The original documents are at the Hardwick (Mass.) Historical Society and these letters are published here with their kind permission.
New Orleans, La.
Wednesday evening, July 2, 1862
Dear Sister Louisa
Your letter mailed June 7 at Enfield came by the Rhode Island & I received it last night. We had looked for the steamer anxiously for several days. Having finished my labors for today I thought I would write to you. I have just been reading the Springfield Republican which Dr. Orcutt sent. Tell him if you see him that I received it & I have sent him a New Orleans paper. My evenings I spend in the Quartermaster’s office, 24 Magazine St. If I don’t have a newspaper to read or letters to write, it is rather dull, as most of the clerks are out seeking amusement in the streets of the metropolis. Three or 4 of us sleep here. We have no guard, only a wax figure of a general stands sword in hand at the head of the stairs. It is natural enough to scare anybody who has never seen it & answers every purpose of a live soldier.
I get along well at the Press & half the chaps around there think I’m Chief Quartermaster of the city. I should judge by the way they come around & inquire for work & seek recommendations. I have 12 or 15 men to work under me every day, piling lumber, wood, loading hay, etc. Today I have issued about 5 tons of hay, 26,000 feet of lumber, & some grain. Some days when a ship is unloading cargo of Quartermaster Stores I am kept pretty busy signing receipts & seeing it stowed away. I feel quite at home in the city now & I don’t see much soldiering. I have given my gun back to the company & don’t expect to shoulder it this summer, at any rate. I felt bad at giving back the trusty rifle out of which I had fired several blank cartridges & carried around as I walked my beat amid the snows of Camp Seward & Camp Chase, on the rich plantations of Hilton Head, on the sands of Ship Island, & on the sidewalks of New Orleans, which for 8 months had been my bosom companion & which I had used in the brilliant maneuvers of “present arms”, “order arms”, “support arms”, “shoulder arms”, “right shoulder shift arms”. But still I didn’t cry much when I carried the old implement of war, which never hurt anybody & never will half so much as it has my arm, back to the sergeant’s tent & whacked it onto the ground with a sense of relief & in a style not laid down in the Tactics & told the sergeant I relinquished my claim to the article & put it in his hands to use for the defense of the country in a manner which he saw fit. I expect some of the new recruits are carrying it around. I hope the chap will have a good time & not shoot himself.
Gov. Moore has signed a proclamation to the people of Louisiana. I suppose you won’t take the trouble to read it if you see it in any northern paper. The most important feature is the forbidding boats with provisions or sugar from coming into the city. Although the port has been opened a month, not enough flour has come into the city to meet the demand occasioned by the consumption of the large population. Flour is worth $27.00 a barrel & can’t be bought for that price. Soldiers today have found eager purchasing for their loaves of bread at 50 cents a loaf. It is said that there are shiploads of flour at the mouth of the river, but not enough tow boats to tow them up. The rebels burnt all their steamers & now it would be a just retribution if they had to starve, but the wretches who did it will be the ones to live & the suffering comes on the poor women & men who have no means of support. Some English & French men-of-war are in the river opposite the city & the rebels look upon them as a big thing. They had a rumor around the other day that the French war vessel was going to allow them to raise the secession flag. Even now when the affairs looks so dark for the South, there are plenty who say the Confederacy still will be recognized. Some think we took the city too easy & if we had had a big fight & cleaned out about half of the population, ‘twould have a good effect on the rest. But I think things are going along well & no man is afraid now to speak Union sentiments or raise the Union flag. There would be many more American Ensigns floating if they could be got, but the price of the cloth is very high & they had rather spend their spare cash for bread, just now. One man asked me if I couldn’t borrow a flag for him to raise over his house on the Fourth of July. He said if he could only have it one day he would be glad. There are good many flags flying. We have one over our office, then the next block one from the St. James Hotel, one at 95 Magazine — the Ass. Quartermaster’s office, over the City Hall, Col. Shaffer’s office, the Custom House, & all houses occupied by officers & on all the ships. Little boys about the streets begin to think the Union flag is appropriate & have little ones on their caps & they sing a new version of the southern song: “The muskets they do rattle & the cannon they do roar, And we’ll fight for you, Abe Lincoln, all along the southern shore.” — putting in Lincoln in place of Jeff Davis.
Butler has tried up one woman & sent her to Ship Island, as you will see from the piece of paper I enclose. Good for ol’ Butler. He knows how to treat rebels & I’ll bet she won’t get away as easy as she did from Washington. I enclose a specimen of New Orleans money. It is a 5 cent piece or picayune & passes just as good as silver. Love to all. Write soon.
Your aff. Bro.,
Hardwick boys are well as far as I know.
New Orleans, La.
Saturday evening, July 5, 1862
The Roanoke around last night from New York the 25th June. I received three letters, one from Libby mailed the 14th of June, from you & Harry at Waverley mailed June 12th, & one mailed the 23rd. I was very glad to get information about your journey & to learn you were so well pleased with your visit. You seemed to take a fancy to night traveling. I should think it would have tired you somewhat.
I will answer Father’s inquiries 1st — How many letters I had received from home. That I can’t tell. I think I have told you in each letter I have written, the letters I have received. I think most if not all have been rec’d. When I left Ship Island, I put nothing in my knapsack but a change of clothing & a testament, expecting to be subjected to marches by land. I wanted a knapsack as nearly empty as possible. All my other property I put in the company box among government baggage & have never been able to get it. Boxes were broken open, either on ship or at the wharves at Ship Island & New Orleans. I lost stockings & towels, paper, ink, toothbrush, pair of pants, coat, needle case, pins & all the little traps which I had. The gratification I felt at coming into the city without undergoing any extraordinary privations made me think nothing of the loss. What’s the use of being a soldier if you don’t lose a pair of stockings or a shirt for the sake of the Union? If anybody, whether rebel or Unionist was in want of dry goods or stationary so much as to open a box & take them without making a requisition on the proprietor, he must have needed them more than I did. The want of those articles must’ve been very pressing; his situation very alarming. Perhaps he had worn his stockings a week or two & had no clean ones to put on. Perhaps he wanted to write a letter to his wife & had no paper & had no opportunity to inform the owner of his want of the articles. Since I have been here, my plate, knife & fork, canteen, & haversack have gone the same way. The only way you can keep such things in the Army is to strap them on your back. If I stay in the Quartermaster’s Department much longer, my property will be limited to the personal apparel I have on. A man feels about as independent as anybody when he walks around without a cent in his pocket & all his property on his back. Frank took care of my cheeseboard & another fellow of the writing desk Emily sent me, so they came here all right.
I’m getting along slowly in answering questions. Well the 2nd question comes up for consideration in regard to the handkerchief & letter in the box directed to John Phelps. I think in my last I wrote that the box is safe in the office of the Adams Express Co. The battery John is in went to Baton Rouge some time ago. A letter was sent up to John to get permission to take it out, but I learned lately that John, with the section of the battery, is in the vicinity of Vicksburg & no communication had been had with him since he left Baton Rouge. Consequently, I have not got the handkerchief or letter.
Question No. 3 about the reception of newspapers will now demand my attention. I have received Tract Journals, Banners, Springfield Republicans, Harpers Weekly, Forneys War something — I forgot what you call it — New York & Boston papers, & Uncle Elisha sent by the steward of one of the steamboats 20 or 30 papers which I received.
Question No. 4 alludes to a very interesting subject. I have received $52, the wages of her private for 4 months from 1st of Jan. to 31st May & $5.20 for extra duty as clerk at Camp Seward after 1st of Jan’y. I was with the Quartermaster about half of the month of December, but as all accounts were supposed to be squared up to Jan. 1, 1862, I could obtain no pay for service previously rendered. The $5.20 was for extra duty — 13 days, 40 cents per day.
Number 5 – Do you expect to remain in your present position as clerk or assistant to the Post Quartermaster while your Regiment continues at New Orleans? I have no reason to think that I shall be ordered to my company as long as I choose to stay with the Quartermaster. Although perhaps persons more suitable could be found to take charge of the Reading Press, I have not heard but what I give satisfaction. Lieut. Harral was anxious to have me stay as long as he had charge of the department. Metcalf, who was Post Quartermaster a short time, retained me & now the Press has been turned over to the care of Capt. Bainbridge, Assistant Quartermaster. Capt. Prime is Post Quartermaster, but I have nothing to do with him & my business is with Capt. Bainbridge, a regular Army officer. I am detached from my Regiment by the Adjutant General for service in the Quartermaster Department. When my services are not needed there, then I go back to my Regiment, but I have no power to return to my company. Neither have my company officers or even Col. Gooding authority to order me back. That order can only come from Gen’l Butler or the Quartermaster. I may stay in my present position till mustered out of service. I might say the chances favor it. If the 31st Regiment goes to Vicksburg, Biloxi, or North Dana, I can’t go except with authority from other source than any in the Regiment. You understand now how I am situated.
The next inquiry is about extra pay. From May 3rd to May 26th I received $9.60. Capt. Prime will pay me from that time till 1 June $2.00 & now the pay for the month of June — 30 days at 40 cents — is ready for me as soon as I am a mind to sign the pay roll. That will make in all since I came here received $80.80. I will send home $60 by Adams Express this week. I sent home $12 before from Camp Seward. I think I owe you $15.75 for my account you settled at [illegible] & about $5.00 I borrowed at Pittsfield of Libbie, say $21.00 I owe you. That will make $9.00 more than the $12 you already have & $51 which you can do as you want with. Pay Mixter the interest on the money I owe him & part of the principal or use it yourself to buy your clothes or watermelons. I owe Mixter $300.00 don’t I? Or $200.00, which is it? He’ll get it if the war continues 3 years. If I haven’t the right idea of what I owe you, let me know. As far as owing you is concerned, if I should pay you all my wages from now till — well, for several years I shouldn’t consider I owed you any less. What you have paid out for me can’t be canceled by any savings at $25.00 a month, but that little account will be squared & you can dispose of my earnings as you see fit. It seems good to be taking in a little money. It seems an easy way of getting it, too. There, I worried myself to death over those Barnes in District 3 all winter & traveled through the snow & sorrow by Jim Fays & suffered in body & mind more those 8 weeks than the 8 months I have been a soldier & then got only $40, out of which to pay $50 to Austin for those nice clothes which the moths are now eating in the garret of Mother’s old house.
Finally, lastly, & in conclusion, I will direct your attention & claim your indulgence for a few minutes while I answer the last question — Where I go to lodge. I lodge at 24 Magazine, Capt. Prime’s office. When the Office of the Post Quartermaster was moved from the Custom House to 24 Magazine, I took up my bed & walked over also, & although as I said I have nothing to do with Capt. Prime as far as business is concerned, I am better acquainted with him & know the clerks & it seems more like home to come here to sleep than to seek repose at Capt. Bainbridge’s office or any other place. Sometimes, once in 2 or 3 weeks, I stop off to Annunciation Square with Frank or Canterbury. Old Co. D still has my affections & I like occasionally to crawl into one of their bunks & think I belong to the 31st Mass. Regt. of Gen. Williams Brigade & not Gen. Butler’s as my letters are mostly superscribed. It is Butler’s Division & Williams’ brigade.
I’ve answered your questions and used up considerable stationery about it. You mustn’t ask questions if you don’t want to be bored with a long letter, for when I get started on a topic I go on to an indefinite length without thinking of the nonsense I may be getting off. Although I’ve got a liberal education, I don’t have the faculty of contracting my expressions into a narrow compass & I hope you won’t feel indignant if you have to pay 3 cents extra postage now & then just for my carelessness. Still, I like to answer questions & if there is anything you don’t understand about things, I want to give you just as definite ideas as possible. You all thought I was clerk in the Post Office. What an idea!
You speak about the good effects of quinine to take now & then. Quinine may be very good. I never tasted of it to see & never want to. Now I don’t believe in putting medicine into a man’s system & doctoring for this & doctoring for that. Now Charles Chandler has had a bad cough & he has made a regular drugstore out of his bunk & looking over his bottles of medicine with as much interest as I did our Trow’s butterflies or those old stones Bro. Chute gave me. I tell him if he wants to get well, adopt some common sense remedy. It may be a peculiar notion of mine, but I would rely more on some old woman remedy than all the Calomel, quinine & “pizen” in the Union. Now I got a cough & cold when I first came into the city. Caught it probably sleeping out on the sidewalk in a wet damp spot the first night. It hung on & hung on. I went to the Hospital & got a bottle of something & took it 3 times a day, but that didn’t do any good. I got an old negroe woman, Julia, who hangs around the ships to do some act of kindness to suffering sailors or soldiers, to give up some stuff, mutton tallow & molasses, & it cured me right up.
You say my letters have all been received. I don’t see how you know how many I’ve sent. If you have, you’ve got an awful sight of them. You’ll have to rent the whole of Marsh [?] house for another year to find room to put them in. You want to know the best way of directing letters. I think the best way is to direct either care of Capt. Prime, Quartermaster, New Orleans or Capt. Bainbridge, Quartermaster, New Orleans. If you direct to Capt. Prime, I should be more likely to get them sooner. It does well enough to direct to the Regiment, as long as they stay in the city. The chaplain of our Regiment saves up the letters for me at the Hospital & I stop in & get them after a mail arrives. Sometimes they get up to the Regiment & Frank takes care of them.
Mr. Chubbuck is sickly. He has had a good deal to do, being the only chaplain in the Hospital & has had funerals to attend every day… Just at this stage of the proceeding, a bug flies up & lights on the table. I immediately thought of Dwight, the naturalist of Hardwick & friend of Agassiz, & secured the animal, which I hope you will give him with my respects.
Yesterday was Independence Day. It seemed more like Sunday to me. There was an oration delivered at the City Hall by Rev. Mr. Duncan, but I did not attend. I noticed many American flags flying in different parts of the city. There were five on buildings near the Custom House where there has been none before. Beauregard Exchange had the stars & stripes out. I staid [sic] at the Press in the forenoon & in the afternoon went up to the Regiment. 3 or 4 of our company go home on the Bark Harriet Raille, the prize vessel. She leaves soon. Capt. Conant, who hasn’t got his commission, goes in charge of the ship & cargo. Bond has got out of the Hospital & is most well. I expect as soon as he gets well, he will be 2nd Lieut. Howland has been reduced to the ranks for going off & being gone 4 days. Frank has had his picture taken to send home. Frank Spooner & Joe Richmond have also. I will wait till next summer before I get mine taken. I imagine I look about as I did when I left Mass. except I don’t shave any & I have a beautiful, flowing beard. Fellows pretend to say I look better – good thing. I took some supper with Frank. We had oranges, watermelons, figs, cake, etc. I staid [sic] up there all night & after supper the Regiment fired salutes of blank cartridges & then they separated & went around singing, “John Brown’s body lies a’moldering in the grave…His soul is marching on”, etc. It sounded good to hear the boys shouting out the good old songs in the rebel city. I heard a few hisses from one house. I believe a flag was presented to the 13th Conn. by the ladies of New Orleans.
