Showing posts with label Beaufort SC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Beaufort SC. Show all posts

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Dr. Seth Rogers to his daughter Dolly, February 3, 1863

CAMP SAXTON, BEAUFORT, S. C.,
February 3, 1863.

At break of day we were at Beaufort and my sick and wounded were being carefully conveyed to the “Contraband Hospital” for better care than our camp hospital affords. I left eight there and it seemed like leaving my children among strangers. But this was only a feeling, not a fact. It was very pleasant to have the black soldiers served first when wounded. Colonel [Rishworth] Rich and the other officers and soldiers, must wait the convenience of our freedmen. I should quite enjoy living in some one of our Northern cities a few months with the 1st S. C. Vols. I fancy there would be a conquering of prejudices somewhat satisfactory to your humble servant. Justice is an admirable machine when in good running order and with honest engineers to keep it going. 

The Colonel took his official report in one hand and a captured instrument of slave torture in the other, to Gen. Saxton and left them for an early inspection. I was too busy to breakfast there with the Colonel. At ten o'clock we were disembarking opposite our camp and the home troops were receiving us with wild cheers of joy. All sorts of false rumors had been reported concerning us. 

We had been cut up and cut down, hung and cut to pieces, and various other rebel morsels of information had been circulated. I trust that you have not been tormented by such rumors. Perhaps it is best for me to take this occasion to say that the rebel reports are not always so reliable as their personal sympathizers could wish. Believe nothing short of official reports and my letters. 

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June, 1910: February 1910. p. 356-7

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Dr. Seth Rogers to his Daughter, January 9, 1863

January 9, 1863.

This morning, the adjutant and I, with eight oarsmen, went down to Hilton Head in our surf boat. The distance cannot be far from twelve miles and the trip is a charming one, though the shores are wanting in those rugged qualities which help to make the difference in character between the North and the South. Our black soldiers sang as they rowed — not the songs of common sailors — but the hymns of praise mingled with those pathetic longings for a better world, so constant with these people. There are times when I could quite enjoy more earthly songs for them, even a touch of the wicked, but this generation must live and die in sadness. The sun can never shine for them as for a nation of freemen whose fathers were not slaves.

My special business in going to Hilton Head was to test the honesty of a certain medical purveyor, who does not incline to honor the requisitions of the surgeon of the 1st Reg. S. C. Vol's. He has not yet heard of the popularity of the black regiments, but Uncle Samuel will teach him that, as well as a few other things. But it will be too late for him to repent in this world when he shall have learned the lesson.

The Flora – Gen. Saxton's steamer — came down from Beaufort and we were towed back by her to our camp. I met the General on the steamer and was delighted to find him in that mood over the purveyor's second refusal, which will work out a line of retributive justice. He read to me a letter just received by him from Secretary Stanton, which authorizes me to draw direct from New York. So we shall be all right within two weeks, I hope. In addition to all my other duties, I should quite like to prescribe for some of those pro-slavery scamps who disgrace the federal shoulder-straps. This particular case was polite enough to me, for which I was sorry. When Gen. (David] Hunter gets here there will be a bowing and scraping to the anti-slavery men that may awaken wickedness in my heart. . . .

I am just now busy in trying to discover the causes of such an excess of pleurisy and pneumonia in our camp, as compared with white regiments. Thus far I can only get the reiteration of the fact that negroes are more subject to these diseases than are the whites. I should be very sorry to find that their nightly “praise meetings,” or “shouts,” acted an important role in the development of these diseases, yet, thus far, our gravest cases are the most religious. It would be a sad but curious coincidence, if while the Colonel and young captain are diligently taking notes of the songs and hymns of the soldiers, the surgeon should note a marked fatality resulting from this sweet religious expression. We shall see. It is as difficult to inculcate temperance in religion here, among these sun-burned children, as to introduce it into a Methodist camp-meeting. I hope we shall not have to shut in religious expressions by military rules.

Speaking of coincidences, reminds me that I found the steward, this morning, putting up prescriptions in bits of the “ Liberator." I don't believe Mr. Garrison's editorials ever before came so near these black soldiers. I wondered if the powders would not have some magic power conveyed to them. South Carolina is getting a simultaneous doctoring of body and soul.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June,1910: February 1910. p. 341-2


Dr. Seth Rogers to his Daughter, January 17, 1863, Evening

January 17, Evening.

This has been a triumphant day for our regiment. We have marched to Beaufort and back in such style as to turn jeers into admiration, and tonight our men are full of music and delight. The Colonel, not content with marching the whole length of the front street, actually stopped on the parade ground and drilled the regiment an hour or more, and then they marched home to the music of their own voices. The different encampments at Beaufort had large delegations by the way-side, as we entered the town, and we were greeted with such language as pertains to vulgar negro haters. Our men were apparently indifferent to it and the officers could afford to wait in silence. I fell aback to the rear with the major and was constantly delighted at the manly bearing of our soldiers. Not a head was turned to the right or left — not a word spoken. At length a white soldier struck a negro man, not of our regiment, and the poor fellow appealing to us, we wheeled our horses upon the rabble, and Major Strong, with drawn sword pursued the offender, with the point of that instrument a little nearer the fellow's back than seemed wholesome. I have rarely seen one more thoroughly frightened. The effect was magical, no more audible sneers. But wasn’t it good to march our regiment proudly in the front of those mansions where two years ago the [Southern] chivalry were plotting something as strange, but quite unlike.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June, 1910: February 1910. p. 345

Dr. Seth Rogers to his Daughter, Sunday Evening, January 18, 1863

January 18, Sunday evening.

Such a transparent day and cool north winds make even South Carolina endurable, while it lasts, I mean. When General Hunter gets here we expect to nullify the State. . . . In our camp most curious problems present themselves, as how to keep people from scurvy without vegetables and fresh meat; how to have a good fire in tents without a fireplace, stove or ventilation; how to make bread without yeast and without oven. How to treat the sick without medicines,—how to amputate limbs without knives, — all these and many other similarly knotty questions the surgeon of the First Regiment of S. C. Vol's. has to consider, — sometimes when he ought to be sleeping. This is not said complainingly. Our men rarely complain and those jeering white soldiers who saw their firm tread in the streets of Beaufort, yesterday, must have discovered a reason for their patience, this silent waiting.

There was a Destiny in the silent, dignified bearing of our men, yesterday. I never in my life, felt so proud, so strong, so large. . . . Hurrah! Hurrah! — the Quartermaster just in with despatch from signal officer announcing arrival of the Arago, and a gun boat at Hilton head, and General Hunter has come.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June, 1910: February 1910. p. 345-6

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Diary of Laura M. Towne: Monday, June 23, 1862

General Hunter drove us out to the camp of the black regiment, which he reviewed. After our return I saw Mr. McKim and Lucy off, the steamer being crowded with the wounded and sick from the battle of Edisto. Then Mr. French advised my returning to General Hunter's. Mrs. H. had asked me to stay all night, but I had declined. Now, however, it was too late to go back to Beaufort in the little steamer and there was no other chance but a sail-boat, so after waiting and hesitating a long time, I consented to the intrusion, and Mr. French escorted me back again, explaining to General and Mrs. Hunter my predicament. They were cordial in their invitation, and I had a long talk with them about plantation matters, sitting on their piazza, the sentry marching to and fro and members of the staff occasionally favoring us with their company.

