John Lester Barstow to Laura

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Head Quarters 8th Regt.Vt Vols. Bayon Beouf LaMarch 26th 1863My Dear Laura

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When I wrote you last it was from Brasheau City, and I was not well, since that time I have not been exempt from the bustle, excitement and hard labor, that I find is the lot of a soldier -

While I was sick I had neuralgia dumbague &c but did not feel bad enough to be off duty - the Col. however thought that I needed rest & ordered me to New Orleans, making some trifling business matters as an excuse - I knew that you had written me several times for my daggeureotz pe, & thought it would be a good chance - & besides knew as well as the Colonel did that I needed to rest - which I never could do, while with the Regiment, So I

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went down to the city intending to stay several days - on the evening of the second day after I got there I was notified that Heitzels Brigade was ordered to retreat - that the rebels had three Gun Boats from Red River, and would attack him with such superior force that he might as well retreat one time as another and that I was wanted immediately

- So back I went - without getting my likeness for you - I however sent you a little tinket by Col. Brown who is going home in a few days

- Well I got back to Brashear City the 20th & found the Regiment all packing up and expecting an immidiate attack - I packed up too & we all laid out in him on battle all night - but there was no fighting except by the pickets - before light the next morning we moved back to this place, and encamped in a

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muddy cane field - just planted - that day it commenced raining as hard as I ever saw it rain, and so it continued for 36 hours - no words can tell what we suffered - no wood - no fire to cook - not half the tents had arrived and the mud was from 6 inches deep to no bottom at all.

- In my tent the water was 7 inches deep for a whole day - Of course it had to stop raining after a while, & it is now some better - one of our men actually died in his tent without going to the hospital - being in the immediate vicinity of the enemy, we had to keep strong gaurds out in all directions - more than 1/2 of our Regiment is still out, watching the movements of the Rebels - You ahve no doubt seen in the papers what Admiral Harragut diddone at Port Hudson - I do not know but it is called a victory - He wanted to take his whole fleet up he did not take up but two boats - fort

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his best boat the Mississippi two others were disabled - Gen. Banks and his whole army retreated to Baton Rouge where they now are - So you can see that matters look rather dark in this department I, however, firmly beleive that it will all come out night, and that soon, we shall hear of the downfall of Vicksburgh and Port Hudson, as well as Charlston - then I shall go home - I have not heard from you for some days - a Steamer, the Bio Bio, was burned at the wharf at New Orleans the next day after she arrived and although I cannot learn with certainty, I have no doubt the mail was also burned, for no mail matter has come up since, My thoughts are with you my dear wife almost constantly may heavens blessings be with you & Freddie. Send me your photographs - give my love to your mother and all the family & beleive as ever

yours affectionatelyLester