The following letters were written by Frederick Metcalf (1847-1864) who was mustered in as 2nd Lieutenant of Co. K, 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery on 1 October 1863. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on 6 May 1864 and transferred into Co. B on 27 May 1864. “Fred” was serving as the Acting Regimental Adjutant when he wrote the first letter while on special duty at Fort Pulaski.
The second and third letters were written in July 1864 from the encampment of the 3rd Rhode Island Heavies just outside of Fort Welles on Hilton Head Island. Unfortunately for Fred, he did not survive the war. He died of disease at a hospital at Beaufort on 28 August 1864, less than a month after he penned the third letter.
Fred was the son of Providence attorney Edwin Metcalf (1823-1894) and Eliza Spear Atwell (1824-1863).
[Note: These letters are from the personal collection of Greg Herr and were transcribed and published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]
Headquarters U. S. Forces Fort Pulaski & Tybee Island, Georgia February 23rd  11 o’clock P.M.
I suppose you think, and very justly too, that is about time for that scrapegrace cousin of yours to answer some of your letters—very acceptable they are too him, I assure you—although he takes such a poor way of showing it. If you only knew what a bore and detested thing it is for me to write letters and how many stings of conscience it takes before I can bring myself down to it, you would forgive me I am sure.
We are having a few days of busy life and a little excitement down here in the land of all that is detestable, but I am not allowed to say anything about the movements of the army and so you must be content to know that I do not see as I shall have any chance of going on any of the expeditions, if there are any. And so you see that as I cannot say anything of the movements of the army, there is not much to write of. I might describe the islands to you but they are all the same thing—mud, mud, mud, nothing but mud anywhere except where artificial ground has ben made around the fort. I sometimes go over to Tybee and there there is a little more variety, some trees, &c., but nothing worth mentioning except the light house which the rebels burnt when they left and the old Martello tower, Some deserters come in once and awhile. A sergeant came down from Savannah the other day. e had on a very fair pair of boots. I asked him what they cost and he replied that he paid $125 for having a pair of old legs footed. What do you think they are coming to up there?
I have not heard from Sam since he was here but suppose he writes home much more regularly than I do. I enclose an invitation that I received to a ball at Beaufort. But i assure you that there was altogether a different ball going on not many miles from here that took our attention during the day.
It is getting quite late now and I must go to bed. I have been writing this in my office and by the light of a government candle. A pet kitten has been running all over the table most of the time and I suppose it will be a hard scrawl to read. The sentry on the parapet has just called 11 o’clock and “All’s well.” So goodbye.
Very affectionately your cousin, — Fred
Camp Co. B, 3rd Rhode Island Artillery Fort Welles, Hilton Head, South Carolina June 21, 1864
I received yours of the 5th yesterday. It was the first letter I had received for two weeks. It is getting very hot out here. we live with our tents up on all sides to allow the air to come in and then are nearly suffocated sometimes. We have been moving for the week past. Have changed camp four times and that with it raining all the time nearly. One night the Captain and myself had no tent pitched and had to sleep in a guard house the darkies had just left. I could stand [not] that, however, and moved my bunk outside. We are still settled now, however, and are encamped just outside Fort Welles, the captain being in command of the fort. We have also an infantry company under our command—one of the 144th N. Y. Vols. and are instructing them in artillery.
I witnessed the most impressive sight I believe there is in the world last Sunday—I mean a military execution. It was a clear, hot morning. All the troops on the island were formed in a hollow square on a large plain. The prisoner was marched into the centre, seated on his coffin, and there after his eyes were blind-folded, he was shot at a signal from the Provost Marshal. We were then wheeled into columns of companies and marched in review by the corpse. A most impressive spectacle, I assure you, but a soldier has to get used to such scenes. The man deserved it. He was caught deserting to the enemy. 1
I am boarding now at the house of a refugee from Charleston. The fare consists of “bully” beef and potatoes. The price six dollars per week. This is very cheap for down here but would be considered high at home for board and lodgings both. I have paid as high as $40 a month at Pulaski for simply my board. My washing bill is about a dollar and a half a week and my servant I pay $10 a month and yet they talk about an officer’s pay being large. I tell you, “Sis”, an enlisted man as a general thing can save more money than an officer.
Well, I think that I have scribbled about enough—particularly as I was up late last night. The men got some liquor from the Drago & had a little “toot” but they soon found out who was “boss” and kept pretty quiet. We never have any trouble with our men except through liquor and even then they know enough to mind when spoken to.
Give my love to all. Excuse the writing as we have no table yet and this I wrote on my knee.
Ever your affectionate cousin, — Fred
1 The soldier executed by firing squad at Hilton Head would have been John Flood of the 41st New York Infantry. He was executed on 19 June 1864.
Camp Co. B, 3rd Rhode Island Artillery Hilton Head July 31st 1864
I received yours of the 17th instant by the Fulton. Also one from Father. Both very acceptable. I was very glad to hear that you are enjoying yourself so much and dear little Tott. I know it will do her good to be by the salt water. I am feeling rather mean today because I got wet through last night. My tent leaks like a sieve and I awoke about 12 o’clock last night and found a puddle of water on my bed and all over the tent. One of our showers had come up and wet everything. I sleep under a rubber blanket every night now. Gen. Grant has issued an order that officers shall draw no more tents but sleep under shelters—that is, a piece of canvass about 6 feet square.
Everything is quiet here at present. We have a new officer to our company—Remington—late a corporal in the Second. We have plenty of watermelons now but our other fare is very poor. Some beef that Gen. Birney captured in Florida and which we call Florida Venison and it is tough enough, I assure you. This and commissary ham is about all we have.
Our company is still at this old sand heap and the fleas grow thicker every day. They almost poison me with their bites, but that is a petty annoyance, easily born with. I would describe our fort, &c. to you but that is strictly forbidden and you must wait until I get home and then I shall [share] a store of conversation.
Talking about home, from all that I hear, I suppose it will be another year—perhaps two—before I see home again. I tent now with a very gentlemanly young fellow named [George S.] Reed—the senior second lieutenant of our company. Our quarters are about eight feet square. In this small space we have two bunks, two trunks, and one table. The bunks answer for seats. That leaves us just room enough to undress and dress in. So you see I shall learn not to be very dainty when I get home. My bed consists of a bunk made of fine boards, a sack filled with hay, and a couple of blankets. My overcoat serves for a pillow. Sam gave me some sheets when he went home but the last time we moved, they went the way of all such things—even to ruin.
When I left home, I should have thought it hard to have to sleep between blankets, but now I like it and if it does not rain and wet everything, I sleep like a top. It would make you and grandmother groan to see how recklessly everything is thrown away when a regiment moves.
There, I have scribbled nonsense enough. And now, kiss Tott. Give my love to Aunt Mary and Grandmother, and my regards to the Tileston family. Believe me ever your affectionate cousin, — Fred
These letters were written by George H. Shaw (1843-1913) of Weare, New Hampshire, who enlisted at the age of 18 as a private in Co. A, 3rd New Hampshire Infantry on 22 August 1861 and served three years, mustering out on 23 August 1864. He was born in Slatersville, Rhode Island and lived in Holyoke, Massachusetts, after the war where he worked as a lumber salesman.
George was the son of John Shaw, Jr. (1803-1886), a native of England, and Persis D. Gilbert (1808-1845), a native of Rhode Island. After his mother died in 1845, George father remarried to Lydia A. Howard (1814-1899). George regularly mentions two older siblings, John Judson Shaw (1832-1903), and Ellen Maria Shaw (b. 1840), and one younger half-sibling, Ansel Howard Shaw (1849-1899) in his letters.
A summary of the regiment follows:
After being mustered in, the 3rd New Hampshire left for Long Island, New York, encamping at Camp Winfield Scott at Hempstead Plains. From here, they went to Washington, D.C. and Annapolis,Maryland where the regiment embarked on the steamer Atlantic for the assault on Hilton Head, South Carolina. It was part of the forces used to establish Federal footholds on the South’s Atlantic Coast. Except for minor skirmishes with Confederate pickets, they did not see action until June 16, 1862, where it participated in the Battle of Secessionville. The 3rd entered battle with 26 officers and 597 men and suffered 104 casualties—27 of them killed or mortally wounded. The 3rd New Hampshire then engaged in amphibious operations for several months and was assigned to one of the brigades to attack Fort Wagner. From July 10–13, 1863, the 3rd attempted the first assault, which failed, losing seven killed and 21 wounded. The regiment lost another eight in a second failed assault which took place July 18, 1863, led by Captain James F. Randlett. During the spring of 1864, the 3rd New Hampshire was transferred north to Virginia where they joined the 10th Corps, also known as the Army of the James. Soon after, they were heavily engaged at Drewry’s Bluff on May 16, 1864, where sixty-six New Hampshire men were killed or wounded. On August 16, 1864, they also fought at Deep Bottom, Virginia, where Lt. Colonel Josiah Plimpton, in command of the regiment, was mortally wounded. On August 23, 1864, the three-year term of service was up for the original volunteers, and those who did not reenlist were mustered out and sent home. Only 180 men remained of the thousand who had left Concord three years prior.[Wikipedia]
North Weare, [New Hampshire] May 13th 
Having a few spare moments just now, I thought I would improve them by writing to you. I want to ask your advice about one & another [things]. In the first place, we are seeing hard times up this way. They are going to stop here now. The Card Room stops Wednesday night. They are going to run all the works out so you see I shall have work about 2 or 3 weeks longer and what I am a going to [do after that] is more than I know. I shall look round here and see what I can find to do. I shall take a tramp out into the country before long and see now.
What I wanted to know was this. I thought if I could not find any work, I would try the war. Now what do you think about my enlisting? I must do something. Is there any enlisting office around there? If there is, I want you to let me know. I should get 12 dollars a month & food & 12 dollars bounty—that is 12 dollars paid down to you when you enlist. I want you to write to [me] just as quick as you get this. I shall not do anything until I hear from you. I want you to write just what you think about it and if you know of any job down that way, let me know.
Has Lyman Fisk got anyone to work for him? If he has not, you tell [him] that I wanted to know about it. John wants to know if there is a chance for him down there. He says if there is, he would come down & work a spell. Harriet wanted me to tell. you that she tried some of your corn killer last night and has not troubled her since. Johnny says tell Grandpa Shaw that it is hard times up here. Says he [eats] codfish and biscuits for supper.
John’s dog got shut up in the dressing room the other day and he jumped right through that window in the door and broke every square of glass out & all of the sash so he had to get a new sash which cost him glass and all $4.00.
