Camp Niagara, Baton Rouge
May 8th, 1863
2.25 P. M.
I have just received your letter dated April 16th and two from Mother dated the 15th and 20th, also the pipe. I will send you my pipe by return mail. I think I rather get the best of you on the trade. The tobacco also is very acceptable. It is the best I have had in a log time. I send you some that was taken from the “rebs,” while our regiment lay opposite Port Hudson. There were thousands of bales each weighing twenty-five pounds stored in an old sugar mill. Our boys helped themselves to as much as they could carry. Some threw away their knapsack so they could carry all the more tobacco. In this same place there was about five hundred boxes of plug tobacco, One of my sergeants brought me a bale like this I send you.
I forgot to mention the papers that I received today. I got twelve from you and three from Uncle George. The letters were No.’s 11, 12, & 13. I forgot to number my last letter. It should have been number 12. I was very much pleased when the letters were handed into the tent for it is about ten days or two weeks since our last mail was received, but I ought not to complain. I know I have been very remiss lately but I really have been very busy. Today I again have command of the regiment. Maj. Love being a little unwell, he is now sitting here in my tent reading the papers. By the way! just step over and see our dress parade this evening. Dolbins and I can just shake her up bully/ He has just bought him a horse and I tell you it’s a beauty. He rode him yesterday at battalion drill for the first time. This was also my first appearance since my sickness. I am getting along nicely now. I call myself well but am still very careful what I do. I am down to my fighting weight now—one hundred and seventeen pounds. I don’t suppose I will gain much during the hot weather.
Last Monday, the last time I was on picket, the people who came in from the country told me that it was as warm as it is here in July and August. It was a scorcher, I tell you. I go on again tomorrow. I hardly think it will be as warm. The reason for going on again as soon is that Captains Higgins and Wadsworth are in New Orleans and Capt. Ayers is sick. I wish you and Mother could see the Magnolia Groves now. The trees are very full of blossoms this year. There is a grove within a stones throw of where our reserve is posted. I think they are the handsomest flower that I ever saw and so sweet. They are as large as a sunflower, nearly the shape of a tulip, and as white as the purest wax you ever saw. I think there are fourteen leaves in each flower. The center is about the size and shape of a good size butter nut. Well may it be called the “Queen of the South.” I would give five dollars for Sunt Julia to have one to copy in wax.
The ninety men I spoke of were some of the ones we left sick at Fortress Monroe. They were stopped at the Quarantine [Station] and John was sent after them. I told you about it in a letter written the day he left and if I am not very much mistaken, it was a good long letter—one that I just “laid” myself on. I guess just about half the papers you send are lost but these are very acceptable—almost as good as a letter.
Night before last several of the mortar boats that have ben laying off here for some [time] went up the river and last night three or four more left us. Will Seymour was here a short time since and he says he has been busy all day filling requisitions from the batteries, and the cavalry here, who are under orders to be ready to move on short notice; and even while I write I can hear the mortars and heavy guns from the fleet speak at intervals of about one or two minutes.
Todays news is that Grand Gulf is ours and that the “rebs” will probably evacuate Port Hudson. If they do retreat, the artillery and cavalry will probably be ordered to cut them off and we to support them—the cavalry—or else to go and take possession of Port Hudson. The news from this department has been very encouraging lately. I wish it was so North.
You must have had a nice time at the concert. I should like much to have heard it. John Dobbins had a full account of it in his last letter from home. Hote Seymour sent me a programme in a letter received today. Before commencing this letter, I gave Gray a call. Found him right side up, and as full of fu as ever. He received six letters I think he said and about a bushel of papers. I believe he gets more mail than any other man in the regiment, two to one. He has had command of Co. C for some time, but has now returned to his own company. His men missed him very much. They are now the poorest company in the regiment, but he will soon set them all right again.
Several of the officers have taken to raising Mocking birds lately. None of them are old enough to sing yet but some day or other I expect we will have a great tuning up—that is, if we don’t have to move. Mason and Dobbins have six and they are the greatest things to squawk that you ever heard.
I have just made a settlement with those that I owe and shall send home some money by next steamer. Perhaps I will send it in this letter by express.
I am sorry that I have not much to send this time, but being sick cost something and then Col. Chapin’s mess is an expensive one. Remember these expenses are for four months. I paid thirty dollars to Will Seymour I borrowed when sick. My board with the Colonel for one month and four days was thirty-two dollars. My commissary bill was twenty-seven dollars, and seventy-five cents per day is deducted from officers pay while in hospital. I am real sorry it is so and hope you and Mother can stave off the duns till we are paid again which i hope will be soon. I know what it is to be dunned and am sorry for you and would willingly take it onto my shoulders if I could.
Please remember me to Mr. Hayes, Sizer, and Ed Ingersoll. Let them have a smoke of secesh tobacco. I wish it was better. Your pipe is bully and I am more and more pleased with it the more I look at it. I hope mine will reach you all right.
I must stop now for dress parade. Give my love to Grandma and Grandpa, not forgetting our own dear mother and yourself. From your brother, — Al
P. S. Saturday morn. I shall put $50 in this letter and send by express. I am all ready for picket and start in a few minutes. — Al