These are transcriptions of letters written by Private Luther M. Fairbank of Ware, Massachusetts to his sister Julia Fairbank. The original letters are held in the Special Collections Department at Louisiana State University. Transcribed by Larry Lowenthal, Cliff McCarthy, Stan Prager, and Matt Dupont.
I received your letter and was glad to hear from you and was sorry to hear that you was so troubled. There is a great deal of sickness in camp. There is about nine of our boys sick with the measles. Both Fisherdicks have got them. W. Bassett has also, but they are getting better. There is also two cases of the mumps. We expect to leave here and go to Lowell this week but dont know for certainty. It has got so cold here that we have to stay in the house all the time. I was on guard last night and they had to change every hour and they dont keep them out at all some days. Oh! there is nothing like being a soldier and dying game for the union. Chas Stearns has enlisted as the other drummer I hope he wont get the drum shot of[f] his back.
That pic that John sat beside of was a sour one. We plague him a great deal. that makes me think of that picture of his that I took away from him that night. He meant to give that to Carrie so you can give it to her. I meant to get it before I came off but forgot it but you give it to her and it will be all the same. You take good care of those pictures that I left and not to let any of them get broke. As for that present, I will try to send one before I leave but have had no chance to go down street lately. You tell mother to let Jasper have those skates of mine for a New Years present. Is there any skating there now or sleighing [?] There was a sleigh ride party came to see us yesterday. There was one six horse team and 2 four horse teams and two two horse teams so you see we have some visitors to see us if we are soldiers. O! there is nothing like being a soldier boy.
What is the reason Mary dont write[?] Do you know or has some of them cut me out[?] I shall not want to go down south if it is as bad as George says for we have lots of good looking girls here. There are two or three now trying to get Ed S to come out of the bunk to see him.
Bid good bye
Pittsfield Feb. 2
I received your letter and provisions and was very glad to receive them. the victuals are going first rate. we are to have knapsack parade to day. it is the first pleasant Sunday that we have had for some time. they are having us take the oath again today. Capt. Hopkins says we are regulars. he told the whole company so. if that is the case, we shall have to stay 3 years any way, but I don’t believe we are.
We had quite a time here one day last week. they transfered one of our men into Co. H and the sargent [sic] of that company came and was taking him away. we all jumped out of our bunks and took him away. then the lieut. of Co. H came and was going to put him in the guard house, but he could not get him through our company, we stood around him so thick. we told him he would have to put us all in if he did one and he dare not risk it, but sent for our officers and they wanted to know what was the matter. we told them and he made them let him alone. Sgt. Allen then told the company he did not want any fuss, only let Bacon go into Co. H until after pay day so that the company could get their pay, for they wanted one more man. then he would guarantee that he should come back or join any other company he liked. it was not because we wanted the man, for our company has 105 men, but we wanted to see fair play and he wanted to go into Co. F, so you see we have a full company now, but I see the standard says there are but 99. [illegible] is they have not got all the names. It is as the standard says in regard to having the paper just as soon as the mail comes in saturday. [illegible] come let me take your paper next, let me, let me, let me, and there is some 10 or 12 lay round to hear me read it and it is a hard looking thing by the time it gets around. I am much obliged for the paper. You tell Abbie I am much obliged to her for the corn. That cake that you sent I took out friday night and divided it amongst the relief. that was that and the pies made a good midnight meal. we make a good deal of fun about Ezra’s middle name P we think it stands for Peter. we have just been out since I commenced writing and taken my oath of allegiance, but I must close. Let mother read. so goodby.
Camp Seward Pittsfield
I received your letter last night. I was very glad to hear from home. We are having a first rate time. a soldiers life is the easiest life I ever had. We have good over coats and bunks to sleep in[,] 6 boys in a bunk. We have a jolly time I can assure you. I would not leave for a good deal. we drill 3 1/2 hours 4 a day. I have worked carpentering about 1/2 the time building bunks, etc. we all passed examination but Goodwin and [sic] are to be mustered in to the service monday. We just been eating some rations Geo Marsh had sent him. We sleep in the same bunk. Chas Lamberton[,] A Warberton[,] J Lashua[,] A Bennett[,] Geo Marsh and Myself are together.
It is snowing today so we do not drill at at [sic] all but lay around playing and telling stories. I sleep as well and as warm as I ever did at home. You need not be alarmed at all for we have every thing we want. They furnish every thing. we have tobacco[,] pipes[,] paper[,] envelopes and [etc.] [etc.] given us.