You must excuse this letter because I was in a hurry. Now Father, you must write quick as you get this. Write so I can get it this week. I must close. Give my love to all but keep the largest share yourself. From your son, — George Shaw
North Weare, [New Hampshire] July 29, 1861
I now take this opportunity of informing you that I have enlisted in the 3rd New Hampshire Regiment in the 2nd company of Abbott Guard of Manchester and have enlisted during the war. I enlisted Saturday and I go to Manchester Wednesday to be sworn into the service. I stay there till the first of August. Then we go to camp at Davis Island in Lake Winnepesaukee about half a mile from the town of Meredith in this state and about 40 miles above here. Horatio Brown has enlisted in the same regiment. The company that I go with is what they call a Picked Company—that is, they don’t take everything that comes along. I think I shall be at home in about three weeks if I can get off. If I don’t, I want you to remember me in your prayers that I may always be found at the post of duty and if I should never see you again, remember that I died in a just cause.
I can write no more this time. Don’t write till you hear from me again as I don’t know where I shall be. Goodbye from you son, — George Shaw
Port Royal Entrance November 5, 1861
I suppose that you have not got my last letter as I have not had any answer yet. We sailed from Annapolis about two weeks ago and have not gone ashore yet but expect too soon. We stopped at Fortress Monroe about a week. There is about 60 vessels in all. We had a tremendous gale while we was out at sea. It lasted two days and one night we lost two steamers loaded with provisions and one loaded with ordnance.
But to begin with, Port Royal is situated between South Carolina and Georgia. As nigh as I can find out, is is about on the line. You can find out by looking on the atlas. The place where we are a going to land is on an island which is held by about 3,000 Rebels but we came here last night and the first thing that we done was to send up about 20 of our gunboats to see if there was any game. When they found the 3,000 Rebels in the island, they commenced an engagement in which we surrounded the place and fought about an hour last night till noon today so we have got them in a tight place as they cannot get off nor on. Consequently they will be taken prisoners of war.
We have been paid off today. I had 26 dollars coming to me and I shall send 20 home to [you]. The way I shall send it, I am going to get a draft and send that. We was paid in treasury notes for which they will give you a draft on any bank in the United States. I shall send the draft in your name and on Monson Bank so you can take the money on it by going to the bank. The reason why I do this is this. If I sent the money by mail, if someone should steal it or it would get lost, I could not get anything whereas there can’t nobody draw the money but yourself. And if the money is lost, you see that I have another draft for which there can nobody draw but myself so you see I am safe all round. So when you want any money, just take that draft and go over to Munson Bank and get it and it will do my soul good to know that while I am helping my country, I am also helping my father in your declining years. If this letter gets home safe, I shall send home 20 dollars every time that I get paid off which will be once in two months if they pay us regular.
Hilton Head, South Carolina December 28, 1861
I received your letter dated the 15th and was happy to hear from you. I also got one from John. His folks are all well. They went to Harriet’s father’s and spent Thanksgiving.
We had a General Review here today. General [Thomas West] Sherman and staff and General [Egbert Ludovicus] Viele and staff were present. And after parading for an hour or so, we were dismissed. It is reported here that England had declared war against the United States. Next time you write, let me know whether it is so or not.
I received that paper or rather two papers with the letter. We are a going to get a new uniform now in a few days. It is a going to consists of dark blue pants and dress coat. Has Ed Shaw got my letter yet? If he has, tell him to write to me. By the way, I got your postage stamps with your letter.
We are a living pretty well here now. We have soft bread now about 3 times a week. Baked beans and fried turnovers and flap jacks are among the luxuries. The boys are out playing ball and I am sitting in the kitchen writing.
I saw a report in the Boston Journal which stated that our regiment was second to none in the volunteer service.
Mother wanted me to send her out some flower seeds. Tell [her] I can’t get any here but the next time that we go out on picket duty, I will get her some. It is also reported that Charleston was burnt and I guess it is so as they are firing cannon and muskets. If England should declare war, I think we will be recalled to defend our own state—at least that is the opinion one of the Lieutenants in the 48th New York Regiment told one of our men; that we should be on our way home in two months.
Our pickets took two Rebels prisoners who were threatened to be shot if they did not tell the truth. They said that they were starving to death and that Charleston was in ashes.
As regards sickness, there has been just 80 deaths in the whole force here since we came on the island. Only nine out of this regiment and none out of our company. As regards my health, I never felt better in my life. But it is getting most drill time and I must close. Write when you get this. Goodbye for this time. From your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
The order has been given, fall in Co. A. We presented our Orderly with a watch worth 75 dollars.
Hilton Head, South Carolina January 12, 1862
I take my pen in haste to inform you that we leave here sometime this week. Gen. Viele has been drilling us this week just as hard as he knew how and this morning he told the regiment to prepare for the battlefield in three days and he also said he meant what he said. The Lieutenant told me that we was going with General Viele’s Brigade consisting of six regiments [and that we] was a going to leave here and [be] going up the coast to join Commodore DuPont in command of 16,000 men, and then proceed to Gen. Burnside who also has 15,000 men making in all about 40,000 men and make a decent on the main land so we are in for it now for certain.
Everything looks as though they was a going to finish this thing up as quick as possible. Regiments are sent out to practice marching. We marched 12 miles the other day for no other purpose than to get accustomed to it.
But the mail is going out tonight and I must close . The mail come in today but seemed to be an old mail as I got a only two papers and no letters. I got a Watchman and Frank Leslie’s. The Watchman was dated December 15th, being about a month on the way.
Rest assured that when we do come into action, I will never disgrace the old flag but die for it if I must. But I trust my life may be spared to return once more to the home that I have left behind.
I shall write you every opportunity and wish you to do the same. I shall. write you a line or so on our removal from here. But I must bring this letter to a close so that I can get in this mail. So goodbye for this time. I have wrote this in such a hurry that I don’t believe that you can read it. With a hearty wish for successfulness in all our engagements, I remain your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
Give my love to all.
Hilton Head, South Carolina January 13, 1862
You will be surprised to hear from me again so soon as I wrote one yesterday. I write to let you know that I received that box safe and sound but no letter to tell from whence it came but concluded it must have come from you as I wrote about the mitts. I also received apples and pies and cakes & letter paper and envelopes. I was telling the boys the other day that I wished that I could have a box sent me. It looked so good to see the boys opening their boxes and taking out pies and cakes but did not expect there was one for me. The mail came yesterday but I did not get any letters.
Professor [Thaddeus] Lowe is here with his balloon and will make an ascension here this evening. The next time that you write, let me know what company Bill Ricketts belongs to as I have forgotten.
We are on the eve of a great battle the result of which no one can tell. I shall write you every mail now until I see things in a more settled condition. Gen. Viele called his officers around him yesterday and told them to prepare themselves for the battlefield in 3 days and he also added, “I mean what I say. Much depends on the officers for our success.” That was all he said.
Our picket guard is only 50 yards from the Rebels at Pinckney Island. One of the Rebel pickets asked one of our men if he was in the Battle of Bull Run. Our picket told him to come over, then he would let him know. He replied that he was not coming over there so much as he was…
But as my dinner is ready, I must close again thanking you for the box and contents. I subscribe myself your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
Give my love to Mother and tell her that them cookies made me homesick.
P. S. Salt pork and wheat bread and coffee for dinner. What have you got?
Hilton Head, South Carolina January 21st 1862
I take my pen in hand to inform you that we are under marching orders to hold ourselves in readiness to march at an hour’s notice. We are having 7 days rations cooked for us. There is a large fleet laying outside the harbor. The Lieutenant said that ew would march on board the transports tomorrow morning and sail to Tybee Island and from there by the mainland to Savannah. The Rebels have evacuated Fort Pulaski and spiked the guns but I have not got time to write any more as I have to pack up.
I must close. Yours in haste. From your affectionate son, – George Shaw
More particulars next time. — Geo. H. Shaw
Direct your letter as before.
Hilton Head, South Carolina January 28th 1862
I received your letters this morning—one dated the 9th and one dated the 20th. I received them both this morning an was shocked to hear that Ellen had acted so toward you. I could not make it seem so. I read it and reread it over and over again. You don’t know how I felt about it after all you had done for her. I know that I have done so myself many times before but did not see the consequences till after. Oh! my father, God knows that I have suffered for it in mind and heart. When I look back and view my past life, what you have done for me, it don’t seem that I could ever do enough to repay you. And to have your children act so toward you in your declining years when instead they ought to help you all they can. I have had John talk to me about it when Harriet wanted him to help her father along that he was willing to do his share of it, but at the same time he wanted to keep an eye out for you first and so it is with myself. I have nobody to look after and when you want any help, you can let me know and I will help you if it is but I will give it. We have not been paid off yet but when I am, I will let you have some of you will let me know if you want it.
As regards Ellen, I think that the best thing you can do is to let her tough it out now. Mark my word, father, she has made a very foolish move and one that she will repent of too and that before long. I have been through the mill myself. Experience is a hard teacher but a good one in the end.
I think on the whole it is for your good to let her tough it out if she wants to. It will be better for you and you will not have so much to look after. I think just the same as I always did, that if Sam Pratt is a going to have her, between you and I to speak plainly about it, he ought not to leave you to support her 3 or 4 years. And as regards the pay for her board, I honestly think that you ought to have it and to make a long story short, I should get it if I could. You have lost considerable you know on your house rent and been out of work &c., and I think that you ought to have it. When I get through with this war, I shall settle down and be a steady fellow and try and be respected as I know I can and I have made up my mind to that effect.
You wrote that you would have me enjoy the religion of Jesus Christ. God knows my head and father, I know that is a great and good thing and something which I and everyone ought to have and I would from the bottom of my heart that I had it. Pray for me that I may find it. But you say you must do something yourself towards it. I will try from this day forth to be a better man, Most every letter that I get they say that they wish I might come home a good and true man. I had a letter from Sarah Needham today.
Well, as I did not have room in the other sheet to finish my letter, I will tell you the news in this. You know that I wrote you that we were a going to leave here but we have not gone yer although we are under marching orders but one thing I do know, there has been heavy firing in the direction of Savannah all day and one of the teamsters told our 1st Sergeant that the Colonel told him to have the teams ready to move tomorrow morning. The report here is that the Stars and Stripes are floating over the walls of Fort Pulaski but cannot vouch for the truth of the thing. Do you get my letters that I send without stamps? I shall put one on this one and if you get them without, let me know and I won’t put any on. I have not had any letters from Ellen lately. I had one from John. His folks are all well and he had all the work he could do but as it is getting late, I must bring my letter to a close.
I was on guard last night and I am tired and sleepy but I could not sleep till I had written you.
By the way, I have strained my side somehow or other a lifting. The doctor said I come nigh having a breach but he gave me some lineament to put on and it is about well. I did not do anything for about a week but have gone at it again now.
The mail has not been out for a week or ten days so you can see the reason why you do not hear from me oftener but I must close. Give my love to mother & Ansel and tell Ansel to stick to his father, let come what may. Stay at home and comfort his father in his declining years. By the way, tell mother that I have not had any chance to get her any flower seed as they keep us close when we are under marching orders. Tell Aunt Dicey when she ain’t got anything else to do, to write to me. But I have wrote a good, long letter for me and if I don’t stop pretty soon, I shan’t have any paper to write another. Hoping to hear from you very soon and more cheering news next time, I remain your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
Write soon. Goodbye.
