John Lester Barstow to Father

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Head Quarters 8th Regt. Vt. Vols.Brasheai City La.Dec. 28 1862Dear Father

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Some time has passed since I ahve written you, but I have tried to make up for this in some measure by sending you the New Orleans papers every Teurday - from which you could gather every thing of interest that was going on about here - and you will also know as long as you get papers from me that I am at least alive. The place where I now am is to miles west of N. O. - on the bank of, what I should call a river - but what is here called Perwicks Bay. There are about 150 houses in the place, and a few inhabitants - most of them are well as those of the surrounding country, having taken negros - makes, houses, carts &c & fled into Texas on our approach - Once in a while we find a good Union man - at home, minding his own business - but this is rare - The men, (as I have written before) are too old for military duty, or elseuse cripples or cowards, vast feilds of cane are going to distruction, and the loss of property is almost past

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computation. With us, are the 21st Regt. of Indiana Vols. and on the opposite side. (about 1/2 a mile) are the rebels picket - they extend up and down the bay, or river, on one side, and our forces on the other - ours, however are only allowed to go up about a mile. While the rebels pickets extends to their main force which is now about 8 miles from here - I have been up six miles with a flag of truce with some ladies - it is the richest country I ever saw [and no pen can describe it] the soil is inexhaustible - the labor has hither to been rendered to the planter without cost - and the value of the sugar crop per acre amounts on an average to from 3 to 500$ per acre - thus yeilding immense fortunes each year - which are spent in the winter by the planters in travelling in Europe or the North - or in living in the cities in great style. Every energy of the Department seems now to be directed towards matters up the Mississippi River and I do not think any thing will be done by us for sometime - It is not impossible that we may be ordered to join the throng that are now moving toward Vicksburgh - many of them to find a grave on the bank of the "Father of waters". I could write you a thousand things that would, no doubt be interesting but events

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that at home would have been of startling interest and would have almost been considered as Eras in my life - occur here, in numbers every day, and in trying to write a letter I hardly know what to select to write about - & so generally let details alone - This Regiment has mostly been an independent command that is - we have been apart from the direct observance of a General, which has been very unfortuate for the under Officers, who perhaps in other circumstances might have attracted attention & received, merited promotion - but I am perfectte satisfied as I am - I never, in my life, was when I enjoyed, more fully, the confidence of my superiors - the respect of my equals - & the regards of my inferions. Should I live to return to Vermont I shall have a never failing sound of satisfaction in knowing, that wherever I have been in this country

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I shall be remembered by the poor & unfortunate my position has enabled me, without much trouble to myself to releive to protect many a family who were in trouble - & in such trouble as can hardly be conceived of by one who never has seen the track of desolation, left by the march of an invading army I suppose this I have never seen hard times compared with what some have seen - but sleeping out on the ground with nothing but a blanket over me - eating with my fingers - food cooked on a pointed stick - for days & days together marching through the day in swamps through bayous & creeke, as skirmishing expecting every moment to come upon a masked [        ] on a rebel ambuscade - seemed pretty tough - I might talk or write you what I think about the state of the country about the removal of Butler or McClellan &c but it would not amount to much the Leadus may do what they please - may talk peace or intervention - but this war cannot, must not end until the Union is restored - or if there cannot be Union, the supremacy of the Government must be maintained every where - But my sheet is full - write to me often Be assured you never will, have cause to be ashamed of what shall be done in this war

by your affectionateLester