There is a prayer meeting every evening. Most all of our company read a chapter in the Bible every morning and evening. I will write every week but I cant stop any longer now. Oh 6 of us are coming home together when we [illegible], but we shan’t come just yet so don’t look for us.
Good bye Love to all
Luther M. Fairbank
Camp Ship Island
31st Mass Reg’t Co. D, U.S.A.
March 24th 1862
Although I have not heard from home since I left Boston, I will commence another letter. It is 4 week [sic] yesterday since we sailed from Boston and here we are at last, although we have not landed yet. I date it at the island. I suppose you have got the one I wrote at Hilton Head. I will number my letters so you can tell whether any are missed. This is the third.
I left you at Hilton Head. I will commence where I left off. We staid [sic] there just a week and had to unload the vessel and they fixed the Miss[issippi] so they thought it would carry us. They got another steamer to take the Maine boys and part of the cargo. they started first. We worked all day from Sunday that we were there loading the vessel and monday Mar 10 about 2 oclock [sic] we started, but had hardly got 6 lengths of the vessel from the wharf before we run high on an oyster bed. We had to tie a rope to the mast and go a shore and make it fast, to keep the vessel from tipping over when the tide went out, but at low tide we were tipped over on one side considerably and here we lay until two oclock [sic] at night, when we had to all go on board another vessel to lighten the Miss[issippi] to see if they could not get her off, for at the time it was high tide again, but it was no go. so the next day we had to unload the cargo again and all go into a schooner after he was drawn of[f] into the stream and there we were in a drenching rain and three steamers tried to pull the Miss[issippi] off, but it was not so easily done. So one of the steamers came for us and we went a board for our supper, which was a cup of tea made of condensed water. all ordered back into another vessel again, but I was wet through and did not want stand over on there all night, so hid down in the hold of our vessel until after they had got the other vessel off, when I crawled up into my bunk and took of[f] all of my wet clothes and went to sleep. In the morning they had got her off and lay at anchor at the fort here. We loaded the cargo again and the Susquanna [sic] fired a salute in honor of Gen Butler and the brass band on board of her played dixie as we sailed by. We started once more for Ship Island. The Maine boys waited for us and both started off together.
Two things I had almost forgotten to tell. our first burials were at Hilton Head and there are lying two soldiers in the graves. one was in our regt. and one in the Maine regt. It was a mournful sight to see the funeral procession of soldiers conveying the corpse to its long home. They were laid in a palmetto grove and a boquet [sic] of flowers were put on their grave. These two were buried away from friends and home.
The other was that suspicions were aroused in regard to capt. of the vessel at Hilton H and Butler ordered his arrest and another put in his place. What they will do with him I dont know. Every thing went well, only we had to take turns shoveling coal down in the bottom of the vessel in the hottest hole I ever see. There is no chance for air to get there. Here the fires are to heat the boilers so you can guess what kind of a place it was. I was down there on the morning of wednesday and worked my hour. When I was on deck they were about for burying a man at sea a private of Co. B died in the night from the effects of the cold that he got standing in the rain on board of the schooner and they were about to commit his body to the waves. Our chaplain made a prayer and after a volley was fired, he was slid of[f] a plank. One sudden plunge and the waves closed over his youthfull [sic] body forever. Such are a burial at sea. His brother was here and stood beside of the body until it was cast into the water and turned and went to his [illegible]. It was a sad sight to see. He was from Easthampton.