Hilton Head, South Carolina February 4, 1862
I received your kind letter last evening and was glad to hear from you and to hear that you was well and that the rest was the same.
I am as well as ever and continue to be so. I received a letter from John this morning. Himself and family were all well. His wages had been reduced 5 cents a day on account of the times.
I was surprised to hear that Deacon Needham was dead. I did not know that he was sick. Who will keep house for Aunt Dicey now? What does Ellen like her new boarding place? Does she ever come into the house? I suppose that she keeps clear from the house now.
There is nothing going on here now that is worthy of account. I am getting sick of it myself. What was Jane Howard’s husband’s name and what was his business? I wrote a letter to Jane the other day and directed it to Mis Jane Howard, Hopkinton, Mass. I did not know that she had married. I hope that she has got a good husband.
Did Ellen get that letter with a picture in that I sent home? If she did, let me know the next time you write.
I wrote a letter to Ansel last Sunday and told him to tell you that you need not send any more postage stamps till you heard from me. I bought a whole bunch of envelopes with stamps all on so you see that I have got a supply for the present.
I had a letter from Sarah Needham the other day. She was well as ever. Have you heard from Sarah or John lately? I wrote them about a month ago and have had no answer yet.
John sent me a Patriot today. It seems kind of old fashion to have it. I did not get any paper this last mail from home. I sent a letter to Rhea Soule with Ansel’s. You see if he got it. But I have got to clean my rifle and must close hoping to hear from you often. I remain your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
P. S. Tell Aunt Dicey to write to me.
Port Royal, South Carolina February 9th 1862
As you wanted me to write you once a week I thought I would write today. We had a tremendous shower last night. We all got washed out of our tents and had to go and sleep in the Captain’s tent. We are having quite a wet spell of weather being rainy more or less for a month or more.
I have been to work today all day although it is Sunday. The 47th New York Regiment left the island today and we went down there and got some spare boards and we have been laying a floor so that it seems a good deal like home.
I don’t know what to think of the movements here but regiments are leaving the island one by one and there has one left today but no one knew where it was a going.
Gen. Sherman has got Commodore Tatnall’s Mosquito Fleet anchored up in a small creek where he can neither go up nor down.
I guess that Burnside’s Fleet will. come out at the little end of the horn by the accounts that I see in the newspapers.
How does Ellen make it go and does she still board at Zeno Farrington’s? 1 If so, how does she make it go? Does she earn enough to pay her board? I have not heard from her for a long time. She has not answered my last letter yet.
I have been looking for a letter from Aunt Eliza for a long time but have not received any yet. I suppose that she has wrote before now. If so, I shall get it next mail. I wrote a little to Aunt Dicey last week. The last letter I got was not only five days a coming, that was the quickest that I ever had one come.
I begin to think now that we will not leave here now till we leave to go home which I hope will be before long. Next time you write, you [have] no need to put on so much without you are a mind to. I shall get it just the same. Direct to George H. Shaw, Co. A, 3rd N. H. Regiment, Port Royal, South Carolina.
But as my sheet is a most full, I shall have to close hoping to hear from you soon. I remain your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
Hilton Head, S. C.
1 Zeno Farrington (1781-1864) was a tanner in Wales, Hampden county, Massachusetts.
Port Royal, South Carolina February 16, 1862
Another week has gone by and it is Sunday again and rainy too and I again seat myself to fulfill my promise of writing once a week. I am still enjoying the blessings of life and health and I hope this will find you enjoying the same great blessing.
We have not received any mail now for most two weeks but are expecting one most every day. Everything remains about the same in [and] around here to my knowledge as it did when I last wrote. If [Thomas W.] Sherman foes not look out, he will leave this island entirely at the mercy of the rebels as there is only about two regiments on the island now. He still keeps withdrawing troops off from the island but nobody knows where they are a going to, but I suppose that he knows what he is about.
Colonel [Enoch Q.] Fellows, the commander of my regiment, is acting Brigadier General in the place of Gen. Viele who has left the island in business. The Colonel had an invitation extended to him that his regiment might have a chance to go into battle but Sherman would not consent to have it leave the island for he said he wanted it for other purposes.
I expect that we shall have to go on picket tonight and we shall have a pretty dubious time of it if it don’t clear off very soon.
I was down to headquarters the other day and I see that they was selling this keg butter for 40 cents a pound and western cheese for 20 cents, apples 5 cents a piece, and them sold for 10 cents apiece.
I have lost about all the pity that I ever had for niggers since I have been here. We be out here sleeping on the ground in the wet and cold while the niggers have nice, warm and comfortable barracks. The fact is, I cannot see the point but suppose that it is all right.
But as my sheet is now full, I shall have to draw my letter to a close hoping to hear from you soon. I remain your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw of Hilton Head, South Carolina
Love to all. Write soon.
Hilton Head, South Carolina February 23rd 1862
Another week has passed and gone and I again take my pen in hand to let you know that I am still enjoying the blessings of life and health and I hope that this will find you. the same.
Everything remains about the same as when I last wrote. The 28th Massachusetts Regiment arrived here last night and have gone into camp about a half a mile from here.
There was a mail come in here yesterday and I did not get but one letter and that was from Sarah Howard. She wrote that she was well and was keeping school and had 74 scholars and was pretty busy but had not got but one week longer to keep and then thought she should go to Aunt Addie’s to spend the vacation.
I have not had any letter from Wales now since I received Mother’s the 4th day of February. I have wrote 14 letters this month and have not received only four. You know the last time that you wrote you said that Aunt Eliza was a going to write the next day but I have not got it yet. But never mind. I shall have a pile next mail. The way I generally get my letters is one mail I will get one letter and then the next I will get 5 or 6.
We had a grand time here yesterday. It was Washington’s Birthday and the way the cannons roared was a caution to all living rebels.
I see by the papers that our forces are still doing the right thing by them and I hope they will continue so to do.
I wish the next time you write that you would send me a writing book so that I can have something to pass away the time with. Do you know whether Ellen got that likeness that I sent her or not? I will send Mother a rose which I picked here a few days ago. The fruit trees are all in bloom here now but I must bring this poorly written letter to a close hoping to hear from you. soon.
I remain your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
What Jane Howard was that Mother wrote to me was married? Goodbye.
Hilton Head, South Carolina March 3rd 1862
The mail came in this morning and as I wrote [before-, I received a pile. I received 8 letters. I am well as usual. I received a letter from Aunt Dicey and was very much pleased with it and shall write again. I don’t see for my part what has become of Aunt Eliza’s letter as I have not seen anything of it yet. I did not get any letter from John this time. I had three from Wales and one from Staffordville and 4 from New Hampshire but none from [brother] John. The last time I heard from John he was well. You wrote something about your wood bill. if you will let me know how much it is, I will pay it if we get paid off pretty quick and I guess that I shall as we had general muster today, the same that we always have previous to paying off the troops. And if we don’t get it like enough, I can borrow it of one of the Lieutenants. At any rate, you get your wood and I will see that it comes out all right. I was not surprised to hear the news you wrote about Zeno Farrington as I know pretty well how things would come out when I worked for him.
I see that Ellen has got home again. Well it come out just as I predicted, did it not? Well I hope she will do better in the future. You ought to see Aunt Dicey’s letter. It was a first rate one. She said that the Mary’s and the Martha’s and the Carrie Houghton prayed for the soldiers and she called me, Dear friend George.”
Well, I went to a prayer meeting myself last night and if I ever thought of home, it was then. There they was in the open air with a little bower built of brush and logs, &c., with a good fire built around. I had not been there only about an hour when the regiment began to holler and make all sorts of noises and we went out to see what the matter was when we found that it was the Major yelling for the boys to come out and hear the news of the capture of them forts [in Tennessee] and Nashville by our forces.
But as my sheet is most full I shall have to close hoping to hear from you soon. I remain your son, — George H. Shaw
North Edisto Island, South Carolina April 11, 1862
I received your ever welcome letter last night and was glad to hear from home for I had not heard from home for most two weeks. I got one from Ansel too and tell him that I was glad to get it ad shall write to him then next time that I write. When I opened Ansel’s letter, the boys wanted to know if it was a dunning letter as they see that I had an account book come.
You see by the heading of my letter that we gave changed our quarters from Hilton Head to North Edisto Island. We are about 50 miles from Port Royal and about 20 miles from Charleston, South Carolina and in close proximity with the Rebels. They are on the same island and about a half a mile from us. They have a large force on an island adjoining this of about 6,000 men. The name of it is Johns Island. They surrounded the 45th Pennsylvania Regiment that was stationed here and killed 8 men and took about 25 men prisoners. Also one Lieut. Colonel and one Lieutenant. They have them over there and make them drill in the ranks with the privates. They also took one of our government agents.
We have been here about 10 days and they have not troubled us any yet although we are expecting an attack every night and keep our guns loaded all of the time and sleep with our guns in our hands nights. We expect that they have attacked Savannah as there have been a continual firing of heavy guns in that direction for a day and night and is still going on and the cars—which by the way are only 3 miles from us—were running up and down all night.
The next time that we are paid off, I will send you 20 or 25 dollars. I had a letter from [brother] John last night. They are all well but John is thrown out of work as the sash shop that he worked in caught fire and burnt down.
I have got to go on picket tonight and shall have to close, hoping to hear from you soon. I remain your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
North Edisto Island, South Carolina May 20, 1862
The long looked for mail has arrived at last and I received three letters—two from you and one from [brother] John. One of yours was dated May 5th and one May 12th. John’s folks are all well and in good spirits. John says that if Uncle Sam has not got men enough out South to whip, shoot or hang every traitor out there he has got a few more men with.
Well, Father, it is hot enough here to roast a nigger. The thermometer stands 90 degrees.
Hurrah! The Major has just got an order to be ready for a minute’s notice to move but it may turn out as it has a good many times before. But it is high time that they was doing something here if they calculate to do anything before the war closes as I think for me that this thing is being brought to and end and I hope I shall be to home before long. The Captain is sick and keeps me pretty busy and our Second Lieutenant is in the hospital sick but still I continue to enjoy good health as usual.
I received that fine comb and was most too fine, so much so that I cannot get it through my hair.
There was some contrabands at Charleston who succeeded in running away with a gunboat belonging to the Rebs while the officers were on shore and brought it down and gave it into the hands of the blockading fleet at Charleston Harbor and she carried 2 heavy guns. That was what I call a pretty good thing on the Rebs. 1
I sent Ansel a paper the other day and a short letter but I guess he has not received it yet. You cannot hear from me so often now as when at Port Royal as there don’t any mail get away from here very often. The Captain says he wants me to write a letter for him.
