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Augustus Bull Papers: Transcripts - MS 649
Beaufort, SC Dec 23rd 1862
Dear Cousin Roxie,
Your very welcome letter was received nearly three weeks ago and I am ashamed that I have not answered it before, but I have had so much writing to do for the Company that I could find no time to do my own writing & now I have only commenced this while waiting for Captain to go up to his tent after some blanks for me to fill out. Since I wrote you last, we have moved our camp about half a mile to a large square near the center of the village. There were so many trees in our old camp that it made it very damp this winter, and the Dr ordered us to move. We are now more pleasantly situated for this weather than we should been on the old camp Ground. Your letter found me, as the last one did, on picket. I had been out hunting all day and on returning about sunset I found your letter and a paper containing some peach leather, together with some fifteen or twenty papers from home awaiting my return. I had a nice time reading them, the peach leather was very nice indeed and was quite a treat for me. We fared quite hard on picket this time, our relations were short and we had to pick up what we could. We bought some Sweet Potatoes of the Negroes and hunted most of the time but game is pretty scarce and we didn't have very good success. I came into Beaufort the day before the Regt did and got some rations and had them cooked before the Company got here. I found a box for me [at] Adams & Co's Express Office that Lizzie sent to me about three months ago, it had been to Washington, Fortress Monroe and all around. The eatables it contained were very acceptable and I assure you I took good care of part of them. I drew the rations for the company and when they came in I had some beef boiled for them and three large kettles of Coffee. So, if they didn't have any breakfast to start on I had a good supper for them when they got here. Capt is coming, so I will finish this some other time.
Thursday Jan 1st 1862
I wish you all a Happy New Year. This is the first opportunity I have had of writing for myself since I left this. I had got my Returns, Reports, Muster Rolls, & c all made out in good shape and not a mistake or scratch in the whole of them when the adjutant sent over to have them made out in a different form and I had to make them all out again. I'll bet a sixpence I was mad some, but that didn't do me any good so I went at them again and have just got through with the last Muster Roll. I sat up till 12 O'Clock night before last and all night last night to get them done. We are to be mustered at 11 Oclock and as I have about two hours before that time, I will improve it by finishing this letter. Christmas was spent by the Soldiers on this island in all manner of sports, racing, jumping, playing ball, wheelbarrow racing, & c, and all seemed to enjoy themselves. I went down town in the morning and got the bread for our Co and done some shopping and then came back and went to writing. I didn't join in any of the sports. About 4 O'Clock I went down to a Negro Shout and of all the hubbubs I ever heard in my life that capped the climax. The Niggers were all shouting, singing, dancing, clapping hands, and I thought each one was trying to make more noise than his neighbor, but they consider it a kind of worship and seemed to enter into it with their whole soul. In the evening I attended a concert given by a band of colored minstrels, three of the performers being from our company. I was furnished with a complimentary ticket. The performance was first rate and I enjoyed it very much. I should really like to see that "little boy with a Kossuth hat on" I think there must have been quite a change since that picture was taken. I think just as your father does we have been down here enough to have annihilated all the rebels in the South, but we never had over 10,000 effective men in this Department and every new Genl we get will take a handful and make a "successful reconnoisanc and lose two or three hundred men until at present we haven't over 6,000 effective men and they are scattered along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia for over 100 miles and are opposed by over 50,000 men, if it wasn't for our gunboats they would thrash us like fun, but they are afraid of them and prefer to keep their distance. I shall write to Cousin Will as soon as I can get time. I should really like some of that female help but I should hardly know how to behave in their presence for I havn't spoken to a white female in sixteen months. I think however that I could do a tall piece of talking with the aid of a pretty bunch of Crinolines
