These letters were written by William W. Fish who enlisted at age 19 in Co. C of the 11th New Hampshire Infantry. There are two groups of letters in this collection. One set includes letters that Fish wrote from the time of his enlistment up to the Battle of Fredericksburg, where he was wounded on Dec. 13, 1862. Another group of letters were written in 1864 while the regiment was in Tennessee and later at Annapolis, Maryland, before participating in the Overland Campaign with Burnside’s Ninth Corps in May 1864. Fish was taken prisoner in the fighting at the Wilderness on May 6, 1864, and held at Andersonville Prison. According to one account, he met John Whipple at Andersonville, a member of his company. Whipple died before he could be exchanged and Fish later married his widow.
See also — 1862: John Linzy Fish to John Blaney Fish
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Concord [New Hampshire]
August 26, 1862
I thought as I had leisure time I would write a few lines and let you know how we get along. I and the rest of the boys are in good health. We have moved our quarters into the tents the 9th [Regiment] occupied. A company from Epping arrived here this forenoon and another company has just come from Manchester and we expect to have eight companies here this week. It is said we are to have our uniform tomorrow and probably our bounty. Captain [Hollis] Dudley expects we will start for Dixie in a week from Thursday. I will probably not get more than another day furlough before I start. Tell Martha to be getting things ready that she thinks I will need.
We keep a guard around our camp now. I have to take my turn. The Ninth Regiment left quite a lot of trash behind. We went to work and cleaned out the tent we occupy and most everyone found something. I found a first rate new three-bladed penknife, five cents in change, ink, a bottle of olive oil, and a few other things. One fellow found a dollar bill & Reub Smith found a knife and twenty-six cents. Gil [Smith] found a dirk knife. Quite a number found money. We have first rate living and plenty of it. Ten of us were detailed to go over to the city in the Quartermaster store and hoist up a lot of goods from the lower story to the one above and I had a chance to see our uniforms. It is to be dark blue pants [and] dark overcoats. I understand we are to have no dress coats. I did not see any there.
I do not think of much more to write. My love to Mother, Martha, Charley, and all the rest. Write soon and let me know how you all get along. Please direct your letters in care of Capt. H. Dudley, Co. C, 11th Regiment.
From your affectionate son, — William
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Capitol Hill, Washington D. C.
September 14, 1862
I just got time to pen you a few lines. We started from Concord a little before nine Thursday morning and went by way of Worcester through Providence to Groton about six miles from Stonington, Connecticut, where we took the steamer Plymouth Rock. We went on board after dark. I expected to be seasick but was not a bit. We passed the Great Eastern a little this side of New York and then we passed Blackwell Island and between New York and Brooklyn and landed at Jersey City about eight o’clock Friday morning and waited till about noon when we took the cars.
This is a great place for peaches out this way. We passed on through New Brunswick, Princeton, [and] Trenton. When on the road between the two latter places, we had ten rounds of ammunition each. We passed on through to Philadelphia where they gave us a most cordial welcome. I think this city [Philadelphia] is the best place I ever saw. Everything looks clean and neat in great contrast to Baltimore. We took our supper at the Soldier’s Home. We have often read of this place but I never thought I should be there. We had a good supper. We passed up through and stopped on a common till about twelve or one o’clock when we marched about a mile to the depot where we stopped for the rest of the night. As we passed through the city, the streets were lined with people who cheered and shook hands with us. Ours was the fifth regiment that passed through that day.
Saturday morning we took the cars which were old freight cars and passed through Wilmington, Delaware, and other places to Berryville opposite Havre de Grace. We stopped here two or three hours when we took the boat across to the latter place. We see a great many Negroes on the route and we passed by patches of melons, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, &c. between Jersey City and Philadelphia. We reached Baltimore at about six o’clock. The people received us pretty well as we entered the city but as we marched through to the other depot, they looked pretty sullen and cold. This is a dirty, nasty place. There is a great many niggers here.
