St. Augustine Jan 15th, 1863
It is cool with high wind, there was heavy showers last night; it seems cooler than it would it having been so warm for a week previous. we are watching the Rebels a little closer, & send out a Co every day to look after them. the reason of their being this side of the river I suppose to be to keep the Negroes from coming within our lines, as they know that we shall make soldiers of them; it is reported that they are hanging some of them to intimidate the rest "Alas! for the poor slave" they have to bear everything it is a great wonder to me that they do not rebel; they would if they were not the most quiet inoffensive race on earth, there is no mistake but they were intended for slaves providing any other race were wicked enough to enslave them, It is hard work to fill out a letter with nothing to write. My health is bad I am almost discouraged sometimes; I am on duty but hardly able to be about; One of our men has died of consumption, & three others discharged and gone home within a week; our Co is called Squad A. we are so few.
we go on picket tomorrow the whole Co; shall be out all day & night, two rebels came in today & report Savannah taken, don't believe it! we are very anxious to hear the particulars of Rosencrans fight as yet we have only rumors, I presume Burnside will have gone into winter quarters ere this, hard luck that; well I don't feel discouraged about it but sorrowfull, I want to hear how badly the E boys were wounded, according to accts the 11th fought bravely.
Tuesday morn Jan 20th Since writing the above, I have been on Picket & on Gd 24 hours each, and am pretty well used up, We had quite a time on Picket Lt. Mason was in Comnd; we went out to a ruined Secesh house where the reserve stops about two miles out. then sent out two Patrols, Mason went with one, I stayed with the reserve, they had been gone about two hours when Mason and his crowd came rushing back & reported a party of rebels; they blundered right on their camp, supposed there was 15 or 20, well Mason rushed to Headquarters & out came Co. E & F. When ...; as might have been expected there was no rebels there, but our other Patrol run over them two miles further up in the afternoon, we ie two Cos beat the bush where they were in the morning but did not go where they were seen P.M. Smart opperation; well Capt Cotton was in comnd So I suppose it is all right but dont see... we have had the hardest blow for three days that I have seen in the South, it was almost frightful here on the parapet of the Fort, I have really been afraid my Shanty would crush in or tip over, it is not so bad today. but a stiff breeze, we shall not get a mail till the wind goes down and I dont know when that will be, I am getting anxious to hear from you again very.
We have Lettuce Beets Carrots & Cabbage that grew this fall and winter the Orange trees are beginning to blossom some, roses in any quantity Geraniums grow in the gardens like weeds, the same with most house plants at the north; but with every chance in the world the People here have the least luxuries of any I ever saw, they seem to be satisfied with a little Hard-Tack & fish mullet. they buy the grease from our kitchen at 10 per lb to fry with I am thinking you would not stomach it very well, before the great freeze in the "S & E" "I think" this place was one great Orange grove and the people lived very well by the sale of their Oranges at that time the trees were all killed every one of them, it was so cold that the cattle died and the river was frozen nearly over. after they had got their trees started again, an insect destroyed the fruits and that discouraged the whole crowd, but the insects are leaving, & do very little damage now, and it is just the time to sett out a grove, any one might make a fortune in a few years comparatively is said that the oranges raised here command the highest price in market of any in the world.
I want to see you awfully & also the children I sit in my lonely shanty and think of you by the hour, & that is all the good it does, as the end of the war is not yet I don't think of much to write as news is scarce as ever & will close.