These letters were written by Franklin (“Frank”) David Child (b. 1842) who enlisted as a private in May 1862 in Co. B, 4th Battalion Infantry but was made a sergeant in Co. D, 44th Massachusetts. Infantry in September 1862 when they were officially mustered into federal service. He mustered out with the regiment after nine months service on 31 May 1862.
Frank was the son of Daniel Franklin Child (1803-1876) and Mary Davis Guild (1807-1861) of Boston. Frank’s father Daniel was connected with the Boston locomotive works and the Hinkley & Drury locomotive works as treasurer for more than 40 years. Besides a home in Boston, the family kept a farm in West Roxbury. Frank wrote all four letters to his younger brother, George Frederick Child (1844-1933), a clerk in the Boston firm of Emmons, Danforth & Scudder.
Other letters by members of the 44th Massachusetts Infantry that I have transcribed and posted on Spared & Shared include:
Henry C. Whittier, Co. A, 44th Massachusetts (1 Letter)
James Haynes Murray, Co. C, 44th Massachusetts (45 Letters)
William Carlton Ireland, Co. D, 44th Massachusetts (55 Letters)
Frederick A. Sayer, Co. D, 44th Massachusetts (Union Letters)
James Schouler Cumston, Co. E, 44th Massachusetts (2 Letters)
George Russell, Co. E, 44th Massachusetts (1 Letter)
Herbert Merriam, Co. H, 44th Massachusetts (4 Letters)
Richard Harding Weld, Co. K, 44th Massachusetts (6 Letters)
Camp Stevenson, Newbern [N. C.]
November 20, 1862
My dear George,
When I left Readville I put all the things that I could not carry with me into my valise and sent them home by Tracy’s Express. Whether they ever reached there or not, I don’t know. If they did, I wish you would send me by Adam’s Express my razor, strap, soap, and shaving brush. Please let Hassam Bros. put the razor in good order before you send it. Also send one box of honey soap which you can buy at Brown’s Drug Store, corner of Elliott St. Also a couple of crash towels & 2 or 3 handkerchiefs.
We are now quite comfortably situated in our barracks with some prospect of staying here the principle part of the winter and find such luxuries as these very desirable as well as very scarce. I lost my towel on the last march and cannot replace it here. I would like to have you send me also a fine tooth comb. Any other little thing you happen to find in my valise and which you think may be of use you may put in with the rest while you are about it. I would recommend that you pack them in some spice box at the store and send directly to me at Newbern, N. C. in care of Capt. H. D. Sullivan, Co. D 44th [Mass.] Infantry. If you will be so kind as to do this for me, I will be everlastingly obliged and will remit any amount which you may expend. I expect to be very flush in a few days as we are to be paid off for two months. If fact, we were mustered for it yesterday.
I would like very much to have some good pale brandy. It is something one can hardly do without in this climate where the change in temperature is so great every morning & night. The dews are so heavy here that if you go under the trees at midnight, it frequently seems as if it were raining. The only difficulty is in getting it here as they are very strict about letting liquor into the department. If you could however get some of W. R. Lewis & Bros. meat cans all marked & seal up securely some of Williams’s best pale, I have no doubt but what it would pass. If you could bring this thing about, it would be a big thing. Three or four bottles would be sufficient. And I would cheerfully remit the amount on receipt of the package. Pack them separately from everything else as confiscation of the whole package is the penalty if found out.
In order that you can have some idea of how we are situated here I will make you a diagram of the town & position of our camp. [sketch]
Our own barracks are in form of an angle “L” and marked 1. 2 [is] 10th Connecticut, 3 [is] 24th Massachusetts. There are gunboats within a stones throw of us all the time [and] also on the Trent river—on the other side of the open field between us and the woods. The forts, Totten and a smaller one the name of which I do not know, protect the railroad and common roads leading inland.
Write me as soon as possible & let me know if there is anything new. Your affectionate brother, — Frank
Newbern [N. C.]
January 4, 1863
My dear George,
It was with a great deal of pleasure that I received this p.m. your somewhat lengthy & very gay letter of the 27th December. It is the first time I have heard from home since you had news of our safe arrival back to Newbern. You all must have been very anxious & I was glad that my letter arrived in such good season. It was written when very tired, dirty and lame & I think must have been very unsatisfactory although I did not read it over.
Our monitors, if reports about here are true, appear not to be very successful. Rumor goes, for we have no reliable news here except what comes through northern papers, that the Monitor sunk off Hatteras in a storm & that the Passaic had arrived at Beaufort disabled having several feet of water in her hold & her turret so strained as to be immoveable. I don’t vouch for these stories for they have been told & contradicted half a dozen times within the last week. If true, we shan’t probably move for some time. If untrue, and if the two ironclads have really arrived here safe, we shall probably move against Wilmington before many days.