We got our supper at the Soldier Relief. It was not so good as we got at Philadelphia. Everything appears mean and nasty in this place. It was nearly nine o’clock when we started out. They did not offer any assistance. We was all night going to Washington — a distance of forty miles. We reached here about seven o’clock. I understand we are to stop here two or three weeks. We got our breakfast which consisted of a piece of bread and chunk of raw salt pork and coffee. Not much like the supper we got at Philadelphia.
We are all well notwithstanding our long ride. Col. Harriman was given his choice to go to Fortress Monroe or to stay here in the Army of the Potomac. He chose the latter so we belong to the Army of the Potomac. But I will close as I am rather tired not having slept much since I left home. I am well and hope you are all the same. Write as often as you can. My love to all.
From your affectionate son, — William
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Camp Chase, Alexandria, Va.
September 25, 1862
I received Martha’s kind letter last Saturday and was happy to hear from home and that you were all well. I have just been out with six others getting wood a short distance from camp and as the regiment is out on battalion drill, it is a favorable opportunity to write. I presume you would like to know how we pass time. Well in the morning the first thing, the drums are beat at six and we have to tumble out for roll call. Then breakfast at half past six. After breakfast we have company drill and inspection which lasts about two hours and then we have the rest of the forenoon [to ourselves]. In the afternoon we have battalion drill and dress parade and will have company drill when we get fairly regulated. We have had two division reviews — one day before yesterday. We are in Gen. Casey’s Division. There were as near as I could learn twelve thousand troops reviewed and a number of batteries. It is a grand sight to see the columns as they pass — to see the bayonets glistening and the steady tread of the men.
Gen. [Silas] Casey is an old man with gray hair and prominent nose. He wears a beard. There are a great many troops in the vicinity. Take it in the night and look off, the camps present the appearance of a city lit up. The Tenth Regiment, I understand, has arrived at Washington and [we hear] that two men were killed on the way. I wrote to [brother] John a few days ago but have received no answer as yet. I understand the battery [1st N. H.] has moved from Leesboro but do not know how true it is. Gill [Smith] received a letter last night [but] I do not know who from. We Bakersville boys are well. Reub [Smith] didn’t like it because he received no letter from home. I wrote home last week. I forgot the date. It is rather hard keeping track of the time out here.
I tent with some good boys — five of us. Sergt. Ed[ward] Emerson is one — he is acquainted with Father. Gill ¹, Reub, ² Charley C. Johnson. Orderly Sergeant. [Jeremiah C.] Lyford are in the next tent. I don’t know how long we will stop here. The boys all like Col. [Walter] Harriman. We have also a good chaplain [Frank K. Stratton]. He takes charge of the letters so we have all our letters brought to us. Please send out the Boston Journal or Mirror once in awhile. Capt. [Hollis] Dudley is unwell today.
There is more darkeys out here than at home. There are also a great many mules here in the army teams. Everything most is high out here. I do not buy much as I have plenty to eat of my rations but I do not think of much more to write at present. My love to all and accept a large share for yourself. Kiss Eddie and Sumner for me. Give my respects to Uncle Charles’ family and tell him to write.
From your affectionate son, — William
September 25, 1862
Dear Brother Charles — I suppose you would like to have me write you. Do you miss me any? This is different from working in the mill. There are a great many troops here. There are thirty-two forts around Washington in a circle. Fort Richardson — near us — mounts 8 thirty-two pounders. But as I have not much space, I will try to write you next time. You must write often. From — William
¹ “Gil” was Gilman M. Smith of Manchester. He died of disease at Camp Nelson in Kentucky on 10 February 1864.
