This letter was written by 41 year-old shoemaker and innkeeper Samuel Garland Shackford (1821-1885) of Barnstead who enlisted on 30 November 1861 in Co. G, 8th New Hampshire Infantry. Samuel remained with the regiment until 18 January 1865 when he mustered out.
Samuel’s parents were Josiah Ring Shackford (1796-1874) and Mary Garland (1796-1867) of Barnstead, Belknap county, New Hampshire. Samuel’s first wife, Margaret Bean Foss (1816-1859) died in July 1859 leaving him with four young children, ages 2 to 13 who were cared for by the Thomas Muzzey Huse family while he was in the service. He did not marry again until after the Civil War, taking Esta L. Higgins as his second wife in 1872.
The Notre Dame Rare Books and Special Collection includes a collection of twenty-two letters which Samuel wrote to the Huse family while they cared for his children during the war.
The letter was addressed to Alfred Bunker (b. 1811), a farmer in Belknap county, New Hampshire.
Hospital, 8th N. H. Vol.
September 11, 1862
It has been some time since I wrote you but having an opportunity this morning, I thought I would embrace the opportunity. I am i nCarrollton above New Orleans about seven miles on the Mississippi River—a very nice place to encamp. The weather here now is very nice—about warm enough, night a little cool. No fog here as yet. We are enjoying life here as well as can be expected for army life. I have enough to eat and drink, good lodging at night. My work is almost nothing to do—hardly enough to enjoy good health but you know that I always get out of hard work.
My work is to stay in the office and give out a few medicines. It will take about an hour a day to do it and have good pay &c. &c.
I sent home to Mr. T[homas] M. Huse by the last steamer, September 10th, sixty-five dollars ($65) to pay that Bennett note asking Mr. Huse to go and pay it. YOu see that it is paid, if you will. All I want you to do is to know that it is paid. Tell Mr. Bickford that I have sent the money to pay the note. Mr. Huse will go and pay it no doubt but I want you to know that I sent the money to pay it.
I had a note from Scruton that they wanted the money this fall so I sent it to Huse. I would like for you to inform me about that trustee that was on you when I came away. If Charles Shackford paid the debt, or what was done about it. I have heard nothing about it since I came away. If you had to go to court or not, please write. The other property you look after as usual no doubt, &c. &c.
I shall try to come home by next June if I can—if I should be lucky enough to live to that time.
The health of the regiment is very good now. The Smarts have have all died. You have learned before this time Sam—the old man to John—all three are dead. The rest of the Barnstead boys are in good health.
I see you are paying a good bounty for soldiers in Barnstead now. Men you have to buy will fight and are great patriots but they have the fight in them when three hundred dollars is paid but I should rather be drafted than to be bought and then go to the war. But soldiers are needed just now if ever.
The war news you know all about—more than I do no doubt. Virginia is in a fix just about this time. Let them be whipped out and the war is over in my opinion, &c. &c. Give my respects to all friends that may inquire and remain your friend, — Samuel G. Shackford