The regiment is General Hunter's great pride. They looked splendidly, and the great mass of blackness, animated with a soul and armed so keenly, was very impressive. They did credit to their commander.

As we drove into the camp I pointed out a heap of rotting cotton-seed. “That will cause sickness,” I said. “I ordered it removed,” he said, very quickly, “and why hasn't it been done?” He spoke to the surgeon about it as soon as we reached Drayton's house, which is just beside the camp. The men seemed to welcome General Hunter and to be fond of him. The camp was in beautiful order.

SOURCE: Rupert Sargent Holland, Editor, Letters and Diary of Laura M. Towne: Written from the Sea Islands of South Carolina 1862-1864, p. 70-1

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Diary of Laura M. Towne: Saturday, June 7, 1862

An exciting day. This morning Mr. Eustis came over and told Mr. Hooper that we ought to be ready to go at a moment's notice. For two weeks we have been quite unprotected, and last night an attempt was made to pass the pickets at Port Royal Ferry. A flat was seen coming. Our pickets challenged it, and the negroes exclaimed, “Don't shoot, massa!” Then fifty men rose up in the boat and fired into the guard, killing four of them. The others fled to Port Royal, I believe, carrying dismay, and this morning all the ladies, cotton agents, and civilians, except our men, embarked on the Ottawa and went down to Hilton Head, Miss Walker among them. Our men, of the Commission, have been bold enough. Little Taylor has shouldered his gun and he this morning went to within four miles of the enemies’ lines. Ashly acted as guide to the scouts and others have gone readily to the aid of the soldiery. Yet Mr. Pierce says the soldiers are swearing at the “nigger lovers,” who have all gone — run away at the first danger. Not a man has gone — not one.

There is quite a panic in Beaufort and several gunboats have gone up to it, apparently to take away the commissary stores. It will then be evacuated, and what will become of the poor negroes if the masters return! It seems to me that this is a causeless panic.

We packed our trunks to-day according to Mr. Hooper's orders, and we can run at any time, but leaving much behind us. I cannot bear the thought of going while these poor people must stay — Aunt Bess, whose leg is so bad; and some of the babies are ill now — they will suffer so in the woods and marshes if they have to fly. While we were packing this morning, Susannah, then Rina, came and asked anxiously about our going. I told them all we knew — that we might have to go off, but would not if we could help it; that our soldiers had all gone off to take Charleston and that Secesh might come down to attack us, and then the gentlemen would insist upon our going. Mr. Pierce came home about eleven, and he thinks we may remain. So we have composed ourselves as best we can. The gentlemen are going to patrol to-night, but I am more afraid of the exposure than of Secesh for them, and us too.

Mr. Pierce has gone to Beaufort again. Several gentlemen were here to-day, Mr. Horton among them, who wanted to know if we were “going to trust the Lord and keep our powder dry.” I want to have Mr. Pierce secure half a dozen guns for each plantation, and then if Secesh come, call upon the negroes to help us and stay. I am sure we shall be safe. I am entirely opposed to our flying. If Mr. Pierce were not going North, this would be the case, I am pretty sure, but he is determined to have us safe while he is gone. We have a boat in readiness to set out by water, and the horses are kept fresh to take us by land. One of them died to-day of poison plants, or colic, — one of the handsome bays.

I have been in other excitement lately and feel almost ill from it. But first about the alarm at Beaufort. It was so great that the arsenal was open, and anybody wishing it could go in and get a gun. It appears that the Pennsylvania regiment, or a guard of fifty, were stationed at Port Royal Ferry, and on this alarm they ran, after firing, and burned the bridge between themselves and the enemy. Their panic alarmed Beaufort. The ladies fled to the gunboats and to Hilton Head. They will return to-morrow probably. All Beaufort was in confusion. To-night all is safety and quiet there. We have had quite a cosy evening here — Mr. Pierce, Mr. Hooper, Miss Winsor, and I.

SOURCE: Rupert Sargent Holland, Editor, Letters and Diary of Laura M. Towne: Written from the Sea Islands of South Carolina 1862-1864, p. 63-5

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Charles Lowe to Dr. LeBaron Russell, December 7, 1863

Somerville, Dec. 7th, 1863.

My Dear Sir, — It gives me great pleasure to present, at your request, a statement of the impression made upon my mind by a visit to the field of operations of the Educational Commission for Freedmen, in the department of South Carolina. I had an opportunity to visit many of the schools and plantations on Port Royal, St. Helena and Ladies Islands, and to converse with many who were familiar with the condition of the freed population, and will state as briefly as I can the result of my observation.

First, As to the Schools.

In the immediate vicinity of Beaufort the teachers labor at great disadvantage. The town is an aggregate of Government offices, hospitals and camps. An excessive population of freed people has congregated there, and they are exposed to all the bad influences of such a community. The effect is seen in the Schools, in a want of punctuality and in a restless spirit on the part of the children. Yet even in these Schools the success of the attempt was very gratifying. The children seemed bright and eager to learn, and showed remarkable proficiency. Here, as indeed in all the Schools I visited, I was greatly struck by the excellence of the teachers employed. In one of the Schools in Beaufort, there was acting as an assistant, a young colored man — formerly a member of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, and disabled at Wagner. He was teaching some of the classes, and as I watched him I thought he was teaching very successfully. Certainly he had the perfect respect and attention of the pupils, and it seemed to me that such men might be thus employed to advantage, more frequently than they are.

As you go away from Beaufort, the bad influences of that place gradually lessen, till, on the plantations ten miles distant, the people are quite out of their reach, and the consequence was very apparent. Here, with no better teachers (for where all are so good I could not recognize any difference), the discipline of the Schools was greatly superior, and their whole character compared favorably with that of any of our Northern Schools of the same grade.

Second, As regards the ability of the freed people to support and govern themselves, my impressions are equally favorable.

Here again, Beaufort and its immediate vicinity affords a most unfavorable condition for the experiment. And many visitors, judging from what they see there, may give unfair statements in regard to its success. The place, as I have already said, has just the effect, on the people gathered there, that a prolonged muster-field would have on a great mass of people who might crowd about it. Considering this, it was a matter of surprise to me that things are no worse. There is no disorder, and a Quarter-Master, who has occasion to employ a very large number of the men, told me that he never had so little difficulty with laborers. On Thanksgiving day they were all discharged for a holiday, and he said to me that, whereas, with white men, he should be dreading trouble from their absence or disorderly conduct the next morning after the day's carousing, he was sure that these men would all be promptly at their work.