That night there was a [illegible; fold in paper] storm [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] to see the waves with their white crests illuminated by the flash of lightning continued so all night. the next morning land [illegible] in sight of[f] our starboard bow and on nearer approach we see the [illegible] [illegible] the shipping [illegible] and at last we could see [illegible] [illegible] we run into the harbor and cast anchor, but fired a salute as we came in. Then a pilot came aboard and tried to run us up to the dock. As we ran by one vessel we broke her bow sprit [illegible] and when we got to the dock and was making fast, the wind began to blow and we began to smash the dock, so we had to cut loose again, as we were running out into the stream. We got afoul of a brig and here we are this morning. they are trying to get apart. One thing will show how our blockade works. as we were off the coast of Georgia one of the gun boats see us and the way she made for us wasn’t slow. as she came up, she had all her guns run out [incomplete]
As I have just finished and given a letter in I can not write much news and only take my pen in hand to let you know that your letter of March 17 I received together with the three papers there is nothing in so good demand to day as those. I was very happy to hear from home it is the first since I left Lowell it seems good to hear from home once more it seem I am not forgotten there yet. I am sorry to hear that Aunt Louisa is crazy do they think she will get over it at least[?] I hope she will. What the reason is Mary did not get a letter when you did[?] I dont[sic] know for I write one at Hilton Head but I have not had any from her yet. What the reason is[?] I dont[sic] know? There was a great many smiling faces last night when the mail arrived I was getting wood and you better believe I started for the Capt. sent a plaugy quick when they told me there was a letter for me and I had to open it before I could draw my rations there was one more stunned it was H Hill but I guess Ezra Warberton will write the rest of the news what he dont[sic]. Mary can tell you for I have written to her today and I have no more time to write you say you want my picture I am sorry to say I cant[sic] send it and if I could it would scare you we were all black as coal and my hair is cut short to my head and we were the awfulist set of men you ever see there is not one that would own us as a fellow of theirs if we should come home to day, [sic] but we are not ready to come back to a life of drudgery yet. I am at just what suits me now a roving lazy life here we eat drink and sleep with very little work to do. What we eat is not always good. I have ate meat with maggots all over it since i came here. What it that taste as good as pie only get used to it. Our dress uniform hats were given out to us yesterday and each one of them had a girls name in it. Mine was Hattie Fairbanks they were names pasted in when the hats were made but I must close for this time so goodbye
from your brother
in haste Luther
excuse bad writing
I wish Dan was here
We have marching orders to night and are packing our knapsacks for a journey to the main land. The cooks are cooking three days rations so we are over to have a brush with the rebels so here goes for pakcing we are all writing home some are discussing the coming engagements but come what may you may rest assured I shall do my duty you need not worry dear sister and friend for I am satisfied with the course I have taken. If I go through safe and sound perhaps I may send you some thing worth looking at but good bye Julia for this time I have got to throw every thing but just a pair of drawers and stockings and shirt my undershirts are giving no drink
On board the Steam ship
Mississippi at anchor 10 miles below
Fort Jackson on the Miss River
As I have a few minutes to spare I will commence another letter. The last letter I wrote you was when we were under marching orders. We left Ship Island April 15th on board the Mississippi. The following ships were loaded with troops Mississippi with the 26th and 31st Mass regts. and the 6th Mass bettery the one John Phelps is in. The North America[,] Great Republic[,] Matanza[,] and E. Wilder Farley having in all about ten thousand troops. We sailed out to the S W pass here lay a large English Man of War. The Great Republic could not get over the bar. The Miss did by putting all on steam. We passed Pilot-town about eight oclock [sic]. It is a small place on the bank of the Miss of 8 or 10 buildings. The stars and stripes were floating over it. The buildings are in a poor condition as all the rest of the buildings seem to be all along up the stream the water is as muddy as the puddles that lay in the roads after a hard shower but it is cool water to drink as I have had since I left home. We ran up to with in 10 or 15 miles of Fort Jackson and anchored and lay here ever since.
We boys when we left the island were in hopes of a fight but we lay in sight of the smoke that rises from the fort and can here[sic] once in a while the war of the artillery and we lay of[f] here. There was some hard talk when they drop[p]ed anchor to think we were not going to go any nearer. I dont[sic] know but what the 31st will run, but I dont[sic] [know] it. The health of the troops is very good, but I am sorry to say that before we left Ship Island we were called to part [with] one of our number that left where with us. I presume you have heard of poor Grout’s death. He died from diptheria. The news came into the tent just after I gave Taylor the letter all but saying that we left in good spirits. There were 2 or 3 excused all not fit to go, but there [were] no such men to stay except Robbins who is trying to get his discharge. Troubled the way I am with my ears such men are no good here. Milton Sagendorph fell and struck his knee on a glass bottle just as we were getting ready and was obliged to stay. Silas Spooner was detailed to guard the tents for we left most of our baggage there. Yesterday was a very rainy day and it was Sunday. But things were all the same as other days. The boats were running up and down the stream. The boat went down in the afternoon with the dead and wounded, carrying them down to Pilot-town. There was 2 killed and 7 wounded so far last night. We want [illegible] the flash of the guns as plain as could be. This morning steamer number 8 came from the fleet and took the large rifle sawyer gun off of our vessel and all the shells to go with it. It was a 24 pounder gun. There is a little house on the shore just opposite where we lay and when we anchored Gen. Butler took a boat and went over. He found them in a starving condition. He sent over a barrel of rice and barrels of [illegible] but I must close. For all they tell about the warm sunny South I knew I had some notion of traveling North to the warm climate for it is so cold we are almost froze up. We have our over coats on and last night blanket and coat.