Tell your mother that "Lizzie's Archie" is one of the nicest young men that Connecticut affords, a regular go-ahead, enterprising Yankee, and he would be in the field fighting for his country were it not for a lame foot. As for the "Yankee girl" I left behind me "I left them all and none in particular, the chief among ten thousand and one altogether lovely hasn't made her appearance to me yet. My heart is as whole as it ever was and I am going to keep it so for awhile. I am not going to "jump in the dark." I intend to look twice at least, before I leap. Don't you think I am sensible? The sick here generally have very good care if they go to the Hospitals, but I have always grunted it out on my own hook as I prefer to keep the Drs trash away from me if possible. I always thought that the more medicine a person took, the more he might and have acted accordingly and let nature work her own cures. I think that is the reason I have not been sick more. We have black tea issued to us. We draw one half rations of Coffee and one half Tea. It isn't as good as we would get at home, but it goes very well for a change. I am glad to hear that Cousin Will escaped form the battles unhurt. I can't say that I want to go into any such fight, for those shot and shell don't sound pretty at all whistling around a person's head and then the rebs shoot so plagueg [plaguing] careless, they are just as apt to hit a fellow as not, but if my duty ever calls me there I shall go and if I ever take any secesh pills they won't hit me in the back. Tell coz Mary that I hope she has entrusted his everlasting love, with some soldier. if she hasn't I shall not give my consent. I have just been out to muster and written the name of every man in the Co five times and now I'll finish this before I get another job on my hands. Perhaps you would like to know what sort of a house I have to live in so I will give you a description of it. We have one of the small "A" tents 7 by 8 feet square for two of us. We dug a hole just the size of the tent about 3 feet deep and boarded it up all around, built a nice fireplace in one corner, laid a good floor and put our tent upover it. We built a bunk on one side so that we can slide it in in the daytime and only take up about 18 inches of room. Under one end is a cupboard where we keep our dishes & c, and under the other end our woodhouse. I got a large writing desk formerly the property of some secesh and a piece of carpet for the floor and two chairs and if you could just step in here for a few minutes you would say we have as snug and cozy a house as we could wish for. I wouldn't exchange places with any person in town. Our Officers have got up several prized to be contended for by the men this afternoon[.] I will give you the details this evening.
9 O'Clock pm
The Sports commenced at 10 O'Clock. 1st was Firing at a Target 3 feet in diameter distance 300 yards. 3 men from each Co to contend. The 2nd prize $5 was awarded to one of our Co. 2nd pistol firing by the commissioned Officers. The one making the poorest shot to forfeit $5. 3rd One man from each Co to be blindfolded and walk 30 yards to a target and bore a hole in it with an augur [auger]. Only one man hit the target. 4th A race of 150 [650?] yards 3 men from each Co to run against time. 5th A wheelbarrow race. 1 man form each Co to be blindfolded and wheel a wheelbarrow 100 yards to the one coming nearest a given spot a prize of $5. It was fun to see them go[.] some of them went around in a circle and brought up near where they started from. 6th A sack race 2 men from each Co to run 30 yards and back to the starting point. They were encased in a large sack tied around their necks and had to hop along a foot or so at a time. It was sport to see 20 large bags hopping around some of them would fall down & tumble around and try to get up but it was no use to try for they couldn't get up till the bag was untied. 7th [illegible]. 5 men from each Co[.] 8th climbing a greased pole to get $5 placed on top of it. 9th Catching a greased pig. 10th A quarter of a dollar was placed in a tub of flour and a Negro with his hands tied behind him to get it out with his teeth. You can imagine he was a gay looking dark when he got it out. 11th Butting match. A crowd of contrabands to butt against each other and the one butting out the rest to have a prize of $2.50. They went at it in earnest and if some them don't have sore heads tomorrow morning, I'll miss my guess. 12th German Turning by the Germans of the Regt and to end of [off] we had a burlesque Dress Parade & Review got up by the enlisted men. We were dressed in all the fantasticals you can imagine and if you could have seen the immense Dutchman on the left of Co "K" you would hardly have taken him for Cousin Gus. Everything passed off pleasantly & we had fun enough to last us a year. Genl Brennan was present and seemed to enjoy the sport as much as any of us.