² “Reub” was Reuben V. G. Smith of Manchester.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
October 2, 1862
I wrote you last Monday at Camp Chase but we had orders to march. We got got packed and ready to start but as there was a general movement, we could not get the cars and we started Tuesday morning and marched to Washington where we stopped till yesterday in a field. The 10th [New Hampshire] Regiment started Tuesday. They are here at Frederick. We started about half past ten. We went to the Relay House nine miles from Baltimore. This is a very pretty place. The road passes over a massive stone arched bridge [the Thomas Viaduct]. The B&O Railroad here takes a sharp curve — nearly a right angle — and follows a stream through a valley. It is a very crooked road. This is a beautiful scenery passing through and it must have been at a vast expense of labor and money to build it. A great part of the way the road is cut through solid rock. We passed by numerous grapevines loaded with grapes — also butternuts and chestnuts. Most of the way between the Relay House and Woodstock there is hardly a place where the road is straight the length of the train.
We came through safe and sound although we were packed like cattle on board a freight train — two cars to each company — part of the men being on top. Along in the middle of the [trip], it set in for a storm and then it was a complete jam to lay down — legs mixed up in every direction. We passed a train of 400 paroled prisoners. We couldn’t get much sleep till we arrived here at four this morning where our company piled into an old barn and laid down on the hay.
I regret to tell you that [Lt. Ira] Wilkins is unwell. The captain took him to a private house where Charley Johnson is taking care of him. He has the neuralgia and ague.
This is rather a pretty place., I should think full as large as Manchester. We expect orders any time to leave. We shall not probably stop over a day or two at the furthest. It is the talk that we are to take the cars to Sandy Hook to go under Gen. Burnside but I do not think of much more to write. Write as often as you can. My love to all from your affectionate brother, — William
P. S. In my last letter I forgot to put this bill in. — William
Frederick, Oct 2 — Dear brother Charles, I am in first rate health and hope you are all the same. I have seen a great many troops since I left home and a great many horses and mules. There was some skirmishing near this city. We are some fifteen miles from the battlefield. We expect to be in Harpers Ferry soon. The Battery is somewhere in the vicinity of it. I saw one of the battery boys at Washington. He has been sick. He said [our brother] John was well. Give my respects to all and tell Frank Guilford to write and that I would like to see him. When you write, direct your letters to Washington. The cooks are now dressing the chickens and geese the boys have caught for dinner and I must close as my sheet is full. — William
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE
Pleasant Valley, Maryland
October 14, 1862
I received Mother’s kind letter last Friday and was happy to hear from home and that you were all well. I am the same as also is Gill, Reub, and Charley although there are a great many that have the diarrhea probably owing in part to the water. There is a great deal in taking care of oneself.
We are having cool, cloudy weather. It commenced to rain last Friday and has rained by spells since. I must tell you that Reub and Charley Baker have left us and gone into the Second Regiment, Co. E, U. S. Regular Battery but they still belong to our regiment — only being detailed for a time. The way I understand it, they volunteered and went off in good spirits. Only three went from our company. We were sorry to lose them as there was so much fun in them. We called him — Reub — the clown of the company. But they will probably be back soon with us again.
I have been writing with ink made from garget berries which are very plenty here. I received Martha’s kind letter tonight since we came in from battalion drill and was happy to hear from her. I wrote to Eva Baker Sunday. She probably has got it by this time. I wrote home last Wednesday near Dr. Butler’s house. We have moved about ¾ miles since then. We are brigaded under Brig. Gen. [Edward] Ferrero in Gen. Burnside’s army of the Ninth Army Corps. We will not probably stop herre long though we can not tell.
The 9th and 10th [New Hampshire] Regiments are here near us. The centre section under William Chamberlin of the [1st N. H.] Battery were down here last night. They carried two guns to the depot at Sandy Hook and stopped here on their way back. The boys look well. [Brother] John did not come with them but the boys say he is well. Ed Baker has got the breach so he did not come. The Battery is right over the mountain about 11 miles from here. They only stopped a few minutes.