As I have a little more time I will write a little more news. we weighed ancher yesterday about noon and commenced running up the stream. I don’t mean the whole of the troops but the head ship which is the Mississippi for Butler and staff make this vessel their headquarters. We had not sailed up stream a great distance before there was a gunboat came down stream telling us they had out the chain and look out for fire ships. perhaps you have not heard of that before. it is a chain that the rebels had across the stream from Fort St. Philipps — Fort Jackson. it was held up by old schooner hulks. it was a hard thing — out- it for it was commanded by the guns of the forts and they tried to cut it once and the rebels sank. one of our morter [sic] boats that went up to it but no men were lost but the chain had got to be cut before we could do much. so the night of the 21st being a little dark they ran two gunboats up to the chain and cut it a part, but the chain drew one of the boats around into the shore and another gunboat put out and got it off and thus the chain was cut without losing a man right in front of the rebel guns. we took the man that lives in that house where we carried the victuals and brought him on board. we ran up in sight of the gunboats and anchored and waited untill dark when we started again and went up to the fleet about 2 oclock this morning there was a large fire ship seen coming, making towards the fleet. it did look splendid but a gunboat run out and threw the grappling irons on to it and run it ashore. it lays there burning this morning. I dont know how long we shall lay here before we start again but they are chucking the shells into the fort in great style last night. I stood in the bows of the ship and some of the time there would be 4 to 5 shells in the air at one time. they do not give the rebels much time to sleep or at least I should not think they could with the shells bursting over their heads all the time. the rebels cant get a sight at our morter [sic] boats for they lay behind a piece of woods and direct their fire by the flag ship that lays in the rear. they can see the fort from the flag ship thus you see that they are playing possum on the rebels. O! you folks dont know half that we enjoy of here a soldiering. I will tell you how I have felt. I have thought that come to get down where the rebels are then was the time we should be carefull but the nearer we get we think of some place farther on. here we are right in the midst of them and dont feel any more in danger then I did in Camp Seward. to be sure some of the time I feel a slight fear something might happen.
How do all the boys get along there [?] that is Professor Campbell, Francis and Eddie are they all well [?] has Frank had any letters from me or written [?] I wish some of the folks would write for I am writing all the time and do not get any in return. I have written to Rufie but do not any answers and have written to Mary every time. I have written to you but have not had any letters from her what is the matter with her [?] dont she get my letters or dont she want to write to me any more [?] you tell her not to forget me so am neither do I get any answers from Francis if folks there dont want me to write I wont, although I should like to hear from them first-rate. you tell Mary to write. wont you [?]
As the Saxon is going of[f] tomorrow I will finish this letter. Since the 23rd we have been moved down out of the Mississippi River and are going a shore to attack St. Philipps in the rear. This afternoon at least that is the story that our Lieut. told us. this morning and we have three days rations in our haversacks and the vessels lay along side but we have another Butler run as we soldiers call it before we can get a shore. Only night before last night we sailed all night and in the morning came in sight of the same place that we started from. That is what we call a Butlers Run. You folks must expect a good deal from this expidition[sic] for we soldiers do. every such thing happens and yet we have not seen a rebel in uniform. But I don’t care as long as I can get the victuals and you better believe little old Fairbank will have it if it is round. They can’t fool little old Fairbanks out of his grub. You must excuse bad writing for I can not see the lines it is so dark. How do they get along with that, fighting for the Union good[?] I hope there I have got out into the light now. So here goes. How do all the folks do there at home[?] Now next time you write, send all the news. What is father doing[?] Has he gone to work on the farm or does he have plenty of carpenter’s work[?] How does Grandfather and mother get a long[?] Give them my love. Did he get my money that I sent from Lowell[?] You don’t write what letter you answer or what ones you receive. Please write some head and tail to your letters. You may think I am getting particular and I guess I am. I have to grab a bone like a dog and run and bury or hide it and slip back for another piece for they can’t tell who gets it twice and who don’t. It makes me think of when all us boys being at home and mother giving us a piece of bread and butter and are fighting because one had more butter than the other.