I have cut out of the extra Delta the telegraphic despatches which created some excitement in the city & made the faces of rebels radiant with joy. You can see how much satisfaction we get from all news through rebel sources. McClellan mortally wounded & everything captured, even to the balloon. There are one or two men who used to be clerks at the Reading Press when cotton trade was brisk, pretty bitter secesh. I joked with them about the news. Said I, “Good news from Richmond.” “The American Army completely annihilated.” I told him the rebels didn’t conduct this war according to the rules of civilized warfare. They were generally satisfied with annihilating the enemy once, but here they annihilated us at Shiloh, & only four weeks ago annihilated us at Chickahominy, & now to repeat the operation so soon, seemed hard. To annihilate an enemy 4 or 5 times in one campaign is too bad.
On the other side of the scrip of paper, I cut out a letter from Rev. Mr. Hall whom I hear preach once in awhile. When pastors are such traitors & show such Satanic spirit, what must their flock be?
New York papers are cried about the streets by the newsboys, now, on the arrival of the steamers — New York Herald, Harpers Weekly, etc.
Tuesday, July 8 — The Fulton came in yesterday morning from New York, 26th June. She brought a small mail. I received a letter & some papers from Uncle Elisha. Uncle says if I am sick & have to come home, or need any money, to draw on him for any reasonable sum. Liberal offer.
I was up to the Regiment, Sunday. Goodrich, the Commissary Sgt., has been put under arrest on the charge of keeping back rations due to the companies & selling them. Suspicion was aroused by the extravagant style he has been living in & confirmed by the state of the papers & books.
I saw in a Greenfield paper an account of Mr. and Mrs. Ruggles’ golden wedding. Must’ve been a big thing. Among the distinguished individuals present was mentioned Mr. George Mixter of Harvard College.
Last night, I went out to the Lake. I had never been out before. It is a very popular drive for citizens, officers, & anyone who can afford a horse & carriage. The Quartermaster Sgt. of our Regiment took his horse & I borrowed a carriage of Mr. Hillman, who runs the Press & a very kind man he is, too. He is always ready to do a favor to me & almost insisted in my taking one of his mules to go with the carriage. I have had several talks with him on the state of affairs & I find him liberal in his views, though he is a southern man. He wants to see peace & he says he was sorry to see us come in here, but he says we suppose we are doing right & never says anything rash, though it might be called disloyal. He says he wants this thing settled for the sake of the North just as much as the South, but he fears this country is ruined & we shall never have freedom again, North or South. Well, we took the horse & carriage & rode over to Lakeville on Lake Pontchartrain, about 6 miles — a charming ride. The road is built through the swamp of shells & is just as smooth & level as can be. At the lake are bathing houses, restaurants, hotels, & a company of soldiers do picket duty there. We came back between 8 7 9 in the evening, singing “John Brown’s body”, etc. You may smile at the idea of my singing, but I put in the bass so as to attract some attention, probably more on account of the sentiment than the sweetness of my voice, however.
I changed my boarding place today. I found I couldn’t turn in my rations, so I sold them for 15 dollars — that is one month — & pay $5.00 a week for board. 2 or 3 commissary clerks board there & 15 or 20 gentlemen & ladies. The lady, Mrs. Wilburn, is Union, but her sons & daughters secesh. We had a good supper, biscuits & butter, toast, ham & tea. The other place where I boarded in never got butter oftener than once a month. It seemed like getting quite civilized to sit down to a table with gentlemen & ladies & have niggers to turn out tea & pass around the mackrel. I shall send home only $50.00 instead of $60.00. I can’t get along without. My letter is full. I will write tomorrow, again.
Your aff. son
New Orleans, La.
Tuesday evening, July 22, 1862
Dear Parents & Sisters
Your Special Correspondent is seated at the table at the office 24 Magazine St. The evening is warm. The natives call this very hot weather. I tell them if they don’t have any hotter weather than this, they can’t beat us at the North. I am comfortably with my woolen pants on & don’t feel the heat more than I do any summer. In fact, they tell me I am improving on it. I expect, if it continues at this temperature two months longer, I shall get quite fleshy.
Secessionists have been quite joyful over the report of the success of their ram Arkansas which came down the Yazoo River & is now at Vicksburg. They have rumors also that Van Dorn is coming with 30,000 men to take New Orleans. As far as the ram is concerned, we feel confidence in Farragut. After all, the rams, etc. he encountered in taking New Orleans & I don’t imagine any difficulty in our gunboats capturing or sinking this last rebel craft of the Mississippi River. Still our fleet is on the “qui vive” & will not be surprised. The attempt at recapturing the city will hardly be advisable for the rebels. They might make us trouble & with the foe in our very midst make it uncomfortable for the 4 or 5000 Union troops here, but with our gunboats in the river we have no cause for alarm. Just as sure as we have to leave the city, we leave it in ruins. That is Butler’s determination. Not a roof will be left from Carrollton to the plains of Chalmette. They know it & would be as sorry to see Van Dorn as anybody.
Every day & night there is some fire in the city & you don’t see the soldiers very anxious to put it out. They openly declare they hope ’twill spread over the whole city. The force here is small. Very small for the defense of so large & important a place. The 31st & 26th Mass., 13th Conn., & 12th Maine are the only regiments here & the 1st Maine battery the only pack of artillery. The “Louisiana Brigade” has enough men to stand guard about the U.S. Barracks & that’s about all. There has been a report that some desperate fellows have held meetings & organized a plot to take the Maine battery. It may not, & I presume is not, true but one or two companies are detailed every night for guard about their camp at Tivoli Circle to make “assurance doubly sure.” We have plenty of friends here in the city who, if they haven’t the devotion to take up arms for their country, make themselves serviceable by reporting every rumor that moves the populace & perhaps do us as much good as if they were openly in our service. The scanty force here is amply sufficient for the preservation of peace, but the number of men detailed daily for guard & patrol gives the men little opportunity to become demoralized by inaction. I should rejoice to see Butler reinforced by 20,000 & I think they could be used without injury to the public, but if they are more needed elsewhere — as I think they are — I am content.
Part of our division is now doing duty way up to the Yazoo River — the 6th Michigan, our nearest neighbors at Ship Island. I should think Halleck right to be around with part of our large Army of the West to relieve them. Butler’s division has done the largest amount of duty with the least fighting of any. It may not get the credit or make itself famous, but cheerfully performs its share of the great work of the restoration of peace & Union & grumbles not at the fate that places them in the swamps & bayous of Louisiana instead of the Valley of the Shenandoah, the banks of the James, or the hills of the upper Mississippi. A soldier’s life, to make the best of it, has its toils, its privations, & its sufferings. Many a soldier’s heart, too proud to grumble, has its unattended but deep yearnings for the fireside he has left, satisfied with the romance of war, would welcome the realities of peace, but each one feels the trust imposed upon him & is determined come weal or woe to stand or fall by the proud banner of his country.
We feel encouraged by the call for 300,000 volunteers & may chuckle at the prospect of seeing many who have staid [sic] at home — skulked, you might say, their country’s call — obliged by public sentiment or fears of a draft to shoulder their musket & come forward in the ranks. One of our Regiment Co. C died in his bunk at the quarters Saturday night after great suffering. He was sick only a few hours. His disease was called a heart disease. Woodis died a day or two after I told you I saw him. Bond of our company is still unable to perform much duty owing to the erysipelas in his ankle. Doctors say he will never get over it in this warm climate & he may have to return home. He is a good soldier and would regret the necessity that obliged him to leave the company.
I send a piece of poetry about Grout. ‘Twas sent from Ware. Preserve it among the papers of our Regiment. Does Louisa still save the scraps from newspapers about the 31st? Capt. Nettleton of Co. E writes occasionally for the Republican.
We have now a guard at our office nights, both for safety, in case of surprise, & for convenience in case we all want to be out at the same time. I like our living at our mess first-rate. I think I will move my things up to the Square & sleep with Bond. He has a room by himself in one of the houses which the officers have taken possession of – deserted by the rebels.
Two or three fellows have just come in & had a little chat. One was a citizen, an old Mass. man, who formerly lived in Worcester County, by the name of Peck. One was Skerry who was forage clerk at Ship Island, a position similar to what I hold now. He is now engaged in removing obstructions in “the Rigolets” or passage from Lake Pontchartrain to the Gulf. He also superintends expeditions out on the Mississippi coast. He gave quite an interesting account of 25 men going up with him up the Pearl River. They took some leading men prisoners, but before they got away 25 mounted guerrillas rode down to them & fired & then ran behind the houses where were women & children. He said they could easily have captured the boat, as it laid anchored against the shore. They killed one of our men & we killed four of them. Our men got away & took a lot of lumber & wood to pay the expense of the expedition. An expedition goes out tomorrow up Lake Pontchartrain by Pass Manshac to Lake Maurepas. I expect some of our Regiment will have a chance one of these days to go out on some of these marauding expeditions. Sometimes they take quantities of cotton which is very valuable nowadays – $100 a bale. 63 bales came into the Press today. I wish I owned it. ‘Twould be quite a little fortune. It has got to be nearly 10 o’clock & I am tired, if you ain’t.
Wednesday evening, July 23 – There is nothing new today. The Connecticut arrived last night with one day’s later intelligence from the North to July 18. I received no mail though a small one came. The Matanzas goes to N.Y. Friday. I shall have to put this in tomorrow to have it go. I hope to hear soon of your safe arrival home. Uncle Elisha wrote he had sent by Adams Express some thin clothes. I haven’t received them yet, but suppose I shall. Give my love to all friends at Hardwick. The Hardwick boys are well. Whittlesey, late Sergeant Major of the 13th Conn., has been appointed 1st Lieut. in one of the companies of the Regt. Corporal Barber of our Co. has been appointed Sergeant in Howland’s place. Have you seen Capt. Hopkins? I suppose he will leave soon for this place. How do Hardwick folks make out haying this season? I receive, now & then, the Banner directed to Ship Island.
Your aff. son & bro.
New Orleans, La.
Tuesday, August 12
Dear Sister Libbie
I suppose you at home now around the social board, eating huckleberries & milk, attending war meetings, sewing societies, etc. You suggested in your last letter that it would be a good plan to keep a journal every day & send home. Well suppose I write what I have done so far today as I have nothing else to say. I got up between half past 5 & 6 this morning, appealed pathetically to Frank to follow my example but he couldn’t see it in that light till about 6 1/2. At 7, we gathered around the board laden with the bounties of Providence & enjoyed the repast of coffee, bread-and-butter, toast, ham & cold pork. Potatoes are very dear now. Sweet potatoes we get occasionally & the commissary gives us rations in desiccated potatoes which are Irish potatoes, paired, mashed & dried so that they will keep. They then, when they want to cook them, put water in & there you have mashed potatoes, but they don’t taste like potatoes or anything else. Fannie, Francis Ann, & Aunt Caroline, the efficient & attentive contrabands, ministered to our wants with African fidelity. The table was spread in the porch in the rear of the house. The backyard is small but contains a few trees of the southern clime: the pomegranate, baytree, fig & persimmon.
Having finished the bountiful repast, I took up the line of march for 95 Magazine St. I took down a blouse which I drew from the company to change for one of the light sacks worn by the Conn. Regt. After few words of familiar conversation with the clerks of the department, Mr. Memminger, Mr. Berger, Mr. Barry, Law & Buckup, I started for my place of business at the Reading Press. I stopped at the jewelers on the way to get my A.D.G. pin fixed. I noticed a new steamer at the levee & went down to see what it was. Found it was the Marion from N.Y., 2nd of Aug. I presume there will be a letter for me on her. Yesterday I got a letter from Henry & Augusta.
As there was not much to do at the Press, as the two men I have to work for me are very reliable & keep a correct account of all hay, wood, or anything that is issued, I went around to Tchoupitoulas Street to get my hair cut. I have not been barbered since I was on the steamer Mississippi near Key West when I had my hair cut close to my head. I have not shaved since I was on the voyage from Boston, so I had my chin whiskers cut off, leaving a beautiful, yellow mustache & side whiskers. The above is sarcastical. The barber, a white Creole, entered into a conversation & deplored the war & said he wished they would leave it with him to settle. He would go to Washington & drive the abolitionists out & put in a good Democrat president. I told him we have had Democrat presidents enough that Buchanan, Pierce, Jeff Davis, etc. had brought all this trouble on the country & told him the North would all be abolitionists if the war continued.
When I went up to dinner at noon I stopped at a foot & shoe store to see about getting a pair of boots made. I am to furnish the leather — some confiscated calfskin — & he will make a pair for $5.00.
Since it has been found out that citizens of Baton Rouge took their guns & went out to join the enemy at their attack on our forces, an order has been issued today to have all arms of any description in the City delivered to the military authorities. If the order is not complied with before Saturday next, the penalty is imprisonment at hard labor. Lieut. Howell was officer of the guard today & had a splendid rifle brought to him this morning.
For dinner today we had fresh beef, bread & rice. Aunt Caroline does my washing Mondays for me at $1.00 a dozen.
There is a detachment from our Regiment guarding a crowd of prisoners on board a steamer, mostly Kentuckians, Breckenridge’s followers. Parker of our Co. is one. When they were picked out & ordered to report on board the Diana, they thought they were going up river to hunt guerillas & the whole company wanted to go. They like New Orleans pretty well, but they would like a little excitement & enjoy the roam after a live guerrilla.
Yesterday, Capt. Bainbridge paid me for the month of July – $12.00 all in City money, Bank of New Orleans. Just as good here & a good deal better than Ware money. They say specie is getting scarce up north & postage stamps have to be used. Frank had a letter yesterday from home. Albert said he was cutting the grass up under the trees of the parsonage. 7 of the quota had enlisted. I don’t see what they want to give those fellows $100 to enlist for, when they don’t deserve it half as much as those already in the field. I would draft them & send them along with $13 a month state aid & rations.