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I think I have written enough to make up for last time but I will try and do better next time
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I have just returned form the Minstrels thus ends New Years Day in Beaufort SC Hoping that ere another New Years day I shall be permitted to visit my Buckeye friends and remain with much love to you all, your affectionate Coz Gus.
March 25th 1863
Dear Cousin Roxie
I promise you will be somewhat surprised at seeing my letter dated at this place but the fortunes of war have brought us here where we are to hold the place at all hazards. I received your letter two weeks ago but I have been so busy moving camp & c that I have not had time to answer it before. I also received a letter from Aunt LeValley the night before we left Beaufort and shall answer it this afternoon[.]
We received orders to be ready to march last Tuesday, and Wednesday noon we Struck Camp and embarked on the Steamer Boston and at 2 O'Clock we bade farewell to Beaufort where we had spent the last eight months so pleasantly. We sailed down to Hilton Head where I had a good view of our fleet. I saw six of our Monitors, they are the queerest looking things I ever saw. We took aboard 60 cases of shot & shell & put out to sea about dark. I turned in under the lea of the life boat and slept as sound as I should on a feather bed. About 11 O'Clock Thursday we put in to Fernandina Fla and stayed about 2 hours. The place is garrisoned by the 7th Conn Regt. In the afternoon we ran down to the St. Johns River and at sunset we crossed the bar, it was very dark and we had to run very slow up the river and finally got aground about twelve miles from the mouth & had to be there till 10 O'Clock[.] Friday morning when the Steamer Genl Burnside came down and took off all but our Company & then we came up the river to this place. We are now about 25 miles in the interior. This is a beautiful place, much nicer than Beaufort and some larger, quite a large number of factories, mills, and nice buildings have been burned by the rebels. We went into quarters in some of the unoccupied houses. Each Co has a house to itself and we have got things fixed up in fine shape. I scouted around town till I found an organ in one of the Churches and then I was satisified. I tried it and found it in good tune and nothing out of order except two or three keys which I fixed in five minutes. I got our choir together and we had a good sing and Sunday I had the pleasure of playing the organ in the Episcopal Church in Jacksonville Florida. There are quite a number of white ladies here and I have had several chats with them, some of them are rank secesh and still our Officers let them go outside of our lines and back whenever they choose and I do not doubt but they give the rebels all the information they want. Friday night the rebels came up and fired on our pickets and they got us out in line and kept us standing there in the cold about an hour and then we went back to bed but we had only just got to sleep again when they turned us out again but it proved to be a false alarm. The 8th Maine Regt arrived here Monday noon and there are two Regiments of niggers here, so we have about three thousand men here. The rebs came up with a cannon on a railroad car last night and threw a few shells over into the city but gunboats soon drove them back. and this morning four Co's of our Regt and six Co's of the 8th Maine have gone out skirmishing, and the last I saw of them the rebels were running and our boys were after them. I presume we shall have a pretty lively little turn with them before we get through. A negro spy that came in this morning says that they want to burn this place and then they are going to evacuate Eastern Florida. I was sorry to hear that you had all been sick and I hope I shall receive better news next time. I should like to help some party of young ladies dispose of a nice supper if I should happen to come across them. It grieves me to hear such an account of Cousin Emily's husband. I just wish he were in the rebel army for I should like to have a chance at him, I think I could cure him of some of his meanness. I should have written a few lines and sent with that New South but I didn't have time. I wish I was situated so that I could make you a visit but I do not think I shall be able to do so for some time. It has been very warm and pleasant here this winter, there has been very few days but that I could keep warm without a coat on. There were only two of us in our tent and we took turns doing house work. We had two pets, a cat and a dog, but we had to leave the cat behind us. I wish you could step in and see us a few minutes[.] I guess you would think we were a set of live Yankees, we have got all sorts of trinkets that you can imagine, all whittled out with that Yankee tool "the jack knife." I am glad I have got such a sensible cousin.
