Roswell Farnham to [C. H.] Harding

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Copy. Original in pencil. Fort Monroe, Va.May 14th, 1861.Friend Harding:

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We are at last at Fort Monroe, altho' not in it. We are quartered within the water battery, but outside the main wall and the main ditch. We grumble of course, and the Col. thinks it is not right (our position). The boys begin to think that our quarters are only temporary and that we shall soon be ordered out where we shall see some fighting. The Capt. just told me that he had it from Col. Washburn that we are soon to be moved towards shore, on the only neck of land between us and secession. If so Vermont boys will keep their eyes open and be ready for what turns up. It was rumored last night that we were to be sent on shore to fell a forest between us and the secession camp, so that the guns of the fort can have a fair sweep at them. The men made up their minds that they were good for the duty and could level as many trees or men as any regiment in the fort.

This is a delightful place - clear air and a fresh breeze. We have all taken a salt water bath this morning and feel first rate. Capt. Andross is

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in his glory, and never before found his appropriate plan of action. He is healthy and in the best of spirits, and Col. Phelps rather looks to him as a man of experience and good judgment. We can't tell whether he wants to fight or not, but it is my private opinion that he would enjoy something of a brush a good deal more than he would a fox hunt. He is a man that we all put confidence in and rely upon.

Lieut Peckett takes camp life and duties as quietly as he does Mill Hill at home. The Col. has expressed his approbation of the manner in which he has performed his duty, and we all of us think that is about the summum bonum of praise. He is as straight as a ram rod and measured two inches more than when at home.

Lieut. Farnham confesses himself to be still on his legs and ready for any orders.

Lieut. Stearns is more indispensible to the company than either guns or munitions. By the rules of service he could not be mustered in as 3rd Lieut. We did not find it out till too late to muster him as a private, and he goes now as a supernumerary, rather than not go at all. It is due to Stearns to say that he is all pluck and that he felt very bad indeed when he found that he could not go as 3rd Lieut., and the prospect was that he could not go even as private. Rather than not go at all he goes

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with the officers as sort of general for our tent. Folks at home don't realize the difference between officer and private. One has all the comforts and the other all the labor.

Perhaps you would like to know some of the officers comforts. Capt. Andross now sits on the corner of our camp chest reading the Scientific American. (I will send you a piece of one that contains a picture of our big gun) with the wet bed tick probably soaking thro' the seat of his pants. Peckett has streched himself upon the top of a trunk 2½ ft. long. I am sitting on the edge of an empty flour barrel in the shade of the tent trying to scribble this on my knee at an angle of 90°. Stearns has just got smoked out of the tent by the camp fire in our rear, and is now leaning over the parapet writing to Fanny out of the range of Dud's fire. John Prichard is writing to Orissa, I suppose, but I don't see any address as I look over his shoulder.

We are all wet now and trying to get dry after three good thunder showers this afternoon. Stearns has again changed quarters. You might as well try to keep a bumble bee still. He has already had his hair cut twice, and has just sent a darkey of the line of dark colored charcoal for his shears to give it another shearing. We have given the darkey directions as to style - regular Zouave.

Stearns has just trotted into the tent for the fifth

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time. --We are having a little leisure this afternoon as the only orders of the day are to wash and clean up.

Folks at home seemed to think, before we started, that we should not have much to do except write letters. I tell you we generally have enough to do.

On our way from New York we paid attention mainly to sea-sickness. I did not eat anything from Saturday evening till Monday morning. Monday, just as I was able to crawl around, I was appointed officer of the Guard for the next twenty four hours. To my remonstrance that I had been on guard duty once within a week and was sick, the only reply was, "We want somebody that knows something." I could not back out of that compliment any more than I could out of my duty. The guard consisted of thirty five men, and we remained on board the Steamer (Alabama) till all the baggage was removed, the boys working hard all the time. At the wharf we again stopped, till all the baggage was forwarded; and when we arrived at camp expecting a relief, we were sent out on a distant sand hill to mount guard thro' the night without any thing to protect us from the weather and a slight prospect of smelling a secession bullet - without dinner or supper for more than half of the men. George Woods and Geo. Flanders and Avery were of the guard from our company. We stood it thro' the night, and what

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May 14th little sleep I got was as good as I ever had. We were relieved at 9 o'clk A.M. So you see we have come into real service and no mistake. Where we shall go or when nobody knows in our company for certain. We are all glad to hear from home, from all of you. Write at once. Direct

Lieut. Roswell Farnham
4th Co. 1st Reg't Vt. Vol. M.
Fort Monroe
Care of Fairbanks & Co. 189 Broadway, N. Y.

The boys are all well except Ben. Underwood and Dan Flanders who have the measles in the hospital. They are doing well and will soon be out -

We took New York by surprise, on our way out. Nobody expected to see so well uniformed troops from Vermont - and we towered above the crowd by head and shoulders. The Mass. boys inside the fort think we are "some pumpkins".

This morning our vessels took six rebel boats two of which contained provision. I counted sixteen vessels out in the bay this morning - all American - among them the Cumberland and Minnesota -

Enclosed I send you a picture of one of our defenders. While I write some of the boys are

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singing "Old Hundred". Write soon -

Yours trulyRoswell Farnham