There have been several boys down from Baton Rouge & they tell us many incidents of the battle. One fellow said when the rebels got possession of the camp of 1 or 2 regiments, they broke ranks & rifled the tents of all that was worth anything. Then our men got possession again & killed all they found in the tents. One man was found dead with a loaf of bread by his side which he had just got hold of. Prisoners say they had ate up all of their rations before they got to Baton Rouge & were told they would have a good breakfast there. They probably thought they would fight more desperately. You will probably see in the papers the order of Gen. Butler on Gen. William’s death & also to the soldiers of the “Army of the Gulf”. They were read to our Regt. on dress parade a few evening since.
I went into the Cathedral, Sunday last. It is Catholic & the services were in French. All class seemed to mingle in the worship. The proud & haughty Creole as well as the humble African would prostrate themselves & perform their idol ceremonies & sacrilegious mummeries. I walked after coming from the Cathedral through Jackson Square or Place D’Armes. Flowers lined the walks & a notice was posted up, “Ne touchez pas aux fleurs”. I sputtered French to a woman selling ice cream. I told her I had no “de l’argent” & she gave me a little for which I politely “vous ne mercied”. This was in the French part of the city.
Frank & I were walking out in the evening & little girl kept singing, “Beauregard will come & drive the Yankees out. Hurrah for Beauregard.” Folks here bring up their children to do what they dare not do themselves & set their children out in the streets to insult Yankees & hide their own guilt under the innocence of babes. A grown person dare not say much about the Yankees. One impudent scoundrel remarked, when they were conveying the wounded to the Hospitals, that “’twas good enough for the Yankees. They’ve got no business down here.” He was promptly arrested & will have an opportunity to meditate on his sins while picking oakum in the Parish Prison for which he was sentenced for 6 months. But they will let anybody out of the Prison if they will enlist. More recruits have been got for the Louisiana Regiment out of prisons than palaces. One fellow who has worked down at the Press here was sentenced to the Parish Prison for 1 month & enlisted in preference to serving his time out. These recruits, many of them make good soldiers, a good many of them have been in the Confederate service, but no reliance can be placed on them. They will desert, steal, & had better be in Prison than anywhere else.
Ice is now very scarce in the city. Butler seized all in the City yesterday for the Hospitals, but a shipload came in yesterday toward night. Flour has got down to $10 – 12 per barrel. Hay is from $90-$100 a ton.
9:30 p.m. – Frank has just gone to bed & an orderly is rubbing his erysipelas ankle with some cement ointment or something or other & I will complete the journal for the day with a few remarks. The mail came up tonight. Orderly took the letters for Co. D & went to their quarters & mounted a box & halloed, “Co. D, fall in for mail.” Chandler got some letters, but Frank & I came out minus. Chandler’s letter said that Dwight would go if Bill Warner would. There was a general reading of letters & consultation on war matters. George Robinson says to Frank, “Well, when do you think this show will be over?” Frank didn’t give him much encouragement. Fellows hardly knew me since I got the new cut of my whiskers. Some thought I was an officer & I received so many compliments that I feel pretty big. I hear so many stories about John Phelps that I don’t know what to believe. One thing is certain — he wasn’t in the fight. Some say he was sick & came down here to the Hospital & they sent him back & said nothing ailed him. Sgt. Patch of Springfield, Co. G, jumped out of the St. James Hospital this afternoon, falling 4 stories & was instantly killed. He was delirious. Thus endith the journal for today. [Illegible] [illegible]. About face. To bed, march on to adieu.
corner of Erato & Front Levee Sts., New Orleans
Saturday, August 16, 1862
Dear Parents & Sisters
Your letter dated July 28 care of Capt. Prime was handed to me this morning by one of his clerks. I had wondered that I had got none while Chandler & Frank had received letters from their folks, but as I do not go to Capt. Prime’s office very often, I suppose it has been there for two or 3 days. Mr. Salter’s letter came also. The money then went all right. I thought it was time to hear from it.
Answers to your inquiries:
1st — the Reading Press is so-called from the firm that own it — Reading & Hillman. There are a great number of these cotton presses along the levee. With the exception of a small quantity of sugar which is stored in them, they are pretty much empty. I send a picture of the Orleans Press, the next block to me, the largest building of the kind in the city or the country. The government have taken part of that to keep ambulances & Army wagons in, & some stuff which they confiscate [such] as old iron, gun carriages, copper, etc.
2nd – Though I have lost so many articles, I have made their place good by taking articles in the Quartermaster’s office such as I needed. They have seized all kinds of clothing put up to be sent to the rebels. I have got stockings, drawers, etc. I get the nigger women to do all sewing, so need no needles. The government allows a private soldier $42 worth of clothing a year. He can draw more than that if he needs them, but then the price is taken out of his pay. I have drawn so far only about $25 worth. The articles are valued at the lowest prices: cap 63 cents, pants $3.00. The overcoat & blankets are expected to last us through the war. I have drawn two pairs of pants, 2 coats, 1 pair shoes, 1 hat, 2 caps, 1 pair shirts, 1 pair drawers, etc. As I am now where I can obtain clothing from the Quartermaster, I get it of him & then let him take it out of my pay. I have taken one pair of linen pants & 1 coat of him. If you should get a chance to send anything, the most I need is handkerchiefs & towels. Undershirts would be a good thing. I gave one of mine away at Ship Island to a fellow who had no shirt at all & couldn’t get any from the Quartermaster. As I wore flannel shirts then, I needed no undershirts. Now I wear linen shirts or cotton & wear undershirts.
T3rd – I am a “clerk in the Quartermaster’s department”. Some call me a “forage clerk” but as I have a good deal besides forage to see to, I am often called Superintendent of the Reading Press. I have all the wood used by different regiments to deal out. The other day I had orders for 30 cords of wood. All clothing & equipment, tents, etc. go to the store on Magazine St. & all heavy stuff, such as wheelbarrows, stoves, wagons, etc. here. I have cannon & battery wagons & sometimes they send a note to me as the “Ordnance Keeper of Reading Press”. The collector of the port was up here the other day to get a howitzer to put on a revenue cutter.
Orderly Barnes, the Methodist clergyman of Co. F, boards with us now. Also Capron of Barre, who used to drive a bread cart through Hardwick. He belongs to Co. K, but acts now as the colonel’s orderly. He is our commissary & draws & exchanges our rations. I should be glad to hear that Trow, Warner, Hammond, Rice, & John Smith had enlisted. I can’t imagine one single reason why they should want to stay in Hardwick. If I was out of the Army, I should want more than $100 bounty to keep me at Hardwick.
Last night, I went down to the steamer Diana on which are some prisoners taken at Baton Rouge. Parker is one of the guards over them. There are all sorts of looking fellows among them, gray-headed old rebels & young guerillas. Not one has a full uniform. Some have a uniform coat & some pants & caps & all varieties of shirts, calico, etc. They seem to enjoy themselves first-rate & our boys are on good terms with them. They brought them their supper of coffee & hard bread while I was there. One prisoner hallooed, “Fall in, rebels” & they gathered around the rations laughing & joking. Citizens have sent them money & clothes. Citizens are not allowed on the boat unless they have a pass from headquarters.
Last night, about 9 o’clock the long roll beat. The Regiment got out on line & marched to Butler’s house. Some signal rockets had been sent up & was the cause of the excitement. Nobody knows who sent them up. Some think it was a signal for the rebels, & some think an evil disposed fellow wanted to kick up an excitement. Some thought there was an insurrection or a battle at Carrollton. Many think there will be lively times about here yet, but I can’t see it. I am certain that an attempt of the people here to take possession of the city is the last idea a person of sense could entertain. That Baton Rouge may be taken & the enemy approached the city may be within the range of possibilities, but it is hardly probable. The only chance for them would be to come in overwhelming numbers such as they cannot raise as long as the affairs about Richmond are so threatening. News is from rebel sources today that Pope is defeated & the federal Army of East Tennessee captured. The rebels are getting pretty active & no mistake.
John Gore would send his respects to Louisa, I presume, if he knew I was writing. Huckleberries are in their prime now at the North, I suppose. How are they over to Lucia Morton’s pasture? Middling thick?
I shall have to put on the last stamp to this & as I have no U.S. money shall have to stop writing or else get the letters franked until pay day. Love to all. Write soon.
Your aff. Son & Bro.
James B.T. Tupper
Care of Capt. E.C. Bainbridge,
Assistant Quartermaster, N.O., La.
New Orleans, La.
September 27, 1862
My dear Parents
As this week’s work is ended I will spend part of this evening in letting you know how I am getting on. I should have written before if I had not been so busy & tending a new business. I’m quite tired when night comes. For the last week or two I have been conductor on a train of cars running from New Orleans to Carrollton & Camp Williams. The governments have made a contract with the company to run one train a day over the road to carry military stores & government troops, etc. & the Quartermaster put the train under my charge. The road is called the New Orleans & Carrollton & Jefferson & Lake Pontchartrain R.R. Leaving the city, the road runs through Jefferson City, containing many fine residences of New Orleans merchants, by Camp Lewis where the “Reserve Brigade” under acting Brig. Gen. Payne is stationed, to Carrollton about 6 miles. From there it strikes through the swamps where the tall cypress trees grow & alligators thrive, to the lake 6 miles further. Here is a wharf where boats come from Ship Island & unload & take in stores. About halfway from Carrollton to the Lake there is a ridge of high ground called Metairie Ridge. Here is a race course with its large amphitheater now occupied by the 3 companies of regulars which for a while were encamped in Annunciation Square. Camp Williams, where acting Brig. Gen. Dudley’s brigade consisting of the 1st Louisiana, the 30th Mass., 7th Vt., & 6th Mich. regiments, Reads Cavalry Co., the 6th Mass. battery (John Phelps) & the 1st Maine battery, is about a mile from Metairie Ridge. A force of contrabands under Capt. Brown of the Pioneer Corps are engaged in building a railroad from the Ridge to Camp Williams & Camp Parapet on the river where Col. & acting Brig. Gen. Cahill’s brigade is stationed. We shall run around there when it is finished. Gen. Sherman has command of all the forces outside of the city in this direction with his headquarters at Carrollton. General Arnold has come from Pensacola & has command of all of the forces in the city & Gen. Dow has charge of the forts & Ship Island. We make one run a day on our train starting from Camp Williams or Metairie Ridge in the morning & reach the city about 10 a.m. We leave the city at 3:30 p.m. & run sometimes only to the Ridge & sometimes to the lake just to accommodate. I come back to the city every night on the regular trains which run every hour between here & Carrollton. I leave the city at 7 o’clock in the morning take the government train out to Camp Williams & back to the city & come back at 7 o’clock in the evening from Carrollton. By that arrangement I spend the night in the city. I have to get up at 6 o’clock in the morning & it is 8 in the evening by the time I have ate my supper & when not on the road, I have to be receiving freight so you see I am kept pretty busy. It is such hard work to write with this point on this paper that I must stop. Love to all. Write.
Your aff. son,
New Orleans, La.
October 8, 1862
Your letter mailed September 25 was rec’d yesterday. I am now at my desk at the office of the New Orleans & Carrollton R.R. Depot. There is not much freight coming in today. This morning I didn’t get up time enough to take breakfast before I had to take the 7 o’clock train. But when I got over to the lake end, I told the nigger that cooks for some of the workmen there that I wanted some breakfast & he spread the table with the best he could afford & I satisfied my appetite. I keep on the right side of the darkie by bringing him a plug of tobacco occasionally & inviting him to ride on the railroad as it comes very handy to take a meal there sometimes. The other evening, as the train was about to leave, he came out & hallooed, “Cap’n, I want to see you,” & gave me an apple pie. The next day I praised up his proficiency in the culinary art & he seemed very much pleased.
Orderly Barnes, Co. F, 31st Regt., a Methodist minister, has been appointed chaplain in the 1st Colored Regiment. As I was sitting in the depot yesterday receiving freight, a young man with a rather sedate appearance, dressed in a soldier’s uniform, appeared & was looking over some hospital stores belonging to the 75th N.Y. Regiment, which I was going to send up to Camp Lewis or Camp Kearney, as it is now called. I thought I recognized in the sunburnt features of the 12 months soldiers on the sands of Santa Rosa Island, an old acquaintance. Another look & I perceived that ’twas Philander Reed. I immediately made myself known & learned that he left the Auburn Theological Seminary when nearly through his studies to become a private in the 75th N.Y. & is now acting as Hospital Steward. The pay of Hospital Steward is $30 a month. I think Philander will make a better Hospital Steward then soldier. They need a steady person, attentive, kind, honest & possessed of Christian feeling, which most who try to fill that position unfortunately lack. I was glad to meet Reed. Whatever he lacks to make him popular with society, he has shown his patriotism & principle by entering the ranks of the army.
I went down to the levee today to see about 300 rebels who went off on the Laurel Hill to Baton Rouge to be exchanged for the same number of Yankees. There was a large crowd on the levee & the ladies waved their handkerchiefs to the deluded rebels who go out to battle against their country.
I was glad to see Abe’s proclamation abolishing slavery in yesterday’s paper. There is something to fight for now. The idea of restoring the union as it was under the old Constitution was not worth fighting for. In the first place, I considered it impossible & even if it could be done, what object would be gained if they should come together to wrangle & fight over the inconsistencies of the Constitution. That document is a dead letter — adapted to the exigencies of 75 years ago, but utterly powerless to save the country now. But now the genius of liberty, following the triumphs of our flag, removing the stains on our national character, every victory will do something more substantial than restore the union as it was, but advance civilization & promote the interest of the human race.
Reed asked me yesterday if I thought this war would be over by this winter. I told him I didn’t expect ‘twould end in 3 years & perhaps not in 6. I never was so short sighted as to imagine 3 months or a year would settle the struggles. It is a struggle for a century. The great change in society which will result, the eradication of ancient institutions, will take years to make a substantial peace. But proclamations are not going to do it. Loyal men must come in as into a new territory & plant the principles that they expect to see flourish.
When the whole southern country is repeopled, when the last vestige of slavery is removed, then only will the Union be restored & we have peace. Write soon. Love to all.
Your aff. Son
New Orleans, La.