I don't believe in getting married before I get out of my teens and when you get to keeping old maids hall I will come out and see you and I rather guess I shall make as good an old bach as you will old maid. Father's health has been very good this winter and I hope it will continue so until I get home. I believe I have written you all the news. So I will close with much love to all and a larger share for yourself
from Cousin Gus
Folly Island SC May 22nd 
Dear Cousin Roxie,
Your very welcome letter of May 3rd came to hand day before yesterday. It was the second letter I have received in two months so you can imagine whether it was welcome or not. I have changed my home again since I wrote you last. in fact we have travelled around considerable in the last two months. We had just got settled don in Jacksonville and were getting ready to live comfortable when we got orders to evacuate the place and return to Beaufort. I was sorry to leave there but there was no alternative. We embarked o the Steamer Boston. About fifty of the inhabitants mostly females came with us. After we got on board a fire broke out in the part of the town occupied by the 8th Maine Regt. And nearly all of the houses were burned, but I am happy to say that not a building occupied by our Regt. was destroyed. Just as we turned the bend in the river, as we left, the flames burst out of the steeple of the church and it must have been burned with the two churches adjoining. There were two splendid organs in them and I felt real sorry to leave them. We arrived at Mayport Mills at sunset and three Co's of us went onboard the Geo C. Collins but the wind blew so that we hadn't dare go outside. We lay there till the afternoon of the 31st when we ran out to sea. It was very rough and we got tumbled around pretty bad, several of the boys were seasick and I had lots of fun over them. I got a piece of Pork and a string and every one I saw that was real sick I would bother them all I could. I was perfectly happy as long as I could torment someone. (wasn't I wicked) We arrived at Hilton Head April 1st about 10 O'Clock and ran up to Beaufort and landed. Our Lieut Col met us on the wharf and I assure you he met with a warm reception. We encamped on a large plain which we used for a Brigade drill ground. It was very unpleasant there, the slightest breeze would stir up the sand so that we couldn't see across the street. We didn't like the location at all, and were very well pleased when we received orders on the 3rd to embark again and join the Charleston expedition. I found a box from home at the Express Office containing lots of good things which I managed to dispose of in a very desirable manner. We embarked on the Belvidere and joined the expedition at Stono Inlet. I presume you have seen an account of the expedition in the papers so I will not enter into the details. We lay in Stono Inlet nine days and then went back to Hilton Head and landed and went into camp outside the fortification. We had a worse campground than our last one in Beaufort. it was nothing but sand. Sand in Tea and Coffee, sand in Soup, sand in Beans, sand in Meat, Sand in our eyes, ears, nose, and hair and in fact sand in everything and nothing but sand. We stayed there six days and then embarked again. Six companies went on board the Steamer Saxon, two on the Steamer Boston and two on the Schooner Clara. We ran up to North Edisto River and lay there ten days. I went ashore nearly every day. The 10th Conn. Regt were on Scabrooks Island and I had several good visits there. I found many of my old friends in the Regt. I will give you my journal for April 22nd so you can see where I was and what I was doing. A cloudy day. I came off guard at 8 O'Clock, had Coffee, Pork, Potatoes, Bread and cheese for breakfast. It was so crowded on the saxon that our Co went onboard the Clara. I went over to the 10th Regt [,] got some papers and sent to Lizzie and wrote a letter to her. We hoisted anchor and ran over and anchored near the monitors. I went on board one of them that was in the action at Charleston. She was struck forty-seven times and was not damaged at all, there were two dents in her turret about as large as my fist. Her smoke stack was completely riddled[;] nine shots went through it and one shell burst inside of it. The captain said he could breach Fort Sumter in one hour with his Monitor alone, so that they could not stay in it. We had a good sing in the evening and went to bed about 9 O'Clock.