But I guess I have written enough for this time. Write as soon as you get this. And with every thing, give my love to all. Kiss Lucy and Rufie for me. Ask Rufie why he don’t answer my letters and Mary also and Francis if they mad or what is the matter. Love to all & a share for yourself
[on reverse]: Chas Lamberton is well
Sailing up the Mississippi River
May 1 /62
Although it is but a day or two since I wrote I can not let such a time pass without writing. When I wrote last we expected to be called to the field of battle, but we have seen no such field yet but very near it. We were landing in the rear of Fort [St.] Philipps when the news came that the stars and stripes floated over both forts and, the order countermanded, we were obliged to go back onto our old ship again and steer for the river again. We anchored at the head of a pass until the next morn when we sailed up to the forts. There we stopped a short time. The forts mounted 250 guns and I dint[sic] see how in the world a fleet could run by Fort [St.] Philipps and earthworks as long as from our house to Uncle Daniels and mounted 30 guns and had full command of the river. Either they did not want to fight or they were poor marksman. It was the former I guess for our Lieut. told us that 400 raised mutiny and refused to fight. But as for the real news you should get it before we shall have to wait for the Boston Journal. Here we are right in the midst of the fight and yet know not so much as you do at home. As to the killed and wounded all we know is that the forts have surrendered. Perhaps you won’t believe it, but it is actually so. I have not heard one speak of it after leaving the forts. We went as far as the quarantine buildings here. the 26th took possession and there was about 250 prisoners who took the oath of allegiance and gave three cheers to the union. We staid [sic] here untill [sic] about one oclock[sic] last night when they started and this morning a different view was open before me. Yesterday there was sunken vessels and one thing I forgot all along up from the forts there was fire rafts built ready to send down to our fleet. Today we are sailing by the most beautiful sugar plantations. Tell Papa that I can now see slavery before my eyes but different from what I expected. How I wish you could be on board this vessel this fine hazy morning and see such beautiful views on the river. You might read in book all your life time and then not know near how they looked. I never thought I should see such pleasant plains. There is orange groves along the banks or shore of the river, for there is no banks, and you can see the yellow fruit hanging in the trees. In amongst these trees the planter has his house and his negro huts or houses for they are better houses than a great many live in there in Ware, are arranged along in rows and are tidy and neat as can be and you can see the negroes at work hoeing with the overseer in a great many fields as we go by. the men and women are out swinging their hats and handkerchiefs. It would please you to see the negroes run across the lot where there is no overseers and [illegible (on fold)]. Well pays me for enlisting to sail up the river this morning and to see how they hail the old flag mast heads. We sit crews some in the rigging and every where they can get a seat and look along. I am sitting on top of the cabin but cannot write half the time for I have look at the shore to see the sights it is the pleasentest [sic] May day I ever passed.
I had a letter from Mary last night that she wrote last March. it was just 2 months getting to me but it was just as good for all that. some of the boys had letters that were sent to Lowell. But I must close now for we are beginning to get in sight of the city.
Well here we are in the Custom House in New Orleans. we arrived at the wharf about noon and at 4 oclock troops began to land. Co. D was the first Co. to land our 31st Regt. The first to march up into the streets and our Co. had to clear the dock of the crowds. We had no trouble at the least there were no flags flying but they were insulting as could be. They call us all names that could be thought of. We escorted Gen. Butler and staff through the streets to the Custom House, where we now are. There was a crowd followed us but before 9 oclock the streets were deserted. The post office was in the building and we immediately took command and distributed the mail. There is now book papers and letters that have not been open and we have been at work ever since we came. The officers join in with us. It is no order they gave but we went in on our own hook. We have great fun reading love letters that girls have written to their fellows in the army and every letter you could think of. I will send some letters and papers and a book for Lucy just to let you see the sentiment in the Southern letter and a 2 dollar secession bill and an confederate postage stamps. You take good care of them and save them. I tell you we live in great style now. We have velvet covered desks to write on and cane seat chairs to sit in here. I am writing on the desk of the paymasters of the Southern Confederacy Navy. They left ink pen and everything Oh what fun we have searching this old building or new I should say for it is not finished yet. It was once the U.S. [illegible] building and they commenced in [____ ____] Our troops have taken possession of the U.S. mint and one or two other things. We are going to start a Union Paper very soon.
We found plenty of sugar and molasses here and all kinds of liquors, boxes of prunes, and articles to[o] numerous to mention. The building is lighted with gas and water is brought in pipes and there is marble wash dishes and evry such thing, but I must close for I have more to write yet but one thing is sure we have enough reading to last one spell so goodbye
One thing, Just as we had got ready to march on shore another mail came bringing your letter of March 27th and one from Mary I was very happy to get them and the papers and you must excuse me for not speaking of them before but there is so much going on that I can not hardly keep my seat to write this. So you must put up with this until the next time. Give my Love to all especially Mary and keep a good share for yourself.