Thursday, November 13, 1862
My Dear Parents,
Your letter mailed Hardwick, October 29th came by the Roanoke & was received day before yesterday, November 11th. Your letter mailed October 24th which came on the Parkersburg rec’d the day after, ie. November 12 or yesterday. The Roanoke goes out Saturday & I will send with this letter $10. I sent $20 by the Potomac & the next time I write I will try to send $10 more; Chandler went home in the Roanoke last trip leaving here 16th Oct. & I supposed he would be home before the date of your last letter, but I suppose he has had to wait 3 or 4 days in N.Y. to get his pay.
I am glad you propose to send me a barrel of apples. They are very high here — 5 cents apiece.
You want to know if soldiers are allowed to have whiskey. No one is allowed to sell or furnish any private or officer with liquor, not even cider or beer. It is very strict & men for doing so have had their stores closed & their property confiscated. Sometimes, they are fined or put in prison. Officers are not allowed to drink in a barroom or public house. If they do, their names are sent to the President recommending a dismissal from the service. The whiskey I spoke about carrying out on my train was for the Commissary Department. Where troops are stationed in swamps & unhealthy places, they give them quinine & whiskey in prophylactic doses for prevention of swamp fevers.
About Emancipating the niggers. I think it is a good thing as it takes the property away from the Rebels & will ruin the South for this generation, but as far as its benefitting the the blacks, I don’t think it will unless they are taken away from the Army & sent off together somewhere where someone can look out for them. I see how it is here when only a few, comparatively speaking, are with the Army. It is worse than slavery. Instead of having one master, every soldier thinks he has an interest in a government nigger & they abuse them out of pure malice. I never hear soldier speak a good word for a nigger. If there is any work to be done, they are worked night and day. I know one case where a lot of them worked unloading a steamboat all day & didn’t have anything to eat from 6 in the morning till after dark. Somehow the soldiers hate the negroes. One time when the 21st Indiana Regiment went off on board a boat, several darkies who had been living with the Regiment went aboard to go, too. The soldiers drove them off & one had a cane which he would beat over the poor negro enough to shock any one. So I don’t think their condition will be much improved & I guess many a negro wishes he was with his master. They have now got a system of hiring them & paying them $10.00 a month for their labor. They then take out of that what their clothes come to & if anything is lost they say the nigger stole it & take it out of their pay, so they don’t get much. Two of the Quartermaster’s niggers got 50 cents for last month’s work. When they are sick nobody cares whether they live or not & sometimes they are kept to work till they are taken to the Hospital & then their bodies are almost cold in death. One negro was taken around in an ambulance the other day to all the Hospitals — Marine, St. James, Charity — and had to be taken back to where they started because, as I said, the hospitals were for white folks.
I didn’t get the Barre Gazette that you sent. I never received the Recorder you sent with the article about Williams College Commencement. Somehow either they never reach here or else they are kept at the Quartermaster’s office. The best way will be to cut out any article you wish to send & send it in a letter. Also direct to Co. D, 31st Regt. as then Mr. Chubbuck will will save it out.
Nov. 14th, Friday – Barber, Sergeant in our company, has been promoted to Sergeant Major. Our other Sgt. Major is going to be lieutenant in the 2nd Louisiana. The fellow who slops with me now is a discharged soldier. He was in the Regular Army 10 years & served out his time. He thinks of joining the 31st Regt. in the Spring. He has been on the frontier & in most all the forts on the Atlantic Coast.
I am afraid Winter will be about over before that barrel of things comes. There is no steamer that runs between here & Boston & sailing vessels don’t run very frequently.
Several of the 13th Conn., the regiment in which Mr. Salter was chaplain, were killed in the fight at Thibodeaux & on the Opelousas R.R., when a car of ammunition blew up.
Any quantity of sugar is found in the District now occupied by Weitzel’s Brigade which is sent to the city where it sells for 8 or 8 1/2 cents by the hhd.
Your aff. son,
New Orleans, La
December 3, 1862
Dear Bro. & Sisters,
I rec’d a letter from a short time ago & as the the Mari goes tomorrow I will answer. John Phelps went in the 6th Mass. Battery of Ware goes home on Recruiting Service, but I didn’t much imagine he would come back. He said he had seen enough of it. Frank Knight came up from the Forts & staid one day with me. He is running down under the influence of the Malaria of these swamps & couldn’t walk around much. After he went back, he went into the Hospital at Fort Jackson. The 31st stands it better than any Regiment that has been here, yet. The 26th suffered much & once companies were nearly broke down, but I suppose the cool weather is more healthy.
They have a story they tell around. They say Gen. Weitzel when he was organizing his brigade was told by Butler that he could take his choice of regiments out of the whole Division. Weitzel says, “I want the 31st Mass. on my right.” Butler said, “You can’t have them; I’m going to keep them near me.” Good joke on the 31st Mass.
An orderly Election is progressing today. There is no excitement. In the 1st Dist. the candidates are Flanders & Bouligny & the chances are that the former will be successful. He is the Administration Abolition candidate. Bouligny is more conservative & unpopular with the foreign voters because he used to be a “Know Nothing”. In the 2nd Dist., the contest is quadruple, though in reality it lies between Durell & Michael Hahn. The former is candidate of the Union Associations & stands on the platform of unconditional union. Hahn is the candidate of the [illegible] Stamp — a Douglas Democrat in the U.S. Presidential Election & has the support of the Irish & German. I think Hahn will be elected unless government influence gives the votes of the working classes to Durell. The other candidates are Jacob Barker & Great [illegible]. The former is supported by the National Advocate which was allowed to resume its publication on apologizing to Butler. He runs supported by rebels who have taken the oath to save their property. The platform on which he stands says the Constitution is the basket in which the Union like a gem is set & if the former is destroyed the latter is not worth preserving. He says he is governed more by feelings of sorrow than of anger to the enemies of the U.S. & is willing to conciliate or compromise as far as possible without violating the Constitution. He seems to be quite an accommodating sort of man, but such talk won’t go down. I will send you a morning paper which will give the results.
Billy Wilson’s “pets,” the famous Zouaves of the New York 6th Regt. have come from Pensacola & are encamped about two miles from Carrollton. I think no injustice has been [illegible] them for all that has been said. I took one company up & I was afraid of my life. They had a fracas in the depot before starting & 2 or 3 were badly stabbed with bayonets. I noticed & took the back part of the last car for safety. Their pranks are recorded every day in the criminal reports of the daily papers some of which are quite [illegible] such as taking a drayman’s mule & cart & driving about the streets, taking possession of the stage at theaters & cheering for Billy Wilson, walking into stores & taking articles of apparel. One fellow is on trial for an aggravated case of highway robbery & it is thought he will be hung. Billy Wilson is in command of a brigade now.
Thurs., Dec. 4th – Flanders & Hahn were elected yesterday. You wanted to know what my line of business was so I enclose a few orders I have received so you can see what I have to do. I have charge of the government transportation on the road of troops & stores. I have to furnish cars, etc.
I send a Morning Delta which has the election returns. With much love for all, I am
Your Devoted Bro.,
New Orleans, La.
Monday, December 15, 1862
My Dear Parents
The Roanoke & Potomac arrived Saturday. I received your letters, one mailed Nov. 25th & one Dec. 1st. I also heard from Libby & Augusta. The bark LeRue has not made its appearance, yet. I wrote to Frank to send me up an order authorizing me to receive his freight, so I can get the barrels & send all except mine to Fort Jackson. I receive the Banner. It comes directed to Ship Island, but it is put in the mail for the 31st Regt. & I generally get it. Mr. Chubbuck saves it out. I haven’t received any papers from Uncle Elisha, lately.
The young man I spoke of as having belonged to the Regulars & who slops with me is a very intelligent young man, has seen a good deal of the world, is very kind & accommodating, & on the whole as good as they average in the Army.
I’m glad Chas. Chandler is getting well. You say he said he hadn’t heard a sermon or prayer while in New Orleans. It’s his own fault, then. Among all the churches & means of grace in the city, I should be ashamed to go home & say I never heard a prayer. If he had been inclined, he could have heard two sermons every Sunday & attended meetings during the week. You ask what has our chaplain been doing? He has plenty to do at the St. James Hospital. Here are hundreds of men sick & in their last hours, they are supposed to want religious consolation & for this reason the chaplain is stationed there. Every day he has to perform the funeral service over the remains of from one to six soldiers & he is often consulted by the friends of the dead in relation to getting their pay, clothes, etc. They generally prefer to go to the chaplain for this. Mr. Chubbuck is very busy & very useful.
I was very much surprised to learn in this morning’s paper that the Banks Expedition had arrived here. Gen. Banks came in the North Star with the 41st Mass. & arrived last night. I went down to the levee this morning to see if I could find the 42nd Mass. I couldn’t find out where they were, only they were coming. When they arrive, I shall find them out. Probably I shall soon have the pleasure of meeting with the Hardwick boys in that regiment. None of the regiments have disembarked yet & what course they are going to take now is as much in doubt as ever. I hear all sorts of rumors — that they are to proceed to Texas when they all get here, that they are going up to Vicksburg & clear the river, and some say Butler is superceded & Banks takes the whole department. I think myself they will go up river. I don’t see the object of sending men into Texas — nine-months men, too. Their time would be up before they could do much. Banks’ headquarters are at the St. Charles Hotel. I was down there this afternoon & ’twas crowded with officers, generals & colonels. Major Gen. Augur I noticed & a brigadier general whom I was told was Gen. Hamilton of Texas. Everybody is glad to see the reinforcements come in. The levee around the transports is crowded with people. Barnes, who used to be Orderly of Co. F & late chaplain of the 1st Regt. Native Guards, is promoted to Major in the same regiment. Bond & 25 men of Co. K were surprised while on picket duty at Frenier, the first station on the Jackson R.R. this side of Manshac, about 30 miles from here, & driven into the woods. It was reported that Bond was killed, but I heard today that he came back to camp. Six are missed, 4 or 5 of which were killed. I hope that Bond will give a satisfactory account of the scrape, as there have been so many stories that I don’t know who is to blame. Frank Knight, I believe is still in the hospital, but I believe is improving.
Tuesday, December 16 – I saw King of Co. K yesterday. He was in the skirmish at Frenier & says Bond acted well & they fought against three times their number until surrounded on all sides, when Bond said, “Let each man take care of himself,” & they scattered for the swamp, where after wandering around for 3 or 4 days, they got back all except 6.
I visited the 52nd Mass. Regt. this morning on the transport Illinois, though saw no one I knew, but it seemed good to see fellows so near home. They all came from Franklyn [sic] & Hampshire Counties & many of them had brothers in the 31st. They have not landed yet & don’t know their destination. Love to all.
Your aff. Son
New Orleans, La.
Monday, December 22, 1862
My dear Parents,
I wrote you in my last letter that the bark LeRoy had arrived. Last Friday morning I went down to the vessel & found some one had got the barrels for Frank & sent them down to the Fort, but had not got mine, so I got a government team & sent down & got mine that afternoon. In the evening when I got back to my room I opened it & found the apples at the top had rotted considerably. The papers were pretty well soaked & I thought the clothes would be all dirtied up, if not spoiled, but they were so well covered up with the paper that with the exception of being very damp & one of the undershirts & one of the towels being stained, everything was right. Those can be washed & then will be put to use. I dried them by the fire & then let them be in the sun the next day so the dampness would get out. I was glad to get them & the apples. The letter, after a little drying, I read. ‘Twas dated Oct. 31st & therefore was rather old. You asked me if I’d got the portmonnaie [sic: portemonnaie] at the same place that I got the other things that I send home. I did not. Frank gave that to me. The man who slopped with me picked over the apples the next day & cut the rot out of the decayed ones. There was about half a barrel full of good ones left. The drawers are thin & will do to wear next spring. I have thicker ones which I wear now.
I told you I saw Mr. Sanger. The three companies of the 42nd which arrived in the Saxon went into camp at Carrollton. I went out to see them Friday. Mr. Sanger wore captain’s shoulder straps & had a very handsome sword. The officers were in a house. I went in & talked with the Quartermaster Burrell, brother of Col. Both he & the colonel are very pleasant & sociable men & seemed as ready to talk to a private as to anybody else. Mr. Sanger had a good deal to do distributing a mail which had just come & also franking letters. I brought down some letters which Mr. Sanger gave me. One was to Mrs. Sanger. Do the Universalists have any preaching now that Mr. Sanger is gone?
These three companies had orders to embark again & left yesterday morning for Galveston. The rest of the regiment on board the Osgood, Quincy, & Shetucket have not come up yet, to my knowledge, & will probably go to Galveston without coming here. I was sure I should see the Hardwick boys, but now I suppose I shan’t before the war is over. They would prefer to stay here to going to Galveston. Mr. Sanger seemed to be some disappointed.
Steamers are still arriving with troops & proceeding up river. Saturday, as I was on the levee. the Eastern Queen passed up, the band playing “Hail. Columbia” & yesterday the large steamer Continental went up. The regiments at Carrollton & Camp Parapet of this new expedition are the 15th & 16th New Hampshire, the 160th & 162nd N.Y. & the 25th Conn. Our regiment expects now to come together & go either upriver or to Texas. I understand Col. Weldon will resign. I don’t expect to go back to the Regiment & have had no orders to. I reported to Col. Holabird, the new Chief Quartermaster, & he said keep right on as I had been & that I wouldn’t require any new order. Capt. Shipley, Asst. QM, has charge of the land & water transportation & my name is on his pay roll. It don’t make any difference whether you direct to me care of Col. Holabird, Chief QM, or Capt. Shipley, Asst. QM, or to J.B.T. Tupper, Conductor, Gov. Train, Carrollton R.R., Quartermaster’s Dept.
I learned that Gen. Weitzel’s brigade has been ordered up to Baton Rouge. Some of the regulars, Nims Battery, Wilson’s Zouaves, the 4th Wisc., & 2nd La., have already gone up. It seems that they have got to rely on the old regiments of Butler’s Expedition to do the work for Banks’ Expedition, now. I’ve nothing against Banks, but this policy of changing officers, Quartermaster’s, Commissaries, etc. is a bad thing. I suppose Butler has made money & been guilty of extortion, but no Union man has anything to complain of. I approve of taking property from Rebels & if they get off with losing nothing but their property they ought to be glad.
