The Calvin Shedd Papers > Transcripts of Letters > October 12, 1962

St Augustine Fla Oct 12th 1862

Dear Girls Old & Young

My last I wrote at odd jobs in a hurry, I will begin this time in season to fill one sheet at least. Saint Augustine is a dull Old place now, & I should think there was not much life here at ant time, I should judge there was about 1/4 of the men and 1/2 of the Women (the proportion of Niggers I cannot tell) that usually live here, here now most of the Buildings are very old "Spanish Style" as you will recollect this is the oldest Town in the U.S., the Streets are wide enough for carriages to pass, the cross sts from E to W are only wide enough for one at a time. In years long gone the cross sts were paved with shell Rock & nothing but Wheelbarrows allowed to pass over them, now there are no signs of pavement or inclination to improvement. On Marine St, the E side on the river, there is a Sea Wall from the Fort to the lower part of Town about a mile in length this is built of Shell Rock except the top Course which is Nothern Granite. This Shell Rock is composed of Millions of sea shells cemented together by some action of nature, & quarries like other stone it is excellent for Fortifications as shot will only crush in about its own size without displacing much, as with Granite & other Material many of the Buildings are made of this Rock Stables Garden Walls &e. We have had plenty of Oranges for 2 cts each till within a day or two the citizens have refused to sell I dont know the cause the Rinds are green as grass, but quite good rather sour I wish you could have some Lemons Figs Peaches & many other fruits grow here there are any quantity of Sour Oranges that any one can have by picking they are sour as Lemons with a slight bitter taste, it is now out of season for most all Fruits except Oranges & Lemons

13th There are several pretty places near or in fact in Town as one would wish to see with Orange Groves & shady Bowers that we read of at the North but never see. There is a Widow Anderson a N. H. Woman has a pretty place Geraniums & most every plant & Flower that take so much care grow the year round in her Garden & anywhere they take pains to have them. this must be a nice place for Northeners to live in Winter & it is strange to me that more do not Especialy the rich anyone could make a Garden of Eden here at a quarter of the expanse that some spend north on an ordinary affair. The 7th has placed the City on an Island by cutting a ditch across the neck that connects it to the Main Land. There used to be an Earth Work across near the City with only a passage at the City-Gates the Posts of which are still standing with a wall on each side of them, they are about 15 ft high & finished quite handsomely, they are of Spanish make, of Shell Rock. In the So part of the city the Ruin of the old Governors House which is very interesting to visit but I am not write enough to give an interesting description of places or things. But the impression of these old Spanish Relics, & Ruins is of Dungeons Tyrants Revenge & all of the dark Deeds the Spaniards are noted for in History

Oct 15th The Mail had just arrived & I am in rect of yours of the 19th & 25th written at So. R. [South Reading, Massachusetts] I am very glad to hear that you are well & enjoying yourselves I wish I had some of the apples you speak of & you had some of the oranges here. I was on Guard yesterday for the first time the Officers of the Guard have to ride about 5 miles to visit all the Posts not being used to riding I am all raw so lame & sore that I can hardly go shall get over it in a day or two I have got to practice riding as it is about 15 miles ride we have to do in one Tour of Gd Duty, if this reaches you before you send the Box, you can send in my name, now, we have had two days & nights quite cool & comfortable, I have a Shanty to myself, with a Bunk & straw Bed, the Capt & 1st Lieut are together in a Shanty close to mine, the Officers of A. C. & I. are all on top of the walls where we get all the Breese which is very plesant I look out of my Back window on the River & see from 1 to 20 Porpoises heaving their backs out of the water & hundreds of sea Birds of different kinds flying round all the time

Oct 16th I am on Police today but not much to do. On the whole this is a very good place decidedly the best place the 7th has been in I wish I was rich enough, if I should live, to take you all here in the winter & live on Oysters Clams Fresh Fish & Oranges &e the weather for two or three days has been spendid cool nights so that we can sleep. this weather has driven the Mosquitoes off in a measure they are not so troublesome on thing peculiar here I have not seen 20 House Flies in the City all other places has swarmed with them

Oct 16th No signs of Paymaster yet the Regt is getting very impatient This is a [       ] old Fort Built by the Spaniards commenced about 150 years ago & finished in 1756 it is square with Bastions at each angle with Casemates & Dungeons plenty there are no Guns in the Casemates as modern Forts, the Guns are all on the Parapet, or top of the wall, which is about 40 ft thick; the Casemates appear to have been for the protection & Quarters of Troops also for Prisons, as well as the Dungeons which makes One feelt all over to go into them so dark damp, some of them are walled up. when it came into the possession of the U.S. in one of them were found Skeletons & Instruments of Torture this was in the No. E. Bastion it is closed up now.

The Spaniards called it Ft. St. Mark the U.S. changed the name to Ft Marion I dont think they improved much on the name. I like the old one best. There is a deep Ditch round the work about 10 ft deep & 30 ft wide walled up & an earth work outside of this on three sides walled up for the protection of Musketeers or Riflemen. on the E.Side is a Water Battery built by the U. S. there are no Guns mounted in it now this Battery is some 20 rods long & has a Furnace for heating Shot some 25 or 30 Guns can be mounted in it if necessary on the whole this is quite a strong Fort if properly Armed at present there are but 6 heavy Guns on the walls with some 5 or six Howitzers & 6 Field Peices. There is a Draw-Bridge & double doors at the Sally-Port, also in front of Sallyfort a Donjon or Tower I dont know what tp call it it is in form of a triangle & large enough so that 100 men could stand to advantage in a Fight this is to prevent an entrance to the Salleport.