We have a good chance to wash as a brook runs by the foot of the hill on which we are camped. There is considerable quantities of butternuts, chestnuts, shag barks, and black walnuts though we cannot go far from camp without running the risk of being picked up by the patrol guard and sent to Harpers Ferry to work for twelve days as none of the soldiers are allowed out of the lines of their regiments without they have a pass signed by the Gen. Commanding. This is to pick up stragglers and prevent depredating —- but the drums are beating for roll call and my sheet is nearly full. I received those journals you sent and was much pleased with them. How are apples selling at home? They ask from one to two dollars a bushel here and potatoes are one dollar and two levies which is two shillings. I received $5.38 from the captain for backpay and $2.50 for board money — in all $7.88. Write as often as you can.
My love to all and my respects to Uncle Charles. Sgt. Ed Emerson sends his respects to you. He is my bedfellow and a good boy. — William
He [Emerson] belonged to the Odd Fellows at Manchester.
Editor’s Note: The New Hampshire Historical Society has a letter from William W. Fish to his Father written on 27 July 1863 from Snyder’s Bluff, Mississippi. In it, he describes his regiment’s difficult travel to Snyders Bluff. He mentions early mornings and tough terrain due to heavy rain. He goes on to discuss the news of Charleston, SC, being taken over by Union forces. He also mentions a fancy shirt he took out of Rebel supplies that he hopes to send home. See: Letter 27 July 1863.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIX
Camp near Blain’s Crossroads, Tennessee
January 7, 1864
My dear Sister,
As no doubt you feel anxious concerning me as I have not written so often of late as formerly. I wrote a letter home on Saturday the 26th and now sit down to pen a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope these lines will find you the same. I do not know whether you have received my two last letters or not as I have received but two letters from home since the 19th of November. Those two were received while at “Rutledge” — one containing Martha’s photographs. You must have felt quite anxious concerning me during the time we were besieged in Knoxville by Longstreet. We had no mail communication for three or four weeks and consequently did not write. But now (from all accounts the boot appears to be on the other leg), Grant and Sherman it has said has Longstreet surrounded. I sent you in my last a piece composed by one of the Indiana Battery on Longstreet’s visit to Knoxville. It is represented that he is in a very tight place and cannot get supplies or clothing and his men are deserting in great numbers. Two whole companies came in a day or two ago.
The weather here has been quite cool for the past week or more. I presume you have had snow before this time. We have had a sprinkling, just enough to whiten the ground. We are encamped right by the side of a beautiful brook with plenty of excellent wood. We build up large fires to keep warm by using about half a cord a day at some of the fires. It formed quite a picture for an artist to see us circled around the fires at evening telling stories, cooking, &c. I think you would be amused to see the various dishes we soldiers will get up. And as we sit eating our meat pudding, hull corn, or hard tack, thoughts of home will spring up and one will ask the other how he would like to be at home sitting at the table. The boys have never, it is said, been so healthy as at the present time owing in part to the coarse food we eat and together with this healthy climate and the exercise we have had lately. We draw half rations of flour and hard tack with fresh beef (not overstock with fat), fat pork, salt and ¼ rations of coffee and sugar. And we get a chance now and then to buy corn which we eat in the shape of hull corn and grind with meal in a coffee mill. I get all I want to eat and am, I think, the heaviest I have ever been. Nearly all the boys have gained in flesh notwithstanding the hardships we have gone through.
I wrote you in my last that you need not be surprised to hear me next in Kentucky, but we are not going quite so much as we were. It is now rumored that we are going to Newport News, three to wait till Burnside fits out an expedition. I give this only as a rumor. I think we shall leave the state for some other place before the winter is out. One of the chief topics of conversation at present is of re-enlistments. The 21st Massachusetts has nearly all re-enlisted and have started for home. They started this noon. I saw them pass. They had a lot of rebel prisoners with them. I do not know whether they will give this regiment a chance to re-enlist or not. I feel anxious to receive a letter from home. I suppose they have been delayed on the road. I received a letter from cousin Estella on Monday and answered it yesterday. She did not write much of any news.