Tues., Dec. 23 – The papers this morning have an account of Burnside’s defeat at Fredericksburg. The South have demonstrated their ability to maintain their independence, but we’ve got to keep on fighting, I suppose, till Old Abe gets out of office. I saw Fitch last night. Stewart, one of my classmates at Andover & in the class below me at Williams, is Paymaster on the war steamer Richmond. Remember me to all friends.
Your aff. Son,
James B. T. Tupper
Wed., Dec. 24th – I saw Oscar Hervey, yesterday. He called at the depot to see me. He is 1st Lieut. in the Indiana Battery now stationed at Bonnet Carre, some 40 or 50 miles up river.
January 18, 1863
My dear Parents,
Your letter of Jan. 1st, which was directed to care of Mr. Chubbuck & came in the Columbia‘s mail, I received yesterday. I suppose you directed to Mr. Chubbuck’s care because you saw Col. Schaffer had left with Gen. Butler. All right, but you will do as well to direct as I told you in my last. I rec’d in the same mail a letter from Lib. Knight & Lieut. Frank Adams, who is still in South East Missouri. Capt. Dennett has finally got located in this place. There are three clerks — one of Nims (Mass. 2nd) Battery & one man, not enlisted, by the name of Farrer & who was for awhile Captains Clerk on the gunboat Calhoun. We have a little office opposite the Court House of this Parish (Jefferson), now used for a General Hospital. On one side the Provost Marshal has an office & on the other Dr. Hartwell, the Medical Director & Superintendent of the Hospital. We have a room to sleep in, but I have been down to the city every night so far, as I get lonesome with nothing to do & want to be at home. I have got quite attached to my little confiscated room in New Orleans & warm bed, more so than I imagined till I came to leave.
I called into the Hospital (St. James) last night. Two of our company, Wheeler of Greenwich & Warburton of Ware, are there sick. Parker of our Company from Hardwick, whom Frank enlisted, died very suddenly at the Fort recently. Only two or 3 days before, he was out drilling. Eugene Southworth saw him only 1/2 an hour or so before he died. He told Eugene he was failing fast, but Eugene had no idea he was going to die. They don’t seem to know what ailed him. Parker was a very good boy. I don’t know as you ever knew him. He was a quiet fellow, but kind & the boys all liked him. Our company now only reports 32 men for duty, the smallest of any co. in the Regiment, I guess.
I saw some boys of our Regiment this morning. They were on the way to Baton Rouge & the regiment was to follow in a day or two. There has been fighting at Berwick’s Bay, but I haven’t heard the number of troops engaged, what regiments, or what loss. It is reported that the rebels were whipped. We lost a brave officer in Capt. Buchanan, & acting Commodore of a fleet of gunboats operating in the Atchafalaya River & Bayou Teche. His funeral was Friday.
The two companies of the 42nd Mass., which were so long on their way, have now arrived & all 7 companies are at this place & likely to remain. I saw Dr. Woods the other day. He enquired about the news from Hardwick. Said he didn’t get any letters & supposed his folks thought no news was better than bad news.
The Surgeon of the regiment was captured at Galveston & the Asst. Surgeon is sick. A Surgeon of another regiment has been detailed to take care of the sick. The other Bond, Orderly Sgt., Co. G, has been promoted to 2nd Lieut., Co. C, in place of Lieut. Richards, resigned. Brainerd of our company is made a Sergeant.
We have had quite a touch of winter weather for a day or two. If we have a hard frost, it seems severe to me. The paper said it snowed a little. I didn’t see any signs of snow, but I saw some ice early in the morning. I had enough blankets so I was comfortable, but the fellows in camp must have been cold unless they had stores.
That Dr. Hartwell I spoke of comes from Southbridge & is the Staff Surgeon on Gen. Emory’s staff. He is going to amputate a soldier’s leg this afternoon who unfortunately got shot a few hours ago.
We, of course, don’t know how long we shall remain here at Carrollton, but probably some weeks. I have seen Gen. Emory 2 or 3 times. He is a stern, soldierly looking man. It don’t do for any soldier to speak to him. If they have any message to communicate, they must do it through the General’s orderly, who is always outside of the room, or when the General is out, rides behind him on horseback.
I attended a large Union meeting at the St. Charles Theater, last evening, addressed by Thomas J. Durant, Judge Heistand, Lawyer Field. I was not prepared to see so cordial a support given to the Emancipation Proclamation, but the resolution approving that was received with hearty cheers. Field said he owned a few slaves, but he would give them & all the rest of his property, if necessary, for the suppression of this rebellion. He praised up the Yankees, paid an eloquent tribute to the state of Mass. “where the torch of liberty was first lighted in the Revolution,” showed that Louisiana never seceded by a fair vote of her inhabitants, & prophesied that the Union would be restored. The meeting ended with cheers for Banks, Farragut, Shepley, etc. I enjoy hearing these loyal Louisianans proclaim their devotion to the Union & it almost shakes the faith which for the last few months has been growing stronger & stronger in my mind that a separation would be the ultimate result of the struggle.
I board up here in a mess with about half a dozen Quartermaster’s clerks. We turn in our rations. My health continues good. I am glad Chandler is getting well. Give my love to all friends. I pity Clara Manly in Dist. No. 2. They don’t know when they get a good teacher.
Your affectionate son,
January 27, 1862
My dear Parents
The 31st Mass. Regt. arrived here last Saturday, Cos. K & H coming back from Baton Rouge, & has been assigned to the 3rd Division commanded by Gen. Emory of this (the 19th) Army Corps. Col. Gooding is Acting Brig. Gen. The brigade consists of 4 regiments: the 31st & 38th Mass. (Col. Ingraham) & two N.Y. regiments, I believe the 156th & 116th. The Major is in command of the regiment. I did not know they had landed & was surprised to see them marching along past our office. They carried the State flag with the national Ensign & the band was playing finely. They are in camp about a mile towards New Orleans at Camp Kearney, where Weitzel’s Brigade was formerly in camp. The 3 companies from Fort Pike have not yet rejoined the regiment, but will soon. The Quartermaster Cushing is Acting Brigade Quartermaster. Capt. Fordham, Co. B, [is] Acting Assistant Adjutant Gen. & Dr. Bidwell [is] Acting Brigade Surgeon — all on Gooding’s staff. The 42nd Mass., with the exception of 2 companies at Camp Parapet, have been ordered out on the Ponchartrain R.R. I don’t know exactly where. Capt. Davis is detached from the Regiment on duty as Provost Marshal at New Orleans. He has to cross-question those that apply for passes to go over the lines, find out all the circumstances, & file their application for approval of Gen. Banks. He spoke about seeing Gen. Banks in the office the other day. His office is at the City Hall. Davis is going to have one fellow in the company court-martialed for a censure on the officers in a letter published in the Worcester Spy, written when they were at Philadelphia. Davis makes a good officer. Still he appears about the same as when he was teaching school at Bassett Four Corners. Gen. Emory used to be a Col. in the Regular Army & is a Marylander. He resigned when the war first began & his loyalty has been questioned, but he is now considered a faithful general. He is strong pro-slavery, but intends to stick by the government & fight for till the last.
Wednesday, Jan. 28th – I went down to the City last night. I stop down there about as much as I do up here. The Captain doesn’t have much to do. The Post Quartermaster has all the property on his hands & issues it. We three clerks sit around, play chess, & amuse ourselves as well as we can. The Captain says he is going to keep us if we don’t do a thing.
It was quite cold this morning – ice quite thick. After a rain, it comes off cold & windy & in two or 3 days ’twill be so warm that we don’t need a fire.
I will send a sketch of the Court House opposite, which Farrer drew off when he had nothing else to do the other day. It is a Hospital now.
I board up here with other Quartermaster’s clerks in a mess. We draw our rations & have a colored woman cook & do our washing. It costs us about $5.00 a month more than our rations. We don’t live very sumptuously, but fare well enough for soldiers — have good bread & butter, salt beef, pork & beans, beef’s tongue, sometimes fresh beef, & coffee & tea & potatoes.
Jan. 29th – I received a letter from Enos Powers the other day. I expected to get one from you in the last mail. There may be one now down in New Orleans. Capt. Dennett used to be a Custom House officer at Boston. He belongs to no Regiment, but has the commission from the President. He is a fine man to work for, very different from many officers. He sits down evenings & talks as familiarly as one of my own company. Last night, he was writing a letter to a Quartermaster in New Orleans. He told me to look it over & see if he had spelled any words wrong. I found two — he spelled favorable “favourable” & recommendation with two c’s. He says he is going to get me discharged from the Army & employ me as his clerk & give me as much as the government will allow, which is $75 a month — what Farrer gets. I don’t suppose he can get me discharged. I told him I knew of no way where an enlisted man, sound & qualified to do military duty, could be discharged. He said he would try it anyway. It shows his good intentions, but I don’t put any confidence in his ability to do so.
If he don’t get me discharged, I shall put in to him for a furlough & go home & stop a while next summer. If we don’t do any more than we are doing now, ‘twon’t hinder military operations much. We shall not advance before spring.
I am glad to see Butler so well received up North. He deserves it, if any general does. John Phelps is not come yet. He could not have left on the 10th. The steamer from New York, the 17th, came in 2 or 3 days ago. I expect him in the next. I suppose poor Frank’s body has reached home & been buried before this. We all miss him & mourn for him. Love to all.
Your affectionate son
February 5, 1863
Dr. Orcutt left last night on the Empire City. It was his intention to do so when I saw him last, about noon yesterday. His stay was so short that I had no chance to write & send by him. I sent home a photograph I had taken & a young alligator from Fort Jackson & paid the doctor the $5.00 I borrowed from Frank which I wrote you about. My photograph is said to be a very correct lifelike picture. Emily wrote that she wanted one for her book, so I got it taken. They are very expensive, being $5.00 for half a dozen. I wore the vest & common blouse which I wear every day. The top button is a Texas button which I got from a fellow. You can see the single star, the state emblem.
I was sorry the Doctor had to go away so quick. I saw among the arrivals day before yesterday A. M. Orcutt’s name & supposed it must be him. He came up to our office night before last with Eugene Southworth. We went down to the City & I went to the undertakers & introduced him to the man who prepared the corpse. The Doctor wanted to get all the information he could. I went around with him the next morning & let the Doctor see the attendants in the Hospital. The Dr. got a free pass from the Quartermaster home, so all he has to pay to N. Y. is his board. The Doctor rode over the railroad on which I used to run a train & saw our office & can give you any information which I haven’t written about the place. He said he didn’t regret the journey, although he failed in the object of his mission. He hadn’t gone to the 42nd Mass. & didn’t have time, but saw Stam. Spooner on the street. The Dr. delivered me your letters. The coat he left at the camp. I haven’t been down to get it, yet. I presume it will be very acceptable to wear when I call anywhere instead of a blouse.
You have seen, I suppose, that Capt. Hopkins is promoted to Lieut. Col. — a surprise to everybody, though he was rather expected to get the Majorship. Capt. Allen is now transferred to our company, which gives better satisfaction than any other appointment could.
Your letter directed to care of Capt. Dennett at Baton Rouge I have not yet received. Your letter of January 7th, I received soon after I wrote my last. It was directed to care of Col. Holabird & I suppose remained in his office a few days. I received one from Albert Knight, also requesting me to write about Frank.
I sent you a paper containing an extract from a Houston paper giving an account of some services held by Mr. Sanger among the prisoners. He talked pretty meek, a little different from what he did here. I asked if he calculated to stick anybody with that sword he wore & he said yes, if he got a chance. I saw Burrill, brother to the Col. & Quartermaster of the 42nd Mass. & he had found out that the mayor of Houston was an old Roxbury man & a friend of the Colonel & he said there was no doubt but they would be very well treated, so Mrs. Sanger needn’t worry about her husband.
The 53rd Mass. arrived here on the Continental the other day. The Dr. saw a good many acquaintances there. One company was mostly raised in Barre & I believe has one or two Hardwick fellows in it.
Capt. Dennett thinks I’m about the right kind of fellow & seems to like me pretty well. He sits & talks familiarly in the office. He said Col. Gooding was talking with him the other day & said he was going to get me to write for him in the Adjutant Gen.’s office — Capt. Fordham’s. The Captain [Dennett] told him he’d needn’t trouble himself. I had been detailed by Gen. Banks for him. Gooding said he had been trying to find where I was & must have me. Gen. Emory was present & hearing the remark spoke up to Gooding & said you can get your clerks from your Regiment & using a strong oath (the General is profane in his language when he’s excited) said he can’t have him. So you see, I’m provided for. Knight, one of our clerks, has been ordered back to his Battery, the 2nd Mass., by Gen Banks. He gave him 30 days of grace till the last day of February. He is the Chief Clerk & the Captain said he wanted I should learn all I could from him so I could do the business when he left.
The indications are that this Division will take the field in a few days. Orders have been issued for all the sick to be sent to the General Hospital. They are to take scarcely any baggage. I suppose they go up river though the destination is kept secret. If they go within a week, & I suppose they will, the Capt. is going to leave Knight & I behind to attend his business & take Farrer along. You ask if I have a place that will prevent my going into battle. I don’t know, I’m sure. I shall go with the Capt. If he acts as aide-de-camp on the battlefield, I presume I should go with him as orderly, though I can’t tell how ’twill be.
Those apples you sent have gone long ago. The towels & handkerchiefs are very useful. Uncle Elisha died quite suddenly though you had written before that he was liable to die, as he had the heart disease. What is Charlie & Aunt Sarah going to do now? The Doctor said the weather down here was about the same as at Hardwick. I would have sent some oranges by him to you if I had thought of it. I don’t know of any more to write now. Direct as before till further notice. Love to all.
Your aff. son
J. B. T. Tupper
P.S. I get the same extra pay with Capt. Dennett as I did with other Quartermaster’s — 40 cents a day or $12.00 a month.
I went out to the Lake the other day to see the steamer J. M. Brown leave with about 300 rebels who had got permission from Gen Banks to go over the lines. Most all were women. There was an awful crowd from the city to see them off. Those that went seemed to be pretty free in their conversation & I could hear them talking about Yankees & Federals in not very complementary style. Some Union ladies were over to see them off. A man asked one in my hearing if she wasn’t going over. She said, putting on a spiteful air, “No, sir, I don’t go with Confederates. When I go, I’ll go alone.” Capt. Davis was over there with Col. Clark, A.D.C. & Provost Marshal Gen’l, Capt. Killborn, Deputy Provost, Lieut. Burt, etc., examining passes & baggage. A whole company was on guard about the boat. Some women had to part with blankets & other commodities which they attempted to smuggle over. When they left, there was a general waving of handkerchiefs. The boat took them over safely & has returned.