New Orleans May 11
As I have a few moments to spare I will write again. perhaps you will not like to pay for all my letters, but there is no way of paying here, so I guess you will have to at that end of the rout[e]. We are at the Custom House now but dont know when we shall have orders to move. We staid[sic] last night at the Le Charles Hotel the finest one any where around. They expected trouble so we had to move up there, but all passed of[f] well and we are back again this morning. We had to go up to the mint and guard that 3 days so you see we have not had much sleep for the last four days and nights. We have very little trouble here with the people. There seems to be a great many union men here. There is an enlisting office open and 100 men have enlisted [written up the side of the letter: to fight for the cause of our country]. In all the marching about the streets of our troops at night only one shot has been fired at Co A of our regt and that did not hit any body. I like here first rate if they call it warm here now. I can stand as hot weather as they can for they are all dressed in as thin clothes now as we do at the north in august and we soldiers have our thick woolen suit on and yet I dont [sic] feel warm in the least. We dont take much of an insult from them now, but if any man cheers for Jeff or Beauregard we take him prisoner so it makes things pretty still. but the greatest of it is that they wont take their own money. Gen. Butler gave them leave to use it for the predant [sic: present] for you have read his proclamation before now, but there is the greatest jawing about the dammed shin plasters. They all hated to take it. now I think they will get it out of circulation on their own hook if they keep on. We live just about as we are a mind to here for we can take our hard crackers, for we draw 8 a day, and trade them for sugar molasses segars[sic] oranges any such thing. To tell the truth the people here are in a starving condition. They are ready to take any thing we have left that other ways we should throw away and they do pick up the pieces of crackers that are thrown into the street. If what we see here in New Orleans is a specimen of secession, it is in a hard fix. The people tell hard stories very often when walking my beat on guard, has [sic: as] men and women came pass me and almost with tears in their eyes tell us we are welcome to their country, but they have not get so they [we?] know each other yet. but I think when we get a little more command of the country about here, so they know they are safe, there will be a great many more union men than there is now. and that is what one of the night watchmen said when I was on guard up to the mint. that there was a good many here in the city that did not dare to show themselves yet for fear that Beauregard might come here with his force and recapture the city. There is a soldier here that was at the Battle of Shiloh and said that when he heard that he heard [sic] of the city being taken, he resolved to come and see his family expecting to find the city all in confusion. and he says he no more expected to be permitted to go out into the streets without being killed, by the stories he had heard from the leaders, than that he would to set the city a fire. and he was surprised to find every thing so quiet. He said it did not look like a conquered city. He said he had got through serving in the rebel army, if he was fighting against such troops. that is the story of them all here in the city. They expected we were going to rob plunder and destroy, but they were all mistaken, only we did plunder the post office.
Julia how I wish I could be at home to day and see the folks, but we made up our minds that 2 years more will pass before we shall be permitted to again into old Ware and then no one know how much less the number will be than it was the morning we left there for camp at Pittsfield. One more of the number has gone to his long home Alfred Ruggles of Hardwick was left sick on Ship Island and has since died. Thus one by one the[y] will fall off the field of action. No one knows who[‘]s turn will come next. What if the next mail that swept across the atlantic should bring news of my death[?] Would it be any more strange than Mr. Grout? And the question now is am I prepaired[sic] to meet my God at the judgement seat there to answer for my sins[?] Dear sister I am afraid not although I hope to be, but you must not make what I have written make you feel sad for I am well and if any thing the south air agrees with me and we shall probably leave the city soon to go up the river. Be of good cheer, for I am, and hope for the best. What a happy meeting it will be there in Ware when the company returns there will be different tears shed that at the time we bid farewell to home and friends, [continued in the top margin of page one] but I guess I have written enough for this time I presume. You have got my last letter and papers by this time. Give my love to all the folks. kiss Lance and Rufi for me. tell them to be good and I will bring them some thing for them when I come home. and kiss some one else that you say misses me from Ware. I am going to write to her. Give my love to grandfather and mother ask them to remember me in their prayers.
