Letters of Sergeant James Bosworth – Company D
September 12, 1862 from Fort Marshall, Baltimore, MD (courtesy of Jeff Grzelak)
Fort Marshall Sept 12th 1862
I have seen enough of camp life to form some idea what soldiers have to pass through what they have to contend with and what they have content them in their chained position.
We have had more than new regiments usually have to contend with from the fact that we were sent before we were ready to go and before government were prepared to provide for us. Transportation was provided as far as Baltimore and there we were left in the streets and [?] depot for two nights when we were marched to this hill outside the fort and left without the least shelter for another night the next day part of the regiment procured old tents and pitched them as best they could while others got some shelter tents capable of accommodating 2 very comfortably others having no shelter whatever and are exposed now to the sun and elements. Now these things would bareable if we did not know we were in no better condition than we should have been if we had remained in camp at Bridgeport. Who is to blame for these things I do not know nor presume to guess the effect would be the same and we could not help ourselves. This fort is new having been build since the present war broke out and like the one of federal Hill designed to protect or distroy Baltimore as the exegencies in the case might demand and I sincerely hope that none of thee guns on either of these or Fort McHenry will ever be turned to protect it but rather to reduce it to dust and ashes for of all the cities on this continent this the least deserves protection or existence.
I am quite anxious to learn the result of the draft! To know who was drafted and how they stood it and who they obtained for substitutes. Please write me that I can tell the boys all the particulars. Give my best regards to all our old chums Fairweather, Porter, Wheeler, Edwards, Hubble, Whiting, Etc and ask them when they next drink together to think of me and drink to the bully 17th.
To Frank Sherwood
October 7, 1862 from Camp Sigel (from collection of Dale Call)
Camp Sigel Oct 7th 1862
My dear wife,
It is again my pleasant priviledge to write you a few lines to inform you of my continued good health and to further inform you of our situation. We are now comfortably located in our new quarters so that we are safe from the elements so far as storms can affect us but how it will be when the cold weather sets in has yet to be proved. The weather here now is almost uncomfortably warm and continually pleasant, the sun and moon seldom being obscured by high cloud. Our regiment makes large details for guard duty numbering over one hundred men and their duty is rendered very pleasant on this account. Corp. Wordin is on duty to day having charge of thirty seven men. I have not been called upon yet as Sergt. Of the guard so that my duties have been light on that score the reason being I have been twice detailed for Sergt. Of picket that being synonimous to guard duty but as that requires the tip[?] of but 3 hours sleep makes it very desirable guard duty requiring twenty four hours continued service. The privates have to go on guard as often as twice and sometimes three times a week while sergts comes no often than once in three weeks a great advantage particularly in unpleasant weather. Mr. Howe is unwell in Baltimore his son acting postmaster in his absence. He has brought him a wall tent like those used by our own officers and fitted it up in good shape and boards at the regimental officers dining tent at 3 1/2 dollars per week so that you can see how much he lives and fairs like a common soldier. He has got a horse and carriage from home, in fact he plays the gentleman as much as the highest ranked officer and id looked upon with as much respect. So much does the millionaire act the common soldier in the ranks of the Federal Army. But as this is no more than can be reasonably expected of one in his position all seem to be satisfied although by having such a man on our roll makes a little more duty for those who have to perform it. The present prospect seem to be that we are to remain at this post for some time while all the nine months men are pushed forward for active service. We have got the best drilled and most intelligent company in the regiment. Our first Lieut. Has been appointed acting provost Marshall and one of our Corp. acting provost sergt. and another corp. has been detailed for a clerkship at Fort McHenry and if any important duty is required by the Col. he sends to Co. D for men to perform it. We are called by those who envy us the Col. pets by [?]. Our streets are the cleanest and out tents patterns for others to copy. This may look like egotism but they are facts nevertheless. Keep me ever in your [?] and [unreadable] only yours,
October 28th, 1862 from Fort Kearney (from collection of Dale Call)
Camp near Fort Kearney Washington D.C.
