WILLIAMS FAMILY LETTERS- #8
Abiel to Parents
June 21st, 1863
I received your very welcome letter today. You say to father that I can read all the pages that are penned in the “homestead” & be never weary in so doing.
Bassett1 reached here last eve & handed me my shirts. He is looking well and hearty. The shirts I think will keep by me. You know that in this department we don’t have to carry our luggage as they do in Hooker’s Corps2. When we do move we always have our knapsacks & extra stuff carried for us.
We have once more changed our camp. That is Co. “D” has. A little more than a week ago an order came from General Foster for Capt. Foster with the men of his command to proceed to Fort Stevenson & garrison it until further orders. The fort is nearly a mile above the city on the Neuse River. There are two guns mounted now “ long thirty-two & those more are to be mounted as soon as the gun decks are built. Our tents are pitched on the bank of the river about 4 rods from the water & are on a bank about ten feet above the water. There is always a breeze blowing we raise up the tent some four or five feet which gives air a good chance to circulate beneath and then we don’t have the dust that we had in Camp Oliver. Taking everything into consideration it is the pleasantest camp we were ever in. A good spring of water is on the riverbank the best water we had this side of Massachusetts3.
Things in the box came through very well excepting the apples which all rotted and stained the shirts a little but you would not know as there had ever been anything on them.
Out just beyond the fort is the “contraband4 town” where some of the Govt. darkies5 shop. It is built of splints which the darkies get out of pine logs six or eight feet long. The town is laid out in regular city style streets running through it in both directions crossing each other at right angles.
Everything about the streets and houses is kept as neat & clean as a pin. But on a warm day there is that nigger smell.
I presume Oscar6 will go north on the next boat that goes on thirty days furlough. You ask if I don’t feel sad to see the boys going & not go myself. I can’t say as I do not but that I would like to go home. But there are many that need to go more than myself and I have made up my mind to accept all good luck & put up with the poor in the best grade possible in that way I get along very well & keep in good spirits
1 John E. Bassett a 23 year-old weaver from Southbridge who enlisted on October 10, 1861 as a private into Company D of the 25th MA Infantry and mustered out on October 20, 1864. He was listed as wounded at Cold Harbor, VA on June 3, 1864.
2 General Joseph Hooker was the commander of the Army of the Potomac.
3 Anson P. Goodell also wrote in his letters of the quality of water from this spring.
4 Contriband was a term used to identify freed slaves that followed the army.
5 Refers to freed slaves that were employed by the government for manual labor such as digging fortifications etc.
6 Most likely refers to Oscar Tourtelotte, another Dudley boy who was in Company D.
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