John Lester Barstow to Laura

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In the Field nearAlexandria La.May 16 /63My Dear Laura

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I have again an opportunity to send you a few lines, and as I do not know how long it may be before I can do so again I gladly improve the chance, though I wish, and wish, a hundred times a day that I was where I could talk with you instead of writing. We have been up the Red River within about 30 miles of Natchitoches, but the rebels run on their horses, faster than we could go on foot so we did nothing but take a few prisoners and a great deal of cotton. After getting 18 miles from here, we came upon. The piney woods, as they are called here - the pine is hard pine. The soil sandy & abounding in springs - most of them warm, and having a strong taste

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of sulphur - The piney woods are said to be over 300 miles long and 50 broad - perfectly barren of anything but pine and scrub oak - Even the snakes do not live in them - but they abound every where else - night before last I found one crawling over my face. I threw him off but did not trouble myself to strike a light to find out whiter it was a moccasan or not last night my Lieut want day another close by our shanty of rails just before we went to bed. Rattlesnakes are very common

- We are resting here one day - & to-morrow morning at 4-o-clock we start for the month of Red River to co-operate with Gen-Grant in the reduction of Port Hudson or Vicksburch - what part in this great operation, we may be called on to take, I do not know - as we were in the front, when we advanced on the enemy - we shall now be in the

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rear to protect the main body in thier retrogade movement for as soon as the rebels find we are leaving they will follow us up, with thier cavalry and harass us all they can - though it will not amount to much, it will make us a great deal of Extra work I suppose there must be some excitement at the North about the draft, that I suppose is coming off in a few months We have heard that we should have men enough to fill our Regiment about the 1st of August. Please write me what is said & thought about the Draft in Shelburn How are any times in a day do I think of you & Freddie, & wish I was with you and then again as we are passing by the mansion of some planter. I wish you could be with me to see the sight Which at the North would be strange and novel - but here is of every day occurrence The nigroes came rushing out to welcome

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us while the family look on in fear and silence. I do not know of any garden or grounds in Burlington that can compare with those around these country residences it is just in season for nearly all kinds of flowers and the quantity and variety of them is past computation - on place I particularly noticed where the fence on each side of the road for over two miles, was a hedge of swetbrier roses over 15 feet high - in full bloom - nothing but white flowers could be seen from top to bottom. In the garden the flowers are of the rarest kinds - Feilds of corn, which is now about 5 feet high, stretch out on each side of the bayons, many of them have 500 acres in a feild, one on Gov. Moores plantation had 1100 acres 0 there is very little else planted, the rebels being afraid of Starvation - they have plenty of corn meal fresh beef, pork, & chickens, but not much else - at first thought you may think that that was enough for any body

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but if you were diprived of salt, pepper, coffe, tea, pins, paper, ink candles &c &c you would soon think if a hard case - they have fallow & hard but no alum or other hardning substance and so can make no candle

- Warm weather is coming on, and already the weather in the middle of the day is very oppressive - some cases of sun stroke have already occurred - threr I think have died in our brigade - the most tragic events pass here almost unnoticed - Yesterday morning a man drew his gun to his shoulder and shot one of his best friends dead - they were not more than 3 feet apart, and never nohad had the least trouble but the murderer had shown signs of insanity for a few days and is now confined as a lunatic I stood about 5 rods from them
160th N. Y. Regt. last week one of our Surgeons found a small

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bottle labelled "Quinim" and supposing it to be such, he deact it out to the sickmen, and killed 5 of them before he found that it was poisoned.

My own health is good and I endure as much as any one and ardently hope that we may take Port Hudson & Vicksburgh - after which I shall consider that I have done my duty to my country & try to get home and keep trying

- I am expecting another Letter from you every day, [and hope to hear that your health continues to inprove I worry about it a great deal, but am sure you must be nearly or quite well before this time. I think you done very well in letting Ind. Van Sicklen have your money, although I am not much acquainted with the ruler, or solvency of the Bank - Please write often] Why dont you write something about Freddie. I suppose he has changed from the fitenss I have of him. Give my Love to all your folks, and believe me my dear Laura.

as ever Your most affectionate
HusbandJ. L. Barstow