Oct 28th 1862
On Sunday morning Lieut. Hubble Sergt. Keeler Corporal Foley and your humble servant visisted the 2d Conn Battery near the Bladensburg turnpike gate distant from here some eight miles and although it rained for more than half the distance in going and all the distance in returning still we were amply repaid by the hearty reception we recieved on arriving and the kind hospitality given during our stay. The men all looked fine and appeared to enjoy the limited comfort with which they are provided like old veterans. But I imagine when they have been two months trying to make things comfortable and convenient and fail in both because such things cannot be attained in the army their spirits will drop and the[y] will keenly feel how sweet a place is home. They have not provided themselves with beds not covered their tent floors with boughs consequently they have plenty of dirt and mud to contend with for not one blade of grass within their park that I could discover. Frank Whiting look fine and was in the best of spirits although he and Fred. B. had been out in the rain after stores all the forenoon. When I started for home he kindly loaned me his overcoat but for which I could not have helped being wet to the skin. He will probably visit us to-day as he and Miles Gray said they would take the first opportunity offered to do so. I am very anxious to learn the result of the draft hope lightning will strike plentifully in Sneaktown and Goosetown but should be pleased to have it spare the Soda Water Butcher if the country can be spared without his assistance.
Was just surprised by a visit from Fred Blackman and —- Colson the tall musician from the Wheeler and Wilson band they had to walk over as their horses have not been inspected and they dare not take them away for fear the inspector might come in their absence. Fred said tell Frank he is right side up every time. He is looking first rate & Sid. Beardsley Esq and —– Alwood of Southport are now in camp. Alwood gave me an account of things in Fairfield relative to the draft and recruiting. He was rather of the opinion that the number could be made up by the latter. Hope it may for your sake. If you are not drafted you must make us a visit now that the Battery and 17th are in such close proximity.
Give my regards to my old friends and write me often. I recieved you last while Fred was here and after reading gave it and the one I recieved previous to him for Frank and him to read.
Yours as Ever
October 28th, 1862 from Fort Kearney (from collection of Dale Call)
In Camp near Fort Kerney
Washington D C
Nov 2nd 1862
Your last long and interesting letter was recieved yesterday for which accept my thanks for the effort I made in writing you two letters in one week has not so injured my constitution now enfeebled my brain that I cannot appreciate a favor or write another miserable one to follow them. You wrote Wordin that I once said in going up State St. that I would be d — d if I could not find something interesting to write home if I were in the army. That is so. I did make that remark and now that I find I cannot must acknowledge any vanity and presumption and apologise for making the boast. The fact is we have seen nothing that appertains to war any more than can be seen in Bridgeport or New Haven. All is peace and quiet we have done no service nor have we seen any that have.
All the Regt’s that we have seen here about are new like ourselves except for the 4th New York artillery and they have been in this fortifications 14 months consiquently they are as green as ourselves. There has been quite a sensation in this regiment for the last few days in consiquence of so many of the Captains holding the same rank or rather because their commissions bear the same date. Capt. Fowler is first and Capt. More [Moore] the second. Capt. Hobbie having been appointed since the Regt was formed is of course the Jun. But there are 7 who rank the same and Major Brady who is in command is determined if possible to make them draw for choice and change them from the companies they brought with them. Some of the Capts favor the sceme espeshally such ones as McCarty Dunham and others who think they would like to command Co. D or C or some other post of honor more than is not their privilege. Each Regt is on “Battalion drill” divided into 5 divisions an the Capts with the highest rank command these divisions also in case of a deficiency in line officers they occupy their posts thence the nesisity of them properly ranked and the anxiety on the parts of the Cap’s to hold highest position possible. I do not think however that the Major can carry his point as some declare they will leave the Regt if any change is made and my opinion is we should loose 1 en and several officers or there is an opportunity now for enlisting in the egular service from Vols. We were beseaged a noon today by 80 or 40 of the 2 Conn Battery who came in a body to see us for the last time before we leave for Centerville t join Gen Sigel by command of Gen Heinzelmann. Both our Col’s are disabled the Col by dislocating his shoulder and the Lieut Col by his horse falling and breaking his own neck and injuring the Lieut Col considerable. They think he will be able to follow us in a week or so perhaps in time to be taken prisoner and get promoted for his suffering. We can get along without either of them at least so think most of the boys.
Fran Whiting and Fred Blackman were in the party that visited us today. I learn by inquiring that they are well. They did not send any tobaco & suppose they wanted it all themselves. Lieut Mark Sterlin is in gen Sigels’ staff with the rank of Major. David told me to-day that he had been in their camp and he expected him again to stop 2 or 3 days. His headquarters are at Fairfax Court-House. Must now go to the Magazine to recieve my ammunition to kill rebels with so good bye for the present for we shall soon be down in Dixie.
Yours as ever