We lay in Edisto ten days and then started for Stono again, but when we got to the bar there was not water enough on it to carry us over, so we had to lay outside till the next day. it was very rough and quite a number of boys made quick passages to Enrope. We crossed the bar about 5 O'Clock P.M. on the 30th of April and anchored near the Pawnee, and the next morning we landed and pitched our camp on the beach. It was very nice till the tide came in and then we had to go to work and throw up a bank to keep the water out of Camp. May day was a very cold sour unpleasant day. May 2nd We struck camp and came up the island about two miles to our present encampment. We are now very pleasantly situated but the water is very bad. There are two Ohio Regts here, the 62nd and 67th. I don't know whether either of them are from your part of the state. Our pickets on the upper end of the island are not over one hundred yards from the rebels. They talk with each other and exchange Tobacco for Coffee, and send across the latest papers on small rafts manufactured for the occasion, they agree not to fire if we don't, and are quite sociable. From our lookout we can see Fort Sumter and the church spires in Charleston. We can see the batteries on James and Morris Islands and if there are as many as there look to be, I don't care about going to Charleston that way. I don't think we are going to make another attack on Charleston. I think we are here to drew troops from Richmond and other important points. Our Col returned about a month ago and is now in command at Hilton Head. We expect to go back there in a few days. We are receiving very encouraging news from Gen Hookers army now. The rebels tell us that Gens Stonewall Jackson and AP Hill are dead and Lee is taken prisoner and our forces are in Richmond. The rebel flags on Fort Sumter and Moultire and all their flags that we can see have been at half mast four days of the past week, so they must have had some very bad luck. If the news we have received lately is true, and I hope it is, I think the rebels will have to give up before long. They are granting furloughs to one man from each Co for thirty days the first lot have gone and the second start in ten days. When we get back to Hilton Head they are going to let three men from a Co go at a time. I don't care about going home before August or Sept. if I wait till then it will be cool when I get back here, but if I should go now, I should get back just in the heat of the summer. I havn't heard a word from Father or Lizzie in two months and have received only one letter besides yours in that time, that one was from a young lady friend, not the particular friend you spoke of once, I havn't found her yet. I can not imagine what is the reason that I do not hear from home; the last letter I had they were all well and the Col saw Lizzie a day or two before he left Connecticut. My tentmate wants to know if you can find a Buckeye girl for him when the war is over and while you are looking up one for him you can pick out one for me too.
Our blockades off Charleston harbor are having pretty lively times now[.] they have taken seven prizes since we have been in here and two Steamers have run in. We hear firing nearly every night and today there has been some very heavy firing in that direction. I should like very much to visit your home about the time those Peaches get ripe, but I rather guess I will wait till next year. Give my love to your "Friend Sallie" and tell her to let someone kiss her in the dark and think it is me or if that will not do, and she will wait, I will come out and give her a smack in propria persona when the war is over. I am glad to hear that the Buckeye girls are so patriotic and think the soldiers are worthy of their love, for I think there may be some chance for an old bach like me in some future year. I believe I shall have to come out that way and try my luck when I get through with a little job I have on hand. I guess I have written about all the news and you have read it so I will close. Give my love to all and accept the same for yourself and don't forget to write soon to
Your Cousin Gus
P.S. I sent you a "Free South" yesterday.
