Roswell Farnham to [Mary Farnham]

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Camp Butler, Newport News, VirginiaWednesday, July 10th, 1861My dear wife:

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Your letter of July 5th and 6th was rec'd last night. I was glad to receive it as I had not rec'd one for two or three days. It makes me feel bad to learn that you feel so anxious about us. I think there is really no danger now of an attack. The rebels have neither the force nor the inclination to do it. They have hardly made their appearance in this vicinity since those prisoners were taken. Some of Hawkins reg't. met with a company of them last Friday and killed at least two of them, but had to retreat as they were not in sufficient force to face them. The enemy retired leaving a field piece on the ground, but our men could not take it as they were harassed by the fire of the rebels from the woods and could only draw it by hand. The next morning eight companies went out to see what they could find. Maj. Worthen with three of ours, - that is of the Vt. Regt. The Bradford Company did not go. He saw nothing of importance. The particulars I have not written you before as I have already written them for Mr. McIndoe and you will probably get them in the paper about the same time you get this. You want to know if I was out on our scouting expedition Sunday - nearly two weeks ago. I was out and we had a very good time. I got completely wet through with sweat, so that I had to change all my clothes and since then I have not seen

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vestage of it my cough. I am now in every respect better than I have been since I left Rutland. We are indeed getting some pretty hot weather. Night before last we slept with the tent up on all sides, and were warm at that. Today for the first time I have put on a white shirt. I have worn my red woolen ones until now. Two woolen shirts, and a tick cloth, stuffed military coat buttoned up to the chin are rather warm for this climate. I shall keep on cotton shirts now. One of my flannel undershirts has shrunk so that I do not think I can wear it again. I dont know what I shall do. I must either piece it or go without. Today is warm enough but there is a comfortable breeze which makes it very endurable.

You seem inclined to complain because I go out when our company goes. I shall go every time the boys go if I can, and I dont think you should find fault. I did not come out here to shirk anything. My place as provost marshall does not require me to do any fighting, but how would you like to have it said that I took advantage of that to keep out of all danger. But the prospect now is that we shall not be disturbed by any fighting, so you may calm your fears. I begin to look forward with some eagerness to the time when I can sit down in the old sitting room in a good chair and a new book - reading to you - or telling over these times. Although I enjoy this life yet I must confess there are some hardships connected with it. There are too many in our camp, tent I mean, to be as comfortable as we might. Nor did we exactly understand how to get up an outfit. Still we are very

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far from suffering. I am sitting now on an overcoat rolled up, on the floor, leaning my back against the edge of a trunk, and writing on your portfolio. The Capt. is sitting on the mess chest writing to Charlie Stevens. The rest are gone. We might sit by the table in our front room, but we happen to be seated here so we stick by.

You ask if I get joked as hard as some of the rest. The Capt. and I do the main part of the joking and we dont allow ourselves to be made victims. Stearns slept over his dinner today and Peckett and Capt. A. sat by him to keep off the flies so that he might not wake up too soon. We are pretty severe upon one another but you know me well enough to know that I can joke as hard as any body and take a joke as good naturedly - - - Who wrote that article in the Telegraph on Pipes, Tobacco & Whiskey signed "O"? It seems a little too bad that our friends who have been so kind to us should be blamed for the choice they make in what they send us. I dont use pipes or tobacco, but most of the boys do, and if they did not receive those things from home they would have to buy them here of a poorer quality at a dear rate. I dont like tobacco in any shape, but if a soldier can extract any comfort from it I am glad he should. As to whiskey I am no friend to it, but since I have been here the bodily comfort arising from the stimulus of a little whiskey has seemed to me a luxury almost greater than money could buy. Folks at home who eat good food, well cooked, regularly, who live in clean rooms, free from bugs of all sorts and sizes, who it in comfortable chairs and sleep between cool sheets, and who are not

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huddled into a close, small, leaky tent in a rain storm may think that it is beneath the dignity of human nature to like a glass of whiskey. But I must confess that I have seen the time since I left home when the momentary glow and excitement produced by ardent spirits seems to be anything but sinful or wrong. I wish you would write me the name of the author. Charlie Harding can find out.

Wed. Evening. Your letter written Sunday, 7th. and finished Monday morning, was received tonight. I think I get every one of your letters in good season - two day, but I am afraid some of mine miscarry. I have written you once that I rec'd Mr. Strickland's letter, yet in your last you ask me if I have rec'd it. I have generally written you at least two letters per week. The first of last week, however, I did not write as I intended, and that is the reason you did not get a letter sooner. I mean to write a little every day and send you one twice or three times a week. You need not send me my coat or anything. Our time is now so short that it would not probably get here before we leave. We shall leave here early in August, and shall be at home, we hope, by the ninth of Aug. You must keep up just as good courage as possible. You have done bravely since I left and if you hold out a little longer it will soon be over.

You must look to your spelling on the envelope - "Volunteer" instead of "Volenteer". You must look at each word. Give my love to all. Remember me to Mr. Strickland & all who enquire.

Your affectionate husbandRoswell Farnham