William C. Holbrook to Frederick Holbrook
Baton Rouge La.July 29th 1862Dear Father
We arrived at this place last Saturday, it seemed like getting home where we
reached this place. our sufferings have been great & all to the
purpose. I think we shall soon pick up again here. the town is healthy the water
good & an opportunity to get fresh meat vegetables & ect. all of which
we we were without while at Vicksburg. if we are where
we can get these articles occasionally it tend very much to keep the men in good
health. there is a large marked in the
place where we can buy all kinds of meat & vegetables at quite reasonable prices & can we also have plenty of milk. The weather is very hot or at least would be considered so by a person fresh from the north we do not mind it much however, & I think I am as comfortable here as in the north during the warm weather I dont think our men have suffered as much from sun strokes as the people that reside here.
Gen. Phelps I think is almost insane on the nigger question. I wish he would let
it alone as he would be of great
service here. as it is Gen Butler is afraid to trial him for fear he would form a nigger brigade & I think he would he is so fanatic on the question. I think the slaves are far better off here than they would be North I have looked into the matter closely while at Fort Pike & since, & am of opinion that their treatment generally is as good as it could be were they free. they are ignorant lazy striped & have not the slightest idea of taking care of themselves. look at it in a broad dense & I dont see how a person
can think different. a man may come south with the view to examine the matter. he will find now & then are intelligent are who with tutoring & training would figure decently but to let loose 4,000,000 of these unlettered negroes we it would be a nuisance which no person could stand the negroes are comfortable here & are well cared for as a general rule. I dont think thrashing is after resorted to. but any experience shows that it is necessary. I have seen the time if I had had a whip in my hand I think I should have used it with considerable vigor
they were so insolent. there is a great scarcity of provisious throughout the south at present & the niggers make this a plea for deserting & coming into our lines. they cant get a very favorable impression of "Yankee" kindness & [ ] as they are pounced upon by every soldier who immediately transfers his burden to the negroes back. there has much been said about arming the slaves on the ground that history records the fact that negro soldiers have fought as valiently as white mne. this may be so but the slaves of the south have been [ ] in a different
school. they have been taught from boyhood that a gun was a dangerous weapon in their hands & quite as apt to kill at one end as the other. & the ones I had at Fort Pike were almost afraid to look at onethe guns. I think one shell whistling over the heads of a negro regt. would insure its complete rout or at least such negroes as I have seen. I wish some of the negro admirers could follow the moves of our armies & become more intimatly acquainted with negro habits & characteristics. if politicians will not meddle the war can be closed but as long as they thirst such disjointed poilydisjointed policy in the way it will lengthen the
was until its termination becomes doubtfull.
I dont suppose now we have evacuated our position near Vicksburg there will be
any harm in relating a few incidents of the campaign an experiment was tried of
turning the course of the Mississippi River. they there upon began digging a
wide ditch they had 13.00 niggers at work upon it. but the river fell so fast
that it was given up as impracticle after three weeks work the thing was not
scientifically planned & I doubt very much if it had been if it
success. I believe there
has never been but one "cut off" on the Mississippi River that has ever proved succesfull. & that after eight years labor & at immense expense. it has been tried many times but with this one exception all failed. the river rises & falls very rapidly & these "cut offs" must be begun when the river is at high water mark. we were protecting this cut off. we could not take Vicksburg with. the force we had for the reason that they numbered no ten to one. the place can only be taken by a large land force. after a long time of waiting we got orders to enbark & started down the river
reaching this place without any accident we were fired into by a solitary man with a rifle no harm being done. I could mention much about this expedition but will for policys sake withold it for the present one thing I am convinced of had the "cut off" proved successful it would be & made Vicksburg an inland town it would have been of but little value to no as this river can only be kept open by a force of at least 100,000 men the rebels can run light artillery on to any spot they choose & fire upon unarmed transport & as
soon as a gunboat makes its appearance they can have out of the reach of shot & shell.
I saw the death of Grandpapa mentioned in a Vt. paper. his loss must be deeply
felt. I have not received a letter from home for over a month with the exception
of one from [ ] came on our arival at this
place. I also heard that you had been renominated at the Convention held in
Montpelier. I hope to hear from you soon the prospects of any plans to raise a
battery should like to raise one in Windham Co. if possible do you expect to
draft? I hope you will not have to come to that.
I hope I shall be able to get out of this Depart. soon. If you are authroized to send out Asst. Surgeons Shapeave shall be allowed one.
I have made quite along letter of this. With much love to all at home I remain.
Your Aff. SonW. C Holbrook
July 30th. A large mail arrived yesterday I rec. five letters some Bratt. papers & others, two letter from matter, one announcing Grandpapa death & that Betsey intended to leave for Chesterfield I regret this very much I wish she might remain in the family. I hope it will only prove temporary.
Please send postage stamps as I am all out