Headquarters 2d Brigade, S. C.
Beaufort, S. C. March 31st, 1862.
My dear Mother:
I hear the “Atlantic,” which has just arrived, will return at once, so I do not feel willing to lie down without writing a few lines, though it is full bedtime now. Gen. Hunter was here this afternoon. I saw too little of him, however, to form any judgment with regard to him, as his visit was brief. Poor Sherman must betake himself to the Mississippi, and forego for the future the sweets of unrestrained authority. Sherman has doubtless done a good work down here, though he has gained no glorious victories. This, however, was not expected by Government which never once thought of supplying him with the force requisite to active operation. To be sure his force comprises nearly 20,000 men, but it must be remembered this is not a great force when the line extends from Dan to Beersheba. I am no special admirer of Sherman, but still do not think it worth while to join in abusing him as bitterly as most do, for not attempting what did not lie in his power. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I hardly think it probable Gen. Hunter will do much better than his predecessor unless properly reinforced. Few Generals, I find, have that taste for fruitless slaughter common to civilians, and most shrink from sacrificing life where nothing definite can be gained. My friends frequently write, asking me if I am not disgusted at the utter inactivity of the Command, and at times I have written strongly, still I could not but know that we were so from necessity. We were sent here by Government simply to defend a Harbor where our blockading squadron could ride in safety. This object has been accomplished, and not only this, but the whole remaining coast as far as the Gulf of Mexico is occupied by our troops. More than this has been done, but I pause, for there will be much to tell when the war is over, which one may not mention now. I do not wish you to understand that Savannah and Charleston might not have been ours had our leader been a greater man than is generally vouchsafed to armies, but we must give him credit for accomplishing reasonable possibilities. Stevens, I think, would have accomplished impossibilities, but quien sabe.
We have all been much amused in reading the papers brought by the last mail, at the editorials of Bennett on “Our Only Son.” It is necessary to see “Our Only Son” to appreciate the feeling remarks of the tender parent.
Do not suppose that, because I felt some little amusement at the early experience of the “Brethren” down here, I am in any wise inclined to join in the vulgar abuse so common with the multitude. I sincerely trust, indeed, their efforts may be attended with success, and certainly know some extremely pleasant people among them. I do not like Mr. ——— though, and am inclined to doubt the sincerity of a few.
Had I been up North I should have tried to have got Gen. Tyler to make me his Adjutant-General, being able, I believe, to give satisfactory testimonials of capacity for the detail office-work of a Brigade, but I am too far away to heat my own irons, and, indeed, I suppose it is much better to wait down here, until something has been done by our Command. Write me if Frank Bend is to occupy the position I have mentioned. He could fill it well.
I have got quite well acquainted with two of General Tyler's old Aides now on Gen. Sherman's Staff and both fine fellows. I give the names, O'Rourke and Merrill, as Mrs. T. may have been acquainted with them.
Well, my dear mother, I write a deal that I would not like to have repeated.
My clothes, though quite lately new (December), are beginning to grow rusty. I think it would be a good plan to have a new suit made for me. I shall need it before it reaches me. I am greatly in need of shirts (3 will do me). You know I left home with a small valise. My wardrobe has since been diminished by Bull Run, by washerwomen, by thieves, and by natural wear and tear, so that I have become almost as much an object of charity as the contrabands. I have been under the hallucination ever since leaving home, that a good time would come when I would be able to return again, and fit myself out properly for a campaign. Not having seen the time yet, it was lucky that the box you sent me supplied me with the means of sustaining myself to say the least.
Now, my dear mother, fearing that you may exaggerate my needs, I will confess candidly that all I want are 3 or 4 shirts and a few pairs of stockings. Handkerchiefs and towels I have in abundance. I would like everything as plain as possible, for anything that has a tinge of red, or yellow or blue, it is impossible to prevent the negroes from appropriating to their own uses.
Before two months are over, the time for military operation down here will have passed, so we have every reason to suppose that the time has come when our Command will commence a victorious career. When the summer heats shall prevent any further movement, I trust, dear mother, I may be allowed to spend a few days with you. That would be so delightful. Good-bye, kiss all around, sisters, little ones and all. Love to Aunt Maria and Uncle Phelps. Tell the latter I will send him a check by the earliest opportunity.
SOURCE: William Chittenden Lusk, Editor, War Letters of William Thompson Lusk, p. 132-5