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31st Maine Infantry - Wounded & Captured at Petersburg

Item LTR-5925
July 19, 1863 Benjamin F. Barrows
Price: $220.00


Original Civil War soldier's letter. 4 pages written in period ink.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana
July 19, 1863

Dear Cousin Marcia,

I received some time ago your kind letter of the 15th and of course Ed’s come along with yours. But he must wait awhile longer for an answer. I was very much pleased to receive your letters. They came most opportunely as I was not very well at the time. And in addition to my physical suffering, I felt rather down hearted. After reading your letter, I felt quite well. I am very sorry that I was not so fortunate as to receive the long letter which you wrote to me about the time I left New York. I think its perusal would have been a treat that I do not get every day. A long letter would indeed be a curiosity to me and if full of news, very interesting. I have received no long letters since I have been home. All the letters that I have received have been written by Greenleaf and Martha. And all the fault I had to find with them was that they were too short. Martha has been very good to write and I feel very thankful even for a few lines. They write longer letters now. I hope next time you write you will fill up four pages of paper with all the news. You have no idea how much every little item relating to Augusta affairs interests me. Every paper I get hold of I look over first for Augusta news. I do not get much news from Augusta.

The past three weeks my health has not been very good. I have had a slight fever all of the time until within a couple of days and was very bilious all of the time. I had no appetite and consequently I grew poor quite fast. I took some calomel about a week ago and followed it up in a few days. It weakened me the more but benefited me a great deal. Last Wednesday, Will came to me and asked me to go and take dinner with him and see if I couldn’t eat something. I went with him but thought I couldn’t taste anything but I succeeded in eating a very little. I began to improve immediately and have continued to since I was not able to be about but a few minutes at a time. I used to feel very faint. But now that I am gaining strength so fast, I wonder if I was really sick or starving myself gradually to death. I weighed today 138 pounds. The lightest that I have been since I had a fever at your house. I haven’t been below 155 for several years. I was sorry to hear that your Mother had been sick. But I am glad to hear that she is getting along so well. I presume by this time she has fully recovered the use of her limbs. I suppose she will miss me considerably. Only think of it that last year at this time I was on Bolton Hill enjoying myself finely with you and Rebecca and others. Little did I think then that in one year I should be down here. I shall not be there this season to eat cherries and pick blackberries, though I would like to dearly. Its not time for blackberries with you yet. When we landed at New Orleans last April we could get plenty of blackberries and strawberries. And we have been able to get all the blackberries we have wanted since we have been here. I have seen none the past two weeks and think they are now played out.

It is certainly time they were. I received a letter from Emma a few days ago. She wrote that Rebecca had been spending some weeks in Boston and that she had grown worse. And that John had gone to bring her home. He was expected back the evening of the day she wrote. This was the first time I had heard from her since leaving Maine.

Have the Fletcher boys returned to Maine yet? If so, I’ll bet they left home reluctantly. Is Ed and Laura still corresponding, do they? Can’t you get into his trunk or heart? Generally the heart is easier door access than the inside of a trunk. If trunks were not pretty strong most likely the man who carried off Greenlief’s pants would have taken some of my property also.

We have no news here now. We have to get our news from the North. The last we had was good and we are impatient for more. We have heard that General Meade has taken a very large number of prisoners and nearly annihilated Lee’s Army. I want to hear this confirmed. I suppose the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson caused great joy throughout the North. Banks is now fighting down the river. While he was at Port Hudson, a formidable force of rebels undertook to blockade the river. I suppose they will get whipped out but Banks has a very small force to do it with now that the nine months men’s time is out.

This Regiment is going to Port Hudson soon. Orders are hereby expected to that effect. A camp of instruction for black soldiers is to be established there. When this Regiment gets up there, General Ullmann will have his Brigade together. I shall write to Martha from there.

Ed said something about some of my Masonic friends thinking I left very suddenly and that I didn’t even make them a farewell address. I suspect Dr. Toward made that remark. Tell Ed if he sees the Doctor to ask him why he has never answered the letter which I wrote to him almost the first day I landed here. You say you wouldn’t be surprised if I settled down here. I haven’t concluded to yet. Should I do so, I should be very happy to receive a call from you. If this is a land of favors, etc., it is a magnificent country. A person can raise almost anything he desires. There are plenty of ripe figs here now. I do not eat many. They are pear shaped and very sweet and rich. They are so sweet as to taste a little sickish. I would like to take a nice ride with you. Say down to the Togus House. Martha writes me that it isn’t likely that Lizzie will visit you this summer. I should think it would be quite a disappointment to you. Monday Morning, The past two or three weeks I have occupied the Hospital Steward’s tent and have slightly assisted the Surgeon at times. Some of the negroes think I am a doctor. I have just been told to supervise the packing of the medicines. It is expected to start for Port Hudson this afternoon. So I must close writing. Give my love to all, especially your Father and Mother. And as soon as convenient write me that long letter.

Very truly your cousin,

B. F. Barrows