Chelmsford Historical Society
Charles Bartlett, September 1862

Camp Suffolk
Suffolk Va Sept 17th 1862

Dear Father

We have arrived at last at Suffolk Va. but what we are here for I do not know. All I can say is that I wish I was again in old Chelmsford - you would never catch me in the Army again. I would give all if I was again in Massachusetts. I have been very sick for a day or two with the Cholera Morbus [now called gastroenteritis] - last night I thought I should go by the board but I am better today and hope I shall be able to be about soon. Milo J Proctor is quite sick but the Doctor thinks he will be about again soon. The rest of the Chelmsford boys are all right except J[osiah] R Fletcher who is ailing a little but I believe the boys one and all wish themselves at home again. I have not been well since I left home and I am afraid this kind of life will not agree with me. The weather is hot all day and cold at night. Terrible hot it is too. I think if people at home could know what we have suffered since we left Lowell they would not be surprised that we are dissatisfied. I do not think I shall stay the nine monts out. What do you think about my resigning? You know I did not receive any bounty so people connot say that I went into the Army for the sake of the bounty. If you could go to Washington and stay a day or two you would think that the Government did not care whether the war was brought to a close or not. The people in this town are all secession strongest kind. The Rebel Army is about 20 miles from us in force and I suppose we are liable to an attack at any time. We have had orders to send our trunks home and I have about concluded that if my trunk goes home I will go with it. I have written to Harriet [Harriet Cooper Bartlett, wife of Charles] today. I suppose she has heard from me before as I have written to her three times. Let me hear from you as soon as possible. Also please send us some papers. Remember me to all my friends at home. Tell King [Edwin King Parkhurst] to thank heavens that he could not come with us. Let me know what the boys say about their Captain if you hear anything said. I wish you could come out to this forsaken country and see what miserable people there are in the world. I will try and find out something about William Adams of Hampton when I get him. Tell Adams [Joel Adams Bartlett age 19, brother of Charles] if he can stay at home to do so and be thankfull. Good by. Write soon. Tell George [George Henry Bartlett age 24, brother of Charles] also John to write to me.

Your Son
Charles.

Direct as follows
Capt C.E.A. Bartlett
Co K 6th Regt Mass V M [Volunteer Militia]


Suffolk Va Sept 19th 1862

My Dear Mother,

You will see by the date of this that we are some ways south further than I ever expected to be when I left Lowell. This town of Suffolk is of itself of no importance - it is the advance post of our army. It is about 18-20 miles south of Norfolk. The country around here is the most destitute forsaken place you ever saw or heard of. The people are all strong secessionists. We have about 9,000 or 10,000 troops here so they have to keep quiet. We expected a fight on Wednesday night or Thursday so our baggage was all sent to Fortress Monroe for safety. The prospect for a battle is blown over but I am afraid that we shall not see our baggage very soon. I never knew what it was to be homesick till I came out here. I am as sick of the army as a person can be and I would give all if I could only be in Massachusetts again. I think it will learn me a good lesson to let well enough alone. I was quite sick for a few days but am better now and about camp. Please send me letters and papers all you can raise. My conveniences for writing are not very good - only an old box for my desk - so please excuse mistakes. Now about drafting in Massachusetts? What has been done? I received a letter from my Wife last night which did me the most good of anything that has happened since I came out here - also just received one from George. Send me papers - all you can raise. This war makes terrible work in a country and the people back home should be thankfull that it is not near them. Tell Adams he never could stand this kind of life - it would use him up in a month. The Chelmsford boys are all right except Milo Proctor who is in the Hospital at Norfolk. The Doctor tells me that he thinks he will be about in a few days. The boys frequently say they wish themselves at home and their Captain wishes the same. I enclose programs of our reception in Philadelphia. Tell John I should like to hear from him when you write direct to me at Suffolk Va. Mass V Militia 6th Regt. I must now close as it is about time for Battalion drill. Good by

Your Son
Charles.

I have lost about 12 pounds since I left home


Suffolk Va Sept 19th 1862 7:30 PM

Dear Father

Yours of Sept 15 was just received and as I am not very busy I hasten to answer. I wrote you last Wednesday which letter I suppose you received before this time. I have been sick with Cholera Morbus but am better now so as to be about camp. We expected to have had a battle last Thursday as we received information on Wednesday evening that the Enemy was advancing on this port with 15,000 men that he had crossed the Black Water River which is a stream about 20 miles west of us and would probably be at our camp by Thursday morning so as to open on us. Thursday our men were ordered to sleep with their equipment on and be ready at a moment’s notice if they heard the long roll. We have seen nothing of them yet and our Cavalry scouts say that they have not crossed the B.W. River. If they have not they will not be allowed to do so. Our company was out on picket duty yesterday, posted so as to protect a Battery of Artillery. I was by advice of the surgeon in my quarters and could not go. We shall probably be sent out tonight and if we are I shall take command of them. We shall probably go out 8 or 10 miles. The boys are most of them in good spirits and good health except Milo Proctor who is at Norfolk in the Hospital but Dr. Burnham thinks he will be able for duty in about one week. You say the amount standing to my credit in Lowell Bank is $135.00. The treasurer told me last winter that it was $198.00 then, and I think it must be more now. Will you please look it up? I understand the city of Boston is paying a bounty to their nine month men if so please ask George to see if I cannot wring in for my share. I have written to Mother Harriet this PM. My quarters are a tent where when it rains we have plenty of water & mud. I feel some slight attack of Rheumatism and expect nothing but I shall be laid up with it. Tell the Chelmsford boys to come on. We are all ready for them. I am sick of this kind of life I assure you. Don’t say anything to discourage the boys from coming but do not let Adams enlist - at any rate he could not stand it one month. We have had to send our trunks off to Fort Monroe so we have nothing but what we have on our backs. If we have a fight here we will let you hear from us by telegraph very quick - after it is over. Be of good cheer as I do not expect any for some time to come. Goodby

