Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

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Camp Butler, Newport News, VaSunday, June 16th, 1861My dear wife:

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Three of us sit here writing, and John Stearns is just sitting down to write. The articles sent by our friends in Bradford arrived in safety last night, and they may all feel assured that the whole company are grateful for the necessaries and luxuries received. Almost every thing was in good order. The firkin that you and Laura and Zeke sent I was glad to receive. The tea was very acceptable as we could not get very good here. We tried some, last night and all pronounced it good. The cookies tasted like home. The maple sugar we shall find a use for on rice and hasty pudding. Give Lucy Strickland our thanks for the pickled tomatoes and tell her that we are all obliged to her. Every thing came that was sent. We are probably not suffering as our friends supposed we were when this stuff was sent to us. I wish you had sent me a thin coat and my panama hat. The boys had eggs this morning for breakfast, but they have had eggs before, and cheese &c. &c. They have had almost everything that has been sent them, that is, eggs, potatoes, cheese, dried apple &c. yet this stuff is just as acceptable, for we shall need it all, tho the captain says that we shall have to enlist for three years to eat up the whole of it.

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Today has been very quiet indeed - no labor nor exercises. There was an inspection at half past seven this morning, so as to get through before the heat of the day no more exercises till dress when we shall probably have divine service. I rec'd Mr. McKeens tracts and distributed about half of them this morning, and the boys seemed very grateful for them. I had quite a day of rest as there was not been a single man to the lines to be admitted so far - today.

Maj. Worthen has just returned from a scouting expedition and while at dinner he had been telling us what happened to him - for the boards here with us now.

He went out yesterday afternoon with a party and discovered about fifty head of cattle which the rebels were evidently intent upon removing soon, so he got leave from Col. Phelps to go out early this morning with three companies to take them. The first we heard from the Major, a wounded man was brought in, shot in four or five places with buck shot, and the report that two more were wounded. Of course we were all astir, but could do nothing. Col. Phelps started off with several companies of Zouaves. Soon the other wounded were brought in and all sorts of rumors were rife. We did not get the facts until Maj. Worthen came. About a dozen horsemen had rode past two companies under his command, the St. Albans and Swanton, who were posted in the woods, and discovering them just as they got in front wheeled and fired & fled. The boys in the bushes were taken some what by surprise, but returned the fire and they say one

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man fell in his saddle but his companies sustained him. Three of the St. Albans and one Swanton Co. were wounded - one severely and the rest slightly. It was the Major's first engagement.

Our men are drilling upon the big guns. Dr. Kilbourn has had command of one and the regulars say that he beats them.

You of course have seen long accounts of the battle in all the papers and begin to have some idea of it. I have seen no paper yet that does us justice.

We were in the thickest of the fight and at the close of it, and fought without being sustained.

Camp life is about the same as usual. I am not confined to any routine, but take my own time. I am not compelled to do any of the ordinary camp duties - am excused from roll call - drills - parades &c. &c. Still I have enough to do, more than I should if I were in the company.

The boat has just come in and I must close soon altho' I will keep this open to see if there is a word from you. I should say that Maj. Worthen's horse came night before last and he is the best horse among the officers' horses. The officers are now all mounted.

I suppose it is cool and quiet at home and you and Laura are both writing or reading. I should like to look in upon you for a moment. And Zeke I presume is looking over the papers, I hope Jane is as good natured as ever. Books, books, once in a while I remember

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that I have a lot of books at home and that I used to enjoy reading them. I could hardly sit down now and read very quietly. I had a letter from Mr. Ruggles the same day that I got your last letter. He is well and talks some of going to Switzerland in the fall. Tell Laura that all I can write while here is just a narrative of facts as they occur. I am sorry that she has the earache or neuralgia so severely. I wish she might have her ears cured entirely. Remember me to all the folks. Mrs. Strickland and Mr. and all that you see.

There may be some inquiring why Stearns was not in the fight. His duties as Sergeant Major kept him here and more than that he had express commands to remain here - so that he could not possibly have gone. There is some pride felt in regard to these matters and every man likes to have the credit of all that is due to him.

I wrote to Charlie Harding yesterday sending him a chart of the battle ground. Perhaps it will interest you to see it. Tell Charlie to keep it till I get home as I wish he would all my letters.

You need not pay out any money to any body to pay my debts or Cy's. It wont be long before I shall be at home and then I will attend to such matters. Keep what money you have for your own use till I get home. When I get my pay I hope it will amount to considerable.

From your affectionate husbandRoswell Farnham