Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]
Your very welcome letter written only last Wednesday evening is received tonight. I am sorry indeed to have you feel so bad over false news. We have not seen a single fight nor are we like to. I am surprised that you do not get my letters. I have written you quite often, and in the future will try and write as often as you request - three times a week. I almost cried when I read how badly you felt. You must not believe newspaper stories for nine tenths of them are lies.
Sunday Morning It was after 9 o'clk last evening when I was
writing and I was pretty tired and I thought I would finish this morning. You and the
folks at home must not be so anxious about us here. You probably suffer ten times
what we do. For my own part I never enjoyed myself better in the world, and I am
tough and hearty with the exception of the last remnants of my cold, and that is fast
leaving. I have not missed duty for a single day. I was excused from one or two roll
calls cold mornings before we went into Hygiea Hotel at Fort Monroe. My health is
better now than when at home and I am as tough and black as you please. My appetite
would ruin a man with a small salary, and I can eat anything, clean or dirty
cooked or uncooked. Stearns dropped a whole plate full of fried liver into the sand. He washed it as well as he could and we set it with a little difficulty. The grit sharpened our teeth. We crack our hard bread with the hatchet. It cannot be soaked soft in hot tea or coffee short of two hours time. The boys complain a great deal about their living, and in some views I dont know but they have good reason. The food is mainly hard bread and salt meat with coffee three times a day. The meat is beef or pork varied with beans & rice. Since we came here the cooks for our company have got up soups twice and hash once. The pork is fried and is really good. Yesterday the Regt. received the first lot of stuff from Vermont. And last evening the men had cheese and eggs by way of variety. In our mess, if we suffer, it is our own fault. Nothing is furnished us. We have to buy every thing. Just before we came here we received five seven barrels of stuff from Boston, four barrels of potatoes, one of pickles, and two of sundries. Everett Shaw sent Lieut. Peckett a lot of apples, oranges, lemons, pineapples, maple sugar, tomatoes, &c. &c. so that we are living some of the luxuries of the season. Night before last we probably eat a quart of strawberries and piece. Whether we shall get the cholera or not is a question that hungry men cannot consider with strawberries and sugar before them. The strawberries came from the garden of a neighboring planter who raises them for New York and Baltimore markets. He has left, as have nearly all
the planters in the vicinity. I went out to a home north of us, yesterday morning, and had some talk with a woman who still remained there. It is a very picturesque house and I made a sketch of it. The family is secession and the absent members belong to the secession army. When the troops first came in they stole all the eggs and chickens of the family, and they have no chance of getting any groceries at all. A guard is stationed about the house and the family will not be molested. They complain some that they have not seen their friends for sometime, but it is one of the evils of war. Col. Phelps is now very strict in regard to pilfering and an entire step has been put to it.
It is intimated that we are to remain here during the remainder of our three months.
I hope we shall, for our Reg't has worked very hard indeed. You will see by the
enclosed plan how much we have done in a very few days too. We stand about the same
chance of being attached by the rebels that a Vermonter, at home, does of being
struck by lightning. They cannot come by water, for they have no vessels and the
Harrit Lane is just outside ready to help nearer to Ft. Monroe then they are to us,
another way. And no enemy will be foolish enough to allow themselves to attach in the
rear as they would be after passing Ft. Monroe. I send the plan of our
because I suppose you will be interested in them. Last
night there was some little alarm on account of some noises down in the woods but
they were made by a German Scouting party. Just after 9
o'clock one of the German guard fired his musket. The report produced considerable excitement, as the no guard has any right to fire when the enemy is near or there is some reason for an alarm. Neither of the regt's. turned out however & the excitement soon went down. This morning we learn that one of the Germans shot a mule, running towards him.
P.M. It is now raining hard, the first time since we have been at Newport's News. We are pretty well situated however as our tents are new and high. Yesterday Col. Phelps sent for me to go to his tent. As soon as the orderly found me I went and he said he wanted me to act as "provost marshall". I hardly know what my duties are, except to have charge of all who enter and leave the camp. See that they are proper persons to admit &c. The greatest number of visitors are negroes, - slaves who want to leave their masters or who want to come in to sell vegetables &c. The master, have all left and the only trouble is that some of these colored men may be spies. Those who are able to do duty here are put to work, while those who are unable are sent to Old Point - that is Fort Monroe and the report is that Gen. Butler intends to send them to Liberia. If that is the case this war will put a pretty effectual damper upon slavery. I receive your letters very regularly. The Hewelocks have come. We get every thing that you send.
Yours affectionatelyRoswell Farnham