When you write again, let me know what you think about our getting home before long. I would like to be in Wales next 4th of July but don’t think we shall but I must close. I will write the first opportunity if we move. Hoping to hear from you soon, I remain your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
1 For a story about Robert Smalls and his commandeering of the Planter and delivering it to the Union Blaockade chips at Charleston Harbor, see Be Free or Die, by Cate Lineberry.
Edisto Island, South Carolina June 5th 1862
Not having [heard] from you for some time, but I suppose that you have lost your letter for I lost three letters the last mail. Our regiment have gone across on the main land. There were about 10,000 men went across and 8 pieces of artillery and the Captain told me they was a going to make a stand about 8 miles from Charleston at a place by the name of Stono.
I expect to join the regiment in two or three days if the Captain gets able to go and then I will write you the particulars. I had three letters come this last mail and they sent them down to me but I never received them.
There don’t seem to be much a doing here now but I expect there will be something done pretty soon by the appearances here now. I suppose that every[thing] goes on about the same there in Wales as [it] always has.
I am a going to send you some watermelon seeds that I got out of Governor Aiken’s house on John’s Island and you can let Ansel plant some secede watermelons. What do you have to give for molasses there? I bought a pint for the captain the other day and it cost 15 cents so that would be $1.20 a gallon. The next time that you write, let me know what company Bill Ricketts belongs to—that is, the letter of his company.
We are having a very hard rain storm here and all we have to do in the mornin is to roll over and wash our face and hands and go to sleep again.
I have got write another letter and so I shall have to close by bidding you goodbye for the present and remain your ever affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
Edisto, S. C.
Port Royal, South Carolina July 12th 1862
I again seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well as usual. I have been sick and off duty for a week back with the malaria but am well again now. You will see by the heading of this letter that we have gone back to Hilton Head again having been obliged to evacuate James Island on account of not having troops enough to hold it. The regiment is all split up now. The companies are all separated, some being on picket duty and our company are acting as Provost Guard and I think that we have got a sure thing here for 6 months.
There was was boat came in last night from New York. It brought rather discouraging news. They that that McClellan had been defeated at Richmond and driven back 15 miles with a loss of seventeen thousand men but I Cabot hardly believe it. The 76th Pennsylvania Regiment shipped for Norfolk last night and the Lieutenant said we might go next as General Hunter said that we had got to reinforce him. If we have got whipped at Richmond, this war will not end for two years more.
This place is altered some since we left here. There is some 6 stores here. Things are rather dear though. Lemons are plenty at one dollar a dozen, butter 50 cents a pound. I wish that you would send me the New York paper that you take. I have not had a paper nor a letter from home for some time.
What kind of a time did you have the 4th of July. As for me, I had a rather poor time and shall not forget it for some time. But I must close for this time. Send my love to Mother and Ansel and Ellen and all enquiring friends. Oh by the way, I heard that Elijah Shaw was going with Jane Weaver. Tell Ansel if he had been here the 4th of July, he would have heard some big guns. They fired the big gun Beauregard that carries a 175 pound ball. I tell you what, it made a fellow’s head ache. Goodbye for the present. — George H. Shaw
Headquarters Provost Guard Port Royal, South Carolina September 5, 1862
I received your long looked for and ever welcome letter this evening and was glad to hear from you. I am still alive and well and enjoying myself as well as can be expected at present. The hot weather is about all over here now but it is pretty sickly though I have been sick this last week the sickest I have been since I enlisted. The doctor called it the blind piles and in four days I took 4 doses of castor oil and 4 pills before I got anything to pass me but am all night now.
I am glad to see the boys turn out there for the war but there is 4 or 5 men left that I would like to see sent. There is Gilbert Farrington, Henry Royce, Ed Shaw, and a number of others that could come just as well as not. Thy will not have a chance to see much active service. They will be put in places that we have taken and are held by old troops and the old drilled troops will be put in the field where there will be something to do. I never thought that John Gale would enlist but I find that as a general thing, those that are thought the least of are the ones that can put on a stiff upper lip and go in for their country and its rights.
You wanted to know what I thought about the war. Well, I will tell this [war will] be settled one way or the other by the first of January next but how it will end, God only knows for things look discouraging and people talk so too.
The last news that we had here were that they were fighting on the old Bull Run ground again but we must not get down in the mouth. A faint heart never accomplished nothing and if they will only send in the men, we will give them a [whipping]. They keep a wondering up North why we don’t do something here. “Why don’t you take Savannah?” There is not the least doubt here but what we can take it any time but what would be the object when we could not hold it a half an hour. But never mind. It is always darkest before day.
I had a letter from John last night. His folks were all well and he had some thoughts of enlisting but don’t think he will.
But I shall have to close. Give my love to Mother and Ansel and Ellen and all enquiring friends but keep a share yourself.
— George H. Shaw
Headquarters Provost Guard Port Royal, S. C. September 17, 
I received your ever welcome letter this morning and was very happy to hear from you and glad to hear that you was enjoying good health as well as myself but was sorry to hear that Lydia was in so poor health. As for me, I am still enjoying as good health as ever though the yellow fever [is] here. There has not any died out of our regiment with it. There has been only two cases of it here. Some say it is the Yellow Fever and some say it ain’t. At any rate, they carry them away out in the woods away from everybody so there is not much danger of catching it.
Tell Ansel that I don’t think that he would make much of a soldier if he could not stand it two nights here. I have been over a year and I honestly would not go 20 rods for the sake of sleeping in a nice bed for I could not get over it very soon, It makes a man tough to sleep on the floor. I tell you what—a man that lives through this campaign would never grumble at hard usage.
Did you see that letter that Aunt Dicey wrote me. I guess that she thought I was a going to get married pretty soon. She said that she had seen that likeness that I sent Ellen. You tell Ellen to be careful who she shoes it too. Aunt Dicey said that she was a sweet looking creature.
We have got a new general in command here. His name is Major General O[rmsby] MacKnight Mitchell. He arrived last night. I hope that they will like him better than they did Hunter. Hunter had a good man enemies in and around here.
You let me know the next time that you write where Edward B. Smith is. Give my love to Father and [tell] him that I am in good spirits and enjoying [myself] nicely and am one of the policemen of Port Royal. Tell Ansel that I will send him my card in this letter. Ask him if he got my pass that I sent him some time ago.
Give my love to Ellen and tell her not to make so much noise when you are writing. But I must close by bidding you goodbye for this time. I remain your ever affectionate son. — George H. Shaw
To his Mother
Headquarters Provost Guard Port Royal [South Carolina] September 26 
The mail has come and been given out but no letter from home for me so I thought that I would write so as to have one next time. I got a letter from [brother] John this afternoon and was glad to hear that he thought of going to Wales to work and hope that you will do all you can to get him there for I think that it would be a good chance for him. They were all well and in good spirits.
I tell you what it is, father, things have changed some since I last wrote and the affairs of the country look better. We have got the [ ] on the back track and I hope that they will keep them a going till this thing is crushed out. I am in the best spirits tonight that I have been in some time and all on account of the good news. They rather had the best of us at Harper’s Ferry but we will pay them back in their own tome. Things look the same as ever here though there is an expedition on foot here to go as I understand to Jacksonville, Florida. There is a Battery there of 16 guns.
I shall have to close this letter and go and get my supper. Bread and molasses for supper. What have you got?
I had to write this letter in a hurry for I have to go on patrol tonight. Give my love to Mother and Ellen and Ansel and all enquiring friends. I am tough and well as ever. Give my love to all enquiring friends and write soon. Yours in a hurry from your ever affectionate son. — George H. Shaw
Provost Guard, Port Royal, South Carolina. United States of America.
Headquarters Provost Guard Port Royal [South Carolina] September 30th 1862
I received your ever welcome letter this afternoon and was happy to hear from you and to hear that you was enjoying good health. I still enjoy good health and am in good spirits as usual. Things remain about the same here as when I last wrote with the exception of a railroad that is in course of construction at this place. General Mitchell appears to take very well here.
There is a good deal of talk here about President Lincoln’s Proclamation to free all Negroes which is said to have passed but nobody knows anything about it. I can’t find a man that has seen it but still they say it is so.
The two companies of the 3rd N. H. V. on Provost Duty expect to be sent back to the regiment again—at least that is the talk here. The regiment has been excused from duty for the last thirty days in account of sickness. We discharged two men out of our company last week and expect to discharge two more this week.
I am glad to hear that John has gone to Wales to work for I think that it is a good chance for him. Give my love to John and tell him to put the best foot forward. I tell you what, father, it learns a fellow something to be in the Army. I suppose that you know something, or at least can form some opinion, how strict they are in the army. Well, I have not been punished for misconduct since I have been in the army nor been reprimanded neither and you know that I need to be pretty wild at home there and don’t mean to. The best way we can get along here is to do just what they tell you to do and not ask any questions at all.
By the way, how does Aunt Eliza get along now? You just put her in mind that she has not answered my last letter yet and if she expects me to write, she must answer.
But I must bring my letter to a close. Give my love to John and Mother & Ellen & Ansel and when you write let me know how Lydia gets along. Write soon and often and I will answer and as regards your advice that you sent in your last to acquit ourselves like men and fight like men, I will try and abide by it. And now, hoping to hear from you soon, I remain your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
Port Royal, South Carolina October 15, 1862
I received your ever welcome letter yesterday and now hasten to reply. I am enjoying good health as usual but it begins to be cold here now. I think that we will feel the cold weather more this winter than we did last. We have not left the Provost Guard yet although we expect to most every day.
Everything remains about the same here as when I last wrote. The Expedition that I wrote Father about was to have started yesterday but for some means or other it did not go. I still hear the same old news. By the last mail all is quiet upon the Potomac. Too heavy weather for artillery.
You wrote to me that you would send me a box when it was a little cooler and wanted to know what I wanted. One thing I want is a pair of blue woolen shirts and some stationery & needles &thread. I will send you a piece of the stuff that I want any shirts made of.
Where is Ellen now and what is she a [doing] that she cannot get time to write to me? Tell Ansel that I shall have to write to him the net time the mail goes from here. I was surprised to hear that Miss Julia Flint was about to be married—especially to George Dimmock, but strange things will happen when you least expect it.
You tell John that George Muzzy 1 of Weare in the 9th N. H. Volunteers lost his fore finger in the Battle of South Mountain and Elijah P. Purington 2 lost his left arm. I don’t know as he knew him but he was from Weare. They was both in one company. How does John make it go and how does he like his job? Are they a going to draft there or have they got their full quota? What regiment is Julius Lyon in? I should think when the war was done that they might organize a military company there just as well.
Well now, I will see if I can finish this letter. Jim Havens has just been here to see me and he wanted me to tell John that his father had enlisted and was coming out & was on his way and he had not but just gone before Bill Ranney came in. He wanted me to give his best respects to father and tell him first rate and would when he got back. He says tell father that he is tough, ragged, and saucy. Oh, by the way, there has another mail come in this morning but we have not got it yet so I suppose that I shall have to write again very soon. So I must close hoping to hear from you again soon.