Friday, February 13, 1863
My Dear Parents
General Emory & one brigade of Col. Gooding’s left yesterday for upriver. The 31st Mass., 38th Mass., 156th & 175th N.Y. & a section of the 18th N.Y. Battery. They left their tents & all regimental baggage & went in light marching order. I saw the 31st as it embarked yesterday morning on the steamers Kepper & Bee. The other boats of the expedition were the Morning Light, Algerine, Time & Tide, Louisiana Belle & the ironclad gunboat Barrataria. The object of the expedition is not divulged, but as the boats are of the lightest draft, it is expected they will ascend some of the bayous this side of Port Hudson & make a dash on the rear of the enemy or cut off some important line of communication. Col. Gooding, being sick, does not go & Col. Ingram of the 38th Mass. commands the brigade. Col. Hopkins commands the Regiment. I don’t expect to see the 31st back. They will establish themselves somewhere & send back for their tents & stores, I think. Capt. Dennett remains here & so, of course, we, his clerks, do, though we shall probably follow in a few weeks if they remain. I went down to the camp of our Regiment yesterday. All the sick & a few men from each company who were unable to bear a knapsack remained in charge of Camp — thirty-four in all.
Corporal Spooner of Ware is one who remained in our company. I saw Bacon from Hardwick there, sick with rheumatism. He wanted to be remembered & sent his respects to Charles Aiken & wife, so if you see them you can mention it. I got my coat which you sent. About 10 or 11 fellows were absent in the city without leave when the Regiment left. Two came in when I was there & the Sergeant in charge arrested them & took them before Capt. Brown. I saw Richmond, Spooner, the Bonds & the rest before leaving yesterday. They all seemed in good spirits.
One of our Regiment got shot in the back a few nights ago. It had been raining & the water had flowed into the tents & they had no floors to lie on. Some “Secesh” who lived nearby, instead of deploring their situation, laughed at their predicament which excited the boys so they marched to the fence & tore off the boards for a floor. A man living in the house took his shotgun & shot at the crowd. The charge took effect in one man’s back. He was not wounded dangerously, but the man was arrested, his gun taken, & he is now in the Parish Prison awaiting trial.
Saturday, February 14th – Col. Gooding got able to go off finally with the Expedition. The Expedition was somewhat delayed, as the pilots of the steamers all struck for higher wages & some of the crews of the boats skedaddled. Some were arrested & some satisfactory arrangement was made, so they started. They were afraid they were going into a dangerous place. Eugene Southworth & one other of our company got left behind. They went off to get some oysters & their boats left. They reported to Col. Ingram of the 38th & went on another boat. Col. Ingram said, “Just as it was on the Potomac, always a lot of stragglers.” General Neal Dow who commands a brigade here, is now in command of the post. I met him this morning as I was going down to the telegraph office to send a message to New Orleans. He’s a curious fellow for a General – was poking along with an umbrella under his arm & makes no display. His brigade is in Sherman’s Division. I suppose Dr. Orcutt has got home by this time. Your letter you directed to Baton Rouge, I have not yet received. There is nothing new that I know of except what I have told you. My health is good, but I want to get off from this old place & see a little more of Louisiana. Love to all. I wish you had sent me a pair of pants with that coat, but no matter. I will get one when I get up among the rebels. Direct as before.
Your aff. son
James B. T. Tupper
Monday, Feb. 16th – I went down to the city yesterday & stayed all night at the house where I used to stop. I got a letter from the P.O. from A.O. Treat of Williams College which was advertised. I saw two for Dr. Orcutt advertised. I paid for advertising & ordered them to be sent back to Hardwick. One of the clerks at the Quartermaster’s office in New Orleans has been appointed Quartermaster of the 1st Louisiana Cavalry. He wanted I should go as his Quartermaster Sergeant, but I think I’m better off where I am & don’t care about going into any Louisiana Regiment till my service is out in the 31st Mass.
February 25, 1863
Father and Mother
The Expedition which left here under Gen. Emory returned to this place without accomplishing anything. They went up Bayou Plaquemine, but owing to the drift wood & other obstructions in the bayou, they could not penetrate into the interior. A new plan of operations will be devised & a new route chosen. Some things appear to indicate that they will start from Berwick’s Bay & go up the Atchafalaya River & so up to the Red.
Banks, Emory, Augur, Weitzel, Sherman, etc. have frequent meetings in the city & the opinion seems to be general that Emory’s Division will soon be off again. However, there’s no use in surmising. The plans of our generals, if they have any are secret. I went up to Plaquemine last Saturday & returned Monday. Capt. Dennett went up with some transports to bring down a portion of Payne’s Brigade, which belongs to our Division & has been encamped at Indian Town 9 miles from Plaquemine. The Brigade consists of the 4th Wisc., 8th N.H., 133rd & 173rd N.Y. & one company of the 1st U.S. regular artillery. Payne, acting Brigadier, is Col. of the 4th Wisc. He came from Painesville, O. but was in partnership with Carl Shurtz in Wisc. before the war. I went up on the steamer Time & Tide. The Capt. Farrer & I were the only passengers & we had the freedom of the boat. We had a stateroom apiece in the ladies cabin & sat down to the same table on which good rations were served. We left here at 9 a.m. Saturday & arrived at Plaquemine about 9 Sunday a.m. The distance is 110 miles from New Orleans. We should have made it sooner, but a strong headwind & the current of the river made it hard work for the little steamer to navigate. One time we were obliged, when a gale sprung up, to drive up to the shore & fasten to a tree for a while. I thought several times during the day of just a year from that time when I was leaving Mass. on the steamer Mississippi. There are no places of much interest or note between here & Plaquemine. We passed “Red Church”, “St. Charles Parish Court House”, Taylor’s plantation (son of Pres. Taylor & Gen. in the Rebel Army) Rost’s plantation (one of the southern commissioners to Europe), College Point where there is a convent & Catholic college, Bonnet Carre & Donaldsonville. The latter place was destroyed by Farragut in retaliation for firing on some of his fleet. We passed by in the night, but they say the destruction is complete — that there is no track to show where the streets used to run. The 1st Louisiana garrison the post.
It looked funny as we were riding up to see folks driving along the road side of the bank. We could just see the tops of the horses’ heads, the country is so much lower than the bank of the river. We stopped at Plaquemine all day Sunday. The place is on the left bank going up, about 15 miles this side of Baton Rouge. I walked about the place. It seemed almost as large as Ware Village. There is a paper printed there which I will send you. Small paper for 10 cts. I went into a Catholic Church. It seemed the most fashionable one. There were quite a congregation, mostly ladies & some very fine looking. There are two other churches in the place, a female seminary, & two Hotels. The population is in a great part French. I entered into conversation with one old man who was on the levee looking at the boats, but he couldn’t understand much English. I suppose they are all rebels at Plaquemine, but the soldiers keep them quiet.
I noticed peach trees in blossom in the yards. We took on part of the 4th Wisc. Regt. & left Sunday night. I take a ride on the Captain’s pony most every day when it’s fine weather. I noticed peas are up quite high in some gardens. Lieut. Nelson Bond is acting as aide-de-camp on Gooding’s staff. I understand Mr. Sanger has got back to the city, but I have not seen him yet. I was down to Camp Kearney today & saw the brigade out on parade. Co. D now has the third place from the right, owing to Capt. Allen’s not having had his commission as early as the others. The companies are stationed according to date of the captain’s commission. Haven of our Co. died a few days ago. Co. K, 42nd Regt. is now in the city, detailed for the Engineer Department as pontooners. I met Lieut. Harding the last time I was down, but have not seen the others lately. The last time I saw Davis, he was just going up above Baton Rouge under a flag of truce to take back rebel prisoners for exchange. I went to see him to get a pass for a woman who lives where I used to room in a confiscated house. Her husband is in the 1st Louisiana Regiment. She always treats me very kindly. She makes me sit down & eat every time I go there & gives me the best bed in the house when I stay all night. Capt. Davis gave me a pass for her & the Quartermaster gave her transportation on a government boat.
I went down to the levee to see the rebel prisoners off. The steamer Empire Parish was waiting with the white flag raised above the Stars & Stripes. I haven’t seen so much Secesh feeling exhibited since the first day or two of our coming into the city. The prisoners were walking freely among the crowd, dressed very handsomely in the gray uniform of the Confederates. Some were very handsome fellows & no doubt belong to some of the first families of the state. The women were perfectly wild, waving their handkerchiefs & saying, “God bless you.” I heard one woman say, “How much good it does me to see this gray. I am perfectly sick of the Yankee Blue.” The spectators crowded on a boat lying near the Empire Parish so they could get a better view of the of the Secesh & the boat left & took the crowd down the river on the other side about 2 miles, where they had to walk up & take the ferry to pay for their curiosity.
Capt. Davis was in the same room with Brig. Gen. Bowen, Provost Marshal Gen. He was reading some letters which had been handed in to go across the lines. If there is no contraband intelligence, he takes them along & gives them to the rebel officer in command when they exchange prisoners. He set me to reading one or two. I think I will write to some of my Princeton classmates sometime.
That letter you directed to Baton Rouge, written before Dr. Orcutt came down, has been received. I suppose it went to Baton Rouge & back.
Saturday, Feb. 28th – About 300 regulars belonging to the 8th U.S. Infantry who were surrendered in Texas by Twiggs & have been prisoners 22 months, came in a day or two ago. I went down on the levee to talk to them. They were dressed in all sorts of styles & looked like guerillas. They had no money & suffered a great deal. The rebels offering [sic] them great sums of money if they would join them, but the brave fellows couldn’t be corrupted.
I have not heard from you since Dr. Orcutt brought those letters down. I received a letter from Mrs. Frazier Paige dated February 13. I had heard from the Bond boys that the body of Frank was not in a condition to be seen. Mrs. Paige wrote no particulars, but seemed to think I had heard it all from you. Mrs. Paige said of the funeral, “The service was very solemn & interesting. I have heard many remark upon the interesting manner your father conducted the service. He was sympathizing & his choice of words was very fine. His prayer was truly beautiful.” She sent also the copy of the poem Trow wrote. I see no reason why your letter should not have arrived unless it was on the Ella Worley which steamer sunk on her way out with the mail. I saw in the Boston Journal a notice of Frank’s death & that the funeral would be Sunday, Feb. 8th.
Today is the last day of winter. I said we should remain here till Spring, I thought. Capt. Dennett goes to Baton Rouge today to take personal supervision of transporting the land transportation of Emory’s Division to Baton Rouge. He leaves me here. This looks like a move to that post.
You’ll see from the Plaquemine paper, Banks’ order returning slaves to their plantations — good thing. Some think the slaveholders are running over Banks, but he knows what his business is. He is a statesman. Slavery is doomed, but it it is so connected with the civilization of this country, so deep-rooted, that it will take the rest of this century to obliterate it. In the meantime any disposition of the poor miserable blacks so they can have any kind of care till their status is clearly defined is preferable to their flocking around the camps, impeding military operations, demoralizing the Army, and suffering as much & more than in a state of servitude. I am still an abolitionist, but a little reflection will show that 3 million blacks cannot be emancipated at once without producing a great calamity to the class it intends to benefit. Love to all.
Your aff. son
Office of the Quartermaster
3rd Division, 19th Army Corps, Carrollton, La.
Monday eve March 2, 1863
Dear Father & Mother
Your letter of date Feb. 10th was handed me today. You speak of one letter you wrote since Dr. Orcutt left previous to this one of the 10th which I have not yet received. I am going to the City tomorrow & may find it at the Quartermaster’s office. I sent a letter to you a day or two ago. You may get it in the same mail with this. I was sorry but not much disappointed to learn that the remains of Frank Knight were not in a condition to be exposed. I was in hopes his friends & relatives would have the privilege of seeing the features of the boy before consigning it forever to the gloomy home of the dead, but still knowing the difficulty of preserving a body stricken down by the disease he died of, I thought it only a chance if it remained fresh for so long a time as it would take to get it home. You do not speak of the effect the news had on his mother. Neither does Mrs. Paige in her letter. I conjecture that beyond the grief & lamentation natural & necessary from so severe blow, she did not get distracted. I did not know but her mind might lose its balance & she take her loss so much at heart as to hasten her own end, but I suppose her mind was fortified by her knowledge of his illness & consideration of the chances of life & death in the Army.
I am kept pretty busy now in the office in copying & making out returns of property to be sent to Washington. Most of it however is connected with the Department which Capt. Dennett had charge of at New Orleans. When that old business gets settled we shall not have so much to do. The Capt. has little property on his hands now being mostly that which pertains to transportation such as ambulances, wagons, mules, horses, etc. He has also to make requisitions on the Chief Quartermaster for boats & vessels to transport troops etc. of this Division. He has nothing to do with clothing or camp & garrison equipage, that being drawn as needed by brigade & regimental quartermasters from the Post or Depot Quartermaster. The Captain left for Baton Rouge tonight on the steamer Sallie Robinson having orders from headquarters to superintend personally the transferring of the land transportation of this Division from this post to Baton Rouge. He took one clerk, Farrer, with him leaving two of us to carry on the business of the office here. I will enclose the telegram I received from him this morning while he was at New Orleans to see about a steamer for transportation. Mr. DeHague is the Wagon Master of the division. I don’t know when he will return. He may remain at Baton Rouge & we follow on when we receive orders. It looks now very much as if our Division was to go to Baton Rouge & the idea, if they ever had any, of sending us around by Berwicks Bay & the Atchafalaya River was given up, but it is impossible for us to obtain information positive in regard to Army movements. We have to judge from general orders, probabilities, & what common sense teaches us should be done. It may be in this case that all our land transportation is to be given to Augur’s or Grover’s division & we still remain here, but I think we shall join our forces with those above & assist in the struggle which sooner or later must come off on the lower Mississippi & give us Port Hudson or redden the dark waters of the river with New England blood.
I received a letter today from Fred Mitchell an old friend of mine at Andover & Williams. He is Lieut. in a cavalry company at Falmouth. He says it is certain they can never reach Richmond via Fredericksburg & the probabilities were that they would fall back towards Washington. He has two brothers in the 128th N.Y. whom I have met.
