Albert J. Barnard, 15 April 1863

Camp Niagara
Baton Rouge
April 15th 1863

Dear Mother,

I believe I have received two letters from you since my last was written but I have been very busy for the last week straightening out my company book and about half the time have had command of the regiment as Col. Cottier has been detailed on a Borad of Examiners and of course Major Love could not be here always, and then [even] if I had written, there has been no steamer here to take a mail to New Orleans.

Twice I have taken the regiment out target shooting and have taken command at Dress Parade several times. I was a little surprised the first time the Major sent me out shooting with the regiment as we have to go outside of the picket line and I did not know he had so much confidence in me. To be sure, it is no very difficult task to march a lot of men out to fire at a mark, but then I had to superintend the placing of the targets and the different companies and such a thing as an attack might of happened. Still there was not much danger, although parties of our men are occasionally disturbed by guerrillas. It is seldom that we have a battalion drill now as it is so warm. We always have one company drill each day. I have not done any picket or hard duty since my return to the regiment, but shall commence to share equally with the rest next week.

We received such glorious news last night though i presume you will hear it before this reaches you. Yesterday afternoon there was a little tug came up here with an order from General Sherman to General Augur which was to be read on dress parade. It said that the “Queen of the West” had been retaken wth all her crew near Brashier City. Also that Generals Emory and Grover had out flanked the enemy at Centerville, and that they were throwing down their arms and running, but that most of them would be captured. They evacuated a large fortification leaving behind them a large quantity of arms and ammunition.

We have had several deserters here lately from Port Hudson. All say that they are poorly off, or so they said “clean played out”—that they had lots of fresh meat and that’s all. They say they can not hold out a great while longer. Major Love and Capt. Wadsworth went to within a few miles of Port Hudson a short time since with a flag of truce and they say that what they saw were a pretty rough and dirty looking set, no two being dressed alike.

The Negro regiments are getting along nicely—that is, they are getting a great many recruits. The officers for four companies are to be taken from the non-commissioned officers of this regiment. I expect to lose four sergeants as they have been very highly recommended by the Colonel.

Dress parade is over and I have had my supper of toast, tea, cod baked beans, and rice cakes. Am now alone in my tent to finish this letter to you my dear Mother. During last night the gunboats Richmond and Essex and two mortar boats left here for parts unknown and all day long we have heard heavy firing. It is a log way off however—perhaps at Port Hudson.

Stereoscopic View of the Ironclad Gunboat Essex at Baton Rouge, March 1863

Dear Mother, don’t worry anymore about my bathing. It has not hurt me so far but in future will do as you advised—let Dick rub me. I did find a new cap and a real pretty one. After John D. and Will Seymour saw it, they both sent to New Orleans for one just like it.

Will has received his box from home and when Lewie sends mine, please put in some toothpicks. Also a copy of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” for Col. Chapin. I told him that I had sent for a box and he asked me to send for the book for him.

You need not got to parties for the sake of making your letters interesting for they are full of interest and news, and it does me a heap of good to get one. I only wish you would answer some of the questions I ask you. I hardly think the report about Mr. Hosmers going into a hospital is true. I went one day with John D. to see him but he was out in camp. His regiment is not here now. I have a Prayer Book Mother, one that Miss Mary Norton gave me the day we left home. I have written her two letters thanking her for it. The second one I wrote for fear she never received the first one. She has never spoken of getting my letters in any of Will Seymour’s. I am real sorry and wish you could see her and tell her. I never heard the story you tell of Gen. Grover. Do not think it can be true. General Banks might do very well in another department but certainly he is ot the man to have command here. General Butler was the man for Louisiana.

I never knew whether Julia Phelps sent me her photograph or whether it was from Lewie. He did not send a message with it. I will certainly write her. You or Lewie don’t say anything about receiving my picture. Do let me know if it ever reached you. If so, how do you like it? There is a place here now where they take very nice photographs and if that is not good, I will try again.

The news has just come that Emory and Grover are fighting the rebs near Brashier City with every prospect of success. That they—the rebs—are running in all directions and that we will in all probability again possess the Dienna within twenty-four hours.

I wish you could look in upon us here in our new camp. I’m sure you would not worry so much about me. It is so pleasant and we are so nicely situated.

And now my dear Mother, I must bid you good night. I have just been out to tend roll call and now, as I have given you all the news will turn in, so as to get rested for tomorrows duties. Please give my love to Grandma and Grandpa, and a heart brim full for yourself and Lewie with a good night kiss from your own. — Allie