On the plantations removed from the camps the condition of things is most gratifying. The people labor well, and are easily managed, and the superintendents say are always ready to do anything that you can persuade them is for their advantage.

I will not anticipate the statements which are being prepared by one gentleman there (Mr. E. S. Philbrick), in which it will show conclusively the satisfactoriness of their voluntary paid labor so far as the employers are concerned. My only purpose is to testify, as a casual observer, to the good order, the respectful demeanor and thrifty appearance of the colored population, and the general evidence which such a visit could give of a good state of things.

One thing particularly impressed me. I saw the people everywhere in their homes and in the fields. I have seen the working classes in many countries of the world, and I never saw a peasantry so cleanly dressed, so respectable in their outward appearance or apparently so happy. This is certain in regard to these people — that they are abundantly able to support themselves. If your organization has made any mistake, it has been that you felt at first too little confident of that, and assumed that they must be helped by donations in charity. Undoubtedly there was, for a while, much destitution, and your relief was most timely; but the generosity of the supply encouraged a feeling that they could live without labor, which has been one of the great difficulties to overcome. They certainly need help no longer. I saw them at the stores kept on the Islands, buying, with plenty of money, every variety of articles, and heard of no want.

A paymaster told me that, under the order of General Saxton, permitting them to apply for lands hereafter to be sold, the sum of $4000 has already been deposited by freedmen. One man is now owner of the plantation of his former master, which he purchased with money loaned him, and which he has now paid for by the earnings of this year's crop.

What interested me most in what I saw, was the conviction, that here is being worked out the problem of whether the black race is fitted for freedom. In many respects the circumstances in this locality are such as to make the experiment peculiarly satisfactory. 1st, The colored people on these Islands are admitted to be inferior to those in most portions of the South, partly because kept more degraded, and partly because close intermarrying has caused them to deteriorate. 2dly, After being left by their masters, they lived for a time under no kind of restraint. And 3dly, By a well meant generosity, when first visited by our sympathy they were encouraged to believe that they could live under freedom without the necessity of labor. .

Yet, under all these disadvantages, the experiment has been a triumphant success — apparent, beyond question, to any one who can observe.

To be sure, it can probably never happen that on any general scale, those who shall give to the newly freed people their first instructions in freedom, shall be men and women of such high character and ability as those who have undertaken it here. I was amazed when I saw among the teachers and superintendents so many persons of the very highest culture, and fitted for the very highest positions. I confess I felt sometimes as though it was lavishing too much on this work; but then I considered (what is now the great feeling with which I regard the whole thing) that this is a grand , experiment which is settling for the whole nation this great problem. And when I saw how completely it has settled it, I felt that it was worthy of all that had been given. I believe that the importance of the movement is yet to- be realized when the operations on this field shall become the great example for every part of the land.

I am, with great respect, very truly yours,
Charles Lowe.
Dr. LeBaron Busselly Boston.

SOURCE: New-England Educational Commission for Freedmen, Extracts from Letters of Teachers and Superintendents of the New-England Educational Commission for Freedmen, Fourth Series, January 1, 1864, p. 13-4

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Commandant Samuel F. DuPont to Gustavus V. Fox, December 6, 1861

Confidential.
‘Wabash’ Dec. 6, 61.
Port Royal, SC
My Dear Sir

Raymond Rodgers returned this morning from a splendid reconnaissance of the Wassaw Inlet strangely overlooked heretofore by the Coast Survey. He had Stevens, Ammen and Bankhead's vessels, found 21 f. on the bar, went up ten miles from it and saw the steeples of Savannah.

Boldly advancing on the fort, to his astonishment he found it abandoned like those in St. Helena Sound. Eight heavy guns had been removed — the magazine blown up, the beds and circles broken. The Fort now building is on Wilmington Creek near a Coast Survey triangulation station and ten miles from Savannah.

Now my Dear friend I want to make a point as the Japanese express it. We are you will see going more and more into the flanks of the rebels, driving them from these coast defences and keeping up our prestige I think, — but alas my vessels are so spread and absorbed, that we have to come out of these places again. Drayton is holding all the St. Helena waters and the Dale is to be the depot ship — at Otter island and keeping up this demonstration off Savannah by the ships in Tybee roads is right also, — and now comes Wassaw, and I believe (I don't know) that Ossabaw and the rest of the Coast of Georgia will be ready to fall into our hands. This you will remember was the regular plan of the Department, but I never thought I could carry it out so fast — then again we were to begin at the lower end and work up, but having made this great breach in the centre, by the occupation of Port Royal, we are working towards both ends at the same time.

Mr. Welles and Yrself have been so kind that I dislike to be troubling you for more vessels — but besides the above disposition of them, the constant and necessary repairs to every steam vessel are more frequent and consume more time than you have any idea of. I don't want to say anything of a most remarkable ignorance which seems to prevail among some of my fine fellows here in handling vessels in a tide way, so that our collisions are more frequent than they should be, hence more tinkering.

Your stone fleet has arrived, and so far as Savannah is concerned anticipated — besides Tattnall is doing the work for us and I sent to Missroon to get him word if he could, that we would supply him with a half dozen vessels to help his obstructions off Pulaski. I have written to Lardner about the Charleston bar and have ordered the fleet in here in the meantime. They doubt less caused an awful fright in Savannah yesterday and certainly captured Wassaw. It is wonderful how safely they came. One encountered a water spout, which took his sails out of him. One or two got into Tybee just in time to go down. One in a sinking condition was towed to the beach for a breakwater and wharf.

I thought the inside of the Light House had been burnt, by an incendiary, but it was more likely the result of spontaneous combustion. The new frame barracks most comfortable structures were spared. These barracks seem to be holding out imploring looks, to be occupied by our troops! What I write is about our business, but I yearn to see Savannah and Charleston taken — then the neck of the foul thing will be broken.

Davis and Rodgers send their warm regards to you. We are all three excessively busy but very happy.

Yours most truly
S. F. DuPONT
G. V. Fox Esq.
Washington

P.S.

Could you not take a holiday and run down and see us here? You always bring us good luck.

S. F. DP.

I have been told a brigade goes to Beaufort! Glad to hear of any movement, but Beaufort is not Savannah, nor the way to get to it.

SOURCE: Robert Means Thompson & Richard Wainwright, Editors, Publications of the Naval Historical Society, Volume 9: Confidential Correspondence of Gustavus Vasa Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1861-1865, Volume 1, p. 76-8

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Commandant Samuel F. DuPont to Gustavus V. Fox, November 15, 1861

Private
Wabash, 15, Nov. 61
Port Royal.     
Dear Mr. Fox,

The Atlantic goes to-morrow to return. She takes my detailed official report and correct map of the battle. Instead of our work wearing away with time, the achievement seems more appreciated by visitors to the forts than ever.

We were rejoiced by O. M. Pettit and Ellen coming in yesterday, they are worth their weight in Gold.

