This letter was written by Gilson Mendall (1837-1887), the son of Sylvanus Mendall (1807-1872) and Mary Soule (1805-1874) of Canton, Oxford county, Maine. Gilson was married in March 1860 to Elmira Foye. According to enlistment records, Gilson entered Co. F, 9th Maine Infantry as a private in mid-September 1861 and was mustered out as a corporal after three years and 10 months service in July 1865.
The 9th Maine Infantry was organized at Augusta and mustered in September 22, 1861. It proceeded to Washington and briefly served in the Washington Defenses before joining the expedition to Port Royal, SC, attached to the Department of the South. The 9th Maine participated in a number of minor combined operations resulting in the capture of Forts Walker and Beauregard and later occupied Fernandina, Florida. The regiment then shifted to operations at Charleston arriving at Hilton Head in January 1863, assigned to the 10th Corps.
Hilton Head, South Carolina
January 16th 1862
I will write you a few lines again tonight. I am well as common. I am a little lame yet but my health is as good as it has been for a long time. Coleman is at the hospital yet but he is getting better. I think that he will be out again in a few days at longest. Elisha Bisbee is dead. He died last Monday night. I think they said that it was the typhoid fever that he died with. He was not sick but a few days. I can imagine how his mother will feel. He died very easy—the same as though he was going to sleep. 1
It is very rainy and cold tonight. It seems like October. It rains about half of the time now. The niggers say that it will for about a month. There is a lot of them on the island—a number of hundreds of them.
The report is that we are a going to move soon and I hope we shall for I thought they should be doing something to close this thing up (they won’t let me go into battle for I am lame). They want that I should cook and I think that seeing I have cooked so long that I shall keep. [I also] help on the mail some and we expect it in a few minutes so I will wait and see if I get any letters. I hope I shall. The last that I got from you was dated December 29th. I want you should number your letters on the lower corner. Begin at 1, then 2, 3, 4 and so on. I will do the same. I am expecting a letter from Father. I wish your folks would write to me. I would write to them if I could get time and I will try to answer Harriet’s letter soon and write to John to tell him and everybody else that I don’t believe a word about Old England fighting us. If they do, he will have to come and no backing out.
We have not got paid off yet. They say that the money is on the island to pay us with but I don’t know. Write how much money you have got. I sent you 25 dollars. There is any amount of niggers here every day selling oysters—men, women and children. I should as leave sleep with an old sow as to one of them. They are very nasty looking things and I think that their masters are plagey fools to make the best of them. I shall have to take another sheet of paper. — Gilson
1 Elisha Bisbee of Canton, Maine, was 18 years old when he enlisted as a corporal in Co. F, 9th Maine Infantry. He died on 14 January 1862.