Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

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Camp Butler, Newport's News, Va.June 9th, 1861Sunday P.M.My dear wife:

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You letter of June 6th was duly rec'd last night, Saturday the 8th. So you see that we get letters thro pretty quick, and I presume that we have received every letter that has been written. You complain that I do not write often enough. I should be glad to write much oftener had I time, for I have very much that is interesting and should like to tell you all I can. We all have to work hard. No one who has never been in a camp of four thousand soldiers can imagine how much there is to be done. My business as "Provost Marshall" calls me over the whole camp - five regiments - I say five regiments. Yesterday Col. Hawkins Zouaves, or the 4th N. Y. Regt. came in and encamped in front of us between our line of sentinels and the woods. You will see where, by the plan I sent you. (Write me if you have rec'd it.) Day before yesterday the N. Y. 71st came in and encamped on the right of the Germans. Now we have five regts, of 780 men each, or 3900 men, - probably counting waiters & all we have 4000, or about 3500 fighting men. Vermont counts herself second to none as yet, especially since over Col. commands the post. He has under his command

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one Regt. more than a Brigadier Genl is entitled to. He is not Brig. Genl. as I wrote some time before, but simply acting. He will probably be appointed however. Our Regt. is the Head Quarter of the post. My business as "Provost Marshall" (pronounced "Provo") is to keep an account of all the property taken by the troops, attend to the admissions of all the white citizens into camp from the interior, and to take charge of and forward to Ft. Monroe all negroes who wish to go there. Since I commenced the performance of my duties there have over seventy negroes come in, who have been deserted by or have run away from, their masters. They seem to understand the matter thro' the whole country - and are coming in rapidly. The owners have most of them run away, and there are but few men between here and Yorktown a distance of about 24 miles. We are safe where we are, but we have alarms nearly every day - most of them false. Last Thursday we had an alarm and the troops were kept under arms an hour or more. It turned out that four horsemen were seen down in the woods, and that one of them fired at a Mass. man, but hit the mule in his cart. The men (Mass men), only two of them, took to their heels & got into camp in safety. Since then no chopping parties have been allowed to go out without a guard. The next day Capt. Andross took out the most of his party to act

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as guard. He was out half the day but met with no adventure. You cannot imagine with what eagerness the men get ready for any such expedition or how much they want to go out scouting some night. There is a scouting party sent out nearly every night. We have seen no fighting as yet and it is quite doubtful whether we shall during our three months, but shall we be called into a battle, all will go forward without hesitation. I think that our sick list is growing less We have but ten in hospital. Those who were liable to the measles have most of them had them, and we shall soon be free from that disease. Sick men go to the hospital & remain there till they get well and then they come back into camp. All of our sick ones are doing well, Lieut. Peckett has been quite sick for three or four days with diarrhoea, but he is now better. I have not had any indications of anything of the kind. My bowels were never more regular at home. We have not eaten any green stuff to excess excepting perhaps strawberries - for one day. But ripe strawberries never hurt any one. I have eaten peas quite sparingly. Mrs. Peckett seems to be troubled because wero have whiskey in our tent and drink some. Lieut. Peckett & myself have not probably averaged once a day since we left home you may be sure that we shall be quite as careful in that respect as any others, I dont know what

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we should do some days if it were not for a little stimulus. We generally take it after hard work. Lieut. Stearns performs the duties of his place greatly to the satisfaction of all the officers. Taking out Stearns, Peckett being sick, and other duties calling me away from the company, Capt. Andross has had quite a hard time for a few days. He has had more than his share of duties to perform.

The boat has just come in, and will soon return and I must hasten to the end.

You must keep up just as good courage as you can. I shall write often, and I want you to do the same. Tell Laura that one letter must do for both. I am sorry she has the earache so, but I dont know how to advise her. She must be careful and avoid the cold air and wind. I am sorry for you, and your father, but I cannot go home, and even if I was I could do nothing without his consent. Give my love to him. I dont know but you will have to be more careful about showing my letters, as I find they are misrepresented or misunderstood. Some one wrote that I had written that Dr. Rilbourn was harnessed to a load of rails &c. You or Mrs. Prichard must have misunderstood Lieut. Peckett's letter, for he has not of late thought that his barn was set on fire, & he says he did not write so. Take good care of yourself, and write me about everything. Send me the letter you rec'd from Chicago or write the name of the writer.

Your affectionate husbandRoswell Farnham