You say Mr. Emmons is much troubled about Frank’s wound. I saw him a few days ago and thought he never looked better. His wound was so slight that I could not even distinguish a scar.
Fred is getting along nicely. He expects to walk up to camp in a day or two.
You mention in your letter that you passed an evening with Mr. T’s & had oysters, champagne, ice cream, &c. &c. On another occasion that you supped on milk toast and baked apples. Now I want to caution you against ever mentioning “good to eat” again for it may cost me my life. So weak has my stomach become by constant application of salt mule that I fear “congestion of the breadbasket” if I even think of the delicacies you mention.
I wish that you would try to trace up about that dog that you say looks like Dick. I should think you could recognize him by the white on his nose, feet and breast. If you could only entice him into the cellar, you would be able to tell for if it was he, he would certainly lay down in his old corner.
My dear George, the mail goes suddenly in five minutes and I must close. I will write again soon. — Frank
Newbern [N. C.]
January 31, 1863
My dear George,
We start tomorrow on a expedition towards Plymouth in the steamer “Northern.” Of course our knowledge with regard to the objects & intentions of the trip is very limited. We understand that we are to have one or two companies of cavalry & 2 boat howitzers to accompany us and that the expedition is under command of Col. [Francis L.] Lee. We understand also that we are not to go more than a day’s march from your gunboats.
I have not time to write more as it is about 11 o’clock and we start early in the morning. I hope to send this by “Mahoney,” [of] Co. C, who has been discharged for disability just to let you know my whereabouts. I have received my box in good order. It came in the nick of time. I will write more about it first opportunity.
Your affectionate brother, — Frank
Newbern [N. C.]
February 12, 1863
I received yesterday & today your letters of January 29th, 30th, and February 5th, also letters from Father, Mary, Sam & Sophie. You will pardon me I know if I answer all three together for I have but a short time before the next mail goes & must write a word to all of possible. I am glad to see that you practice as you preach & write often. I get a letter or two from you most every mail and assure you I appreciate them much.
I have just got back safe and sound from expedition No. 3 to Plymouth, N. C. I wrote twice, one at Plymouth and once at Roanoke, two to father, so I suppose you will have heard of pretty much all we did before this reaches you.
Our march from Plymouth to Long-Acre & back 28 miles in a night and half a day was agreed by all hands to have been a little the hardest thing we have yet seen, although I stood it first rate, being about as fresh when we got in as anyone. We passed through one ford half a mile long and cold as ice almost benumbing our feet. Billy Neal fell down when about half though coming home & got a complete ducking. No bad effects have however followed. When we got to our destination, we found three places where the rebels stored bacon and brought away and destroyed 3 or 4 lbs. We got also some of the best cider I ever drank & chickens & ducks enough to last us back to Newbern. On the whole it was a very pleasant expedition. We had state rooms and bunks on board the transport “Northerner” & a good close room with a fire in it at Plymouth. I went on board the gunboat “Perry” which is stationed off the town & saw your friend Al Brown. He desired to be remembered to you.
I got Uncle Henry’s box all safe just before I started & took several of the cans with me on board the boat. Some difference between hard tack & coffee & fresh salmon, peaches, boiled chicken, & beef soups—hey! It was a splendid present & a most acceptable one. I shall write Uncle Henry and thank him as soon as possible.
I am glad the gaiters are under weigh as the last tramp about finished my old ones. I shall look for them by the “Dinsmore” which brought your letters but which has not yet discharged her cargo.
I was glad to hear from F. Boyd. He writes awful blue. Again in garrison at Baton Rouge he says, just my luck. There are all sorts of troubles in the regiment—court-martials, hard words, &c. &c. He is now trying to get transferred to the Potomac. I am afraid he will never be happy. I have not yet had a chance to have my photograph taken but hope to before long. I don’t think I have changed a great deal however.
I had the pleasure of seeing tonight in Quarter Master’s tent Capt. Billy Hutchings, our Brigade Qr. Master. He is just from Hilton Head where General Foster’s expedition have all safely landed. He says they are now waiting for the navy who are not yet ready. They already have 4 monitors and the “New Ironsides” there but are waiting for more. General Stevenson had made a recognizance to within 3 miles of Charleston & came near being taken prisoner. The “Montauk” had experimented before a rebel fort lying close under its guns for 3 days but did not receive a hurt although dismounting several of its guns. He says there is no prospect of our going down there at present.
It is long after taps & I must close now as I am burning my lights only by sufferance. You will excuse haste and all mistakes I know.
Your ever affectionate brother, — Frank