WILLIAMS FAMILY LETTERS- #1
Abiel to his Father
On Board the Eagle, Pamlico Sound
Jan. 26, 1861 
We crossed the bar. That is the bar which separates the Inlet from the Pamlico Sound Friday eve and anchored in eleven feet of water (the boat draws nine) and during the night it drifted back onto the bar; but by their working from 3 o’clock Sat. morning ‘till 11 she was gotten off. And now Sunday we are laying in 12 feet of water.
We are having another Army Sunday today they have been laying the cabin floors that were taken up to admit the boat coming around the Cape of Hatteras. Tomorrow I expect we are going to have some bunks for us to sleep in.
There is a report around now that the fleet is to leave this place Wednesday to strike somewhere probably Roanoke Island;1 but as to the destination you will most likely get more correct reports than we do here. I hope we shall make a strike somewhere pretty soon for we are getting impatient to get a chance to get our feet on land once more. It will be three weeks tomorrow since we have lived on land.
Since I wrote the first of this letter there has been a good deal of business going on board this ferry boat. Burnside2 has put three other companies and ever since they have been building bunks so as to get more men into the same space. To give you an idea how thick we are I will tell you about the room I am in. The room is 12 x 15 including space way, containing 12 bunks six of them hold 3 men apiece and six 2 men apiece making 30 men in these. I have not slept so well, as I have in my bunk since I left Camp Hicks3.
All the boys that are on this boat are well and strong. Oscar4 is on board the division hospital ship with his brother, Anson5 looks better than I ever saw him at home and he seems to enjoy first rate spirits for this place. Edwin6 is the same fellow he was at home. No danger of his being sick so long as he keeps up such good spirits. Things look more and more as though we are drawing near an action. The sooner it comes the better. A vessel came down from Roanok (sp.) Island with a flag of truce and agreed to evacuate the island on some condition or other. No mail vessel is to leave this place with the soldiers letters until after some action has taken place so probably you wont get this till after you get the telegraph reports of a great fight and the immortal 25th. I have not seen anything yet on the coast of North Carolina worth takeing (sp.) without it was to command some harbor or to whip the rebels. There is nothing but sand and shrub trees that I have seen yet. The other day 8 of us went up into the country five or six miles and a good time we had. All the cultivated land I saw was about an acre I don’t think it was much more and that ridged up into a swamp. The trees grow about 12 or 14 feet high the first 4 or 5 feet there are no limbs then the branches spread out and grow so thick that the sun cannot find it’s way through. We came across one church made some like a barn and no steeple the door was open so we went in to see how it looked. The seats and the pulpit were made out of plain pine boards. Every pew had a spit box and it looked so it was well used. The pulpit had none but one corner looked as though the pastor knew the use of tobacco. In the rear of the church were some soldiers graves. At the head of the graves were boards on which were the names of the deceased. On a few were verses frased (sp.) by some true soldier friend. One one_ Sacred to the memory of Wm. Brereton7 Co. “F” 48th Penn. V. who died Dec. 11, 1861 aged 21 were these lines
Rest soldier rest thy country comes
All the graves were protected by rough fences. Write as often as convenient. Will write again as soon as I have a chance. Direct as before and to follow Burnside’s Coast Expedition.
(Written on back of page)
I don’t send this shell for the beauty but because it was picked on Hatteras. Give one to Maria
1 The 25th Massachusetts took part in the Battle of Roanoke Island on February 8, 1862.
2 Burnside refers to General Ambrose Burnside who was Commander of Burnside’s Coastal Expeditionary Force.
3 Camp Hicks was the Camp of the 25th Massachusetts when they were stationed at Annapolis, MD.
4 Oscar is most likely Oscar Tourtelotte, a Dudley boy who was also a member of Company “D ”of the 25th Massachusetts Regiment.
5 Anson is Anson Goodell, of Dudley, Abiel’s cousin who was also a member of Company “D” of the 25th Massachusetts Regiment.
6 Edwin, also a member of Company “D” of the 25th Massachusetts Regiment, is Anson Goodell’s brother and also cousin to Abiel.
7 Wm. Brereton was a resident of Schuylkill County PA and enlisted on April 23, 1861, as a private into Co. “K”, 16th PA Infantry. He was mustered out on July 30, 1861. He enlisted for a second time on October 1, 1861, as a private into Co. “F”, 48th PA infantry. He died on December 12, 1861 at Ft. Clark, Hatteras Inlet, NC.