Hilton Head SC Aug. 15, 1863
Dear Cousin Roxie
I have taken your date (the 15th) from my letter but I know you will excuse me when I tell you that I did not receive your letter till Aug. 4th and since that time I have been so busy that I have had not time to write to anyone. But I will try to be punctual next time. I should like very much to visit you this fall but I think my chance of visiting Ohio or any other civilized country is very slight for some time to come. If your Sister Mary is such a torment I should really like to see her, I think we could get along first rate. Tell your friend Sallie that it would make considerable difference with me whether it was myself or someone else that had the pleasure of giving her that kiss. I like your description of your friends and when I get time I shall be very happy to open correspondence with one of them but you can rest assured I shall not forget my lefthanded cousin for some time to come. We have had pretty lively times here since I wrote you last. We worked nights and built batteries on the upper end of Folly Island and mounted about fifty heavy guns and mortars, without the rebels finding it out, and after we had got them all done, Gen Gillmore landed about ten thousand men on the lower end of the island in the night and encamped them near the beach so that the rebs could not see them. He conducted matters so quietly that no one, except the forces on the island knew that we were doing anything at all. Everything being in readiness orders were received for us to be ready to march on the 8th of July and at Sunset we fell in the beach and marched across the island (about half a mile) to the Generals Head Quarters and our brigade consisting of Four Co's of the 7th Conn, 6th Conn, 3rd New Hampshire, 48th New York and 9th Maine Regts embarked in launches and proceeded up Folly River, but owing to some misunderstanding we were ordered back and landed about daylight and returned to camp. I had been sick about two weeks and was not fit to go, but I could not see the rest of the lea going off and leaving me behind, so I went with the crowd. After we got back I went out and had a good wash in the surf and then went to bed, thinking a good nap would make me feel better, but instead of feeling better I felt worse till afternoon when my tentmate called the Dr. He came up and gave me a good scolding for going with the Regt at all and said that they were going again that night but I must not think of leaving my tent, so I made up my mind to do as he said that time[.] The Regt started again about sundown and embarked as on the previous night and proceeded up Folly River in line, Gen Strong himself taking the lead. They arrived at the point of the island just at daylight and as his boat turned into Lighthouse Inlet Gen Strong signalled to our batteries to open. The axmen cut away the trees and bushed that had hid our batteries from the rebels and exposed to their astonished gaze nearly fifty war-dogs, ready to send a shower of iron hail over amongsthem. And then they opened and for two hours the firing of cannons was like volleys of musketry. The small boats advanced down the inlet between the two fires and the 7th Conn landed and charged the rifle pits and held them. Our Regt landed about quarter of a mile further down formed in line on the beach. Gen Strong stepped out in front of the line and said "Men, I don't look much like a Big Genl but all I want of you is to follow me, come on!["] and away he started in his stocking feet (he had lost his boots in the mud coming ashore) and the Regt after him and they didn't stop till they had taken nine one-gun batteries and three mortar batteries, besides two stands of colors and about two hundred prisoners. They raised our colors on Gen. Draytons Head Quarters and marched up within six hundred yards of Fort Wagner and stacked arms but Sumter began to shell them and they fell back under cover of the hills. the Ironsides and Monitors gave them a taste of their fifteen inch shells and the wooden gunboats put in an occasional shot at long range. The Regt was relieved in the afternoon and returned to the south end of the island Our colors were pretty well riddled, a shell from Sumter burst right in the center of our National Flag and tore it considerable and broke the staff twice but strange to say no one was hurt by it. The loss in the Regt was One Killed and Seventeen wounded. I got better and joined the Regt on the 13th inst. We went to work building batteries as soon as we got on the island and in four days we had thirty guns mounded. On the 16th we moved up and bivouaced just out of range of Sumter. On the afternoon of the 18th we were ordered up to the front to charge on Fort Wagner The batteries and gunboats had been firing all day and about 6 O'Clock we marched up the beach within half a mile of Wagner and lay down. The 54th Mass Regt (Colored) were to make the charge and our Regt and the 48th New York were to support them. And the 3rd and 7th New Hampshire 100th New York, 76th Penn, 67th Ohio & 9th Maine to support us. We started just at dusk and marched up the beach to within 300 