Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Today is Christmas Day" - Another Excerpt from a Civil War Letter in the "Schmidt Collection"

Readers of the blog will recall that in the past I have posted excerpts from wartime soldier correspondence in my collection. Previous posts can be found here:

It is my pleasure to provide the text of another Civil War soldier letter in my collection, this one being from Benjamin H. Dodge, 28th Maine, in camp in "East New York" and written on Christmas Day, 1862. The letter has also been submitted to Chris Wehner's website, SoldierStudies, and can be accessed here.

To: Mrs. Clarissa Dodge (from envelope)
Seal Cove, Hancock County, Maine (from envelope)

Dear Mother,

As it has been some time since I wrote you I think I will write you this time. I received a letter from Ambrose dated the 18th last night and as ever I was glad to hear from home. I also received a stamp for which I am obliged. You must keep an account of the stamps you send me and I will pay you if I live to get home.

Today is Christmas Day and we were furnished with geese of which we were permitted to partake at noon today. They were stuffed and baked but they were not so good as they would have been had they been cooked at home. I find that home cooking suits me better by a great deal. We don't have the chance to cook here and can't cook so well here as you.

My health is much the same as usual. I don't much think I shall be discharged or at least I don't see much prospect of it at present. I enjoy myself as well as could be expected, but that is not very well I assure you. We are in barracks but we are so jambed up we can't have room to move hardly. If I attempt to write I can't sit but a few minutes before someone comes in contact with me. When we write we have to take our knapsack or a little piece of board and sit down in our hearth or some other place and write as best we can. And when we eat we have to sit down wherever we can and take the food in our lap and eat in that way.

I am tired and sick of this kind of life. I hope I shall be discharged before long. I want you to write me as often as you can for it affords me great satisfaction to get and read letters from my family and friends. I think I feel that it is all for the best that I had to leave my home and come here, and I want to be reconciled to my lot. I had a very good visit to Uncle Ruben Dodge’s last week in Williamsburg. The particulars of my visit I wrote Charlotte a few days since. You can get her letter and you will learn more about it than I shall here write. I would like to know what you have to pay for provisions and other things down there and where you trade. I was very much pleased to receive that money which was sent to me from home. I thank H____ and C____ a thousand times.

I have just been interrupted in my writing by a visit from A. J. Heath and Captain Ephraim (illegible). I was very glad to see them.. Heath lives at 84 Summit Street, South part of Brooklyn. I will close now by sending love to all and respects to all inquiring friends. Remember me at the throne of grace. Benjamin - East, NY – Dec 25, 1862

Saturday eve – Dec 27th – I hear it said that we are to leave here next week but I can’t tell when we shall leave. It may not be for a month or more. I suppose we are still under Banks. (Illegible) is sick in the hospital and Dodge has just gone there but I don’t know as he will stop but I think he will. My health is about the same. Two men have been discharged. BHD

Monday morn – Dec 29 – I wish you to see about getting the state aid for my wife and baby. Ambrose had better see someone about it. Perhaps B. Sawyer would know how to get it. W. R. Dodge is still in the Barracks but is sick. Captain (illegible) Eaton was here yesterday (Sunday) and some of his crew. One has been to my school. My health is not so good this morn B.H. D

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