Fort Jefferson May 4th 1862
My Dear Family
I am extremely happy to acknowledge the rect of four letters & seven Papers three letters from you & one from Mr Huse for which please give him & take for yourselves many thanks. I continue in good health & spirits, with an increasing love for the old Stars-Stripes. The Papers I have recd give the first particulars I have heard of the great Battle at Pittsburg. we are joyfull for the victory but sad on acct of the fearfull slaughter; So many men hurled into eternity on acct of the Cursed system of Slavery. Tell everybody that I am in favor of wiping out the whole thing root & branch, there will never be a better time or one more favorable In this Mail I recd yours of the 7th 15th & 21st of Apr. I am much pained to hear of the great damage done by the [ ], especialy for Mr Washburn I feel very bad for his great misfortune please give him my respects. I dont know how you will get along for wood & other things, but dont go cold pull down the Fences & burn them or anything else that is handy. I wish I had some money to send you, it is rumored that we shall be pd off the 10th but I am rather doubtfull about it, dont pay any bills whatever untill you get where you can spare it, I dont know what you will do for clothes for the children I presume it is time they had them before this I dont know what to advise in the matter so wont say anything about it & charge it to slavery.
Give my respects to Mrs. Pillsbuy & tell her I wish she would come here & tear my night-cap when I have it on some night my bunk is wide & the moskitoes cant get in.
I would try & make everything lovely & the Goose hang high. I sent four flowers in my last as you will see if you have got it there are no seeds in the Desert & but few Flowers that I have seen those I sent grow on a running vine on the sand the Lord only knows how for there is no soil.
May 5th it is boiling hot again today nothing but the burning sun oerhead & heated sand under foot, it is 9 pm. I write in my shirt & pants & sweat like a man mowing with mosquitoes thick as
flies in Dog days. it seems as hot or hotter than NH's July & August weather give my thanks to P.A. Hayes for papers sent. I am writing on a new table that I have just finished of rough boards that I stole of Uncle Sam.
Last Saturday I commded a Fatigue Party of 25 men taking flour out of a Bastion & piling it in the casemats there is Flour enough here to fill the New Grist Mill so we shall not be without Bread just yet. There was a Fishing-Smack arrived here Satdy with 4 Big Turtles as large over as a good sized table they have killed 3 of them the other lays on his back with a bunch of shavings for a pillow I pity the poor fellow for he must suffer terribly they are very meek honest looking chaps.
Those peas that I got at E Lebanon want very tall stout Bushes they ought to be as large as ones write & 6 or 8 ft high & they are warranted to bear all summer the vines should be sett 12 to 15 inches apart i.e. each side of the Bushes & 6 or 8 in the other way. Manure them well. I wish you to keep watch of the cherry trees for I wish to decide this year whether they are good for anything if they dont bear this year I think I shall engraft them with the common cherry if I ever get home.
May 7th it is at a [ ] heat every day I expect there will be a mail leave in a day or two & I will try & write a little more. Liet Williams seems to feel the death of his child very much he has written a new resignation & sent it he seems more ancious to get home although the Col is satisfies with him & he can have the 1st Lieutenancy if he will take it he has acted very honorably if any one casts reflection on him please tell them from me that I would do the same myself under the same circumstances. There has a small steam arrived this eve from K West with a number of our Boys that have been there & got their discharge 4 from Co. C. T. Watts, Bassett, George, & Kelly. George is the Captain's Son. I have just heard that the Steamer sails tonight so I dont know when this will go. 8th Glorious news if true that New Orleans is taken with out firing a Gun. With a rumor that Yorktown is done likewise I think the latter may be premature. I have just come off Guard this morning & feel rather stupid it is thought the Steamer Philedelphia is in sight & we hope for another mail if it is so. 9th The steamer proved to be as expected & had a Mail in which was yours of the 24th of Apr I was very glad to hear that you were well & heartyly respond to your prayer that Our Children may be spared. There are no signs of pay-day yet I wish I could borrow some to sent you but-cannot some of the men pay 25 & 50 percent interest-till payday for money to spend here. I will not do that if I can help it cant you borrow some to get along till I can send some tell the children that they are doing service in their Countries Cause in being short of clothes if it was not for the troubleous times I should be in condition to do better by them I should hope.
Lieut Williams Papers came back unsigned he has made out some more I dont know the cause. It looks dark & there is Lightning & Thunder I think we shall have a Shower. Cloudy weather is the exception here we have on an average 26 days of clear weather in a month we are having quite a Hurricane our quarters are almost shifting with air-slacked Lime which is piled at one end of them the wind whisks it arround nicely.
The Seargents and some of the Coporals are ordered to the Cols Quarters for examination my turn is at 12 tomorrow. The mail leaves at 6 pm & I will write my experience of it.
May 10th 10 am I have just fired my first shell made an excellent shot it bursted just right & would have knocked the Bowells out of 9 meeting houses. I should pity a vessell that is hit with one of the bloddy things. 2pm I have just passed through the fiery ordeal but cant tell for some days whether I am scorched or not I answered most of the questions I think passably well; there was the Col, Lt. Col & Mayor all round the table. Col Put asked all the questions and was very affable; he questioned me on Tactics, Regulations, History, Geography, the Bible & I had to write an official Letter to a Capt.
I expect this examination is with a view to promotion & if House & Williams would do as they ought to I should have it but I shall Ask no favors of them Lane will have the commission I probably shall remain about the same all right. I have to go to work on my equipments & prepare for inspection tomorrow morning Ned is tip top so is Sam except a little rhueumatic we cook & eat in Bastion C just at the end of our quarters we have got tables earthern plates Bowls Cups & saucers if we could have home vittuals we could live like Fighting Cooks. My love to all
I shall write to Mr. Huse in a few days I have been busy or should have written before.