I send you a facsimile of the S. C. Ordinance of Secession with the Cartes de visite of the conspirators, for Mr. Welles, taken from Gen. Drayton's headquarters. We have his military map too, with the forts marked on the rivers &c.

Sherman sent a flag of truce yesterday to a place called the ferry, 7 or 8 miles from Beaufort where I sent his messengers by gun boat. They were cooly recd and it was not wise to send the message. It was elicited by some one a Br [sic] subject asking for protection.

Ought Sherman to have issued a proclamation without my knowledge? I like him but I think Stevens a tortuous man and very smart.

If we were to withdraw our naval and physical protection this army would be prisoners of war in 4 weeks. I don't believe a white man who robs a negro of his subsistence will fight.

Missroon came in to-day, (not his ship) and he has gone off again. I was glad to see him and sent for John Rodgers. The Tybee Isl is fortified and requires a 9-ft draft to approach it and they deem it impossible to put the stone there except under very strong covering with many gunboats, no covering with the frigates. We can put the vessels on the outer bar and you can send them here. I will see further tomorrow.

Curlew must go home. It would be throwing away 45000$ to give that for her. Watmough is grieved at losing his command but in character with himself pronounces her unfit. Will you say to Mr. Welles and to yrself that I would esteem it a particular favor if you will give Lt. Watmough a Gunboat and send him out immediately to me?

I look upon him as the first man afloat of his age — he will be very important.

Connecticut in to day—R Island yesterday. I will write an official letter about Beaufort. Waiting for soldiers to go to Fernandina. I doubt if they dare leave. I think I can hold it with the Marines. Very tired. Excuse this hurried letter.

Ever yrs faithfully
S. F. DP.

I asked Sherman to call Fort Walker, Fort Welles. I think he will do it. Davis saw this fort for the first time yesterday and says they ought to have whipped us.

SOURCE: Robert Means Thompson & Richard Wainwright, Editors, Publications of the Naval Historical Society, Volume 9: Confidential Correspondence of Gustavus Vasa Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1861-1865, Volume 1, p. 71-3

Friday, December 21, 2018

Commandant Samuel F. DuPont to Gustavus V. Fox, November 11, 1861

Private
Wabash Monday
11 Nov. 61, Port Royal
My Dear Sir—

The Coatzacoalcos goes in the morning — there is nothing very special to add to my letter of yesterday. I send certain letters to explain our operations about Beaufort. I did not have the flag raised in Beaufort, because it may not answer the Genls purpose to hold it — though it was well to show up the Gun-boats for moral effect. I was to have gone up with Sherman today but a fog prevented.

We are all tinkering; the heavy gale caused a good deal of injury in various ways to the smaller vessels.

Our own big job is the Main Mast, it is weakened one third — we are plugging up the holes and the Carpenter thinks he can fix it so as to make it stand in a gale of wind, though it will be a clumsy piece of work. When the ship goes north in the Spring if you will have a new one made she can take it in. We lost main topsail yard, spanker boom, lower boom, topmast &c. Those rifle 80 prs have the wickedest whistle I ever heard, how we all escaped on that Bridge I cannot conceive.

I concluded to send Vandalia North to fulfil my promise to the crew, & we have helped ourselves out of her — her two 8 in guns I have given to the Isaac Smith, & provisions & ammunition also have been taken from her. I am painfully impressed with the worthlessness of Sailing vessels since I have got to work out here — See the reports of the Sabine sent by this mail!! he has been a month in the Station. The Dale came in the day before our action & I packed her off to pick up coal Ships & go back to her Station. The QrMaster has given me some 80 000 gals of water & I am sending the Steamer which has it in out to Georgetown — Sending Alabama in the meantime to Georgetown — but I hear the Flag is off with Rodgers, Lardner having sent her to repair, the bottom of the boiler having come out.

I am exceedingly anxious to get away to Fernandina, for I see the old Story coming on me, viz the soldiers will absorb the fleet if I do not look out—if I can get through that and some other points perhaps St. Helena, I can come back here & make a station of it.

Will you please hurry back Steadman & not let him wait for all the ammunition asked for if it be not ready?

I do not intend to send vessels North if I can help it — I can make out here for water, but there are so many repairs required to ship, boats, & Engines, that if you could send down a certain number of ship Carpenters and Mechanics in iron, I think it would be economical I am sure, of course I mean shipped men—

Please let us have Pilot boats too, Davis says the G. W. Blunt. We should make the Pilot by the general rules I suppose. A Tug also if you please. The Mercury has paid for herself already — the Forbes is invaluable.

If you will give me Tuscarora & two new Gunboats, you may have Sabine, St. Lawrence, & Vandalia, 130 guns for twenty.

The magnitude of our operation is growing upon me & the blow is ringing all over the Southern country — the Planters talk of burning their cotton — and as this is the only sinew of war with them, the sooner they go at it the better.

I am at work at my detailed report of the action, with correct drawings of the order of battle &c which may some day go to the Naval School. The sketch I sent you is not critically, but generally correct. I will send my report by Atlantic in two or three days, in full time for Secretary's report or to go with the Documents.

When you can find leisure to give me a private note do so. You can take the credit of this business to any extent yr visit to New York put me upon it. It turns out Bulls bay is very defensible & not much after you take it. I think poor old Tattnall & Co must feel mean. Please make my regards to Mr Montgr Blair & to Mr Blair Senior, the latter so correctly looked forward for some naval results to help on the war on our side, that I hope he will be gratified but we must not stop here. I think the capture of the Forts was clever, but I think also the getting on the Wabash was cleverer.

Confidential.

I have one misgiving — our army here are depredators & freebooters — they are robbing as at Hampton in all directions, & robbing the poor negroes too, for all sheep, poultry, sweet potatoe patches &c belonging to them, & they are our friends, they will soon be disgusted & become our enemies — Sherman is a soldier every inch of him, whether he can be a commander in chief remains to be seen he is as much disgusted at what I mentioned as I am. They have not commenced an intrenchment! & to us people look like a mere rabble— they have commenced a wharf at my request for they are very kind to me & I think all the generals would do any thing in the world to oblige me.

I saw Sherman yesterday & hurried him up about Fernandina and I earnestly begged him to put a stop to the plundering — & shoot if necessary.

Davis & Rodgers send their regards, they are great helps to me and Preston an extraordinary young man— Raymond Rodgers is even above his reputation.

Ever yrs faithfully
S. F. Dupont.
G. V. Fox Esq.