Fighting is heard out at the front at times. The rebel deserters that come into our lines represent Longstreet’s army as in a terrible condition. They are hard up for shoes, some being barefoot and others in their stocking feet. Our army has been very successful for the past 6 or 8 months and I do not see how the Rebs are going to hold out much longer. The fact is there are whipped if they would only own it. But these poor whites are an ignorant set and believe just what their leaders stuff into them. I have had a chance to see something of southern society here in Kentucky and Tennessee and have seen a great many Rebels and conversed with some of them. You would be much amused to hear some of the expressions that they use. The folks here sleep all in one room. It looks strange to us to see three or four beds in one room, and strangers when visiting all turning in in the same room. I little thought I should be out here in 1864, not that I should be here in my 21st year but my birthday is near at hand. As it is getting late, I must close for the night.
My love to all, — William
Please send me a fine rubber comb in your next. Also a few stamps as they are difficult to get here.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SEVEN
[About the 1st of February 1864]
My dear Father,
I will now write you a few lines. I will begin where I left off with Charles. We stayed in the woods till about 1 at midnight when we were ordered to leave General Ferrero who commands the corps asked us if we were willing to draw off a piece of artillery by hand. There were 3 brass pieces left behind. I think they belonged to the 4th Corps which they were unable to get off, not having horses. Our regiment took one piece and drew it by hand by a rope over a rough road 2 or 4 miles and then across a creek and up a hill. It was nearly daylight when we stacked arms for breakfast and had not hardly time to get it when we had to fall in and march on. Some of the other troops now took the pieces and have led them to within about 8 miles of Knoxville where horses were sent out and took them into town — at least I think they got them in safe. When within about 7 miles of town, our troops turned into field to get breakfast when the rebel cavalry made their appearance and we were drawn into line of battle. We then retreated and drew up again, throwing out skirmishers and so fell back, skirmishing as we went marching by the rear into columns, till we came to some of the other corps drawn up in line when we marched to within 3 miles of town. I do not think the rebs had over 300 cavalry. They probably followed us up to pick up stragglers and find out what they could. They must have picked up a few of the boys. Three or four of the boys in ours came very near being taken as they were cooking breakfast.
On Saturday the next morning the rebs were gone. This day we drew rations of hard tack (by the way a great variety to us), pork, sugar and coffee, and drew clothing. We have been living very short since we came here in Tennessee, living mostly on what meal and flour they could forage once in awhile getting a little hard tack, flour being dealt out by spoonfuls. If we had not had a chance to buy a little meal and hoe cake at a great price, we would have suffered some. Yesterday we had orders to march passing through town and 5 miles beyond where we are now encamped in a piece of woods.
I have a little news to write you now. We are probably now on our way home to recruit up. It has been reported for some time from good authority that the 9th Corps are to report to New York and from there each regiment to his own state to recruit the corps up to 50,000 men to start out on an expedition next May under Burnside. I place considerable confidence in this report. It is talked of at headquarters. We are to proceed, it is said, by way of Chattanooga, Nashville, and Louisville. And I believe we are on our way now. I should not write you this if I did not have good reason to believe it.
The boys are enjoying good health. Wilkins, Uncle Ben Stevens, Charley Johnson, Ed Emerson &c. are well. Charley wants me to tell you to write and answer his letter. He wrote one a while ago he says. We came near losing our hard tack, sugar, and coffee. A train of 25 wagons loaded with these and clothing came over the mountain and when about 6 miles from town at the time we were falling back, the rebs got most onto them and they had to get up and get.
I sent you yesterday two papers — one of Brownlow’s [Knoxville Whig] and a Nashville Union. I have but a small opinion of that man. You can judge for yourself. I think his paper is too full of vulgarism and black guardism. But I have written a pretty long letter and so hoping you will excuse poor writing, I will close. Tell Uncle Charles as he gets the reading of my letters I consider it no more than fair that he should write me. From yours son, — William
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER EIGHT
April 8, 1864
My dear Father,
I now embrace the first favorable opportunity to answer your letter of the 28th. I am well and trust this will find you enjoying the same blessing. You must feel quite anxious about me it is so long since I have written you. My last was written at Morristown, Tennessee on the 14th. Since then we have traveled hundreds of miles by rail and on foot. We have had a hard tramp of it. The long expected order for us to report north came at last while at Morristown in season to escape a hard thing as Gen. Schofield had just issued an oder for a forward movement. We left the 4th and 23rd Corps at that place. We have since learned that they are beyond “Bull’s Gap” — 13 miles from Morristown. Morristown is 42 miles from Knoxville. Your letter mailed March 7the [was received] on the 15th. We left Morristown in the 17th and marched about 20 miles that say to New Market. The next day went to within 6 miles of Knoxville and on Saturday the 19th marched to a mile beyond town and camped till Monday, the 21st.
