Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

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Camp Butler, Newport News Va.June 25th, 1861My Dear Wife:

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Your letter of the 19th and Laura's of the 20th were duly rec'd. I also rec'd a letter from Charlie Harding which I answered yesterday. I begin you a letter now not knowing when I may finish it, for I am called off every little while to attend to something or other. You and Laura enquire particularly about my health. If you could see the amount I eat and the amount of labor I do you would not think me very sick. I have had something of a cough since I left Rutland. It has been better and worse according to the weather, but now it is almost entirely well. Among the goods sent from Bradford somebody sent a two quart jug of cough medicine and I think it is helping me. That together with the weather (102° in the shade they say, tho' I dont believe it) are rapidly curing me. I had a slight touch of the climate complaint just after the fatigue of Great Bethel, but I am entirely free from that and all in our tent are perfectly well except Stearns who is suffering from summer complaint. There is one disadvantage in my business. I have to do it all myself, so I have no time to be sick or absent. It is rather a responsible position in many respects, as I have to decide in many instances whether it is safe to let a black or white man go, or whether he should be detained.

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This morning I was up at half past four and got matters ready to send off two negroes by boat to Ft. Monroe. I expected to send eleven, but the rest have found places among the regiments here. You need not be worried about me or my health.

I have not very much of interest to write you. We try to get what amusement we can out of every thing that occurs. The monotony of our life is varied somewhat by the thousand and one rumors that are continually afloat in camp. Sometimes we are to be attacked - then we are going out to fight - again we are to be reinforced - or we are going home before out time is out. Today about a dozen of the boys got leave to go out and get some rails and brush to make us a shade. They have just got back and from their appearance I should judge that they had been somewhat farther. They have waded a creek somewhere and have been off probably three or four miles or more. Corporal Killey had the command. Our boys all want to get out, and any three, if permitted, would go all through the country altho' the rebel horsemen are through the woods every day and night. Our boys however have not had many opportunities to go out and they feel misused.

We are having some pretty warm weather here but the sea breeze keeps us comfortable most of the time. We generally go in for a good sleep just after dinner as then is the time that we have the most leisure, tho' I am - quite as likely to be called out from a sound nap as any time. We have been having some improvements

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made to our tent today. We have had a cool verandah in front for sometime, beneath which we could sit in the cool shade. But today unclear the direction of Maj. Stearns we have had a good table made to sit under the verandah to eat by in pleasant weather. The table which we have used in our tent heretofore I built the second day we came here. It is fast around the tent pole. We have a moveable seat out doors, and the boys have dug a hole in the ground into which we have let a large box to be used as a sort of cellar. Tomorrow they are going to build an addition to the verandah to be used as a sort of storehouse.

We suffer a good deal from flies and mosquitoes & perhaps fleas, tho' I have not seen any, but think they have sought my acquaintance.

I have seen Dr. Lewis and made his acquaintance, I see him every day or two. You enquire about John Prichard. He is quite well - very well. Maj. Worthen messes with us and I got him a servant negro boy a day or two since and he does the drudgery for John. His name is Pompey Wind, and he is quite a favorite with all the boys. I dont know but he will go home with Capt. Andross. He says he is willing.

I did not suppose you could live uponfor nothing. If I had I should not have felt so anxious about leaving you enough money.

There is or ought to be a dozen bushels of corn on the ear up on this farm. If you can get it down

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you had better pick out a bushel or two of the best of it for eating and feed the hens upon the rest.

One thing I did not fully attend to when I was arranging to have. I did not let the Hovey pasture our in West Fairlee. I had some talk with Kinney Cummings and with John Shumway. Shumway said he could let it for me. I hardly know who you can enquire of. If it is not let and any body wants to take it at ten or twelve dollars for the rest of the season, and take care of the fence himself, let him have it. If Zeke has the grain cut back of the barn he can get it in easier by taking off two loads from the end than to put it in at the window.

You ask if there are seven thousand troops within seven miles of us. Probably not, but at Great Bethel and Yorktown there are probably about that number, and a lot at Norfolk. But they will be very foolish to attack us with less than twelve or fifteen thousand. We have four thousand troops here in a well fortified camp, and the enemy cannot attack us by land without having all the troops at Fortress Monroe in their rear. If they try it by water, we have four columbiads for them and two steamers besides all the force of ships at Ft. Monroe. The Fort is in full sight from a point near by and a system of signals has been established between us, so that we can get any thing we need. I am sorry your father is not well. My love to him. I have written to Laura.

Your affectionate husbandRoswell Farnham