Roswell Farnham to [C. H.] Harding

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CopyCamp Butler, Newport News, VaSunday P. M. July 21st, 1861Friend Harding:

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You last letters have undoubtedly been received, - all of them. Sometimes I have time to answer them immediately, but oftener I lay them into my trunk and when I come to write it is too much work to look them up to reply definitely to them.

Just now our camp is exercised by an order issued last night for us to prepare to be ready to move within three days not to return here again. The order is altogether unexplained, and the boys are exercising their faculties in endeavoring to guess where we are going. Some say we are going home, others that we are going to fight, others that we have got to dig ditches for the next ten days. We dont know anything about it, but the probability is that we are to move to give room for Baker's Reg't. to come in here. Baker was up here yesterday afternoon.

Today Gen. Butler has been up here with Frank Blair, Cochran of New York and various other gentlemen, and quite a number of ladies, and the boys were trotted out to display

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themselves before them. About thirty-five hundred were reviewed. Of late they very considerately place the crinoline in the rear instead of in front, and the boys did very much better than when they have such exhibitions in front.

We have had but very little of interest of late.

Last Wednesday night we were out scouting, but nothing occurred of great interest. We were given the post where the enemy's horse were expected to make their appearance, but they did not come according to programme, and we lost the chance of distinguishing ourselves - either by fighting or running away.

Blakely has been here for the past week. He left for Bradford this morning. I meant to have given him a letter of introduction to you but had not time before he started. He can tell you how we are situated here and how we enjoy ourselves.

I rec'd a letter from my wife last night saying that I had received the re-nomination as State-Atty. Of course I feel much gratified. I shall need it bad enough if I get home. By the way I have not heard a word from my office since I left home. Is it still there? Has Mr. Hardy collected his rent for the last quarter? Thinking of the old building reminds me of our friend Allen. Give him my best regards. The last I heard of Mrs. Allen she was better. Does she

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continue to improve? Remember me to Dr. Farr and Mr. Wood. It makes me think of home to write their names. But that old passage around the stairs will be aweful dull when I first get home. I shall want to hear Tucker's drum three or four times a day to make me contented.

The contrabands come in slowly nowadays. Four new ones came in this morning and they will probably go to the fort in the morning.

The authorities here are getting to be a little jealous of some of the colored population. Our expedition several days ago was undoubtedly spoiled by communication with the enemy thro' the darkies. I sent out to the fort the other day who was caught making signals to some horsemen in the distance.

Our boys are pretty well. We had none in the hospital this morning, but now the two Norcross boys are sick, one with the "shakes", and the other is threatened with a fever. It is John that has the shakes. Neither of them is dangerous. It is wet, hot, and cold, all in the space of twenty four hours. Good weather for the fever and ague. I have had everything since I left home, and Stearns was wondering what would come next. It must be the "shakes".

We shall not start for home before the 2d. of Aug. and it will take us till the 9th. to be mustered

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out. There is some talk of our going to Brattleboro. If we do we shall be glad to see some of our friends down there.

We talk of camping out the first night in Bradford, as the best exhibition of soldiership that we can give our friends. How will it suit the people? I dont mean the wives - My wife says she shall be satisfied if we only get home to Vermont safe, and will have no objection to one night's encampment.

We are pretty well satisfied who wrote the whiskey piece, and I wrote to Damon that we concluded he wrote the reply. The writer of the first article probably did himself more damage than anybody else. It will not do his school much good this fall, probably.

We shall get our papers tonight, if we are as fortunate as we frequently are - Vermont papers look good to us and the one from Bradford particularly so.

Remember me to Chamberlin. Tell him if there was anything interesting I would write him a line, but nothing has turned up of late.

Yours trulyRoswell Farnham