We have found the 9th which had just come on from Ft. Burnside. Knoxville is badly torn up. During the siege we destroyed Brownlow says 1/3 of the city to prevent the Johnnies from getting in the houses to fire from. Small Pox is raging in town to quite an extent.
On Monday the 21st we started from Knoxville on our march. We were disappointed in two or three things. In the first place, it was understood that we were to march to Loudon 29 miles below Knoxville and there take the cars via Chattanooga and Nashville. But the Headquarters sick, bummers, and extra baggage were sent around. In the second place, we were treated meanly in not being paid off. We signed the pay rolls and it was fully understood that we were to receive our pay. But after suffering and going through all that we have during the past winter, they paid off the officers and not us. We made the march from Knoxville to Camp [Bull] Nelson in 10 days — a distance of nearly 200 miles — 185 it is called — the quickest time made over the mountains. We came by way of Big Creek Gap. We encountered 2 or 3 snowstorms on our march and some rain. You can not form much of an idea of the character of the route unless you pass over it. It was wearisome work toiling up and down the mountains with our luggage. The first day we marched to Clinton. The 2nd crossed the river in a flat boat into town and marched to within 4 miles of Jacksboro in a severe snowstorm. It snowed nearly all day. On the 3d day we marched to Jacksboro and drew 4 days of full rations of hard bread, slab sides, sugar and coffee. We had full rations of bread all the way from Knoxville. All are [ ] after drawing rations climb a very steep mountain side and marched about [1_] miles this day. On the 4th day we had a very hard march. Had a number of high hills or mountains to climb and camped a few miles from a place called Chitworth. Had another snowstorm this night.
On the 5th day it was quite wet and had severe rain. On the 6th marched to within 6 miles of Fort Burnside on the Cumberland — a government post. On Sunday the 7th day of our march, marched the point where we stopped a couple hours and then marched two miles beyond Somerset, Kentucky. On Monday the 8th, camped at Waynesburg. On Tuesday the 9th day of our march, we marched through Hall’s Gap and camped 2 or 3 miles from Stanford. Had another snowstorm this evening. The next day marched through Stanford and Lancaster and camped 1½ miles from Camp Dick Robinson. On the next day, the 31st, at a little past 10 a.m., arrived at Camp [Bull] Nelson. 10 days having left Knoxville the 21st.
We camped at Camp Parks 4 miles from Nicholassville. On Tuesday the 1st of April, started at evening i the rain for Nicholassville. Part of us stopped in a church till morning when we took the cars. Stopped at Lexington a couple of hours for the down passenger train and were detained at Cynthiana till dark on account of an accident on the road. Daylight on Sunday found us at Covington. We here received a mail and I received yours of the 28th containing the $5.00 all right that came just in the nick of time. You need not send any more at present. I expect to get paid now soon.
We left Cincinnati on Sunday eve. Arrived at Columbus the next morning. This was a wet, rainy day. Tuesday morning we arrived at Pittsburg where we were furnished with a good breakfast by the Pittsburg Subsistence Committee. This is a big thing. They treated us the best of any place on the route here. On Wednesday the 6th, we arrived at Harrisburg where we were furnished breakfast. This is a beautiful place. The Susquehanna is here spanned by a number of splendid bridges about 1 mile in length. The scenery is splendid from Harrisburg along the Susquehanna and along the road to Baltimore. We arrived at the latter place that evening and slept in the Soldier’s Rest and were furnished supper and breakfast the next morning by the Union Relief Association. We took the boat yesterday for this place. We were about 4 hours coming.