We are having spring weather — trees budding, flowers blooming. I feel well & want nothing to make me comfortable. Love to all.
Your aff. son
Direct as before
Thurs. evening 5th March ’63
The transports came up this evening & the various regiments of our Division had orders to embark immediately. The 31st Mass. has gone aboard the Algerine & the rest are on the way. Boys are shouting & singing, drums are beating, orderlies are riding back & forth conveying messages to brigade & regimental commanders, regiments are striking tents or falling into line by the light of their campfires, & the quiet city of Carrollton is all astir as Emory’s Division take their leave for the seat of war. The Gen. & staff go on the St. Mary’s. I expect this time they go for good. They may never return to New Orleans. The 175th N. Y., a regiment of Dutchmen, refused to go till they were paid off. The 38th Mass. was called out to fire into them if they didn’t promptly obey the order to “right face”, “forward march.” The Dutchmen will have travel with the rest.
Sgt. Major Barber of our regiment just came in with a mail the boys had got ready to send before leaving which I told him I would see got to the Post Office. The transports St. Mary’s, Crescent, Sallie Robinson, & Algerine convey the 3rd Brigade (Col. Gooding’s). There are now 5 Regiments in the Brigade – 31st, 38th, 53rd Mass. 175th 156th N. Y. There are 4 Divisions in this Army Corps — 1st commanded by Maj. Gen. Augur at Baton Rouge; 2nd by Brig. Gen. T. W. Sherman & commands the defenses of New Orleans, includes the troops in the city in Col. Farr’s Brigade, Neal Dorr’s Brigade at the Parapet, & the regiments garrisoning the various fortifications on the lake & the river. The 3rd Division is Emory’s & the 4th is at Baton Rouge commanded by Brig. Gen. Grover. Brig. Gen. Andrews who commanded the 1st Brigade of our division has been assigned to Gen. Banks’ staff as Chief of Staff. Col. Ingram of the 38th Mass. commands the Brigade.
Friday 6th March – Gen. Emory sent down to the office after one of Capt. Dennett’s clerks this morning, so I went down to see the old man. I reported to him scared half to death, of course, as a high private generally is. What is it that makes a General so feared? Is it just one star on his shoulder? The General was pacing the piazza in the rear of the house. He’s a fierce looking fellow — has a red mustache & gray eyes & looked savage enough. He wanted to leave his trunk to be sent down to St. Annan Quartermaster at New Orleans & to lock up the house & give the keys to the owner. He told me to be there at 2 o’clock in the afternoon & before if I found they were leaving.
Sat. March 7th – The last transport, the St. Mary’s, is now about to leave. It rained so yesterday & the mud was so deep it impeded operations greatly. As I was going to breakfast this morning with 2 or 3 other fellows, an old woman dressed pretty well accosted us & said, “Are you going to fight?” Then she went on & said, “You better take your mother’s advice. There’s one thing sure, you can’t whip those Southerners” & she expatiated on the strength of the rebel defense of Port Hudson. I told her they said the same about New Orleans, last spring. “Oh,” says she, “New Orleans was sold.” The idea prevails here among some classes that the General in command at Fort Jackson betrayed the cause for a large sum of money. I heard it several times. They can’t see how it could have been taken any other way. I told her we would buy Port Hudson, if we couldn’t get it any other way. They couldn’t get around the Yankees & looks now as if the attack on that stronghold would not be much longer postponed.
It will be defended with desperate energy. I have no means of judging of the chances of our success. I know the conflict will be bloody, but however the result — whether we are to strike the blow which will give us the Mississippi Valley & enable us to see the beginning of the end of this rebellion or whether defeat awaits us — I still have confidence in the ultimate triumph of the eternal principles of justice & right. God will take his own time & our generation may not live to see it. I hope it may.
Amidst all the hustle & hurry of the departure, I still feel a sense of sadness as I think of so many going up the river to lay their bones on this rebellious soil, never to return to their homes again. But as Shakespeare says, “To be under minded does not become a sword. Thy great employment does not bear question. Either say thou’lt do it, or thrive by other means.” We have said we’ll do it.
I expect to go up next week, but direct to New Orleans as they will send them up if we are there. I enclose a peach blossom I picked while up to Plaquemine, last month.
Your aff. son
Carrollton, La, Friday 13th March 1863
Dear Father & Mother
The last mail by the Geo. Washington brought no letters to me from anyone. I presume they were sent up river to Gen. Emory’s Headquarters. I have heard nothing from Capt. Dennett yet — am expecting him down now every day. The troops at Baton Rouge have commenced their march for the battlements of Port Hudson. So I learned from a man who came from Baton Rouge. I suppose they will entrench themselves about the place & fortify. I hardly expect they will carry the works by direct assault. I understand the troops on our side are estimated at about 28,000 effective men. Banks & staff are at the seat of war. Neal Dorr’s brigade is left at this place & Col. Farr’s Brigade at the city. I can’t see the use of leaving so many troops in this vicinity. One regiment & battery here & the same at N. O. I consider sufficient to defend the place. These Creoles wouldn’t dare to raise a hand as long as a few blue coats were parading around. If I had my way I would take the garrison from Ship Island, the forts, Weitzel’s Brigade & mass them at Port Hudson 40,000 strong & take it. Our generals dare not risk anything. If the rebels had the audacity to raise an insurrection here while they were gone, then they could come back & blow the city to fragments & desolate the lower part of Louisiana so a white man couldn’t live here for a thousand years.
A rumor is prevalent here that Stonewall Jackson is at Camp Moore across the lake with 40,000 men, but I don’t believe it. It will do, though, to scare timid folks & timid generals.
I was down to the city again the other day. Co. K, 42nd Mass. had orders to go up river with their pontoons. I got a pass from the Provost Marshal General passing me at all time. They have been very strict lately with regard to passes. A commissioned officer & Sergeant go down on every train & no soldier or officer can travel without a permit from the proper authorities. I went down in an omnibus once & it was stopped by a detachment of the 4th Mass. & all passes examined.
I seen in the paper this morning a long address to the people of Conn. by the officers of the 12th Conn. Regt. in regard to peace movements at the North, calling all that advocate peace traitors & appearing very patriotic. I should like to see the privates admitted to such a meeting & see what they would have to say. I don’t place much confidence in the patriotism of these officers who are drawing good pay & doing nothing.
A train of cars commences to run on the Jackson & Great Northern R.R. Monday. This road runs up to Canton, Miss., connecting with roads to Vicksburg & other places in the South. The rebels took off all the rolling stock of the road &, as the road is of different gauge from the N. O. & Carrollton, Mexican Gulf R.R., Pontchartrain R.R., or the Opelousas R.R., it has been difficult to get cars & engine & besides it would be of no particular importance to run a train, as it can only go to Manchac — 37 miles. A bridge is burned there & the rebels hold the country over the pass. An engine has been fitted up called the “Pioneer” & one train a day will be run as far as Kennerville — 17 miles from N. O. It may come in handy in case of transportation of troops & stores. Lieut. Col. Colburn of the 12th Conn. is Superintendent of the Opelousas road & will have control of the Jackson. I didn’t know as they contemplated opening this road or I should have endeavored to have got on it. It is pleasant business & seems more like civil life than military, though my position at present is very satisfactory & perhaps less dangerous than railroading in a hostile country. Beautiful weather we are having now – seems like June, flowers in bloom, grass green, fresh vegetables, etc. Southern country is the country to live in & to soldier in. There’s nothing like being a soldier in this country. Not much to do & plenty of quinine & fever & ague. As long as I have my health, I am satisfied. Love to all.
Your aff. son,
James B. T. Tupper
New Orleans, La. April 19th 1863
My Dear Parents,
Capt. Dennett came down from Baton Rouge this morning & is to go to Berwicks Bay tomorrow. I expect to go also. I can’t tell where we shall be located. Will write soon. Rec’d a letter from Henry & Louisa lately. Blackberries are very plenty now, had blackberry pie for dinner yesterday. Strawberries are in the market but not very plenty. Magnolias are in blossom — those beautiful white flowers.
I send this morning Eva giving an account of the progress of our arms on the Teche. I send one before giving an account of battle of Bethel Place & the part taken therein by the 31st Mass. Mrs. Johnson’s husband where I board has got discharged from the Confederate Army & returned home. He is a great rebel, of course, & says if the rebels attack the city he will go help them. He is now in Pensacola visiting.
They are raising the 3rd La. white regiment. The notices about the streets say the Conscript Act will soon go in force & this is the last chance to enlist under the flag of our country. I don’t think many will enlist. Hodge Negro regiment is full. There was no volunteering about it, but they forced every nigger they got hold of right into it. Love to all.
Your aff. son
The Commissary Sergt. of our Reg’t. Harry More died at Carrollton yesterday & will be buried today. Sickness is on the increase in the Army.
Brashear City, La., April 20th Monday – Left New Orleans today. Took the New Orleans, Opelousas & Great Western R.R. at Algiers at 11 o’clock & arrived here about 5 p.m. — some 80 miles. There was nothing of particular interest on the way, a great part of the country consisting of swamps & dense forests, some plantations & sugar cane growing. We crossed Bayou des Allemands, Bayou Lafource, Bayou Beaux, & one other bayou. Tigerville & Thibodeaux are the principal places. Soldiers are scattered along in squads over the road. Brashear City consists of a small collection of houses, not so many as at the old Furnace. Berwick City about as big, is opposite. It is on the Atchafalaya River which widens here & is called Berwicks Bay. Capt. Dennett assumes charge of water transportation of public & private freight. The boats that report to him are the Samuel Hill, Kepper, Sheldon, Quinnebaug, Connie, Southern Merchant, Sykes & Segur. We may stay at this post some time. May move up nearer the headquarters of the forces in the field, which are now at Opelousas or near there.
I met Sagendorph of our company detailed for the Signal Corps, here. I learned from him that Eugene Southworth was wounded in the action at Bethel Place & is at the hospital in Berwick City. Shall try to see him tomorrow. I guess he is not dangerous. Mosquitoes are awful here. I took supper on board the Samuel Hill & shall sleep on her tonight. I brought none of my things over here & expect to go back to New Orleans & get them in a day or two.
Brashear City, Parish of Assumption, La., April 26th 1863
My Dear Parents
Your letters mailed April 6th — one directed to Baton Rouge & one to Carrollton — reached me today. I will speak to Capt. Dennett & endeavor to get a furlough. He will give his assent, I know well enough, but it would have to come from Gen. Banks & I hardly think Capt. Dennett’s influence is sufficient to obtain it, as they are very stringent in that respect & Gen. Banks is off in the field. Secretary Welles could get me discharged from the Army just as well if I am here as if I should get a furlough & go to Washington. I don’t put much confidence in the remark that if I was at Washington at such a time Welles would have given me a paymastership. A man don’t have to be at Washington all the time to get an office. If I was capable of the office & Welles wished to give it to me, he could have appointed me & then I could get my discharge & he appoints a man acting Paymaster till I could report myself. I don’t care so much about leaving the Army. I like the Army well enough if I could only get commission, but I think a private is altogether too low for me. It’s just as much a man’s duty to be an officer if he’s capable as to be a private. I shall do my best to get a furlough, but it will take some time as Gen. Banks will have to be consulted & his approval obtained. If Welles was willing to do anything, he could do so without my getting a furlough, but of course I should like a furlough anyway whether I remained in the Army or not. I have no recommendations here. I think Dr. Hopkins & the others were sent to Sec. Welles once. I could obtain from Capt. D. & others satisfactory recommendations before I go, if I do.
I went to New Orleans yesterday & came back today. I went to get my things. I had been sleeping on steamboats, etc. for some time. I will send the free ticket to pass on the railroad which was not taken. I saw Capt. Davis in the city. In one of the papers I sent, you will see the account of Capt. Davis’ stopping the Varieties Theatre. The Union people of N. O. are getting to be quite boisterous. Co. K, 42nd Mass. has gone up to Washington to the headquarters of the Army. I saw Hammond Spooner before he went this evening.
Another invoice of prisoners came down today & also a lot of sick from different posts along the route. I noticed only one from our regiment. One officer drove in in a buggy which he had seized on the way. The Quartermaster took possession of it here. I see by the papers Louis Granger has arrived with the officers comprising Ullman’s Brigade. Why didn’t they keep them in Virginia? They can get officers for Negro regiments plenty here. Capt. Crocker of the gunboat Clifton had the flag of the fort at Bute a la Rose in the office. It had 12 stars on the blue field & “God Armeth the Patriot” was inscribed upon it.
Dr. Blake of the Sanitary Commission has been here a few days back. They have done a good thing for the soldiers here in furnishing clean clothes & luxuries for the sick. Dr. Blake is a graduate of Williams College. He said there were 3000 sick in hospitals at Baton Rouge. When I was there the number was as high as 3840.
I turn in my rations with a detachment of the Signal Corps & sleep in the office on the floor. We live very poorly, no better, just as we do in the Army. Brashear City is the worst place I’ve been in since I left Hardwick & I don’t know but I should prefer to live in Hardwick, even. Ship Island is much preferable. A little village of half a dozen houses, hot, full of mosquitoes, bay water to drink, no women or children to amuse yourself with, the situation of a fellow is rough indeed. I asked Capt. Dennett the other day to go back to my company. He insisted on my staying with him. I don’t expect to go back to my regiment for duty, but I want to get up to Opelousas or Washington. I know I could go with plenty of quartermasters. Several have spoken to me about it & as I get no extra pay, I just as lief go with one as another. However I shall stay with Capt. Dennett awhile but shall try to get on some steamboat or something to get out of this place. Love to all.
Your aff. son,
Springfield Landing, La. (5 miles below Port Hudson)
Thurs. June 11, 1863
My Dear Parents
Brashear City having become no longer the basis of supplies for Banks’ Army, we were obliged to change our location & are now situated at this new depot of the 19th Army Corps.
We left Barwick’s Bay Sat., June 6th, staid [sic] in New Orleans till Tuesday, June 9th. Put up at the City Hotel. Sunday heard Dr. Bacon preach at Christ Church.
I met Frank Spooner on the street. He is in the Hospital in the City. We stopped at Baton Rouge long enough for me to see Louis Granger & get the shirts & other articles of clothing which I very much need. Louis had lost the letter father sent. In an attack of seasickness on the voyage, he was not satisfied with throwing up his breakfast, but threw overboard 2 or 3 letters which had been confided to his keeping. But I suppose I have got the contents of that letter in others which I have received.
