E. V. N. Hitchcock to John Wolcott Phelps
I wrote you from Pensacola about the 1st of December. The 7th has our changed station again. We are camped just outside Fort Pickens "Camp Stoughton", Col. Holbrook has named it. About three weeks before we left Pensacola an attack by a superior force was cconfidently expected and we worked night - and day on our defences. The attack did not come however though we had several night alarms. The information received was that 2200 cavalry and some 5000 Infantry would make a dash to take prisoners and stores and burn the place. It appears Gen. Banks had some apprehensions for Ft Pickens and the navy yard for the reinforced both. Capt. Allen, 2d Artillery has command in the Fort. Lt. Col. David Peck commands the 7th, Col Holbrook both.
Saturday evening I completed the rools on which we are to be paid for six months, we are told.
This is island is in some respects like Ship
Island, but not so barren and unpleasant. We have an advanced guard about a mile up the island. The Officer of the day (always a Capt. of the 7th) is called "Field Officer of the Day"
I had some experience in "Picket" duty at Pensacola, the senior Officer of the Grand Guard being a Captain.
The health of the regiment is becoming very good. About 60 were discharged recently. Our aggregate number is now 539. My Company 69 being the largest in the reg't.
I think I once heard you give it as your opinion, perhaps twas only your hope, that the war would be over by the 1st of April. The prospects seem to me anything but hopeful for the homesick. We have N.Y. dates for the middle of February. The Army of the Potomac is reorganized, an expedition sails for Charleston. Great things are expected from the two armies on the Missisippi. Meanwhile Congress seems to be holding everything, one party party tuggin at one vein the other at the other.
I like the army, am not tired of the service, but there is very much in this
volunteer force that I do not like. I see constantly more
and more how far hundreds of those who
hold the position of Officers fall short of holding the position of gentleman. They know nothing and care as little for the code of etiquette and honor which it is their duty and privelege to observe. There is no real discipline and no encouragement to attempt it for it is crippled and destroyed by the example and precept of such officers.
While I have almost daily come in contact with such disgusting examples I have much reason to congratulate myself upon being under and with so many excellent Officers. The 7th Vt. is not one of the worst regiments.
If peace was likely to be very soon, I would willingly remain as I am, but as it is I feel anxious to be in some position where I can do more that I am able to do, and among more elevating influences. If you could assist me to a position in any department of the regular army to which you think me suited, the favor would be very gratefully received. I only ask this, should it come in your way. I am already under great obligation to you, indebted to you for much of that which is of worth in my army education. It is not my disposition to be discontented and my present position has some advantages.
My Mother was very much pleased to have met
you. My uncle Dr. Harwood, could see you but little while you were in Rutland. He hoped to have been able to have long conversation with you.
Col. Holbrook is now at Pensacola, on a Court. He is quite well. I am expecting my Lieutenant (Dickinson) back from Vermont. Companies of the regiment Ship Island is occupied by a negro regiment.
I hope to hear from you again.
I am Sir
With great respect
Your obt. servant.E. V. N. Hitchcock
Captain, 7th Vt. Vols.