There is quite a large body of troops here. There are some negro troops in the corps here. The snow on the Alleghenies was I should think about 2 feet deep. We are camped 2½ miles from town and the appearances are that we shall stop over night. We are to have “A” tents. Expect them tonight and have out in a requisition for clothing and camp equippage. It is possible that we will get a furlough as a regiment. I understand that Col. Harriman is doing what he can to bring that result about. If we do not get one, I would like to have a box sent out soon. A box would come through I think in 3 or 4 days to this place. I understand that the expedition is not to start until June. I have not yet received Martha’s letter of the 27th. It has I think gone on to Knoxville. I hope Eddie will continue to improve. I said that I was well. I am not so well as I might be as I have a bad cold which has hung on for some time. Please send me some papers. If they are not more than two or three months old, they will be new. Aleck [Alexander] Hutchinson is here. He has been home on a furlough. Charles Johnson, Uncle Ben Stevens, [and] Ira G. Wilkins are well. Edward C. Emerson is not very smart. He has a bad cold as well as myself and feverish.
Answer this as soon as you can. Give my love to all the folks. I do not think of much more news to write. Give my love to Mother. From your affectionate son, — Wm. W. Fish
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER NINE
April 14, 1864
My Dear Sister,
I now sit down to pen a few lines. I am well except a bad cold which I have had this some time. I wrote Father last Friday which you must have received ‘ere this. We are camped 2½ miles from town in a pretty spot and have “A” tents. his is a beautiful morning although it has rained nearly every day since we came here. We are now many hundred miles nearer home than we were when at Knoxville. We live somewhat better now than we did in Tennessee. Everything is outrageously high here as well as elsewhere.
General Grant was here yesterday and visited the troops. He was accompanied by Generals Burnside and Miegs. We received our pay day before yesterday for 4 months. I received $16. I wanted to get my allotment here but he would not pay it.
Capt. Hollis O. Dudley is again back with us. He arrived on Monday. He looks the same as ever. Edward C. Emerson and the rest are well. Charley Baker is well. Reuben [Smith] is not looking very well. There are a great many troops here. There is a Colored Regiment — the 1st Michigan Colored Volunteers — with a colored band attached. They make good-looking soldiers, handle the musket well, and make a good appearance on dress parade.
We have just drawed new clothing today. We have two pine trees out in front of each tent which makes the camp look much better. I see no prospect of the regiments going home now. Furloughs are now granted to two from each company for 7 days. Orderly [Andrew J] Frye — my tent mate — has one in and expects to start this p.m. or in the morning. I do not expect a furlough as there is so many ahead. Edward Emerson comes, I believe, on the next lot. It is rumored now that we are to go to Mexico but we can’t tell.
I wrote on my last that I would like to have a box started if we did not go home. I would like to have you get one ready as soon as you can and direct to Annapolis, Maryland. Adam’s Express Office is here in town and I can go right there and get it. When you start it, just write me and send the receipt. There is not a great deal in the clothing line that I want. If I coud get a good pair of shoes made in good shape, I would like to have a pair with good stout taps nailed with round-head nails, soft uppers, and lace up in front. I wear No. 9 government shoes. I am high in the instep. Please send also a pair of suspenders, a couple of pocket handkerchiefs & pair of socks, a pocket diary, coarse comb, and a light military vest. This is all I think of at present in the clothing line.
I am disappointed in not getting to go home. If we had come here one night earlier, I think we should have gone as a regiment. We receive a mail here every day. Our mail goes out in the morning. As I have not much news to write, I will close this for the present. I may add a few words in the morning. Tell Eddie this little book is for him. Give my love to Mother, Father, Brothers, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins &c. and accept a large share yourself.
From your brother, — William W. Fish
(Please direct to Annapolis, Md.)