Albert J. Barnard, 9 March 1863

Headquarters 1st Brigade
Auger’s Division, Camp Banks
Baton Rouge [Louisiana]
March 9th 1863

Dear Mother,

Long ere you receive this letter we will perhaps hold Port Hudson. All is life and activity here now preparing for a forward movement according to orders received last evening about eight o’clock, This morning orders were given to this brigade to strike tents in the morning and the 2 Masters are to get storage for them as also the officer’s luggage. We will be allowed nothing except what we can carry and I have been busy tending to the packing of the extra clothing of my men which is also to be stored. We are to carry two days cooked rations and in the wagons will be five days rations (raw).

At first the Colonel was opposed to my going but as there are no troops to be left here except a few within the fortifications on the river bank, he says I can go but must ride all the way [and] that he will see that I am comfortable. [He says] that I must not worry and fret myself nor ask to do any duty; that he will tell me when he has anything to do. It is only twelve miles up there anyway. I shall carry my skeleton knapsack, a woolen blanket, one shirt, pair socks, a piece of soap, and a towel. How is that for a person going traveling? There is no knowing whether we ever see any of our things again. Maj. Love has never got his trunk that was turned over at Fortress Monroe when he was in the Army of the Potomac.

Gen. Banks arrived here this morning and assumed command in person. There are now about thirty thousand troops right near here. There are tents in every direction (except in front of our camp) as far as you can see and that is a good distance for our camp is on the highest ground near here.

I hear that General Foster’s Expedition and I know that Commodore Farragut’s fleets are just below here waiting only for the army to move to run up to Port Hudson. We together with the twenty thousand men near there will make quite a formidable force.

Now dear Mother, please do not worry about me after receiving this for long before that time it will be all over with for Gen. Banks moves quick and in a quiet way. Thirty-six hours ago but one of his staff knew that there was to be a move.

Day before yesterday I received your letter dated January 31st. It was probably on the Ella Warley when she sunk as it came with a lot of letters that were rather damp.

You wonder what I will do for a coat. My coat is not worn out yet, but it is too small. I now have a private’s jacket. I had it fixed so that it looks real neat, an extra button put on the sleeve, the collar cut down, &c. It looked so nice that several of the officers have drawn them. I shall wear this on the march. Have packed my coat in the company clothing box. I have some clothes out washing and I am wondering if they will get here in time to be packed in my valise. If not, I suppose I must lose them.

There is a mail due here tonight and we all hope it will not be delayed.

I must now close, dear Mother, as I have some writing to do for the Colonel. I hope it will not be long before I have an opportunity to write you again. By the way, Smith Fairchild of H. port is Second Lieutenant in the 161st Regt. New York Volunteers and their camp is near ours. He called on me the other day and I have been to see him.

Give my love to Grandma and Grandpa and all my many friends. Tell them all that I am getting along nicely ad will be able to do duty very soon now. Give my love to Lewie and accept much for yourself as well as a hearts warm kiss, hoping you will conntinue to write often to your affectionate son, — Albert