I think we can rely on the arrangements which the U.S. have made for transmitting letters with more safety than on informal contracts with [illegible]…Brigade. Springfield Landing is an opening in the woods — no houses or evidences of civilization — opposite Prophet Island. A large quantity of stores are landed here, ammunition, etc. Trains of wagons are leaving all the time for the Regts. & Brigades along the line.
Last night I slept in a tent the first time since last summer. We are having camp life in earnest.
I saw Dr. Bidwell last night. 6 have been killed & 16 wounded so far in the 7 companies of the 31st Mass. during the siege. None have been killed, I believe, in Co. D. We are where [illegible] …. of the artillery & at night the sky is all ablaze with the lightning of the mortars. When Port Hudson is to fall is uncertain. Perhaps in a week, perhaps in a month. No supplies can get in & it can be starved out, but the works can’t be carried by storm & I think it doubtful if they can shell them out. If no force attacks Banks in the rear, he will take it in time.
Have you done anything with that recommendation I sent for a commission? Love to all.
your aff. son
Springfield Landing, June 28, ’63
My Dear Parents
Many expressed fears yesterday that General Banks would take another Sunday to attack Port Hudson, but the Sabbath has passed by & no more fighting has been going on than the usual skirmishing & firing of sharpshooters & pickets. There is a general feeling in the Army among officers & men against an attack on Sunday. The disastrous results which have followed engagements on that day have had the effect of creating a sort of superstition that that is an unlucky day among those who are not governed by motives of religion. There is an instinctive dread, distinct from any moral or religious view of the question, & it was generally felt through the whole army that if an attack was made today we should be defeated. But our general, governed by motives of prudence if no loftier principal, has wisely deferred the next great assault which we all feel confident is imminent.
The rebels have displayed their usual energy & daring in making a raid on the Opelousas R.R. Brashear City has been taken with several hundred men of the 176th N.Y., Col. Nott, the 23rd Conn., Col. Holmes, & some of the 21st Ind. besides a larger quantity of ammunition, guns, & stores. The rich Lafourche country is again occupied by the natives, the invader expelled, & New Orleans in more danger than it ever has been since its first occupation by the Army of the Gulf. Our hold on the great state of La., the state where some enterprising New Orleans politicians are demanding a convention to frame a new constitution & go through the farce of making La. again one of the United States by the vote of the people, is confined to a narrow strip of soil along the bank of the Mississippi from the Balize to Port Hudson. A fight occurred at Donaldsonville last night said to have resulted in the discomfiture of the Enemy & tonight a force has been withdrawn from the Army investing Port Hudson, & already [illegible] by 2 defeats & the necessary disaster attending a 5 week besiege in such an unhealthy country as this in the heat of summer, to reinforce the little garrison of Donaldsonville fighting against a desperate foe. Gen. Stone with his command has gone aboard the Iberville & with the force under Gen. Emory will probably be able to keep up communication with New Orleans, unless he uses the Balls Bluff strategy, until the siege is either raised here or the fortress captured. The former contingency, i.e. the raising the siege, I do not think likely to happen. Deserters are leaving Port Hudson every day sometimes as many as 30 a day & they represent the garrison as ready to surrender but made to fight by their officers. However the stories of these fellows cannot be relied upon. They are generally cowards who dare not stand by their comrades & voluntarily allow themselves to be taken prisoners of war to escape
the dangers of the conflict. Our Negroes have been assiduously employed in making what they call “saps”
in engineering parlance & our approaches to the stronghold are daily lessened. The feeling in the Army is generally one of confidence. If Banks should be unsuccessful, he would I suppose lose his reputation as a general, but if the men who make & unmake generals knew the first principles of military science, they would not hastily condemn a man because his troops cannot do impossibilities. The American people have yet to learn what war is & have not yet begun to comprehend the immense work they have entered on in attempting to conquer the armies of the South. If Port Hudson can be taken by this Army, it will be. If not, not. That’s all.
Your devoted son
Springfield Landing, La.
July 8, 1863
My Dear Parents
Yesterday morning we heard the glorious news of the Fall of Vicksburg. At first we doubted it but when Gen. Banks announced that he had official dispatches it electrified the well-nigh discouraged soldiers of this Army & was worth 10,000 men. The regiments along the line cheered wildly & the bands struck up the national airs with an enthusiasm of victory. We were safe. Port Hudson, we knew, must fall & the communication between here & New Orleans which had been closed & which, if it had remained so long would have compelled Banks to raise the siege, would be again open. Today Port Hudson fell. There was no slaughter, no assault. The rebels worn out & discouraged at the news of the fall of Vicksburg, which was quickly transmitted over the rebel parapets, asked this morning for a suspension of hostilities. I learned that the terms were agreed upon & [illegible] … to repossess the LaFourche country & then the work of the 19th Army Corps is done for this summer. The 9 months men will go home & the little band left will not be more than sufficient to garrison the place on the river. The victory of Grant & Banks cannot be overestimated. Navigation opened to St. Louis & the west. It seems as though half the distance from here to you was annihilated.
July 9 – The formal surrender of Port Hudson took place today. I would have given a good deal to have been up & seen Gen. Gardner surrender his sword to Gen. Andrews, Chief of Banks’ Staff but the Capt. wouldn’t let me go. I hear that 4000 prisoners were taken & 2 or 3000 sick & wounded besides came into our hands. I have not heard how many pieces of artillery were taken but I reckon in the neighborhood of 100. The telegraph from here to Headquarters has been taken down & this post will be broken up. A salute of 34 guns was fired on the raising of our flag which we heard here. They say yesterday when hostilities were suspended before the terms of surrender were made, our men & the rebels met & although officers tried to keep them apart, as it was not certain the place would be surrendered, but they couldn’t. The boys traded canteens & jackknives & passed around their tobacco. Fellows on our side that had been taken prisoner & escaped were joking with the rebels who stood guard & all felt friendly & jolly. It seems strange after such hard fighting. I do not know much about the particulars of the surrender — how many have been killed on their side, etc. as no boats have come down & there has been so much going on that scarcely anybody has come down here from there. The terms of surrender were unconditional except that Banks was to respect private property & take care of the sick & wounded, which would have been done without any agreement beforehand. Gen. Weitzel with a large command is embarking on the transports above & will endeavor to capture Dick Taylor’s & Mouton’s force on the LaFourche & Berwick’s Bay country, but I am afraid they will hear of the fall of Port Hudson & leave without a fight.
I rode out this morning on horseback to a plantation outside of our pickets with Capt. Hersey the Provost Marshal belonging to the N.H. 16th Regt. In a cornfield beyond our pickets we were riding along when a squad of men popped out into the road in a rather hostile manner. The Capt. turned & fled in an awful fright. I didn’t have the presence of mind to run but stood still till the fellows came up & found them to be a lot of our men with the team cutting corn for fodder. They were very sorry they frightened anybody & I rode back to the pickets & found Hersey & we proceeded. We dismounted on arriving at the plantation & went to the house & took seats on the piazza. The old proprietor talked fair, complained of Illinois cavalry for cleaning out the peach orchard, garden, & coming in & taking all the supper they had prepared, carrying off butter, & committing other improprieties. I stood up for them & told them they must be pardoned as they had contracted some peculiar habits in their journey through Mississippi. The women were all secesh except one who had taken the oath of allegiance. One very handsome young belle was very determined in her conversation on the war, though behaving very ladylike & not in any way using insulting or harsh language. I enjoyed her conversation very much, but did not agree with her, as I knew ’twas no use to talk with a woman. Speaking about a wounded rebel, she said she wanted to take him to her house. She would have carried him all the way to her house alone. She said “she knew nothing about him but ’twas enough for her to know that he was a Confederate.” I smiled at the fanaticism that had possessed the fair creole & suggested the idea of visiting the peach orchard. We got a few good ones — June peaches, but they were hardly fit to eat. In about two weeks they will be good. Afterwards we bid good morning to the women & left. That young woman wouldn’t believe Vicksburg was taken but acknowledged that Port Hudson had fallen. I would call on them again but we are going off tomorrow. We have orders to go to Port Hudson & report to Gen. Auger, the Commander of Port Hudson. As soon as we get settled at there, I will write again. Love to all.
Your aff. son,
Port Hudson Louisiana
July 17, 1863
My dear Parents
Your letter of June 22nd has been received since I last wrote. The rebels have all been paroled except the officers & all except some of the officers & the sick & wounded sent away. Gen. Gardner & staff have gone to New Orleans & Gen. Beals & staff are going upriver to Grant. Some of the prisoners were up to Natchez, some to the Red River, & some marched out by land. Over 6000 were paroled comprising regiments from La., Miss., Ala., Tenn., and Ark. I saw a good many regiments march out & have conversed with a number of officers & men. One of the regiments, I believe the 1st Miss., was captured at Fort Donaldson once before & the 1st Ala. was captured at Island No. 10. Miles Legion, as it is called, was raised in New Orleans & most of them had deserted during the siege. An officer (Confed.) spoke to me as they were going out, the remnant left, & said, “You may have them & welcome.” He said they were not worth their rations to either side. I heard that some of them said that Louisiana had gone up – they were not going to fight for other states. The other regiments seemed to be strong rebels & although they seemed to be glad they were going home, they said when they were exchanged & if there was any more fighting to be done, they would be ready for us again. Some wit & blackguard was exchanged between the two parties as they went out, but not enough to attract the notice of the officers. One rebel said, “We are coming back here again.” A Yankee replied, “I hope when you do your mule meat won’t get exhausted so quick.” Another Yankee asked if they were going to reinforce Grant’s 30,000. One of the officers was telling us in our office about his eating rats during the siege. He said mule steak was good & palatable food but rat meat was far superior. One of our officers laughed at him & he said, “Men fighting for what they were fighting for would eat their fingernails.” The rebel officers are treated with great attention by our officers. They ride around on fine horses which they are allowed to retain, are seen eating & drinking with our officers, & spending with apparent liberality greenbacks which no doubt were plundered from the bodies of our dead & wounded heroes of the battles of May 27th & June 14th. A Confederate told me that one man got $600 from one of our colonels left on the field & another got $60 from the body of the captain of a negro company. After the hardships endured & the loss of life sustained in taking this place, it makes our soldiers indignant at attention shown the rebel officers. One would think they were our guests. I said they keep their horses. I thought at first it was funny to hear them come & ask for forage for their animals, but one captain exceeded in impudence anything I ever saw. His horse it been stolen from him & he didn’t know who stole him or where he was & he wanted to know if they wouldn’t give him the value of his horse in money. They must think the Yankees are set of fools & I believe the officers here are imposed upon more than any set of men that ever lived. I wonder Banks didn’t order the whole army captured here to be paid off 2 months pay before sending them away. All citizens were ordered to leave here & none are allowed to enter. They came around Capt. Dennett whining & crying to get wagons to move their furniture. One poor woman came this morning & made more fuss & whined around so they gave her wagons to get her things out. The tears & groans of these rebel women don’t affect me much. I don’t consider myself hardhearted above other Yankees, but when I see the authors of this rebellion suffering & losing their all I think Providence has designed that they should receive in this life a part of the punishment for their sins & I do not desire to interfere with the plans of the Creator.
Many of these persons going out left a large amount of property which they were unable to take. Our tents are full of tables, chairs, desks, pictures, books, mattresses, etc. We have got 3 or 4 cows which give our mess a pan & a half full of milk & I had some hominy & milk for supper. The soldiers have also rummaged the houses & kept what little the officers left. Gen. Stone, a graduate of West Point & Fort Lafayette, has appeared very intimate with secesh officers. I have seen him riding around with Gen. Gardner.
I have rode out to our fortifications & seen some of the works of our engineers. I had no definite idea before of the sapping & mining process. The Sallie List, Imperial, & Planet have come down from Vicksburg. The Planet took part of Grierson’s cavalry back to Vicksburg. It brought down a lot a cattle.
We have heard the news of the rebel defeat in Penn. Some think when the Yankees get Brashear City & Penn. the Union will be restored. I hear nothing definite from our forces in the LaFourche country except that we have got whipped once there.
The water here is very poor — the spring water is mean. It has iron in it & no doubt possesses medicinal virtues, but for a well man to take, it’s apt to affect him unpleasantly.
I hope nothing happens to mar the celebration of the nuptials of your 2nd daughter. I enclose a secesh song. I sent you 2 in Eva’s with account of siege of Port Hudson. Love to all.
your aff. son
Port Hudson, La.
August 14, 1863
My Dear Parents
I have received no letter from you yet. I believe the last was dated 30th of June.
I see Louis Granger most every day. He had another letter from Hardwick since I wrote from Mrs. Aiken. She also stated that I had been appointed clerk in the Navy Department. I am anxious to hear from you to know whether it is really so or only Hardwick gossip.
I wrote down to Baton Rouge to my Regiment to have any letters that come for me to be sent up. Louis gave me a couple of Republicans, one containing an account of Amherst Commencement & one Class Day at Williams, incidents of the draft, etc. I also noticed in one that John Norris, M.D. of Leipzig, Del. was married & that the ceremony was solemnized by Rev. M. Tupper, assisted by Rev. H.M. Tupper. I see by the papers that Dr. White’s wife died recently. I got a letter from Frank Adams from Vicksburg the other day. Herron’s Division still remains just below Port Hudson, some on transports but most on shore. I suppose the 42nd Mass. will be home soon.
Later & more interesting intelligence from the Department of the Gulf!!
The following order was received this p.m.:
Adjutant General’s Office
Washington, June 30 ’63
Special orders No. 288 Extract
Private James B.T. Tupper of Co. D, 31st Massachusetts Vols. is hereby honorably discharged the service of the U.S. to enable him to accept a position in the Navy Dept.
By order of the
Secretary of War
Assistant Adjt. General
I don’t know why I have not received it before. However I shall go to Baton Rouge tomorrow & get my “final statement” from the Commanding Officer of my Co. & proceed to New Orleans without delay & take the first opportunity to leave, going probably via the Miss. River.
I cannot tell how long it will take me. I shall go to Hardwick direct & take off my knapsack & blouse before having an interview with Gideon W[elles]. G.W. is a gentleman — no mistake. He manages the Navy Department first rate.
Hope Henry & Maggie Hanie will be home when I get there. Love to all.
Your affectionate & no longer enslaved son