So goodbye, from Luther
New Orleans May 24th
Julia and the rest of you
There has two mails came this week and there is not a fellow from Ware but what has had a letter but me and I have wrote as often as once a week ever since I left Boston to you and Mary, but I shall call this my last letter for the present to either of you if I have not [illegible] sister that thinks enough of me to write once in a while to an absent brother and neither has Mary written. I think it is time I stopped waisting [sic] my time in writing to them. therefore I will just say that I am well and and [sic] like here first rate. I received the Standard of May 3rd. to day Emerson Puffer had 3 or 4 letters and one of them spoke of your receiving a letter from me, so it seems you get my letters. but I fear you neglect to answer them, for I dont [sic] know why my letters could not come just as well as the rest of them. but if you think I can get along without hearing from you, I guess you can the same. what do you think of it [?]
We have got our wash woman. each man in the company pays $1.00 a month for the washing and she draws her rations besides. O! we live high and sleep in the garret. after eating, all we have to do is to just pass out 2 hard crackers and get a cigar. our crackers are as good as money here for such things. I dont [sic] care whether I ever come home or not now. I did think that I had friends that thought of me, at least one. but I begin to think different. however I can find plenty of friends here for there is a good many here that are not secesh, but good Union people.
So good bye for the
present. You need not look for
another letter from me at present.
From your absent forgotten
Luther M. Fairbank
New Orleans May 30th
As I have a few moments to spare I will write again. I received your letters last night of April 22nd and Mar 8th and as I have a length received a letter from (there I have spilt [sic] my ink and must write with a lead pencil) you I will answer them. I was very glad to hear from home once more. You say you have written every week. It is strange I have not got the letters for the rest have had theirs. There must have been some trouble in the way. I have written every Sunday since I left Boston. I suppose you have gotten that pipe and shills I sent by Horace Strickland by this time for I see in the papers that The Undaunted had arrived in Boston. That is the ship they sailed in. I want you to keep that pipe choice new for I shall want it when I come home. You say that you sent a bundle in John Phelps box. I heard you had in a letter of Chas Lamberton’s. the box is here in the city but John has gone up the river and we cant get the box yet untill [sic] he has had it and it has laid here about 10 days. There is a good many boys got things in it. It is a pity we cant get it.
Has George been in any battle yet[?] I shall think it was a narrow chance if he has not. If half the stories were true that we hear from Dixie they are doing all the work up there. I hope we shall have a chance down here by and by. If I thought we were only to stay here in the city and do guard duty I would get my discharge and come home, but if they are to move I want to be with them for I can skin my discharge any time. What John Gore wrote about coming home is all a hoax. I know there is a rumor in camp that we are going home before the middle of July and some of the men have bet as high as $50 doll that we shall. I have a [bet] of $10 doll that we shant. John P. is a strong believer in the going home arrangement. Ezra is well enough, as well as any boy in the company. He has written to you two or three times but has had no answers since we left Boston. You Ware folks must not be so frightened if you do here [sic] any of us are sick. It is very easy to just stump your elbow against a stump to make your pulse beat fast for a few moments or put chalk on your tongue just to get the Dr to excuse you for a day or two from duty. That is the way that a great many are sick in the army. the Dr has to make out a report of the sick and then some of the news paper reporters has it great sickness in New Orleans or the troops are very sickly at –. Little did I think instead of walking the streets in Ware that I should be strollin through the streets of this Crescent City [illegible] but I hope another year at this time I can again be with my friends there in Ware, dont you[?]
I am sitting in one of the nice finished houses. I am on guard at the Co quarters. It was a house that was deserted when we came here and there is some of the best of furniture. I sit beside the parlor door. All the officers are gone and there is two ladies in there playing on the piano. You must not that I have forgotten those or one that I write to at the north for I have not, but the music does sound so good it being so long since I have heard such music. We have a brass band with our reg’t. it has joined us since we arrived here in the city.
There is a great deal of talk here in camp as to where we are going. Some are for Vicksburg but the greatest number are for Boston but I cant see it just yet for this war is not ended yet and as long as they are raising troops we are not going home. however we are going somewhere and that soon, but where[?] I dont [sic] know where nor do I care much. However you need not look for me untill [sic] about 2 months after peace is declared. That will be plenty soon enough. I have been fooling with some of the boys telling them that I had applied for our discharge. that I had wrote home that the boys are all homesick. Emerson Griffin in particular and how mad he was. however I do like to plague him first rate. He said he should write to his folks to tell them not to believe what I wrote for it want [sic] true. I dont [sic] know whether he did or not. I should laugh if he did. He has sold his mosquitoes bar. the mosquitoes would sit on it and crow all night so we could not sleep and I told him I would tear it down some night if he did not get rid of it. Now I sleep a good deal better. only once in a while they they [sic] pitch in and as soon as we go at them they retreat just like the rebels. Exactly always retreat.
