Albert J. Barnard, 10 April 1863

Camp Niagara, Baton Rouge
April 10th 1863

Dear Lewie,

How I should like to be at home with you today to help celebrate the twentieth anniversary of your birthday, I wonder what you will do in honor of it. John and I drank to to your health in a glass of lemonade—his treat. He bought the lemons here in camp and we drank it in two “secesh” goblets, which some of the men captured (that’s the word now) at Monteseno Bayou. That is where Col. Chapin put up in a nigger shanty. John says “give my love to Lew and tell him he is a bully boy with a glass ear, and that I am going to write him soon, also the brigade.”

I fully intended writing before this, but you will see we have been moving our camp. This together with my company books, which have not been touched since I was taken sick, have kept me pretty busy.

We struck our tents last Saturday and are now right in the town and have as pleasant a camp as we ever had; are close to the river, and the ground is high so we can see some distance up and down the river. The Deaf & Dumb Asylum is directly in front of the camp, and is one of the handsomest buildings that I have seen since leaving home. Part of this is now used for a hospital. This is the only objection we have in staying here. There are no troops here now except Gen. Augur’s Division which consists of none regiments of infantry, two or three batteries, and a few cavalry—unless you choose to call nigs troops. There are three regiments of them here now and they are armed but do not drill much as they keep them at work on the fortifications. They drill pretty well but I don’t believe they will fight.

Dead & Dumb Asylum in Baton Rouge that also served as a military hospital in 1863 (Louisiana Digital Library)

Although the guerrillas bother our pickets some, and occasionally take a prisoner, we don’t fear a direct attack and even if they try that on, we feel confident that we can hold the place with the help of the gunboats, five of which lie in the river abreast of us. We all think it looks as if we were to stay here some time—perhaps the rest of the season. It is now so warm that it would be almost impossible for white men to work on breast works, or do any duty of this kind in the day time. It is not so warm but that we drill yet, but you know digging or marching with a load on ones back is rather hard work. Why! here we sit all day without coat, vest, or collar.

A steamer just arrived with a mail but brings no letter for me, but there is another expected tonight so will look for news from you tomorrow.

Mason doesn’t do much duty. He is trying hard to get home. Has sent in his resignation three times but each time is was disapproved. I really wish they would let him go. He is so discontented and growls so that it is very unpleasant and when I was away, he made John do most of the work. But he steps around lively now. I gave him a regular blowing up the other day.

I think probably a box might reach me if you sent immediately and I want a few little things that I can’t get here. I have tried hard to get a rubber coat but there are none here or in New Orleans. If you can find one of the light kind, I wish you would send it to me. Some are very heavy. I think the difference is in the foundation—one being cotton and the other linen, though in this I may be mistaken. Don’t get one unless it is light and long so that it will come down to my boot tops. I would also like three towels, a black neck tie (narrow), and two pair of those thin woolen socks such as I wore last spring. I know of nothing more unless Mother has a sponge cake that she can tuck in, or anything else in the eating line. We live very well now as the commissary has most all the necessaries. We can draw from him, on tick, rice, beans, potatoes, meal, tea, coffee, sugar, ham, salt pork, tongues, molasses, vinegar, salt, dried peaches or apples, and soft or hard bread. So you see we can live high. This morning we had for breakfast, baked potatoes, fried ham, milk toast, and coffee; for dinner boiled ham, boiled potato, and a bread pudding; for supper, fried potatoes, fried pork, and rice pan cakes. Ain’t that high living for soldiers? But we don’t have milk every day. They charge only twenty cents a quart for it. Dobbins is about the only man in the regiment who has any money and he is nearly played out, but then we expect the pay master every day and the the first of next month is the next regular pay day.

Saturday evening. Oh! how tired I am. I have just finished a big days work. Have been drawing, delivering, and charging clothing most of the day. I tell you, Co. B will look gay on inspection tomorrow. I made every man wash his knapsack and all his dirty clothes today. Another mail today brought me yours, and Mothers, good letters dated March 15th. I tell you it seems a long time since I heard from home—nearly two weeks. I also received the package of five papers.

In your letter dated March 10th, after telling about your call at Mrs. Norton’s, you say Miss Hamlin is evidently sick of Hote Seymour and that you’ll tell me about it in your next. But I didn’t see it in the next. Your description of your call is very funny and I think I can imagine just how you looked. I am so glad you went and now you must call on the Misses Norton’s on Delaware Street.

I received a kind letter from Hote Seymour about two weeks ago in which he stated that Dave Tuttle was trying to get his position as Major of this regiment, or rather his friends were at work for hi,, and offering to help me; as he said he would rather see me Major than anyone else. I immediately answered his letter telling him that I could see no prospect of a vacancy but within the last day or two I have heard that Col. Cottier is getting ready to go home. This may not be so, but it came from very good authority. If it is true, I may call on Hote sooner than I expected to when I answered his letter. I had rather you would not say anything about this, except perhaps to Hote. You may do as you and Mother think best about that.

My eyes feel as if it was bed time and my candle is getting short, and I guess I have told you all the news so I will bid you all goodnight with love to Grandpa and Grandmam and a heap for yourself and our dear mother.

Your affectionate brother, — Al