Beaufort, S. C. Jan. 26th, 1862.
My dear Mother:
Another Sunday has come around, time slips quietly by — still nothing striking has taken place. We are all impatiently awaiting the advent of some steamer, bringing us news from the Burnside Expedition. Is our country really so prolific in great Commanders? Is there a Napoleon for each one of the dozen armies that compose the anaconda fold? Ay, ay, it would be a sad disappointment if the fold should happen to snap somewhere! Things look like action down here, and that not long hence. We have been gathering our troops gradually on the islands about the mouth of the Savannah river. Thither have gone our Connecticut friends, and yesterday three more steamers, loaded, took the remainder of Gen. Wright's Brigade with them. We are left here quite unnoticed on Port Royal Island, in seeming safety, though there are many troops around us. An army, boasting much, awaits us on the mainland, but an army having still a wholesome dread of Yankees. I made them a sort of visit the other night (25th), passing up Hospa Creek in a light canoe, hidden by the darkness and the long grass of the marshes. A negro guide paddled so lightly that, as we glided along, one might have heard the dropping of a pin. It was fine sport and as we passed close by the enemy's pickets we would place our thumbs to our noses, and gracefully wave our fingers toward the unsuspecting souls. This was by no means vulgarly intended, but as we could not speak, we thus symbolically expressed the thoughts that rose in our bosoms. We pushed on until coming to a point where a stream like a mere thread lay before us. Here we paused, for this was a stream we wished to examine. At the mouth of the stream stood the sentries of the enemy. We could hear their voices talking. We lay under the river grass, watching. Soon a boat pushed across the little stream to the opposite shore. We shoved our canoe far into the marsh, and lay there concealed. Then all was still and we thought it time to return, so back we went, and returned home unnoticed and in safety. Such little excursions give a zest to the dulness of camp. I have not yet been able to give Miss Mintzing's letter to any one who could send it to her friends, yet I hope such an opportunity will speedily come. What is Tom Reynolds now doing?
The paymaster has not visited us this long time, and I have but fifty cents in my pocket. However, when one has nothing to spend, he feels quite as happy down here, as money can buy but few luxuries in camp. We don't starve though. Secession cows give us milk, speculators bring us butter, and the negroes sell us chickens.
SOURCE: William Chittenden Lusk, Editor, War Letters of William Thompson Lusk, p. 118-9