off Ship Island
December 14th 1862
After ten days sail, we find ourselves at Ship Island and ordered to New Orleans. On Thursday the 4th, we pulled up our anchor and started out to sea. When of Cape Henry (1 p.m.), we stopped till the rest of the fleet came out which was about 9 in the evening. We then all started together in two lines, seven ships in each line—the Baltic leading one, and we the other.
We kept together till the following noon when the wind commenced blowing and three dropped out and ran close to shore. About this time there were a great many sick aboard the ship. The wind kept increasing till midnight and I tell you what, it was a grand sight. The moon shone bright and the waves somewhat high. It was impossible to stand anywhere without holding on to something. From the deck, it looked as if ever time our bow went down that it was going under, but when the wave came she would rise again and part it and send the spray all over the ship. And once in awhile, a wave would roll clear over the paddle boxes. Perhaps you will have some idea of the force of the wind when I saw that it would take the tops off the waves and blow the water as it does the dust from the dirt piles in our streets.
The next morning there were but two ships besides our own to be seen—the Baltic and the Augusta. The wind was not as high, nor the waves, but still enough to keep those who were sick during the night in a fret about their breakfasts. About ten or eleven I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want any dinner and about two gave my breakfast to the fishes. Very generous, wasn’t I? At supper time I was as hungry as a wolf. Did not feel like looking at the moon and waves, so I retired early.
In the morning the waves were not near as high but still the ship rolled some and kept it up till yesterday morning. We came to anchor yesterday at one. Found General Banks here with a great many men—I don’t know how many. He left in about an hour afterwards with all the men except those on the Baltic and this ship for New Orleans. These two boats draw too much water to go there so we are ordered to go ashore and wait until he can send for us from there. We lay about one mile and a quarter from the dock and all the men and baggage have got to be taken ashore in the small boats. That they are doing now ad I am stealing the time to write you. I commenced writing on the way down, but there was so much motion to the boat that it was impossible.
We have had a delightful voyage and had pleasant weather. The wind is all that troubled us. Had nothing to see but whales, sharks, flying fish, and such like, but that is a great deal for me. I feel as if we had been round the world. I can’t realize that I am so far away from home and yet it seems is if I must be when I think of you wearing furs and overcoats and we sitting around without our coats (and those who have them) straw hats on.
Now about Ship Island. It is a sand bar about seven miles long and from one to two miles wife, has a fort, a lighthouse, and few buildings on the end. Oh! I forgot we passed close to Key West, could see Fort Hamilton and the shipping very distinctly. I ought to go ashore and tend to putting up our tents so will say goodbye with love for all, not forgetting you, dewar Mother.
Will send this by the next mail anyway. I hear that they get a mail here every week.
Monday morning—all ashore and tents up. This place is nothing but a sand pile. The tent pins will hardly hold the tents up. You can imagine how hard it is to walk. Last night one of our fleet ran ashore while attempting to run in behind the island. She lays only about one hundred and fifty yards from my tent and directly in front of it. The beds of Capt. Dobbins sent last night and also at the camp at Fortress Monroe.
In haste, — Albert