yards of the fort in column, the order was then given "Forward into line"and "Forward double quick" The Niggers charged and were received with a most terific fire of Grape Cannister and Musketry which broke their lines and part of them run, but I mut say that some of them fought as well as any troops there. We came up at double quick and were within twenty yards of the fort when a shot struck my gun right against my shoulder and knocked me over & partially stunned me. When I came too I found myself in a mud hole with the water just running into my mouth. I tried to get up but I could hardly stir and my gun and cartridges were all wet through so I lay where I was for about two hours, Grape, Cannister, Shrapnel & Bullets flying over me so that I dare not raise my head above the ground. About 10 O'Clock the firing slackened and I started back. the ground was strewn with the dead and wounded and I could hardly pick my way between them. I gave water to some and helped them what I could on my way down[.] I got back to camp about midnight and found most of our Regt had got back. I lay down in the sand and slept till morning[.] When we called the roll in the morning we found four missing from our Co and two wounded. The loss in the Regt was 148 Killed, Wounded, & Missing. Our brave and noble Colonel Chatfield was severely wounded and has since died. He lived to reach his home at Waterbury, Conn. Gen Seymour and Strong were wounded and Col Putnam killed besides many other brave Officers and Men. Our total loss that night was 1517 killed[,] wounded[,] and missing. We had one day to rest and then went to work on the batteries again where we worked every night until the 27th inst when I was detailed in the adjts office for Clerk. I went to writing for the Adjutant that afternoon and on the 30th we were relieved from duty on Morris Island and ordered to report to Hilton Head for duty without delay. We embarked on the Str General Hunter and run down to Stono Inlet and were transferred to Ben Deford and came here. I found a very nice piano in the cabin and we had a good sing in the evening. I slept on a nice velvet cushioned seat and waked up and found myself in Hilton Head harbor the Steamer Fulton say at the Wharf just ready to go north and as soon as we transferred our mail and a few passengers to her she started for America. We ran up to the Wharf and landed and marched up about half a mile and pitched our camp. I bought a nice Watermelon and eat it and then went to a Saloon and got a good breakfast. We got our tents up and things fixed in pretty good shape before night. As soon as we got the Adjutants tent up, I went to work making out the Monthly Returns and for nine days I wrote steady from twelve to fifteen hours a day, so you can imagine whether I have had much time for my own correspondence or not. Since I got those Returns out of the way I have had easier times and as soon as I get the back writing done up I shall have a pretty easy time. I had just commenced this letter when I happened to look out towards the harbor and I saw the Fulton going out so I had to let it lay over till the next mail. So here I am finishing it this beautiful afternoon Sunday Aug. 23rd 1863. The past week has been very stormy and blustering, the wind has blown over quite a number of tents and our office took a little turn, the wind took the whole platform with both tents onit and moved it about six feet and set it down rather unceremoniously and broke down the frame of the back tent. It is very dull here nothing but sand to be seen. We can get no news from Morris Island. We know they are firing there for we can hear them and the report is that Sumter is badly breached and we are putting shell right into the fort every time. I wish we could be up there but some one has got to do duty here and I suppose it may as well be us as any other Regiment. I think you will be heartily tired by the time you have read this long letter so I will close. Give my love to all your folks and accept the same for yourself--
I will try to write again the first of the month if I do not it will be because I am so busy that I have no time to write
Hilton Head SC Sept. 24th 1863
Dear Cousin Roxie,
I have again been obliged to play the truant by not writing at the specified time, but you must take the will for the deed and I will commit the deed as often as I can. I think I shall have to write the 15th of the month instead of the 1st for it is utterly impossible for me to write a letter to anyone within five days of the 1st of the month. (home not excepted) All of our Monthly Returns etc come in at that time and have to be made out as soon as possible and it gives me all the writing I can do for about ten days. After that I have a pretty easy time and generally improve the opportunity by writing up my correspondence Your very welcome letter was received by the last mail and I am happy to state that I have a little good news in return Fort Wagner and Gregg are ours and Fort Sumter is a shapless mass of ruins. Gen Gillmore kept advancing his works until he had his rifle pits close under Fort Wagner and our forces could