I remain your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
1 George Muzzy of Grafton, New Hampshire, served in Co. E, 9th New Hampshire Infantry. He died of typhoid fever on 31 December 1863 at Camp Nelson, Kentucky.
2 Elijah P. Purington of Weare, New Hampshire, served in Co. B, 9th New Hampshire Infantry, was wounded at the Battle of Antietam. He was discharged for disability in January 1863.
Port Royal, South Carolina Sunday eve., October 19, 1862
Sunday evening has come again one more and I again seat myself to inform you that I am still enjoying the blessings of life and health and hope this will find you enjoying the same blessings. Well, father, there is nothing going on here now but all the talk is about the Great Expedition of which I have wrote you before and I should think by what I have heard that it was a going to be a big thing. It’s going to be nothing more or less than a raid or sudden dash as we are going to take only 24 hours rations with us and I have found out for a pretty sure thing that we are a going to a place on the mainland known as New River some 15 or 20 miles inland to destroy communications between Charleston and Savannah.
They have detailed about 12 men out of our company to go to the assistant surgeon and learn the art of doing up wounded limbs and to carry of wounded from the field.
We have returned to the regiment and left Provost Guard Duty and we are General [Alfred] Terry’s Brigade, formerly Colonel of the 7th Connecticut Regiment and are on the left and I understand in the Expedition that we are to support the [3rd] Rhode Island Battery. And now I have told you all that I have found out so far as regards the Expedition and now I am preparing for battle. While you’re praying for my safety, I am getting ready for the battlefield. I tell you what, father, it made me think of home today when we were getting our 60 rounds of cartridges and the captain was [going] around looking at the guns and saying, “Boys, I want them guns I order tomorrow morning. I want them sure fire for we have got to use them.” I thought to myself, truly there is no Sunday in the army and instead of going to meeting, it was, “Boys, prepare for the battlefield.”
But I cannot close hoping that I may be permitted to come out of the battle safe. I will close. Give my love to Mother, Ellen and Ansel and John and keep the largest share yourself. Write soon. I remain your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
Port Royal, South Carolina October 28th 1862
The mail has come again this morning and no letter from home for me but I got one from Sarah and I have answered that and thought that I would drop a few lines home. Well, Father, I am still alive and well—all but a little hurt that I received at Pocotaligo Bridge last week. But it is nothing serious [and] only lay me up for 3 or 4 days. I think that I shall be able to do duty tomorrow. We succeeded in driving the Rebels 4 or 5 miles but did not succeed in burning the Pocotaligo Railroad Bridge . We lost about 50 killed and from 250 to 300 in wounded and missing but there is no need of me going into the particulars of the thing for you will get them long before you get this letter. [See Second Battle of Pocotaligo]
As I was a telling you, I had a letter from Sarah. She and the family are all well, Jim had got a good job in Providence but did not know how long he would have it. Cotton cloth was 25 cents a yard and four dollars a barrel. She says she don’t know what the poor folks are a going to do.
I was up at Beaufort the other day but could not find Mr. Phillips nor anyone that that knew him. Has John made a bargain to stay where he is yet? I did not get home from the Expedition till almost two days after the regiment came and was reported as prisoner of war and they were surprised to see me coming in. I was put on board of another boat from the regiment and the boat put in at Beaufort to leave the wounded and I could not get down but everything was all right when I came.
Oh, you tell John that I was slightly acquainted with that Rogers girl that he spoke about and I knew her father too. You tell him to give my respects to all the girls for I know most all of them. Give my best respects to the Miss Gardner over the left. Tell Ellen it is most time that she answered my letter that I wrote here some time ago.
Is Henry Nelson there on his furlough yet but I must close give my love to Mother and John, Ellen, Lydia, and Ansel and keep a large share yourself but I must close goodbye for this time hoping to hear from you soon, I remain your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
Hilton Head, South Carolina December 1, 1862
I received your letter dated November 15th on the 27th and was glad to hear from you. We have not moved yet. This is the first day of winter but you would not think so if you was here. I received 4 letters last time—one from John and one from Lydia and one from you and one from a girl in Frances town, New Hampshire.
Well, what did you do Thanksgiving? I have been a waiting for the Captain 3 or 4 days. I am on pretty good terms with the captain and so he got me to do his writing so you see I have a pretty good chance but you wanted to know what I done Thanksgiving. Well, I will tell you. In the first place they had an officer’s dinner. The captain had his cook cook up something nice for the table so when the time came round for the dinner. Our company was ordered out on picket so the captain told me to go up to the table and get him a leg of that turkey so I done so and when he had eaten that, he says to me, go up and get the rest of it and we finished it. So I made out a pretty good dinner. Then when we went out on picket, I had a pretty good time. It would make your eyes stick out to come down here and see the roses in full bloom.
We were out on picket on the plantation of General Drayton, the Rebel commander. He left a nice house and grounds with the roses and other flowers all over the walks.
In the evening I went to a Negro Meeting. Every colored man touches his cap and says, “How do you do, boss.” Well, I was a telling, I went in there to meeting and it was worth going to. They have a meeting every other night. They think it the worst thing ever was to hear the soldiers swear. One of the Negroes got [up] and spoke. He said no matter whether you drown in a pond or whether snake bite, you got to go before the judgment seat of Christ. He had a funny way of getting it off but what he said was as good as any man I ever heard.
I have been up to see the Adjutant of this regiment to get a job of keeping books. He says he will let me know in a day or two. If he does, I shall be discharged from duty. By the way, I saw a lot of boys from states here I the fort; Jimmy Havens and Charley Richardson and a lot more.
But I must bring my letter to a close for this time. The stamps came all right. Give my love to all. Remember to keep a share for yourself. From your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
Direct as before.
Port Royal, South Carolina December 14, 1862
I have almost give up the idea of looking fora letter from home as it has been four weeks since I heard from you.
As for news there is nothing of importance except Banks’ Expedition has been straggling along here for a week back. The 114th New York and the 110the New York and the 42nd Massachusetts Regt. and the 15th New Hampshire was ashore here today. They are attached to Gen. Banks’ Expedition. It is a pretty warm day here today and I am on guard.
The next time you write, let me know what regiment Warren Eager is in and where they are stationed. I had a letter from Sarah the other day. They are all well and are a going to move to Providence.
As regards war matters, I don’t see much sign of its drawing to a close although I think they done one good thing in the removal of General George B. McClellan. If they had of kept him much longer, there would not be any Grand Army of the Potomac.
Tell John I hope he had a good time at North Weare on Thanksgiving Day as I heard that he was there and had a good time and I hope that I shall be home to enjoy the next one. We are beginning to live a little better now than we have done as the supplies begin to come in and I weigh more than I ever did before. I can strike up 152 lbs. and that is doing pretty well for a fellow only 19 years old. I tell you what, Father, it don’t seems to me that I am most 20 years old, I never had time fly away so fast to me before.
But it has got to be most 2 o’clock and I must begin to think about going in guard so I must draw to a close. Give my love to John and tell him if he has got any smart members there, to tell them if they have got any spare time to write. Give my love to Ellen & Ansel and Mother and tell her that she must not let Ansel get to waiting on any of them young ladies there for I want him to live single till I get back. But I must close hoping to hear from you soon. I remain your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
Port Royal, S. C.
Port Royal, South Carolina December 21st 1862
I received your ever kind and welcome letter last night and now seat myself to answer it. I am still enjoying good health as I ever did and am in good spirits and getting along finely.
Well, Father, everything remains about the same here as when I last wrote with. the exception that it grows colder and it is as cold today as any day we had last winter but I suppose that we feel it more than we should if we had just come out.
The 50th Massachusetts Regiment is stopping here for a few days and the 42nd has been here but have gone on now and I have been looking for the 34th here but I guess that I shall be disappointed.
I tell you what, Father, I was surprised when I see those marriages that you wrote about. I began to think that everybody could be married when I got home and there would be a new set but I think some of them will get sick of their bargain before a great while. It reminds me of a little piece that I saw in the paper and I will send it to you.
I will send you in this a piece of cloth for my shirts and no matter if it is a little coarser and let me know what they cost. As regards paying the Express on the box, I would rather you would send it on and let me pay at this end and then if it is lost it would not cost anything neither way. And when you pack it, it there is anything in that would rot or hurt, have it so that it will not hurt anything else. Tell Mother that I don’t think that I shall want any dried apple out here.
I had a letter from Aunt Lydia Bond last week. They are living at Warren now and are all well. I was surprised to hear that Zeno Farrington was a going to sell your place. I never would do it if I was in your place. Either let him take a mortgage on it and let you have a chance to redeem it for I never would sell it because real estate is low now and you would not get half what it was worth. If you could raise the money anywhere, I should do it before I sold the place. How much did Elijah Shaw pay? Perhaps Aunt Eliza would help you or Elijah either? I for one would be wiling to help keep it for it is just what you want now as you are growing old and if nothing happens, I shall be at home in another winter. But keep up good courage and keep it as long as you can and don’t let him scare you any and be sure before you sell it that you have got to sell.
I am a going to apply tomorrow for a chance in the Quartermaster’s Department for there is a chance there where I can get $25 a month and found if I can get the chance and I guess that I can. But I must close. Please write when you get this and let me know if you have to sell your place and what you get for it. I have not forgotten that good resolution yet but I cannot seem to carry it out in everything as I ought but I must close for this time. Give my love to Mother and Ansel and all enquiring friends. So goodbye for this time. From your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
Port Royal, South Carolina December 27th 1862
I received your ever welcome letter last eve and was glad to hear that you was still enjoying the blessing of life and health as well as myself. Everything remains about the same here as when I last wrote but I see that Burnside has been defeated [at Fredericksburg] and driven back again across the Rappahannock. Everybody here that you ask what the news is say it is bad and I think that things look rather dark myself. If Burnside cannot lead an army on, which is the man? I hope they will get someone in there before long that will accomplish something. It seems as though everything worked against us but the best way for one to do is to look on the bright side for the old saying is that it is always darkest before day.
My box has not got along yet but I shall look for it the next boat.
The 165th New York Regiment is here. They are dressed in Zouave Uniform and they think they are a gay set of fellows. They made such work among the sutlers down to headquarters that the General told the Lt. Colonel that he must put a guard over them to keep them inside. The Colonel told him it would not do any good for they would get out. Then the General told him to never mind that, he would find a regiment that would keep them in so the 3rd New Hampshire Volunteers are doing the business and I guess that they will keep them.
There is a pretty good thing told here of one of the Generals here. When the 7th Connecticut Regiment left Beaufort to take them batteries on John’s Bluff, the General made a great speech as they generally do when about to go into a fight, and to close up with said, “Now boys, will you all follow me?” Of course the boys all cried, Yes!” thinking he meant on the battlefield but when the boat started, the General jumped off and one of the men that had been taking too much, jumped off and followed him. The General heard him crying out for the fellow to stop. He turned round and saw this fellow follow him and asked him where he was going. He told him he was going to do as he agreed to which was to follow him.
