Roswell Farnham to Mary [Farnham]

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Fort Monroe, VirginiaMay 15th, 1861.Monday 5 o'clkDear Mary:

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(A steamer starts in the morning for New York and the Capt. offers to take our letters altho' there is no regular mail agent, so I take the time to write as long a letter as I can get time. My last letter I wrote on board the Alabama just before landing. I then had change of the guard and had to remain with the baggage till it was all landed and moved to our quarters - acting as rear guard. We did not get much to eat during the day, as no dinner was got for the soldiers on ship board-)

Our camp, at present, is outside the main fort, but within our wall and ditch. Tomorrow we are to move within the walls of the fort itself, and shall without doubt remain here during the three months, altho' last night matters looked a little as tho we might be sent off into the country.

(When I came into camp with the guard the Colonel ordered us off upon a sand hill outside the fort to act as sentinels, without tents or any covering except our over coats & blanks. The night was clear and dry, and as warm as June, (so that I took no cold, and, in fact, felt better the next morning than I had the

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night before). The secessionists were said to have a camp in the woods within sight, across the water, but we saw nothing to trouble us during the night. Two or three boats put off from the shore in the evening, but there were probably fishing boats. The sentinels patrolled with loaded muskets & I lay down with my sword buckled to my side and my revolver loaded. We were relieved at 9 o'clock the next morning. The guard now stationed in the same place have two tents.)

Yesterday afternoon our Regt. gave a dress parade in the fort, and we received praise from all - (Last night I went to the hotel near by here & slept as our tent was damp and I did not wish to run any risk of being sick). After we get into the fort we should be perfectly safe, as we are now, from any attacks of any forces in this vicinity. The interior of the fort covers a space of 64 acres, and is covered with a beautiful growth of green and is a beautiful place. The gardens about the officers' houses are filled with flowers. There are now 2,400 men here just the full complement to man the guns. The rebels cannot take it by storm. It is perfectly impossible. The only way is by siege, and you may be sure that they will not be permitted to come up and build fortification about us as they did about Sumter. We shall just pitch into them before they can make any extension preparations. The wall of the fort are about twenty feet high of solid, cemented masonry, with a protection of

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thirty feet of earth inside. Immediately outside the walls, between us and the fort, is a ditch 36 feet wide, and now with 6 feet of water in it. The ditch is about 15 feet deep. Outside of all this is a well built parapet, with a ditch around that also. Near us is a big 10-inch columbiad. Outside the fort near the shore is a big gun- the biggest in the United States- (a picture of which I send you enclosed). So that I think you need not feel any alarmed about our safety. (I must leave for a few moments to go upon dress parade within the fort)-

We are all enjoying ourselves first rate, and probably have not one half the anxiety that our friends at home have. The weather here is delightful, and it never is as warm as further inland. We have a good sea breeze and are entirely out of the range of the miasma of the swamps. Fort Monroe is a celebrated watering and bathing place. The hotel where I stayed last night is kept by Willard, a brother of the Willards who keep the big hotel in Washington. It is a monster of a house, so large that there was some talk of quartering our whole Regt. in it. So you can see how we are situated. The officers do not receive their rations as the men do, but receive $1.20 a day with which to feed & provide for themselves. (John Stearns & John Prichard are our cooks. Stearns could not come in as a third Lieut. so he stays to help us all. David Johnson has the charge of cooking for the men)- Upon the whole our company gets along very well indeed.

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In the officers' mess we have baker's bread, fresh beef, good salt beef, crackers, butter, coffee, tea, sugar- no potatoes, nor milk. (Every man does his own washing- the officers get theirs done as they can- I went in swimming yesterday and washed my drawers and under shirt and John Prichard afterwards washed it in fresh water. You would probably think the washing not very well done)-

I think we are as safe as we can possibly be & we have no apprehensions of an attack. There are lots of Union men about us, and until the day we came here the fort was supplied with all sorts of fresh provision, strawberries, peas &c.- But all these supplies have been cut off and we have to rely upon what comes by water.

(I feel a great deal of anxiety in regard to you & your health, and I think of Laura & Ezekiel and all the folks, but I have not time to write to all. Write to me all about your health. I have received but one letter from you and none from any one else. Direct your letters as I wrote you in my last.

Lieut. Roswell Farnham
4th Co. 1st Regt. Vermont Vol. Militia
Fort Monroe Va.
Care of Fairbanks & Co 189 Broadway
New York

Write often and I shall get some of the letters.

Your affectionate husbandRoswell Farnham)

Don't be alarmed if you don't get a letter for some time after this as there is to be no steamer for 2 weeks.