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4th New Hampshire Infantry

Item LTR-6585
May 3, 1863 Leander Harris
Price: $245.00


Original Civil War soldier's letter. 3 pages written in period ink.

Folly Island
May 3rd 1863

Brother William,

It is getting about time for me to redeem my promise to write. I begun a letter to you some time ago but will not finish that. Perhaps it will be best to begin back to the time that we left Beaufort. On the first of April, I received an order to report to the U.S. General Hospital at Hilton Head for duty. I did not like to go but there was no help for it. It became harder as the regiment was just starting on the expedition to Charleston. You have heard all about that. So I will not say anything about it. They came back to Hilton Head and remained there about a week when they were ordered away again. I stayed behind about a week and then went to the Surgeon In Charge and asked to be relieved. My request was granted and I was ordered to report to the Commander of the Regiment. I left Hilton Head a week ago today and found the regiment on board of the transports in Edisto River. We stayed there a few days and then moved up to this place. If you have a map of the harbor, you will see that we are getting into the rebel country. This island is close to Morris and James Islands. The rebels occupy those places and the pickets on both sides are quite friendly. They go in bathing together in the river between their post and exchange papers, etc. our men sent them salt beef and coffee and they send back tobacco and whiskey. We are within 4 or 5 miles of Fort Sumter which can be seen quite distinctly.

There are various opinions in regard to the object of sending us here. Some think there is to be an immediate attack on Charles. But it does not appear like that to me. In the first place, we have not forced enough to make any show if we are to do much with the land forces. And it does not seem as though the fleet is sufficient to do the business alone. I think that we shall remain here this summer and commence a regular siege. There may be an attempt to drive the rebels form Morris and James Islands and to occupy those places soon. It will be likely to take some hard fighting to accomplish that objective as they are strongly posted there. But if there is to be an immediate attack, you will hear of it before you see this. For it must be made at the time of the highest tide, which is at the present time. so it must be made within 48 hours. Bets are offered and some that we have occupied but the water is very poor. You don’t know what that means. For the poorest water that you can find within ten miles of your place, we should call good. I would walk now five miles in the hot sun to fill my canteen with as good water as that in the old blueberry swamp. If you knew how I was situated at the hospital and how it is here. You would think it was not very wise of me to change. But it is a fact that I never was homesick in my life till the regiment left me.

I received your letter some time ago that contained the pictures. I like that one much better than the one that Julie sent me. I suppose that I ought to write her. But it is rather difficult writing her just now. And she must make this do for a while. When we get situated so that it will be more convenient to write, I will try and do better.

I hope you will both write as often as you can. My health continues good and I have no desire to get out of the army until my services are no longer needed. I would like very much to have a furlough to visit home for a while. But I suppose I will have to wait. Give my regards to all the good folks of my acquaintance. Tell them to keep up their courage and do their whole duty. And the country will come out of this trouble stronger than ever. I have no time to write any more at present. But if anything happens, I will try and inform you of it.

Yours truly,

L. Harris