SOURCE: Robert Means Thompson & Richard Wainwright, Editors, Publications of the Naval Historical Society, Volume 9: Confidential Correspondence of Gustavus Vasa Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1861-1865, Volume 1, p. 67-70

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Captain William Thompson Lusk to Elizabeth Adams Lusk, June 25, 1862


Headquarters 1st Division,
Battery Island, June 25th, 1862.
My dear Mother:

I have received your kind letters with their urgent requests from both you and Lilly to be present at the great affair which is to take place in July. How I would like to be there, you can well divine, yet the fates never seem to favor my leaving my post. With all quiet in Beaufort I had my hopes, with all in turmoil here my chances seem but small, and yet there are some who have not been half the time in the service I have, who have visited their homes once, twice, and are now going home again. That is a sort of luck some people have, a sort of luck which does not favor me. Yet there will be a time I suppose when it will be pleasant to remember I was never absent from duty, though I cannot see that strictness in such respects is held in any special honor now. You must tell Lilly I will think of her with all a brother's feeling of love, when the day comes. I will see that I am properly represented at the table which bears her marriage gifts. I will dream of the orange flowers that bind the brow of the bride and will wish them — the bride and groom —  God speed. I will wish them a brave career, and will rejoice that they do not fear to face the future together. I have no patience with that excessive prudence which would barter the blessings of youth and happiness and love, for some silly hope of wealth, and the happiness wealth can give to hearts seared with selfishness and avarice. If misfortunes come, will they be heavier when borne together? And are men less likely to prosper when they have something more than themselves for which to toil? And when one man and one woman are brave enough to show they have no fear, but are willing to trust, "Bravo!" say I, "and God grant them all that they deserve."
My coat and pants have come. All very well, only the coat is about six inches bigger round the waist than I am. There are tailors around the camp though who can remedy so excellent though rather ungraceful a fault.

I have had a letter from Hall lately, who seems quite happy. On this island, dear Mother, there are secret, hidden, insidious foes which undermine one's happiness. We are truly in the midst of enemies which give no quarter, whose ruthless tastes blood alone can satisfy. Now I am not alluding to the human "Seceshers" — they are only mortal — but the insect kingdom. What a taste they have for Union blood! Mosquito bars are useless. They form breaches, and pierce every obstruction imagination can invent, when they once scent Union blood. Flies march over one in heavy Battalions — whole pounds of them at a time. Mosquitoes go skirmishing about and strike at every exposed position. Sandflies make the blood flow copiously. Fleas form in Squadrons which go careering over one's body leaving all havoc behind. Ticks get into one's hair. Ants creep into one's stockings. Grasshoppers jump over one's face. You turn and brush your face. You writhe in agony. You quit a couch peopled with living horrors. You cry for mercy! — In vain. These critters are "Secesh." They give no quarter. You rush wildly about. You look for the last ditch. Until utterly exhausted you sink into unrefreshing sleep. Then begins a wild scene of pillage. Millions of thirsty beings, longing for blood, drink out one's life gluttonously. Enough! Why harass you with these dismal stories?

Benham has been sent home under arrest. The last thing he did on leaving Hilton Head was to lie. He doubtless has not discontinued the practice since.

My love to Mary and Lilly, the little boys (how I would like to see them), and all my dear friends. I have been several times with a flag of truce to the enemy, concerning our prisoners in their hands. In all these interviews I heard of Sam Lord. I wished to see him very much, but permission was not granted. I was allowed, however, to write him concerning Miss Alice Mintzing's welfare. The Colonel of his Battalion — Lamar — was badly wounded in our late engagement. Genl. Stevens has mentioned me handsomely in his official report of the fight, but he has done the same to all his staff.

Very affec'y. your Son,
Will.

SOURCE: William Chittenden Lusk, Editor, War Letters of William Thompson Lusk, p. 160-2

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Captain William Thompson Lusk to Elizabeth Adams Lusk, May 28, 1862

Beaufort, S. C. May 28th, 1862.
My dear Mother:

After 12 o'clock at night, and the certainty of a fatiguing day to-morrow, to be followed still by days in which sleep will be but stingily indulged in — so I must write briefly. At length a prospect is before us of active service. The long dreamed of time has arrived, and the word "Onward to Charleston" has been spoken. Unless a steamer arrives to-morrow from the North, which shall utterly change all plans, on Friday we will make our start. The same steamer that takes you this will likewise make known to you my fate. I trust I may write you from Charleston. The plan of attack is Benham's. Hunter only suffers it. Capt. Elliott is off to-night to destroy the railroad communication between Charleston and Savannah. He is our principal dependence when anything desperate is to be wisely done.

Multitudes of farewell kisses for yourself, sisters, the little boys, and others claiming love, and the kindest remembrances to Hunt, Tom, Walter, Horace, Sam and others.

Good-bye, dear Mother.
Affec'y.,
Will.

SOURCE: William Chittenden Lusk, Editor, War Letters of William Thompson Lusk, p. 149

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Captain William Thompson Lusk to Elizabeth Adams Lusk, May 18, 1862

Beaufort, S. C. May 18th, 1862.
My dear Mother:

I am going to write you a short letter to-night, as there are some rumors of business on hand this week, which may not leave me much time for correspondence. If it should turn out a false alarm, I will try and write again shortly. Time is slipping by rapidly, as my clothes testify especially, and unless I soon receive a reinforcement to my stock, I shall look like a “Secesh” after a twelve-month blockade. My present suit, after standing by me nobly for several months, seemed all of a sudden to give out all over, as you know clothes will do at times. Fact is, I supposed I should have been home for a few days long before now, but a favorable moment does not seem to turn up ready made to suit my case exactly. If you have a chance, please send me a cravat, as my own, under the influence of the weather, after passing through a thousand varieties of color, has finally settled into such rueful hues, that I have concluded to beg for another. Any lady that will make me a present of a new cravat, shall receive in exchange the old one as a specimen of what things come to after having been through the wars. A box of tooth-powder would likewise be acceptable as my teeth are getting quite shabby. Never mind, I will come home and get tinkered up one of these days, a thing I am mightily in need of. I wonder whether opening the Port of Beaufort will bring hitherward a large installment of the commerce of the world; if so, never mind about the tooth-powder.

We have all been pleasantly excited by the cunning escape of the negroes from Charleston with the Steamer “Planter.” The pilot, Robert, is the hero of the hour, and is really a most remarkable specimen of the dusky sons of Africa (alias nigger), never using a word of less than three syllables when an opportunity offers.

We all were in the habit of abusing Genl. Sherman in old times, but with customary fickleness, wish him back again now. This last batch of General officers with the “Great Superseder” (Hunter) at the head, is poor trash at best, so that there are few who would not rejoice to have "Uncle Tim" (Sherman) back again, notwithstanding his dyspepsia and peripatetic propensities. This is entre nous, and quite unofficial, for as my superior officer, I must recognize in the “Great Superseder” a miracle of wisdom, forecast and discretion. Oh my, what an illnatured letter! Never mind, behind it all there is lots of love in it for those whose eyes it is likely to meet, and kisses too for my mother, sisters, nephews and others where they would be at once desirable and proper.

The “Connecticut” has arrived, but the mail has not been distributed yet.

Yours affec'y.,
W. T. Lusk.