But my sheet is a getting about full and I must close. Tell [brother] John that I want to know what his boy’s name is. Give my best respects to Ann enquiring friends. Give my love to Mother and tell here that them red mittens she sent me last winter come in play this [week] ad I guess that I never kept a pair so long before. But I must close. Ask Ansel if he got them papers that I sent him. Give my love to Ellen and Lydia and accept a share yourself, hoping to hear from you soon, I remain your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
Port Royal, South Carolina January 9th 1863
Not having heard from you for some time, I thought I would write you a few lines and let you know that I am still enjoying good health as usual. we have just got home from an expedition to Florida where we had been to get some ship timber that was there for to pay taxes but they found out that we were a coming so they went to work and burnt it up and saved us the trouble of loading it and brining it off.
Well everything went on well enough until we started for home when, as we were lying around the deck sunning ourselves, we were running in close to the shore when we were surprised by a part of guerrillas who fired a volley int our and our guns were below and such scrambling you never see as there was for guns. Some fell down stairs and others run over them in their eager haste to get their guns for the purpose of getting a shot at the guerrillas but they were disappointed for after a shot or two, they skedaddled. We had not a man killed and only three wounded. John Mears of our company was wounded in the thigh but the ball was extracted. No other man in our company was hurt. So take it all round, we had a pretty good time,
We stopped a half an hour at Fernandina, Florida, and had a good time there. Tonight the boys have gone downtown to a concert given by the Rhode Island boys.
Well, Father, soldiering seems to be altogether out of my line of business lately. I was detailed tonight to go to work on a small scow that they are building here. It is the same pattern of Warren Shaw’s, only a little longer.—this being only 100 feet long and 30 feet wide so you can judge what kind of a looking thing it is.
But I must bring this letter to a close. By the way, my box has not got along yet. It may be on board the steamer Star of the South which arrived here today from New York. I got a letter from Frank Coburn tonight. The captain told us tonight that he saw an officer from Fort Pulaski who told him they took a Rebel captain prisoner who stated that General Rosecrans had given them (the Rebs) the greatest licking they ever got [at Stones River, TN], driving them a hundred miles.
Give my love to Mother and Ellen and Ansel and keep a large share yourself. So goodnight from your ever affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
Hilton Head, South Carolina January 20, 1863
I received your ever kind and welcome letter this morning and now seat myself to answer it. Well, I am still blessed with the blessing of life and health and am enjoying myself as well as can be expected.
It is cold and blustering weather that we are having now and it is pretty cold writing. I have not got the box yet but have not given up the hope of getting it as they don’t get half the boxes until they have been on the way two months and sometimes three. You ought to have directed the box just as you would a letter but they will forward it after awhile from Washington.
Gen. Hunter arrived here last night. They seemed to be down on him here. When he arrived last night the boys was hollering three cheers for Nigger Hunter and every such thing. They got down on him last time he was here. He used to give the soldiers hard bread and give the Niggers soft bread. I was out on one of the plantations the other day and the Negroes wanted to know if Massa Hunter [was coming back].
The ironclad Passaic arrived here today all right and I suppose that they will find me for it before long at Savannah or at Charleston, I don’t know which.
Oh Mother, as regards them shirts, if you have not got the cloth, you need not get it but if you have, why it is alright. I will make enquiries to the Express Office about that box, I am working at the boatyard yet and have not got the scow quite done yet. I received a box last week from a young lady in New Hampshire and found in it a nice piece of wedding cake. What do you think of that.
But I must close as the mail leaves tonight. Give my love to Father, brother, and sisters and to all enquiring friends but keep a large share for yourself. Tell Father to put the best foot forward and it will all come out right. But I must close hoping to hear from you soon. I remain your ever affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
Hilton Head, S. C. Please answer soon.
Hilton Head, South Carolina February 5, 1863
I received your kind and welcome letter last night and now seat myself to answer. Well, Father, I am still enjoying the blessing of life and health and I hope and trust that this will find you the same.
I suppose that you will have heard before you get this of the arrival of Major General John G. Foster and his command consisting of about 60 thousand men. They are from North Carolina and mostly all seen service. The 23rd & the 24th Massachusetts Regiments are included in his command and I hear it reported that Gen. Corcoran with his men are a coming here which will make in all about 80 thousand men. So you can make up your mind that something is going to be done here shortly.
I suppose that you remember the company we had taken prisoners on Pinckney Island about 3 months ago by the Rebs. They have returned and are doing duty now in the regiment. They have been in Charleston, Columbia, and Richmond and they say that they was used first rate but did not have quite enough to eat. They were not allowed only one meal a day but by selling their sugar and meat, they would buy meal so they made out two meals a day. They have to make coffee of rice. Tea was 16 dollars a pound in Richmond when they were there but is higher now.
I had a letter from Aunt Lydia Bond the other day. They are all right. How does [brother] John make it go now-a-days? Ask him if he has forgotten that I am out here for I have not heard from him for some time. But it is getting most drill time and I must close. Give my love to Mother, Ellen, and Ansel and John and Harriet and keep the largest share yourself. Don’t forget to write often. Goodbye from your ever affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
P. S. That box has not got along yet.
Pinckney Island, South Carolina March 2, 1863
I again seat myself to inform you that I am still alive and in good health as usual. We are again under marching orders ready to move at a moment’s notice to go anywhere they want to have us.
Well, Father, do you have many mosquitoes there yet? I guess that it would be apt to freeze them up your way. Well I was on picket last night and I could not get a minute’s rest on account of the mosquitoes being so thick, It took all of their time to tend to them and to tell the truth about it, the mosquitoes that we have here are as large as common flies that have North and when one of them bites you, it is like a hornet stinging you.
Today was the day set for an attack on Fort McAllister in Savannah River but I have not heard any firing in that direction yet. The Nashville is destroyed this time and no mistake neither. She was blown up by a shell from one of our gunboats. I tell you what it is, we are a going to have some late fighting down in this department before long & no mistake now. That is so, and it will tell the story one way or the other, I think. It will be a big thing for or against the Union, but the God of Battles only knows. But let us hope for the best and this bloody war be brought to a close soon.
The 9th Army Corps are coming into this department to cooperate with the 10th Army Corps so you can look for exciting news from this quarter before long.
I had a letter from Warren W. Eager last week. He said that the Wales boys were all well with the exception of Royal Nelson and Muton Chafee had died with the chills.
Well, Father, what do you think of the Conscription Act. Don’t you think it will make [them] tremble at the North before they get? But I can’t see how they can get out of it very well.
But I must close. Give my love to John and Harriet and keep the largest share yourself. I will keep you informed of the movements here as far as I am able but I must close for this time hoping to hear from you soon. I remain your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
Pinckney Island, South Carolina
Hilton Head, South Carolina April 13, 1863
I received your ever kind and welcome letter some five days ago but have not had a chance to answer until now for when I received it, we were on our way to Charleston. Our regiment left Pinckney Island where we were stationed before on the 3rd of April and embarked on board of the gunboat George Washington and on Sunday we were put aboard of an old schooner and started off for Charleston Harbor where we arrived Sunday afternoon. Well we laid around aboard of them old boats until we was glad to get off again. We landed on Folly Island on the night of the 9th and was intending to make a dash on Morris Island in the morning but for some reason or other more than soldiers can account for, we were ordered aboard again and started back for Hilton Head where we arrived last night. And I think take it all round, it was one of the most foolish moves that we have made in this Department yet. All we did was to go up there and take a look at the place, lay around there six days, and then [come back] without accomplishing anything.
Admiral Dupont had some little trouble and so Hunter came back again. One of our monitors was sunk in 18 feet of water. It did not belong to the government but was brought down here to be tried before the government contracted for it and got pretty well tried to. It [was] hit about 100 times and fifteen balls penetrated it but when you come down to our Erickson Monitors, they were right there. One of the fellows that saw the fight said they stood it nobly. 300 guns were fired a second and the little monitor would be out of sight, and they would wait to see she had sank when up she would come all right. But the Old Ironsides was the King of the Water. She would sweep right up by everything—by forts Sumter and Moultrie, and come out again all right.
But you will probably hear all about this before you get this letter so I will not say anything more about it. I had a letter last night from George M. Stewart. He is all right. Give my love tool the folks. I tell you what it is, Mother, I am pretty well worn out laying around on them boats with nothing to eat so I will close. Give my love to Father and John and Harriet, and all the rest, hoping to hear from you again soon, I remain your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
P. S. Tell Aunt Dicey that her letter came all right for. which I am very thankful.
Gen. Foster’s troops are all going back to Newbern, N. C. again so I guess that Charleston will stand yet.
On Board Schooner Highlander Off Edisto Island, South Carolina April 27th 1863
You will see by the heading of this letter that we are on the move again and I suppose that they are a going to try Charleston once more for there is 4 or 5 monitors here and they say that there is heavy reinforcements laying in and around Charleston Harbor and under the command of Gen. [ ]. We left Hilton Head on the 19th April and arrived here on the night of the 20th and we are laying off in the river awaiting orders and I don’t know whether we shall land here or not. I hear it talked here a good deal that we—that is, this Brigade—will make a strike on the Charleston & Savannah Railroad somewhere in the neighborhood of Adams Run to stop reinforcements coming from Savannah but I don’t think they know anything about it. One thing I do know, that is we have got to endure a pretty tedious march now till we get into Charleston and fight our way too.
We are on board of this old schooner [with] 5 companies and it is all you can do to get around here. I will try and write how every opportunity now that I can get but they will be rather short. I shall have to close this letter for the boat leaves for the Head this afternoon and I have not got time to write anymore. Give my best respects to all enquiring friends. Tell Mother that I am much obliged for her thread and needles. Please write often and I will answer. Hoping to hear from you soon, I remain your affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
Botany Bay Island, South Carolina May 19th 1863
I received your ever kind and welcome letter last night and now hasten to reply. I am still in the full enjoyment of life and health and I sincerely hope and trust that this will [find] you and Father and the rest of the family in the full employment of those two great blessings.
Well, Mother, you have got my last letter I suppose ere this stating my surprise on receiving the box, not knowing where it came from, not as there was one coming you see. The box got here before the letter but I know pretty well where it was from when I saw the needle book by that ribbon that you used to wear in your bonnet when I was at home and I am greatly obliged for it. It come just in time for I went on picket the next day and I had plenty to eat and that that was good too. Everything came just as nice as could be. Not a thing was hurt a might. Tell Ansel that I am much obliged to him for that ring and will wear it as long as it will last and shall have to get one made for him.
Bought a pair of woolen shirts the other day, all wool, and I paid four dollars and a quarter for them. I don’t know how they will wear but I guess they will wear pretty well.