I should like to go to the methodists [sic] church once more some sunday night. I would not let one go home alone but I hope you can remember us without going there cant you[?] Or is that the only place we are ever in the habit of frequenting?
I can remember you and Mary and yet no place have they ever seen either of you in. I am sorry to say that I have broken Mary’s picture. I went to my knapsack and found the case and all broke to pieces but I hope to get another some time. You wrote about you having another sister when I get home from war. Who told you all that news[?] Do you think I am going to bring one of these creoles up home or one of these Southern belles or have you made a match for me while I have been gone[?] If you have I am glad to hear it for I dont believe anyone in Ware would notice me when I get back unless the bargain was made before I came of[f] for we shall be the ugliest set of fellows you ever see. I wish I had made a bargain before I came away. I guess you had better trade me off and run the risk of what I shall be when I get there. I suppose it would frighten you to see me take a pice [sic] of beef out of the plate in my hand when the grease run all over your hands. That would not look well would it[?] and get into bed with my pants and shoes on, and take a gun in with me, but that is what we do here. but if you trade me of[f] be carefull [sic] for I have partly, only it takes two to make a bargain.
You say Henry is going to be married in Sept. I should like to be there to the wedding. I wonder if I could not get the chance to stand up with him. May be I might and if the wedding or reunion of the union comes of[f] soon, I will be, but there is no danger I guess. You say that you heard of Ruggles death[?] Didnt [sic] you know he belonged to our company[?] He did but I wrote the particulars before. There is one more of the band been called away. Sullivan Fisherdick is to be buried to day. He has not been well since leaving Mass. but he has been failing untill at last he has gone. His discharge was made out and they thought he might gain enough so that he might get home and there amongst the hills of New England, he would recover but it was not to be. So this[,] three of the most robust men men in the company have been the first to be taken from the ranks. They are the last I should have thought to be the first but so it is. Those that were the most feeble at the north are the ones that the weather agrees best with here. At least it has proved so thus far.
It is so we walk out any where now there is no insults offered us. It is a quiet as it would be to walk through the streets of Boston and we go out every day and stroll about and sit in the shade in the most principle parks. We have a good many hot discussions after all we have singing every night in front of the tents. We have a large crowd to hear. The principal songs are the “Ellsworths Avengers,” “John Brimm,” “Star Spangled Banner,” R.W.B and the one composed for the 7th reg’t. Ask Geo Campbell what it is, but the crowds take it all. At first the officers stopped it, but now they us sing all we like.
You wrote about poor Grout’s death. He was sick about a week. he died the night that we got our marching orders, but as we did not go till the next day we had a coffin made and the company fell in and six took the corps [sic] in their guns and thus we conveyed him to the last resting place. It was a sad sight to see one conveyed to his grave followed by his former comrades. One so suddenly snatched from the ranks when we so soon expected to meet the enemy. He was one that was much esteemed by both officers and men. The officers followed with us to the grave and after a short speech and a prayer from the chaplain, a volley of musketing was fired over his grave, and the sand was thrown over fern. Thus one of that band that left Ware in last Nov. for to fight the battles of his country, so full of hope, has died away from wife and loved ones and lies buried in on a distant and uninhabited island. but you tell his folks that nothing was spared to make him comfortable in his sickness and that he had a decent burial and another has now died and lies buried by the side of Mr. Grout. It was A[lfred] Ruggles of Hardwick. He had been sick ever since he left Boston and he died after the company left him on the island. He being to[o] weak to go with us. May he rest in peace for he has had a hard time since leaving his friends and home.
I dont [sic] know about these greeny fellows that you tell of. If you girls think they are so green, I dont know why you go with them. You need not write any such stuff as that, for you cant [sic] stuff it down soldiers that get the news regular. and I can tell you one thing that if you go with fellows there, greenies or not, we are where we can go with girls that are not green. for the girls think a good deal of the Union soldiers and they are in for Union. So I guess that game can work both ways. if our girls have forgotten us at the north, we have only to forget them and pick us up a southern lady, and if we do that there is a good many that would come back at the end of the war. How does that set in your bread basket? You girls would not come to be our washwomen and we get us Crescent City ladies. and if you girls wont [sic] be wives, why we can get Crescent City ladies for that, too. and then buy our negroes and live at our ease, but I guess I have written enough for this time. Read it if you can an[d] send an answer back. So goodbye.
From your brother
New Orleans U.S. Army