1863: John W. Farnum to Frank W. Farnum

This letter was written by John W. Farnum (1842-1915) who enlisted on 7 October 1862 as a private in Co. D, 15th New Hampshire Infantry—a nine months’ regiment. He mustered out of the service on 13 August 1863,

John was the son of Timothy Walker Farnum (1814-1892) and Rebecca Sabrina Bartlett (1816-1889). of Northwood, Rockingham county, New Hampshire. He wrote the letter to his brother Frank Walker Farnum (b. 1850). After the war John worked as a shoemaker.

John’s letter speaks of visiting some nearby Louisiana plantations while encamped at Carrollton and also of the drilling of black soldiers being organized and outfitted for the Union army.

I could not find a picture of John but here is one of an unidentified member of Co. D, 15th New Hampshire Infantry (LOC)

Transcription

Addressed to Mr. Frank W. Farnum, Northwood Narrows, N. H.

Camp Parapet
Carrollton, Louisiana
May 1st 1863

Dear Brother,

After so long a time I have a chance to answer your kind letter. I am well and hope that this will find you the same. This is the first day of May and I suppose that you have been Maying. Wish that I could do the same.

I had my May day the last day of April. Clark Bryant and me went up the river about 5 miles and went into some of the plantations and got some sugar and hoe cake and it was good if had some butter to eat on it. We went to one place where they had about 60 mules in the road feeding and a little nigger was riding one mule and watching the rest of them. We see the niggers at work in the fields hoeing the sugar cane and corn. The corn is about two feet high and looks nice. One field the rows were five acres long. How many of them would you like to hoe before breakfast?

There is one man here that owns 5 plantations and the smallest one he has got a hundred niggers on it. I wish that you could see one of these large sugar houses and all the machinery in it. It is worth seeing. Can you come down here about two weeks before we start for home and look around and then go home with us? I wish that you could. You would see enough of salt water, I guess, before you got here. I guess that you would not want to go to the beach to see the sea.

There is about 1800 niggers here drilling so as to go into the army this month. Their uniforms are made in New York City and it is gray cloth and they are to have the guns the 10th of this month. The talk is now that they are to have our guns but I don’t believe it. You would laugh to see them on a line with their old ragged clothes just as they come off the farms. They make a funny sight. And [to] see them go on the double quick, it is fun.

Today we have had our monthly inspection and have been mustered for pay but can’t tell when we shall get paid off. They owe us for four months to the 6th day of this month. I shan’t get any money until I get into Concord. I have got three dollars and 60 cents. I bought me a straw hat this morning and paid 35 cents for it. It is cool and light. Wish you could see me. I look like a shaker.

I wrote to Clara last week. Has she got it yet? And the ring—how does it fit her? I will send you a coal ring in a paper as soon as I get a chance. Has Mother got the house and land? Don’t see what she wants of that place anyway. It ain’t good for anything. Write and tell me how shoe making is. I will tell you how the weather is—it is hot! Tell Mother to write soon and send me papers. I had two papers from Father but no letters. Why don’t he write or don’t he want to hear from me? There, I must close. Give my love to grandfather and grandmother and Mother and all the folks. Write soon.

From your brother, — John W. Farnum

I shall put this in tomorrow but don’t know when it will go for there is no steamer going at present. It will go on a transport. Write and let me know how long it is going. I sent one to Father and it went in ten days. Went quick. How long does it take for my letters to go as a general thing? We expect a mail in a day or two. Am in hopes shall get a letter from you or Mother. — J. W. Farnum

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