St. Helena’s, May 5, 1862.
Public business before private, and I have only time to say by this mail that I am well and safe, and happy in your letters — the first I have received since I came to this island, nearly three weeks ago. I have not received a single paper, and it is of no use to send any, I am afraid; besides, I have not an instant's time for reading. No one reads them here, or cares a pin for anything but driving along with all there is to do. I wish there were ten times as many of us here, men and women.
General Hunter has offered to arm the negroes and train them. But as they think it a trap to get the able-bodied and send them to Cuba to sell, they are not at all anxious to be soldiers. They hate Hilton Head. So they will probably seem to be cowardly to folks at the North, and perhaps will prove so. Why shouldn't they, under their training?
I have had to write to-night in answer to the P. F. R. Committee, whose large consignment of goods has just reached here — and in good time, indeed — or rather a month too late, but still, at a pinch, when they will be very welcome. The poor, down-hearted, “confused” negroes are already in better spirits from having a little decent clothing to put on, with a prospect of more coming.
I am going to begin a long letter soon if I ever get time. This life is like keeping a hotel with poor servants, but yet has its solaces. I have a large practice as doctor and have had Miss Winsor's school for two days, and that was by far the hardest work of all.
Ellen has not come, but I expect her daily. I had a letter to-day, but she had not yet heard of her permit. I really want her help here.
We are to have a dinner party to-morrow. General Stevens, Mr. Eustis, Mr. and Mrs. Forbes, etc. I preside! Guess my feelings.
SOURCE: Rupert Sargent Holland, Editor, Letters and Diary of Laura M. Towne: Written from the Sea Islands of South Carolina 1862-1864, p. 37-8