march up in perfect safety to within fifty feet of the parapit of the fort. He then opened fire on the fort with all his heavy guns and the Monitors and Ironsides engaged them from the water while the wooden gunboats lay off about four miles and dealt out their terrible missles to the rebels, drop firing them fair and square into the fort everytime. We could distinctly hear the reports of the guns during the bombardment although fifty miles distant in a direct line[.] After a terrific bombardment of two days and nights it was decided to carry the works by storm, the assaulting column was marching up the beach when a deserter came in and told them that the rebels were evacuating the island[.] They immediately took possession of the fort and proceeded double quick to Cummings Point where they took about 80 prisoners who had not got into the boats and a Lieut and 22 men who had but who saw fit to return when politely requested to do so by our boys. The interior of the forts presented a horrible spectacle. The dead bodies of rebels lay where they fell, unburied, and many that had been buried on the parapit and within the fort were uncoverd by the immense shells from our monitor and batteries. Provisions, pork, beef, bacon, hard bread, etc all scattered around the place making it any thing but pleasant. The rebel rag still floats over Sumter but there is not a gun in the fort, but is dismounted and rendered useless the walls are all knocked to pieces and it is no defense to the harbor at all. The Monitor Weehawken got aground opposite Fort Moultrie and instead of trying to get off, she lay there and fired her fifteen inch shells at Moultrie as fast as she could, receiving over 100 shots per minute from the rebels, the Ironside went up to help her out and they succeeded in bursting a shell in one of the magazines of Moultrie and blowing it up and then retired. Since the taking of Wagner & Gregg everything has been quiet except Genl Gillmore gave old Beauregard another taste of his Greek Fire from "The Swamp Angel". He is mounting heavy guns in Wagner & Gregg and building new batteries within less than four miles of Charleston over a mile nearer than the "Swamp Angel" and when he gets them finished, the City of Charleston has got to surrender or be knocked down. We are expecting a new naval commander here to relieve Admiral Dahlgren, who seems to be afraid to do anything with his Ironclads. We still remain here doing fatigue duty, two Companies are stationed on picket about 8 miles from here. It has been very stormy here for the last month and with our old tents we might as well have been out in the open air, but we have got new tents now and are all right. It is quite cool here now, much cooler than it has been at his season of the year since we have been in this country it is very healthy, scarcely any fevers and most of the deaths that occur are from wounds. Tell your friend Sallie that if she lets that Captain kiss her again I will take revenge by kissing some other girl when I get home. (guess that will make her feel bad). I was very sorry to hear of the death of your friend but such is the cruel fate of War, I have lost the best friend I had in this Regiment. My tentmate, with whom I had passed many a pleasant hour, was killed in the assault on Fort Wagner, I was by the side of him till I was knocked over and since that time I have not seen him. We heard that he was wounded severely in the arm and taken prisoner, had his arm taken off and died two days after. He was a very fine young man and leaves a large circle of friends. I should like to be home when your friend Em makes her contemplated visit to Boston, but I hardly think any such good luck awaits me. I don't thikn you did wrong in telling me that Cousin Viva had red hair, for among my acquaintences I am sure the red haired stand as high in my estimation as any others. I am going to steal time to write to them if I can't get it any other way. As for falling in love with them, all I don't know about it. I am perfectly heart whole as yet and I hardly think I shall trust that precious article to the keeping of any young lady till this cruel war is over. When I get out of this scrape it will be time enough for me to get into a worse one. I think I shall settle down and keep bachelors hall, then I shall not be afraid of getting my hair pulled out or chased with a broom stick if I don't walk Spanish. I am right smart with a needle, can sew on buttons and mend my clothes so that no know would know but what some nice young lady did it (if they didn't look at them) I am very sorry to hear such an account of Mary Bull and family but it is as good as I could expect. I thank you very much for the photograph of Cousin Emily and little girl. I have been trying to get some photographs taken here but they do not take any good ones. If I can get a pass to go up to Beaufort I can get some good ones taken and will send you some. I think I must have exhausted your patience by this time so Good Night. Pleasant dreams and not a wink of sleep. Lots of love to all Coz Roxie included.
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