Alfred J. Barnard, 16 November 1862

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Steamship Atlantic
Hampton Roads
November 16th 1862

Dear Mother,

I am going to commence a letter to you this morning but can’t tell how much of a one it will be. First the ship is rolling very much this morning—so much so that we have a number of seasick officers as well as men aboard. In the next place, I haven’t had my breakfast yet. And finally, I have very little interesting news to tell.

Yesterday afternoon the wind commenced blowing very hard and by sundown there was quite a sea rolling. This morning the wind doesn’t blow as hard but the ship rolls more. I am very happy to say that I have not felt it in the least. There is no knowing how long I will stand it. I can hardly write on the lines, the ship rolls so. There are at least eighty or ninety vessels of all kinds that have run in here during the night and cast anchor on account of bad weather outside.

After breakfast. Friday afternoon the regiment went ashore to get an airing and stretch out a little. I together with fifty men were left left behind to clean up the ships. Yesterday Will Seymour and I went ashore with the mail and while there, went to see Fortress Monroe and the two “big guns” mounted on the shore just above the Fortress. The guns are large but just about one third smaller than I supposed they were.

About the fort, I haven’t much to say. It is not as pleasant a place as I thought to find. About as large as Hammondsport with a stone wall all around, covered outside with grass and plenty of guns on the top. Outside of this is a ditch about thirty feet wide and fifteen deep. This is filled with water. The 3rd Regiment of New York State Vols. is stationed here. This is one of the best in the service.

There are now five steam transports in the Roads. On them are about four thousand three hundred men, all going in this expedition. It is said that the Irish Brigade at Newport News is to go with us and I don’t know how many more. Some say that we are going to Texas with General Banks, but no one knows. I rather think the Colonel thinks we are going to Port Royal. General Emory is aboard the Baltic with the 38th Massachusetts Regiment—Col. Ingraham. Besides the steam transports are any number of sail, with horses, cattle, hay and all kinds of stores. These, I presume, are to go with us but there is no knowing till we start.

I have just received Lewie’s letter dated Nov. 12th. I was glad to get it after waiting so long. It seems an age since we left Baltimore. I have also received five papers. They went the rounds and all enjoyed reading them. I wish you would have those slippers sent as soon as you receive this for I presume we will stay here ten or twelve days. John says have Lewie go to his Father’s and get a pair just like mine and send them at the same time. And if you have a loaf of cake to spare, you might put it in the box. I’ll take the chances of getting it.

Gray has received Lewie’s letter and was delighted with it. It was real funny. Next time he writes, I wish he would tell us all about the [Citizen] Light Guard, who is captain, and what is Townsend? His letter on that point was rather mixed.

You had better send letters here till you see or hear that we have moved. Mark the letters, “Steamer Atlantic,” Fortress Monroe, and then if we move, they will be forwarded. Lewie says Gray tells more news than all the rest of us put together. Now where he gets it, I don’t know. I always tell you all I hear when I think there is any truth in it. And I always write whenever I have time and think I can make a letter interesting. Gray has nothing whatever to do but drill and has his 2nd Lt. to help him do that. I am most to the end of my paper and the ship rolls so that it is hard writing, and I don’t think I could fill another sheet if I commenced it, so hoping this will find you well, I will close with love to Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Julia, Coz. Mary, Lewis, and a heap for your own dear self. From, Albert

Mrs. Gillespie who lives just below us on South Division Street came aboard this morning, That lame boy who passes our house so often is her son. She has a son here in the regiment. He is a sergeant in Co. H.