SOURCE: William Chittenden Lusk, Editor, War Letters of William Thompson Lusk, p. 147-8

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Diary of John Hay: February 22, 1864

. . . There was a ball to-night at Beaufort, gotten up by young officers there in honor of the 22d. Gen'l Gillmore went up for a few moments to lend his influence to counteract the gloom which was overspreading the camp. We got there early and loafed about till the dancing began. The room was exquisitely decorated; several very clever pictures, eagles, etc., were done on the walls with magnolia leaves; flags of all nations, from the Navy, etc.

I left with Gen'l Gillmore and went on board the Hospital Ship, filled with wounded; went through hold and up-stairs where the artillery boys were. Saw many desperately wounded; Col. R—— mortally, clutching at his bed-clothes and passing garments; picked up, bed and all, and carried away, picking out his clothes from a pile by shoulder-straps — “Major?” “No! Lieutenant-Colonel.” H——, M——, D—— and E——, all very chipper and jolly; M—— shot in toes and hat (like a parenthesis) and sabre; H—— between seat and saddle, and in fore-arm. M proposed to H—— "to go to party; I'll do dancing, and you hugging.”

Suddenly Gen'l S——, who had been much moved by R——’s appearance, started off up to the ball. He arrived during a moment's pause in the Lanciers. He stamped his foot: “Let the music stop!” and it did. “The ball cannot go on. Lights to be out in half an hour.” A friend of the General asked: — “Can we eat supper?” “Anyone who has the heart to eat at such a time.” All had a heart of that peculiar construction, for all ate. He came back glowing with the triumph of a generous action performed, and asked us up to his room, where we drank champagne and whiskey, and ate cake. Coming out found the grumbling feasters and went to Hilton Head after two o'clock.

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 168-9.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Captain William Thompson Lusk to Elizabeth Adams Lusk, May 2, 1862

Beaufort, S. C. May 2d, 1862.
My dear Mother:

May has opened charmingly in Beaufort. The air is warm but not oppressive. We are luxuriating in green peas, strawberries, blackberries, all the early vegetables, and the fig trees, loaded with fruit, will soon supply us with an abundance of green figs. Fish are supplied by the rivers in great plenty. Indeed we are well supplied with all sorts of good things, so we have little of which we can complain, except inaction. It is now fifteen days since a mail has reached us from the North. Telegraphic news in the columns of the Charleston Mercury dated the 26th, speaks of the city being in great alarm from the advancing army and fleet of Genl. Butler. A sailing vessel occasionally brings us a newspaper from the North. Otherwise we would be quite separated from the rest of mankind, and would be compelled to consider the North as having regularly seceded from us.

I have received the beautiful flag you sent me. I gave it to the boys of the Company, who were delighted. The other companies are quite envious. Thanks, dear Mother, a thousand times, for the expression of your love.

I think after all I must have that new suit of clothes I wrote for before. Notwithstanding all efforts to the contrary, my old suit will persist in growing daily rustier, and more unseemly in the seams. So if you will please have the suit ordered, I shall find good use for it full as soon as it shall be ready for me.

Tell Mr. Johnson I had a right pleasant time with his friend Bronson, and add too that Sloat’s men produced such an effect on the 79th Regiment, that it is impossible to persuade them that the whole affair of allotment is anything more than a Jew swindle. I am looking forward with great delight to the next steamer arrival, anticipating a heavy mail after so long neglect. There is so little of interest to write. I believe I wrote you there was quite a charming lady, a Mrs. Caverly, stopping at the General's. Her husband is dying with consumption and has come here to try the effect of the climate. You can imagine that a pretty and lively lady makes quite a difference in the house.

You do not know how inexpressibly indignant I feel at the attacks made on McClellan. They are certainly most scandalous, and calculated to ensure his defeat were he in any wise what his enemies represent him. It is the height of folly to suppose that men are going to sacrifice their lives, unless they have good reason to suppose that they are to be brought at the right moment to the right spot to play their part in gaining a victory. You have only to convince them that incompetent men are putting them in positions to occasion a defeat, and they will run before a shot is fired. It would seem that the enemies of McClellan are doing their utmost to produce that sort of spirit of distrust in our troops, so as to lead to new disasters. I am sick and tired of these howling politicians who would be willing to see everything we consider holy destroyed, provided they could only under the new regime get the Governmental patronage of the devil.

Affec'y. your son,
Will.

Flourishes supposed to indicate genius.

SOURCE: William Chittenden Lusk, Editor, War Letters of William Thompson Lusk, p. 143-5

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Captain William Thompson Lusk to Elizabeth Adams Lusk, April 15, 1862

Beaufort, S. C. April 15th, 1862.
My dear Mother:

Not wishing you to be exposed to disappointment, I must write a few brief lines by the mail that I have just learned will leave here in a short time. I have hardly anything to write beside the delight at the news received by latest advices. The fall of No. 10, the battle at Corinth, and the surrender of Pulaski are a rare combination of good things to come at one time. I can give you no particulars regarding the bombardment at Pulaski, as it was expected to continue several days, and the General consequently postponed visiting the scene of action until it was too late. The newspapers, however, will be full of the matter, I suppose, and will be loud in their praises of General Hunter, though he had really nothing whatever to do with it. The whole affair was prepared under the Sherman regime, and to it belongs the credit. The one immediately deserving of credit is General Gilmore who has had the direct superintendence of the matter.

We are hoping for reinforcements soon from the North, feeling, as we do, unwilling to enter into summer without having contributed something to the glory and success of our cause. But we are half relinquishing the hope that the Government considers our little post in other light than a good field for emancipation experiments. I am sorry to say I do not feel great sympathy in the efforts made at present in that line — not that I do not feel the necessity of the question's being settled, or do not feel the same interest that others do in the question itself. I am delighted to think that the time has come when slavery has lost its power, and something is to be done for the regeneration of the negro, but believe the question to be one of such delicacy, and requiring in its solution such rare wisdom, that I can not but be filled with extreme disgust at the character of the agents employed. I do believe that there is hardly one of them who would have the slightest chance of success in anything but professional philanthropy. A more narrow-minded pack of fools I rarely ever met. Instead of showing the necessary qualities for the position, they seem to care for nothing but their miserable selves. There is undoubtedly some good leaven in the mass, but, could you see them, the men especially, I do not think they would command your sympathies much. I suppose such preliminary experiments have to be made though, before any systematic plan can be adopted for the general amelioration of the mass. I do wish though there were more unselfish ones among them, and a few more acquainted with worldly matters. The ladies are by far the best part, for they mostly came down under excitement, or determined to do good. Here's a pretty dish of scandal, truly, but I get exasperated sometimes.

I am much obliged to Hattie for her kind offer to make the flag for me. Any such evidence of kindly feeling is appreciated, I assure you, down here.

A steamer lies embedded in the sand a short distance from the shore. I think it has some mail matter aboard, so I watch it impatiently.

Good-bye, dear Mother, love to all and believe me,

Affectionately,
Your son,
Will.

