Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Brigadier-General William F. Bartlett to Francis W. Palfrey, Friday, November 29, 1865

November 29.

I doubt my getting off a long letter to you this time. I have been kept in the house these last three days, and indeed in my room, by a very severe boil (more like a carbuncle, the Doctor says), just on the small of my back, So that I could neither wear leg nor even pants. I shall get out to-morrow, I think. Since I sent you my last scrap of a note, I have done nothing very important. On the 21st we went down to St. James's Palace with Conolly, and saw guard-mounting. One company of the Grenadiers relieved a company of the Coldstreams. Their guard-mounting is different from ours, you know. The inspection is all done at the barracks before they march out. The band forms in a circle at one side of the quadrangle, and plays while the two guards stand facing each other, about forty paces apart. The first relief being sent out to post, when the relief gets round the old guard marches off, the new guard saluting, and every officer within sight of the colors, not on duty nor even in uniform, lifting the beaver and standing uncovered as reverently while England's color goes by, as if it were England's queen, and I think it is splendid, and as it should be in every country. I met one or two pleasant men there, one Seymour, Captain on Staff, and one Bramston, Colonel.

The next day but one Conolly had me to breakfast at the Army and Navy Club, Pall Mall, and after that we went down the river on one of the many swift-plying, dirty little steamboats, under the many bridges, getting the best view of St. Paul's, and the Monument, and Somerset House, an immense palace now used entirely for government offices, and the old Tower with its many associations. How I wish I could remember all the stories about the Tower that I knew when a boy. By the shipping of all nations “below bridge,” and the wonderful docks, by Greenwich and Black wall and to Woolwich, where the artillery camp, arsenal, school, barracks, etc., are. We found Colonel Reilly, whom we were looking for, just turning out with his troops in full dress, for the burial of a soldier. The uniform is very handsome, the horse artillery being the only corps I believe that retains the full dress jacket or tunic. The officers' dress was one labyrinth of gold lace and bullion. Every man and officer has to turn out for the burial of a private soldier and follow the coffin at slow march to the grave. Again, as it should be in every army. While they were gone we looked through the new hospital, built here on a very large scale, and with every modern improvement. Then we went through the academy, which is devoted entirely to artillery studies. The cadets were fine looking fellows, wearing those nobby little artillery fatigue caps on the side of their head, and with their tight fitting jackets, looked very soldierly. The gymnasium here is the best I ever saw. Then we went back to Colonel Reilly's quarters. He had not returned from the burial, but lunch was ready, and Conolly and I being ready for it, we sailed in. The Colonel returned soon and took us through the men's quarters, etc., etc., which were in the order that you can imagine. Officers do not return the salute of men without arms here. We drove in the Colonel's trap over to the chapel, which is very beautiful, and has one of the finest arches that I have seen (Byzantine I believe). Many of the windows are memorial, put up by the different troops of horse artillery. The mess-room in the main barracks is a very large and elegant room, and the silver superb. You would fancy yourself in some very swell club, from the space and comfort. We came home by rail, and dined at the Army and Navy Club.

I shall have to stop just where I am, for I must get the parcel off in time, and this must go by mail to Moodie. I have put in one of the pockets of your coat a trifling souvenir for Christmas, for yourself. I am waiting patiently for a long letter from you. I suppose it must be long from the time you have been taking to write it. With much love to all yours,

Believe me sincerely,

SOURCE: Francis Winthrop Palfrey, Memoir of William Francis Bartlett, p. 163-6

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