John Lester Barstow to Laura

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Sunday May 11th 1862 - 7 P.M.Dear Laura

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I am now on the ship "Jamis Hovey" in the Mississippi River about 60 miles from New Orleans, and on my way to that place. When I wrot eyou last we had just received orders to be ready to leave Ship Island at one hours notice, and expected to leave the next day -

A week ago to night, our baggage was taken from our camp at Ship Island on to this Ship - but the weather was so rough that the small boats were afraid to take the troops out - So we all slept on the sand that night the next day (Monday) it was a little more quiet so that about 1/2 the Regiment came on board - but the wind rising again - we had to wait until Tuesday. When with the whole regiment except the sick, on board, this one ship, we left Ship Island - after at being out about an hour the wind went down and we lay 24 hours more

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in sight of the Island but at last got started, and on Thursday morning anchored at the mouth of the great "father of waters" [as this river is called. - after delay's of the most vexations and annoying kind, which I need not write about].

We this morning got a Steamer to tow us up to New Orleans - 48 or 50 hours is the usual time to go from Ship Island to New Orleans, & we only took provisions & water for about that time, & from this & the very crowded state of the troops, you can imagine something of the suffering on board more than 100 men were taken sick, but when we got started this morning. Every thing else was forgotten, and joy a cheers were every where seen & heard. I have wished a hundred times to day that you were here to go up the river with me. Every rod of travel showed us something very, pelicans turtles, [       ] geese, ducks, alligators water snakes, [   ] roes - were seen by turns

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and some lines altogether. Magnolia's live oak, cotton wood or button wood, palmith willows & many other strange kind of trees bordered the banks while below among the under brush could be seen the most beautiful & highly colored flowers - but very few houses for the first [       ] - 40 miles from the mouth we came to the the Forts Jackson & St Philip where the great battle was fought a short time ago [& about which you have no doubt read - this was, to me, the most interesting place I ever saw] The forts are covered with guns and the marks of the balls and shell can be seen in every direction - while the wrecks of sunken gun boats & rams meets - one's eye at every turn - Since leaving the Fors the banks have in most places been lined with - neat dwelling houses, painted white - with large gardens, so that the houses have been about 1/4 of a mile apart - range orchards - Lemon & big trees & the most beautiful

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flowering shrubs, surrounded the houses while in the gardens we could see cabbage corn, potatoes tomatoes &c - the people came out at almost every house to see us pass and some of them cheered us - but most of them were evidently secesh.

To morrow we expect to get into morrow New Orleans & shall probably go to the Custom house, instead of stoping in tents I will not write any more to night - for we are so crowded that I cannot - as you see - half write -

Wednesday MorningNew OrleansMay, 12, 1862

When I came on deck the next morning after writing the above I found that as we approached New Orleans the Houses were much larger and finer - most of them being the homes of the wealthy planters of Lousiana - long rows of corn & sugar cane - the rows varying from 1/2 a mile to 3 miles in length, run back from the river - the walks, flowers &c that I ever saw - while at a little distance can be seen the huts of the negroes - I counted 85 negroes & 20 houses at worst in one field of sugar cane & there were as man y more in others - the boat we could see all over the back country We saw several old new forts that the rebels had commenced and abandoned on the apprach of Gen Butler near the old battle ground of Gen Jackon they have built a breast work over 3 miles in length

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but they have lost all their labor - the negroes - swung their hats & the negro women their aprons to us all the way up - but the white focks are some nothing of the kind - We got here at about 2-o-clock, Monday to immediately landed - the Ship being so crowded as to make it impossible to stay on board of her any longer a crowd werewas present - many of them sung a song very common here the chorus of which is - "Bbig Yank, little Yank, run Yank, or die." they call us Yanks, instead of Yankees - but no one offered to molest us & so we paid no attention to their talk. I have been all over the city - but occording to Gen Butlers order officers have to armed & have attendants. I am in first rate health & have to much to do, that I have hardly any time to write or think of any thing but my business [- but I do think every day - of you and our little Freddie & long for the time when we shall again

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be settled down. Keeping house & going home every Sunday after our old custom - & I think the time is not far distant -]

There are about 5000 Federal troops here - not half enough for so long a place The only reason the rebels surrendered here, was because our Gun boats were in the river & the city would be burnt if they resisted - I write you very often, but I do not know as you get there letters or not Give my love to all & believe me as ever

Yours AffectionatelyLester