SOURCE: William Chittenden Lusk, Editor, War Letters of William Thompson Lusk, p. 140-2

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Captain William Thompson Lusk to Horace Barnard, April 12, 1862

Beaufort, S. C. April 12th, 1862.

I hardly know how, writing from peaceful Beaufort, I can find themes so exciting as to gratify the tastes of the public, used to tales of victories purchased at bloody rates; yet the importance of the work now quietly being wrought at Beaufort must not be underrated.

Here too, as well as on the splendid fields of the West, the spirit of John Brown is marching on. Toward the close of last autumn our troops entered Beaufort, then deserted by its inhabitants, and looking sad and desolate. Now the winter has passed away and the spring is far advanced. Nature has put on her most lovable hues. The dense dark foliage of the pine and the magnolia harmoniously mingle with the bright new leaves of the forest. The streets of the city are once more busy with life. Vessels float in the harbor. Plantations are being cultivated. Wharves are being built. Business is prosperous. And the quondam proud resort of the proudest of Aristocrats is being inundated with Yankees acquainted with low details regarding Dollars and Cents. There are all sorts of Yankee ventures in town, from the man with the patent armor recommended by McClellan, which no one buys, to the enterprising individual who manufactures pies in the old Connecticut style, and who has laid the foundation of an immense fortune. Even the "one only man of Beaufort," catching the spirit of trade, displays a few dingy wares in a shop-window. “But why,” the impatient public asks, “is our Army so far away from Savannah?” “Strategy, my dear public,” I answer. Can anything be more beautiful than the strategy of our Leaders, which strips war of its terrors and makes it so eminently safe? Tell me, if Mars chooses to beat his sword into a ploughshare, and devote himself to the cultivation of sea-island cotton, and invites live Yankees to assist him therein, ought not the satire of the thing to please the restless spirit of John Brown and excite it to renewed efforts in its great performance of marching on? Now there is no doubt that our Army ought long ago to have been in possession of both Charleston and Savannah. Common sense teaches us that much, although we know nothing whatever of military affairs forsooth, and still less of the peculiar circumstances which happen to govern the action of our Generals. Well, when we see matters in this condition, common sense teaches us that the proper remedy is to decapitate incompetency, and to put the "right man in the right place." The proper time for doing this is when, after long and earnest labor, a Commander is seen to be ready to strike a blow. Then is the moment to clamor loudly for his dismissal, and insist that another be put in his place, and when this one shall reap the harvest his predecessor sowed, we will all nod our heads approvingly at such evidence of our own ineffable wisdom. This is decidedly the most pleasant mode of proceeding for a public unacquainted with military matters but governed by common sense, and it is so satisfactory to all parties concerned, excepting perhaps the poor devil that gets decapitated. This, however, is a digression, intended possibly as a sort of “hӕc fabula docet” derived from the recent capture of Pulaski. So, to return —

Oh, darn it all, my dear Horace, I'll send the subscription price of the Evening Post without further delay. Here I've been floundering around, using up whole reams of paper trying to work up a newspaper style, but I have only succeeded in getting together a vast amount of material to kindle fires with. I thought I was doing beautifully when I commenced this, but, becoming disgusted with myself, I have concluded to give you the benefit of the production and spare the public. Thanks many times for your long, kind letter. You don't know how enjoyable it was. It has got to be late at night and soldiers must rise early you know. I have just been reading over this epistle and see that I have been making a feeble effort to be funny. Prithee forgive me. I didn't mean to. Give my love to Cousin Lou, Miss Hattie, Anima Mia, Miss Alice (if it be proper), and friends upon Murray Hill.

Very afFec'y.,
Will Lusk.

SOURCE: William Chittenden Lusk, Editor, War Letters of William Thompson Lusk, p. 138-40

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Captain William Thompson Lusk to Elizabeth Adams Lusk, April 10, 1862

Beaufort, S. C., April 10th, 1862.
My dear Mother:

I was glad to get your photograph, as it does not look, as did the other one you sent me, as though you were the last inhabitant without a friend left in the world. This one is a thousand times more agreeable, though I have to make allowances for those very extraordinary expressions which play about your mouth, when photographically tortured.

The bombardment of Pulaski has begun to-day. Full accounts, I hope, of the “fall” will be taken North by the steamer bearing this. We can hear the guns booming in the distance, but our Brigade, with the exception of the 8th Michigan Regiment, is condemned to remain at Beaufort. So I shall see nothing, but hope soon to hear the fort is ours, and, indeed, so secretly, yet so securely have preparations been made, that we can hardly fail of success. It is dangerous though to make predictions, so often have I read similar sentences in “Secesh” letters written just previous to a defeat.

The atmosphere is most delightful to-day. I wish you could breathe such balmy, though invigorating air. It is hard to realize that it soon will change to an atmosphere deleterious in character.

It is strange to think how ordinary dangers lose all terror in these war-times. I have been almost constantly exposed to smallpox, yet never have so much as thought of the matter further than to assure myself that the vaccination was all right. It is wonderful too how perfect a safeguard vaccination is. Although smallpox has been so prevalent, it has been wholly confined to the negroes and young children, and a few backwoodsmen, to whom modern safeguards were not accessible, or who had neglected the common precaution. I think there has not been a case among our vaccinated soldiers. It is quite a relief to feel that this is so.

I am glad to hear of all my friends wheeling so enthusiastically into the service of their country. As far as I can ascertain, the position of an Allotment Commissioner is one that requires an earnest determination to do something, to tempt any one to accept it, and yet it is really a philanthropic act to perform its purposes.

I wish Charley Johnson would come down here. I would give him the best reception I know how, and this is a pleasant season to visit Beaufort. You ask for my photograph dear mother, and I meant long since to have gratified you, having had myself taken alone, in company with the Staff, and on horseback with the Staff — in a variety of positions, you see, to suit everyone. But I know not how it is that I have never been able to get a copy since they were first struck off, although we have had promises enough that they will soon be ready. I intended to surprise you, but despairing of success, I write the matter that you may not think I have not tried to gratify your wishes.

I am suffering great torments from the sand-flies which abound. These are the peskiest little creatures you ever saw, completely forbidding sleep on a warm night, and defying such flimsy obstruction as mosquito bars.

I wrote Sam Elliott a few days ago. Wm. Elliott has returned looking well, and disgusted with leaves of absence. He is really about the most efficient man in the Brigade. His education has given him great habits of self-reliance, which are invaluable in his profession. Give my love to Mrs. Walter Phelps, and tell her I expect she will send me a photograph of that precious baby of hers. Capital idea photographs are!

Love to all my dear friends.
Affec'y.,
 Will.