Your Son
Charles.


Suffolk Sept 26th 1862

My Dear Father

I received yours of the 19th last evening at about 6 PM and I assure you it gave me much pleasure. I am laid up with headache & Rheumatism today but will probably be about in a few days. I have hardly seen a well day since I have been out here. I think the miserable water that we have to drink is the cause of my illness. The weather is so different from New England that it takes hold of us – cold nights & hot days. We changed camp yesterday so I hope we shall be better as we are on higher ground. The men are all passably well, not very sick any of them except Milo Proctor and he not dangerously. He is at Craney Island but expect him at camp next week. As to the matter of recruiting, the Colonal says he will authorize the chairman of the Selectmen to recruit and send the recruits to [Massachusetts Adjutant] Gen [William] Schouler who will put them through. You will probably hear from him soon. Tell the Chelmsford boys to come out with us, one month of our time gone now, who is talking of enlisting. Please let me know when you write again who they are. I have thought of your apples a great many times and wish I could get hold of them. We do not get any here that are any good for anything. Yours of the 22d received last night gives your opinion of my thought of resignation. My friends at home seem to be all of one mind with regard to it so I will try and stick for 8 months longer. I hope I can get a furlough before that time. Let me know what my men say about their Captain if you hear anything. You speak of the Harpers monthly. I do not think it would be well to send them as it is quite uncertain where we may be when they arrive and it will cost more to get them here than they are worth. We have rather hard feed here I tell you for a person who is at all particular as to what he eats. What is the matter with the Regular Army officer that he would not see Harriet when she was up to Chelmsford? Has George been up lately & I will write to Adams & Mother tonight. Please answer soon with regard to those who wish to enlist. Tell George and King to write to me. Also write often yourself

Your Son
Charles.


September 29th 1862

My Dear Father,

As I have a few leisure moments I will improve them in this way – in writing home. I have not much news to tell you as things are about the same as at the time of my last. I am not very well and in fact have not been since I have been out here. I think the water has a good deal to do with our ails. I have been officer of the day today so have not had much spare time. We were called up at 3 AM on Sunday morning & ordered under arms, we thought that the time for some of us had come, but we were dismissed at 7:00 so we are all right up to this time. I hear tonight the Rebels are in force 12 miles off so perhaps we may be turned out before morning & perhaps before this reaches you have been in a smart fight as a smart one it will be if they attack us. I wish you would send me on a box with some apples etc & Harriet has something she would like to send. If you send any apples do them safe in papers so they won’t jamb. I received my package that was put in George Parkhurst’s box last night all right. I received a letter from John last night which I will answer soon. What is the prospect for any more men for our company? I wish they would come on and fill us up. They will probably have but 8 months service. There is much to talk about our going back to Baltimore which I hope may prove true but I am afraid it is but a camp story. The weather here is as hot as the hottest we have at home in summer, terrible for our men who are most of the time in the trenches shoveling. This kind of work is what takes the men down. If you send any apples do not send a very large box. Send a good strong box that I can use after it is empty if you can get one. I enclose a piece taken from the paper relating to Suffolk. It is newspaper talk only. Remember me to all enquiring friends at Chelmsford. I have not heard from George but once since I left home. Why dont he write? What about Lieut Emerson? Where is the boy? John’s description of the row pleased JRF mightily. He thought it was a good thing. The boys are most of them well. Milo has not come back yet but we expect him tomorrow. Tell Hattie to write often. Will not King write? He has so much better chance to write than I do he should not wait for me. Will write again this week if we are not played out before then. Good by

Your Son
Charles.

5 AM Sept 30th 1862

I have been up most of the night as of course has to be. We have had a quiet night and our men have had a chance to sleep for which I am thankful. I shall expect letters from Wife & home tonight - our mail arrives at 5:30 PM and generally numbers 200 or 300 letters. Send me Lowell papers if you can get them. We shall either have a fight here soon or make an advance from this point toward Petersburg. 6 AM. Have just ordered Reveille beat so our camp will soon be alive. Tomorrow we can say October which will convince us that 8 months more will send some of us home. Perhaps I may be able to get a Furlough sometime this winter if we stay here. I certainly hope so. What is the trouble with Gen Andrew and Gen McClellan. I see he fights him every chance he can get. Nothing more to write. Good by

Your Son
Charles.

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