life and how well used and contented & happy the men are we are cursed with incompetent officers like all the rest of the regts only we think moreso and especialy Co. C, one of them ought to be keeping a country tavern where he could patronize his own bar. another ought to be keeping a singing school and attending Methodist Prayer meetings where he got his reputation. 

if the Devil dont laugh in his sleeve at some of his doings since begun to enlist for the army. 

He (the Dvil) is no Judge of mean men 

The other you know something about clever enough for a Farmer or school master but as much out of place here as a fish in the fire I have got some wrath treasured up against him against the day of wrath if I live till that time dont report me for writing what I have about them. I would not change places with either of them I would not swap the good will and popularity I have got with the Co for either of their offices. here they have been in the service over four months and not one of them can go through the Manual of arms or drill the Co in it and they are ashamed of themselves I think [     ] and they dont dare to try it (so much for Buckingham) 

We have had a fuss with the cooks and got them kicked out and now we have got the best cook in the Co put in and that is E.L. Thayer for one he is the best. Sprague is good but not equal to Ned the Co are much pleased to have him take hold of it our Grub has not been fit for a decent dog there has been none since I left camp and all that I should have been glad to have gone to your swill-Tub and I could have made a good meal out of Potatoes meal & pumpkin as you used to make it last Fall. Hurra Hurro Hurrour Bully We have had the first good dinner soup since we left camp & all the boys feel mighty good over the new cooks we think now if they can get stuff to cook they will cook it well, while I think of it I will say that my health is so much better than it was that I like to have forgot that I had any my belly is so full that it is almost uncomfortable 

There is one Co of Regulars & three Cos of Wilson Zouaves here we expect they will go to Santa Rosa, Island soon God speed them for they are an awfull hard sett. We go swimming once or twice a day and they say it is the coldest it has been this winter and they think we are awfull tough to go into the water, but the water is even warmer than I knew salt water at the north. there is said to be about 1500 people on the Fort Workmen and their Families their are men women children slaves Men women & children a good many of them they were the first slaves I ever saw I have not talked with any of them yet they appear to be pretty well contented on the outside all I know about them is they are awfull Black. 

There are Beef Cattle Horses Mules a Cow & Calf goats cocks & hens Parrots a few small Birds &e in the Fort. there is quite a number of trees here Black Mangroves & Red-do they do not bear any.  There are also a number of CocoaNut trees with nuts on every tree they are a curious looking thing the nuts are different sizes from an egg to a quart bowl some of the trees have as many as a hundred nuts on them it is said they never get ripe here on account of the soil which is mostly coral land or rather no soil at all.  we have Pitched our Tents in a Grove of Mangroves, Co G, are in the Grove of CocoaNuts One of our Corporals found a Scorpion in his Blanket this morning there are lots of them here delightful things to lay with they are liable to crawl into our Tents at any time it is said that the Black Scorpions sting is almost sure death the grey ones are not so bad. to cure the sting they turn whiskey into a man till he is dead Drunk the boys feel rather afraid of them I lay next the door of the tent where they can have a good chance to crawl over me.  We have just got through out first Dress parade here we done about as well as the regulars. & Zouaves done last night.  we had a smart shower here today about noon there is very little rainfall here it is said, It beats all to see the price the Sutler charges here for his goods shoes worth 1.25 are 3.00 Butter 40 soda biscuit 20 white sugar 19 Brown 12 nuts 20 Hats worth 33 north 1.12 apples 2 & 3 for 10 dates 20 Figs 35 there are no Oranges or Lemons in the Fort it is said that they are plenty & cheap at Key West.  I have taken off my undershirt & drawers & stockings The only trouble I have Bodily is my Finger the nail is all loose and it is Festering again I think I have got cold in it going into the water and washing the humor that is broken out on me is some better I dont have scratch but half the time now the men most all of them have it, it breaks out a red blotch and a little Fester 

7th AM  we have had a hard Blow all last night the sand flies good, an U.S. Gun-Boat arrived here last night but no tidings of the Mallory yet, we fear they have met with some great misfortune we had rather loose all the rest of the Officers in the Regt than Col. Putnam

 My Dear Daughter, Ada 

I Should like to see you very much I think of you very often.  There is lots of coral and sea shells here, and I mean to get some of them and send home if I have a chance they are off on the sand Keys one or two miles from the Fort.  a man gave me a Craw-Fish yesterday they are very much like a Lobster except the long Claws, and I cannot tell them apart by the taste There are quite a number of Boys & Girls in the Fort they all go barefooted and barelegged and most of them bareheaded they are as swarthy as Indians almost there are cats and Dogs here Hens & chickens and two Ducks or Geese I dont know which they are very pretty. 

The Coral here is almost white it grows like trees with trunks and branches I should have said it is built in that shape for it is made by a little insect not so large as the head of a pin it is said to be of a green color in the water on these Islands and it has to be Boiled and laid in the sun to make it white.  when the wind blows here the waves break over the coral reefs and it sounds like heavy Cannon or Thunder the waves are called Breakers- a Reef is where the coral is most to the top of the water and it stops the force of the waves and they break over in a great sheet of white foam, as high as a house. 

A Sand Key is a low sandy Island only a little above the water they look like a white streak in the water when at a distance give my love to Annah & Lilly be good Girls and write a line to me when mother writes 

From your Father C. Shedd 

I will write again soon if nothing happens remember me to all inquiring Friends 

I wish you would write to Father again before long yours &e  C.S.

I shall lose my bedfellow by Ned going to cooking for which I am sorry

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