The whole work is built of Shell Rock & shows the marks of Cannon Shot in many places recd at the thirty days Seige that the English gave it. the shot did not penetrate only about their bigness. but i expect the Riffle Guns of 1862 would rip these old walls terribly The Old-Spanish Guns lay in piles inside the Frt the Rust has eaten into them an inch in some places they are all long Iron 42 lb Guns, & concidered the most formidable in use when they were made

their Glory pales before the five mile shooters of 62. Cos. A. C. & I. in [       ] on the Parapet. C. in the Castmates. H. G. & K. outside in Tents. the other Cos at the Barracks at the So end of the Town a large Building originialy built for a Nunnery I think it was never used for that but was converted into Barracks soon after it was finished the Officers of A. C. & I. all quarter in Shanties on the Parapet which are good quarters except when it rains then we catch a ducking.

There is a Monastery & Nunnery in Town with Schools connected I have not heard how many Monks & Nuns there are connected with the two beautifull Institutions, the most I have seen was the Effigy of their Patron Saint hung up at the window it looked like a Kiln-dried old Maid with a wedding Dress on.

The Citizens liked the 4th first rate for they used to abuse the Niggers & let the whites do just as they pleased, let them pass out in the lines pretty much as they liked when the 7th came here everything is changed Abbot & Put just made the Men & Women take the Oath of Allegiance or go outside the Lines it made an awfull Growl but it was no use they had to take it quite a number of the women had to go their Husbands being in the Rebel Army they were Rebel too & had to leave I dont think there is a real hearty Union man in Town they take the Oath for convenience sake so they can stay at home.

The Niggers here appear more inteligent & speak better English & better looking than in S. C. I should judge they had been accustomed to better usage & fare than in the land of Chivalry this place like all others South carries the mark of Cain the Curse of Slavery, no signs of improvement or change for the better no public Schools where the poor as well as rich can first learn that all men are created equal in the sight of God.

I hear of the Proclamation of the President Abolishing Slavery Jan 1st unless the Rebels lay down their Arms 2 1/2 months will tell whether we get home before our three years are out. I hope the Rebels will think they are whipped enough & quit

I expected to fight but have Bugled round so long that I dont know as I have courage enough left I should like to try it anyhow before the war ends for I am getting fitted up & am a better mark than I was a month ago.

Yours Ever C. Shedd

2d Lieut, Co. A. 7th Regt. N.H. Vol.

Oct 17th I keep on writing but have nothing to write worth reading. Capt Cotton is Officer of the Day consequently I am in Command of Co. I have just come in from Drill the men appear to like me well as far as I can judge. I shall try to use them well & with impartiality & do the best I can for them. Co. C. Boys tell them whenever they are sick of their Bargain they will swap back. The Steamer Neptune has just arrived with a Mail, I hope to get a letter from you, if I do I will say so this Eve, the other mail we got was old no papers later than the 20th of Sept so you see we are not very well posted.

Eve. I am luckier than I expected I have just read yours of the 28 & 29 am very happy to hear that you are well & enjoying your visit. My health is getting to be quite good I am living well now better than I can afford think I Shall get into a private Family next week when it will be cheaper if I dont get so good Grub. I seems good to sett to a Table & eat in a Christian like manner than to take it as I have done for a year past

About the House & Fixings I can hardly make up my mind but I had think we had best to let it go. There is no trouble about the Schedule of things for Henry can find out any time without raising any suspicion by going to Heath, if you could get a place at E. Lebanon I should like it better, then I could send you money, or letters, without having my Cr,s [creditors] peeping into everything, but am not sett on that point, if you can save the Wheelbarrow & Hand Sled let the rest of the Farming Tools go let Henry take them home & call them his own also my Rifle & Trunk with fixings. I dont think it best to do anything till about the time the Interest is due of this you can judge best prehaps. Tell Folks I have had to run in Debt for my uniform, & that it costs me all my wages to live, & support my Family, which is a fact; tell them any story you please, & I will back it up. there is one thing certain I cannot pay my debts. I dont know what in the world you will do for money, till we get paid off, then, I can borrow some & send you; it will take all my pay to get my Uniform not what is owing to me but the 4 months that we shall be pd for. There will be time for you to concider the matter & write me & get a return by the time the interest is due. as for the War, I guess it will hang on till out term of enlistment is out; it looks like it now, I dont know whether the Proclimation will do good or hurt, the Hunkers will cry ruin any way. about half of the Officers are going to H. [ ] tomorrow two of them to be Courtmartialed the others as witnesses & I have to go on Guard I dont think I can ride as I am all raw from riding the other day think I shall have to walk to whole rounds of 15 miles which will be a pretty good days work for me. Borrow some money of Jim or some one if you can try & live some way till pay day we expected the paymaster today, but he did not come. the wind is blowing pretty fresh tonight & it is doubtfull if the Steamer can get out over the Bar as it is very bad sometimes vessels have to lay off a week before they can get in I may think of something more to write if the Mail does not go tomorrow I dont think of any more tonight & I will close with a good night to you all

Ever Yours C. Shedd

2d Lieut Co. A. 7th Regt. N.H. Vol.

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