John Lester Barstow to Laura

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8th Vt. Vols.Head QuartersMay 3d 1862My Dear Laura

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I have a chance to send a letter to Brattleboro by a private and think I had better improve the opportunity, though I dont know what I can write to interest you. I still continue to be in good health but there a good many sick on the island - I think their sickness is mostly caused by their own carlessness, - in drinking too much water, and being and in the night air I have a matress from the Hospital to sleep on now, and the night are so cold that I use the shawl and another heavy blanket very night - the dews are so heavy that my clothing inside the tent gets very damp every night - so damp that I now [    ] it into a box, and cover it up to have it dry in the morning. I have to get up (in common with the whole regiment) at 5-o-clock in the morning. When it is so cold that I put on an over coat - have breakfast at 7 - with the field and staff officers - and live pretty well, though it cost a good deal. Butter sells for 50c a pound - Flour 8c a pound & everything in the same way - we can be bread of the government at a cheaper rate - but it is not good - At 9-o-clock I have the guard mounting to go through with and then comes Battalion drill for 2 hours and again at 4 in the after noon, for two hours, and then Dress Parade, which is all the physical labor I have to preform - but there is a great deal of writing that I have to do, and have done, that keeps me very busy, most of the time. About 5 in M. the dew begins to fall and the temperature falls changes so that by dark an over coat is necessary - but during the middle of the day it is very hot. I see Olla Holabind very often, also Mrs. Weeds brother the one that is in the 7th Regiment - they are very well now - you remember Peter Millers little brother [   ] - he is here and is as large as his Father was, there is a McGarvin that used to live in Shelburn

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in our Regiment - he is a once old man, and is ready to any thing for me. I have not written any thing - or not much - about what is going on here, among the soldiers - for the reason that I suppose you hear it all in the papers, and we ahve ben forbidden to write home any thing in regard to military matters - But I suppose that is all past now - Two weeks ago last Thursday Gen. Butler and Gen. Phelps with about 10,000 men and a great number of Guns Boats &c left here for New Orleans - the next day at about 7. A. M. we heard them when they commenced firing upon Forts Jackson and Fort St. Philips - the firing lasted 3 days - when as I presume you have heard, the Gun Boats run up in the night, under a heavy fire past the Forts and so on to New Orleans - what has happened since I presume you know more about than I do - for our means of informationis very limited. I suppose however that the place has surrendered and that our troops will be there soon - if not there already. Some of the Gun Boats have been cruising around here ever since I came - they bring in Small rebel vessels, as prizes nearly everyday - these prizes are are generally loaded with cotton, mollases, sugar &c and this paper that I am writing on is some that was taken on a rebel Steamer - I got it from the Harbor Master - I have had just one letter from you since I left Vermont, and I need not tell you very glad I was to get it and to hear that you and Freddie were well. I am expecting to hear from you again by the next mail & hope you will not fail to write often.

Since I Commenced writing this letter my arrangements and calculations have been changed some - At 10-o-clock this morning an order came in to have one of the connection Regiments leave for New Orleans - this we did not think about much - but two hours after an order came for a part of the 7th to go to Fort Pike - this excited us some - for they are encamped

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close to us. - about an hour later an order came for us to go be ready to start for New Orleans at an hours notice - so here we are, every thing packed and expecting marching orders, I do not feel anxious to go now but I wanted to go before the place surrendered very much, the next time you hear from me I hope my letters will go up the Mississippi River - but I do not know half as well as you do, the state of things at Memphis & other places on the river. I have got so many things to think of now that I must stop writing. You and the rest at home are in my mind almost all the time give my love to them - and kiss little Freddie for me - I hope you will not fail to write very often and continue to adress your letters to Ship Island until you hear from me again -

from yours most affectionately -Lester
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I picked a little flower this morning & put it into the letter for you it is the only one I have seen on the island