SOURCE: William Chittenden Lusk, Editor, War Letters of William Thompson Lusk, p. 136-8

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Captain William Thompson Lusk to Elizabeth Adams Lusk, March 24, 1862

Headquarters 2d Brigade, S. C.
Beaufort, S. C., March 24th, 1862.
My dear Mother:

The steamer arrived last night, bringing a long letter from you, one from Horace and one from Walter, affording of course much pleasure, but the tone of all occasioning much surprise. Indeed, in the midst of all our victories and astonishing successes, it is to me inexplicable why McClellan should be attacked with such a savage spirit! I had no idea that the spirit of malevolence could carry men so far, but I am confident that McClellan will stand justified on the pages of history for preferring to ensure victory where reverses would have been well nigh fatal. The plan of the present grand campaign may not entirely have originated with McClellan, but undoubtedly he had the total arrangement of it. It seems to me to be as wise and perfect a one as was possible, considering the magnificence of its proportions. Of course, people will cry: “Why was not all that has been done, done long ago?” But I honor him the more that he had the moral courage to wait. It is well enough to talk about the immense army at his disposal, but if the army is a mere mob without cohesive power, a Napoleon might lead them, and see them fly from earthworks that would excite a soldier's derision. I believe now we have an army of soldiers, and believe we will win victories at every turn. I do not forget though the lesson of Bull Run, and more than that, it is not many months ago I can remember that our army, despite every effort of its commanders, was a poor, cowed, spiritless thing — a good army to get killed in, but a poor one to look for the crown of laurel. I say McClellan has done a glorious thing, and shame on his detractors! A few short weeks ago when Elliott was off recruiting, he met with few recruits, but many a coward tongue eloquently detailing our reverses. And now I suppose they would rob those who have borne the burden and heat of day, of the poor praise which they had hoped for when the fruit of their labors had ripened, and the reapers were ready to gather a harvest of glory. I have heard many say that they do not pretend to have any military knowledge, but they do pretend to be governed by a little common sense, and common sense teaches them so-and-so. Now, dear mother, be sure, when you hear men talk thus, that common sense means simply pure ignorance. It was this common sense, alias ignorance, that forced the battle of Bull Run. It was a little military knowledge that has made the opening of the year 1862 a glorious one for our Union Army. Enough! I have had my say — have expressed my disgust — and may now change the subject.

My dearest Mother, it will be a sweet thing for us all to see peace once more restored, and I do not doubt that no one prays more earnestly for it than yourself. I cannot but feel that a Higher Power has guided us of late to victory and do not fear for the result, yet bloody battles must be fought in which we must all partake, before the olive-branch is possible. I hardly think that the impatient ones at home, who are clamorous as to the inactivity and want of efficiency of our army, will have in the end any reason to complain that blood enough has not been shed to compensate them for the millions they have expended on it.

Many think that before July the war will be ended. How pleasant a time it will be when I can honorably return home. There is no sweeter anticipation than the joy I know my return would bring to your heart. I have been called away to attend to some business. Very much love to my dear sisters and the little ones.

Affec'y.,
Will.

I wrote the above shortly after reading my letters. Since then I have been diligently reading the papers, and perhaps must modify my opinions somewhat, but as the mail leaves in a few moments, you must take the first outburst, or none. You offer me a flag; send it, dear mother, by all means. It shall be carried when we advance.

Lovingly,
Will.

SOURCE: William Chittenden Lusk, Editor, War Letters of William Thompson Lusk, p. 129-31

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Captain William Thompson Lusk to Elizabeth Adams Lusk, January 9, 1862

Headquarters 2d Brigade,
Beaufort, S. C. Jan. 9th, 1862.
My dear Mother:

It is with great pleasure I am able to write of my rapid recovery from a somewhat severe illness. I caught the fever prevalent in this country, and lost all those pounds of flesh of which I have boasted, but am thankful to be again restored to health, if not to full strength, and am gaining rapidly. There is little chance of obtaining a leave of absence, for, though delightful as it would be to see you all again, it is not well to look back when the hand is once put to the plough. You will ere this have received an account of our New Year's call over on the mainland of South Carolina. It was very successful, but I was unable to be present, as excessive exhaustion, the result of the fever, kept me confined in bed. The weather down here is charming now, the sun is as warm as summer. I think of you suffering from cold. I would be willing to exchange the warm sun of Beaufort though, for a couple of weeks in the chilly North where there are warm hearts ever ready to welcome me. I am going to enclose to you a copy of a Secession letter which may afford you some amusement.

I have not received either my trunk or sword yet, though they undoubtedly are at Hilton Head, but the express agency is a slow working affair, and I must abide their time patiently. Yesterday was the anniversary of the battle of New Orleans. In the evening the General had a reception, at which many patriotic speeches were made, and a general feeling of jollity prevailed. There is little news to communicate. Your letters come regularly. I have received Hunt's photograph, which is capital. I hope gradually to get the likenesses of the whole family.

There is at present as far as we can learn, a general feeling of depression among the South Carolina troops, which possibly may eventually develop into a Union sentiment. The feeling the soldiers express is: We have no negroes to fight for, while the slave-owners have all taken good care to retire to the interior of the State where they can live in safety. The question is beginning to pass among them, “Why should we stay here to be shot, when those who have caused the war have run away?” This is dangerous talk, and, we are told, officers have great difficulty in maintaining the organization of their Regiments. At least these are stories brought by the negroes who are continually escaping to our lines, and the unanimity of their reports seems to lend the appearance of truth to them. The fact is, the frightful effects of the explosions of the 11 inch shell which some of our gun-boats carry, have produced a great panic among the land forces of South Carolina. Negroes from Charleston report the city in a great fright, the inhabitants making preparation to leave at the sound of the first note of alarm. I hope we may catch old Tyler.1 It would do me a deal of good to see the traitor sent North to be dealt with properly. There is a strong contrast between the treatment of our prisoners, and that received by the unfortunates who fall into the hands of the “chivalry.” The prisoners we have here are certainly as well treated if not better than our own soldiers. As I see them, on passing their place of confinement, with their legs hanging out of the windows, smoking their pipes, lolling about, enjoying fires when it is chilly, I cannot but think of a poor fellow named Buck, a German in my company and a capital fellow, who was captured at Bull Run and taken prisoner to Richmond. Once he ventured to put his head out of his prison window, and in an instant the guard shot him dead. I remembered too an amiable practice of the chivalrous youth of Richmond, who, when drunk, were in the habit of discharging their pieces from below, sending the bullets through the floor of the prison. This piece of pleasantry they termed “tickling the legs of the Yankees!” Well, we are not barbarians, and the other day a poor fellow whom we took prisoner at the battle of the Coosaw, as he lay grievously wounded, but receiving every kindness and attention at our hands, said: “Ah, there's a mistake somewhere. We think you come here to murder, and burn and destroy.” It will take time, but we believe by making ourselves dreaded in battle, but using kindness to all who fall into our power, even South Carolina may learn the lesson that there is a mistake somewhere.

There, I think I have written a long letter. With much love to all, I remain,

Your affec. son,
Will.
_______________

1 John Tyler.

SOURCE: William Chittenden Lusk, Editor, War Letters of William Thompson Lusk, p. 112-5