You wrote that you always thought of me Sundays when you were at meeting. If there is ever a time that a soldier will thing of home, it is on the Sabbath. You will see them in little gatherings here and there a talking about home or else in their tents a writing to the their friends. The Sabbath is observed as much in camp when we are settled down anywhere as it is at home. We have services here every Sunday afternoon and prayer every night, Dress parade and the whole regiment on duty has t be presen.
I am troubled a great deal with my teeth lately. They are a getting so that they refuse to do duty—that is, grinding Uncle Sam’s hard bread or biscuit as some of them call them. I have not got a single tooth in my upper jaw. They are all decayed all round.
You will. have to excuse me for writing so poor a letter, Mother, for I came off guard this morning, consequently did not sleep much last night and it makes me feel dull. Give my love to Ellen and tell her that I am much obliged to her for that letter paper, It is the best I have seen for some time. Do you know why Ellen don’t write to me? I can’t account for it. Give my love to Father and John & Harriet and reserve a large share yourself. Hoping to hear from you again soon, I remain your ever affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
Botany Bay Island, South Carolina May 26th 1863
I received your ever kind and welcome letter of the 14th instant last night. I am still enjoying the blessing of life and health, and I hope that this will find you the same. I was sorry to hear that Father’s health was so poor but I hope that it will be better soon. I should think that he would keep out of the mill for he must know that he cannot always work in there. He is getting too old to work in the mill but it he must, why don’t he stay out summers and work winters. If I was in his place, I would get along as early as I could till. I get home and if God spares my life to ever reach my home once more, I will do all in my power to make him as last as possible through life.
Yes, mother, I have thought over my past life a great deal since I have been here and my mind is fully made up to this effect that I will if spared to return be a better and a steadier man than I have been heretofore.
Well, mother, you wanted to know if I could get you any sea shells out here. I can and will send you a box as quick as I can collect them. We are expecting marching orders here every day. All furloughs have been stopped and some men that had got started on there way home had to return again. General Stevenson told them that he was sort that they were disappointed but they should all have a chance to go North in the course of a fortnight. So I think that we are either going on the Potomac or else to North Carolina. One thing I do know, I have it from good authority that we are a going to leave this island.
The regiment never was more healthy than it is now. We only lost 5 men in five months so you can see that we are in a healthy locality. You wanted me to send you my picture. I would, mother, if I could but there is nothing on this island but the troops. They have got a daguerrian salon started at Hilton Head and if I ever go back there, I will have one taken for you. We are a going to have a grand supper tonight and you could not guess what it was in a month so I will tell you. It is Blackberry Duff [steamed pudding].
I must draw this letter to a close. Tell John G. Royce that every man in the regiment is a running to me for some of Royce’s Relief. They say it is the greatest thing for tooth ache that they ever saw. Give my respects to Asenath Green and tell her that if I was at home, I would like to go to her school this winter. Give my best respects to John & Hattie, but must close. Give my love to father and tell him to keep up good spirits until I get home which I hope will not be long.
Give my love to Aunt Eliza and let me know next time you write who Fannie Pouls was married to. What Jane Shaw was that that joined the church in W. What is Betsy Pouls a doing this summer? I don’t hear anything from Aunt Dicey lately. But I have wrote enough for I wrote last Sunday and I must close hoping to hear from you again soon, I remain your ever affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
St. Helena Island, South Carolina June 13, 1863
Enclose I send you a roster of Co. A which I want you to keep in your care for I want to use it when I get home. It is raining very hard here now. General Hunter left for the North this afternoon. you tell Mother that I have not forgotten them shells that she wrote about but we were ordered away from there right away after I received your letter so I did not have any opportunity for getting them but will do so at the first opportunity. I have got two splendid shells now which I will send in a paper along with this letter.
We are encamped on the same island that Rev. W. P. Phillips lives on but he lives some eight or nine miles away from here. There is any quantity of plums here and all ripe and pears are selling 12 for twenty-five cents and string beans are a getting to be most too tough to eat now. I am a going to have some peas tomorrow if I can find any.
Please write immediately in the receipt of this letter so I shall know whether you get it or not. So no more at this time. All well. Give my love to all. Hoping to hear from you soon, I remain your ever affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
St. Helena Island, South Carolina June 23rd 1863
I received your ever kind and affectionate letter last night and now will endeavor to answer it. Well, Mother, I expect that we shall leave this place before many days for I think that General Gilmore is a going to give Charleston another trial for they are sending troops to Folly Island every day. Folly Island joins Morris Island where Fort Sumter is and the men are at work every day at Hilton Head and sometimes nights loading siege guns and ammunition for Folly Island so I expect the they are a going to try and take it by siege if they can and I hope that they will this time.
I was surprised to hear that Alice Roth was dead. When did she die and what was the matter with her? I tell you what, Mother, it looks hard and seems hard to see one of our friends and acquaintances struck down at so early a day. But it must be so…
Was that David Needham that ran away to Canada to escape the draft Lydia’s husband? He must be a very courageous man whoever he is. I should be ashamed to ever show my face back if I was in that place. That John Belcher is Sarah Needham’s husband, is it not? She has got a brave husband and no mistake. I don’t believe that they will take much comfort when we get back if they come back when the war is ended. We have got just fourteen months more today to serve and then we will come out honorably knowing that we have done our duty to our country as becomes every citizen of the United States and of every man who ever enjoyed the benefit of its laws.
We are in a new brigade now commanded by Gen. [George Crockett] Strong, formerly military governor of New Orleans but has recently been assigned a command in the Department of the South. He is a pretty smart looking fellow.
I suppose that you have heard long before now the capture of the famous Ram Fingal of Savannah which has caused us so much anxiety in this department and which has been reported taken so many times. But I must close. Give my love to Father and Ansel and all enquiring friend and now, hoping to hear from you again soon, I remain your ever affectionate son, — George H. Shaw, St. Helena Island
P. S. Please let me know the next time you write how to direct a letter to Sarah Jane so she will get it.
Wounded in July 1863—Fort Wagner??
U. S. General Hospital Fort Schuyler, New York October 10, 1863
I seat myself once more to address a few lines to you to inform you that I have arrived in New York at last safe and sound. It was entirely unexpected by me for I did not know that I was coming until a half an hour before we started. We left Hilton Head on the morning of the 3rd of October on board of the steamer Cosmopolitan and after a pleasant voyage of 60 hours we arrived at New York Harbor and on the 6th we arrived at this place.
Well, Father, I suppose that you will want to know how and where I am situated. Well in the first place we are on a small island at the mouth of the East River almost 15 miles from the city. There is a large fort here from which the place derives its name. There is some 1,500 patients here now and we have female nurses to attend to us. There is a boat that runs between here and New York City and consequently we have a large number of visitors for they allow anyone to come here and see their friends so there is people here every day from all parts of the country. But the worst of it is that they do not have any place to stay over night and no where to get their meals short of going to West Chester some three miles from here so they cannot make very long visits.
Well, I suppose you will want to know how I am a getting along. Well as regards my health, I am enjoying good health and my wound is doing first rate but I have not got so that I can go without crutches yet. The doctor told me the first day that I came here that I must have that toe off but he has not taken it off yet. It seems to puzzle them a good deal. They don’t hardly know what to do with it, It seems rather hard to have to have it taken off now after I have put up with it for three months and if it is taken off, it will take three months more.
We duo not get very good living here as they (the soldiers) are furnished with rations by contractors and of course they have to make a little money off from the soldier as well as the rest of them. I had a letter from William Souls today and wants me to come and see him very much and said that he should expect me there to dinner tomorrow. He lives at 605 Hudson Street. I can get a pass for 24 hours to go to New York City with but I cannot get around very well with my crutches in such a place but I shall try for a furlough as quick as I can go without them,
But I must close. Give my love to John & Harriet and Mother and all of the rest. And don’t forget to take a large share yourself. So goodbye for this time. So hoping to hear from you soon, I remain your ever affectionate son — George H. Shaw
Direct your letter to George H. Shaw, U. S. General Hospital, Section C, Ward No. 1, Fort Schuyler, New York
U. S. Army Hospital Fort Schuyler, New York October 16, 1863
I received your ever kind letter this morning and now hasten to answer. I am getting along first rate and an getting well fast. The doctor said my toe looked better than it did when O came here and said he would save it if he could. At any rate, he would give it a chance but said it would always bother me more or less for a good while. I went to New York City last Tuesday and stayed at Aunt Eliza’s all of the time and had a first rate time of it but was homesick enough when I got back. But I feel better now. Cousin William hired a horse and carriage and carried me all over the city and had a grand time. Had turkey and partridges and lived high as you please. I tell you what, I enjoyed myself first rate. Aunt Eliza and the folks are all well.
You wrote that you would send me a box. It would be very acceptable. You can send it and direct as you do the letters and I shall get it all right. I calculate to apply for a furlough by and by after I get a little more acquainted with the doctor and will let you know before hand but I shall have to close for the mail leaves in a half an hour and dinner is most ready.
I have wrote this in a hurry and I guess it will trouble you to read it. I expect Wm. Souls down here Sunday. I tel you what, he used me first rate. I should like some of your nice pies first rate but never mind. I am in a good place now and think that I shall winter here but don’t know. But I must close. Give my love to father and Ellen, John and all the rest, and keep a share for yourself. Hoping to hear from you soon, I remain your ever affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
U. S. General Hospital Section C, Ward No. 1 Fort Schuyler, New York
U. S. Army Hospital Fort Schuyler, New York October 28, 1863
I received your ever kind letter the 26th but delayed answering until I should get the box. I got the letter one day and the next day I got the box and everything was nice as it could be and just as fresh as though it had come out of the oven. The doctor would not let me keep it but give it in the charge of the lady nurse for fear that I should not know when I got enough but I can get it anytime that I want it so it is just as well as though I had it myself.
Well, Mother, I expect to leave here before long for Concord, New Hampshire, for they are a going to break up this hospital and are a going to send all New England soldiers to their own State Hospitals. Consequently I should probably go to Concord as I belong to a New Hampshire Regiment. But if I get there, you can make up your mind that I shall come home if I have to go to Governor Gilmore himself for I have a good many friends in that place and I can leave that place in the first train in the morning and get into Palmer at noon the same day.
You must thank Cousin Eliza for the pies and cake which was very nice and tell her that I will make her a present the next time that I see her and when I get home. Mother, I will remember you too. I expect William Souls down here Sunday and I will find out then whether he is goin g to Wales or not.
There was some ladies in here from West Chester today. They came some 10 miles about a dozen of them and they all brought a lot of pies and so they went all around through the wards with them with a cheering word for all. That is what does the men good and makes them feel more patriotic than ever, more determined than ever to conquer or die in the defense of their country and their country’s rights.
I see that the President has called for 300,000 more men and I suppose that they will have to try the raft again there in Wales, will they not? I had a letter from Aunt Eliza. They are all well and getting along first rate. They were expecting company from somewhere when they wrote but did not say where. Tell Ansel that his chesnuts go first rate and I will take his pail along with me wherever I go. Tell him that I shall write to him on Sunday the 1st of November so he will know when to expect one from me. Tell Father not to work too hard and get sick when I come to see him for I shall want him to show me round and see all that has transpired since I left there and over.
I received a letter from Ellen this afternoon and must answer that today so I shall have to draw this letter to a close. The next time you write, let me know how Eddie Whelock gets along and how does Fred Smith like him. I suppose that he has got to be quite a boy by this time. Give my love to Father and tell him he must remember he is getting to be old and cannot do as much as he could once and not work himself sick. Give my best respects to all enquiring friends. Hoping to hear from you again soon, I remain your ever affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
U. S. General Hospital Portsmouth Grove, Rhode Island November 4th 1863
I seat myself at this time to write a few lines to you to inform you. of my removal from the General. Hospital at Fort Schuyler to the General Hospital at this place where I arrived this morning. But how long I shall stay here is more than I can tell for we expect to be sent on to our own states but don’ know whether we shall or not. We left Fort Schuyler on the night of the 3rd and arrived here this morning. We did not get a thing to eat until today noon, consequently we were pretty hungry when we got here. We got to Newport where we had to change boats about 3 o’clock this morning and had to stand around in the cold until seven before we could get a boat to take us to this place.
Portsmouth Grove is on the Providence River about 2 miles from Providence and 7 miles from Newport, so you see I have not got much nearer home than I was before but am a little nearer Sarah and I wrote to her today to come down here and see me and I shall look for her here sometime this week.
I tell you what it is, Father. The luck seems to be against me somehow or other for if I had not left Fort Schuyler, I would have been home this month and now things look dark again for they are a great deal more strict here than it was at Fort Schuyler. But I think that I shall like it better than I did there. I calculate to get on the right side of the doctor so that he will give me a chance, if there is one, for you have to be recommended by the Surgeon in charge of ward before you can get a pass and in order to get a furlough you have to get a paper from your parents stating that it is a case of extreme necessity and have it signed by the Selectman of the place and Justice of the Peace. So if you want me to come home, you can get up one of them papers as I. have told you and I don’t think there would be any trouble in my getting one.
Must I must bring this letter to a close for I have got a number of letters to write yet and change the directions so I shall have to close for this time and next time I write I shall be better acquainted and can write you a better letter.
But one thing, Father, if I can’t get a chance to come home, you must come down here and stop at Jim’s and all hands come down. But I think that I can get home if you work as I told you. So goodbye for this time. Give my love to Mother and Ellen John and Ansel, and keep a large share for yourself. Hoping to hear from you soon, I remain your ever affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
U. S. General Hospital Ward 17, Portsmouth Grove, R. I.
Direct your letter as above.
Portsmouth Grove, Rhode Island January 24, 1864
I seat myself on the beautiful Sabbath morning to address you a few lines to inform you that I am about to leave this place as I am ordered to report to my regiment for duty and shall probably leave this place some time this week for New York and shall probably stay there a week or so to await transportation to South Carolina.
Well, Father, it does seem as though lick was against me but never mind, I don’t believe in indulging in such gloomy thoughts and I look forward with pleasure to that time when I shall be permitted to return once more to my home and the time will seem short until that time—only a little over five months and that will soon pass away. But I suppose that I might obtain a furlough for thirty days by reenlisting but I don’t think much of that, do you? Let me know what you think about it the next time you write for I have been thinking a good deal about that thing for the past week or two but have not come to any final conclusion yet. Don’t write to me again until you hear from me for I don’t know when I shall bring up but will write you as quick as I get settled down somewhere. You Tell John and the rest of the folks that I have left or are a going to leave so they will not write until they hear from me again for as I said before, I may not go any further than Bedloe’s Island, New York Harbor for there is a Convalescent Camp at that place and I shall probably stop there to await transportation to my regiment and may have to wait two weeks and may have to wait only a day or two.
I shall call for another examination when I get there if I get a chance. But I must close for I have got to write a number of letters this forenoon. Give my love to Mother and all the rest of the folks. So goodbye fr this time.
Your ever affectionate son, — G. H. Shaw
Yorktown, Virginia April 29, 1864
I seat myself this evening to address a few lines to you to inform you of my safe arrival at the far famed place called Yorktown where General McClellan visited in his famous Peninsular war. We arrived here this morning. We left Jackson Ville on the 24th in the steamer North Star and after a very pleasant voyage of five days, arrived here. The 10th Army Corps are all here, or are to be here, as fast as they can obtain transportation and are to be under the command of General Gilmore as Corps commander and Brig. General Alfred Terry as Division commander and Col. Hall as Brigade commander. And we are getting ready as fas as possible for the coming spring campaign.
There is an order received that every man must have two pair of shoes, two shirts and three pair of stockings and the rest of his clothing must be reduced as low as possible which shows very plainly that they mean work here or somewhere else and also that they will commence operations before long. And it is my opinion that there will be some awful hard fighting this spring yet, The troops have unlimited confidence in General Grant as Commander in Chief, and think that this spring will tell the story one way or the other,
The veteran soldiers that reenlisted out of this regiment have got back all right and say that the war will be brought to a close before another presidential election comes off. This place is a very different place and well fortified. Right across the river here is Gloucester Point, Virginia, and there are also some strong fortifications there. I expect to see some pretty rough times this next three months but shall try and get along the best that I can. The regiment are getting new guns and equipments today and as I said before, everything indicates active service and that before long.
I hear that the Rebels have retaken Plymouth, North Carolina, but do not know whether it is so or not. Well, I shall have to think about drawing this letter to a close for I have got some work to do yet tonight. Give my love to Mother and John, Ellen, and all of the rest. I shall write you every opportunity that I get which may be often and may not for it depends altogether on how we are situated. Love to all, hoping to hear from you soon, I remain your ever affectionate son, — George H. Shaw
Camp of the 3rd New Hampshire Vols. Bermuda Hundred, Virginia June 1, 1864
I seat myself this afternoon to address a few lines to you to inform you that I am still alive and well and I hope these few lines will find you in the enjoyment of the same blessings. Everything remains quiet here with the exception of a little shelling which is going on now and then. The greenbacks opened on us this morning about three o’clock with all the artillery they could bring to bear on us but we managed to silence their batteries after an hour and a half firing. They have got so that they open on us every afternoon and morning and even as I write I am expecting that they will commence shelling so that I shall have to leave and go into the rifle pits for we have some good ones here and there is not much danger of a man getting hurt when he is in there.
You can but imagine how surprised I was the other day a going through the camp of the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery to run across some Wales boys but such is the case for I found Jim Johnsline, Charles Davis, and Eugene Needham here and all well and looking pretty rugged. The 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery to which they belong man the guns here on the fortifications at this place so if you see any of their folks, you can tell them that they are all well.
Well, Father, you wrote me in your last that you was almost afraid to write me anything concerning my own welfare or in other words address me on religious subjects. Well I can assure you that I have not become so hardened as that & I am always glad to have anyone write or talk to me on that subject for I think that it is something that will not hurt anyone and I think that this just the place where a man needs it if he does anywhere.
Has John received my letter yet that I wrote almost a week ago? By the way, Father, you must look after Mother a little when she directs my letters for I see that the last that I got was directed to the 16th Army Corps instead of the 10th but as luck would have it, I received it so it is all the same now, only I might not get it another time. But I suppose the reason that they know where to send it was on account of the regiment being on it (and they all know where the fighting kind is). But I must close. Give my love to Mother and John and his folks and all enquiring friends and now goodbye for this time. Hoping to hear from you again soon, I remain your ever affectionate son, George H. Shaw
George H. Shaw Co. A, 3rd N. H. Vols. 10th Corps Fort Monroe, Va.
Camp 3rd New Hampshire Vols Near Chester Station June 19th 1864
I once more seat myself to address a few lines to you to inform you that I am still alive though I cannot say that I am enjoying very good heath. I have not been very well for the last two or tree weeks and am not able to do much now. Consequently I have not gone on duty yet but think that I shall before long if nothing happens to prevent. I am troubled a good deal with the dysentery and have to be pretty careful what I eat and drink but a fellow don’t have much choice in this part of the country as regards his food for he has to take what they give or else go without.
The climate does not agree with me half so well here as it did in South Carolina but I guess that I shall get used to it after awhile and by the time I get used to it, it will be most time for me to think about going home.
Well, Father, there is not much of anything going on here at present this side of the river though across the Appomattox, Grant is at work around Petersburg but I suppose that you will have heard all the news as regards the movements made in this department. Our regiment went outside the other day (the 16th) and had a little brush with the Johnnies and lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 (men killed and wounded). We had two men wounded and one taken prisoner out of my company. we also lost four officers—two captains and two lieutenants wounded very seriously.
It seems to be the general opinion around here that Grant is getting the Rebs in pretty close quarters around here and I hope he will succeed in all his undertakings and I think he will if they will let him alone.
Well, Father, who you a going to put in for President next Presidential Election, or have you not come to a conclusion yet? I suppose you know that I shall be a voter now and if I live until next fall shall cast my first vote for President. You Tell John that I am looking very anxiously for an answer to my last letter that I wrote him. Give my love to Mother, Ellen and Ansel and all of John’s folks and write soon. The Wales boys here are all well but I shall have to close as I have got to write to Sarah for I have not wrote to her since I left the Grove. Well, goodbye for this time. Hoping to hear from you soon, I remain your ever affectionate son, — George A. Shaw
Camp 3rd New Hampshire Vols. Bermuda Hundred July 6, 1864
I received you ever kind and welcome letter this morning and now hasten to reply. I am getting along very well at present though I must say that I am rather uneasy for the time seems to pass very slowly and days seem like weeks now…
There is nothing new of any importance going on here—only an occasional firing between the pickets and not much harm done on either side. We were expecting and attack here last night for Jeff Davis said that he would astonish the whole world on the 4th of July and we did not know but what he might take that way to have done it but I am afraid that if he had, he would have the astonished party for we was fully prepared to receive him.
I had a letter from Sarah last Saturday. They are all well. The cigar packers have struck for more pay and their employers will not give it, consequently Jim is thrown out of work for he has no cigars to pack and Sarah said that he started off a few days since to seek his fortune and find more work but she had not heard from him yet and he had been gone three days then so I guess that he has made up his mind to find some before he comes home.
I am sorry to learn that Eddie was dead for he was a good boy and I used to think a good deal of him. But I should have though they would of had him buried by the side of his mother. Mr. Smith’s folks must have felt bad about it. I should have liked to have seen Julie first rate for it has been some five years since I have seen her but I suppose she has got to be quite a girl now, has she not?…
Goodbye for this time, Please answer soon. uYour ever affectionate son, — George H. Shaw