Chelmsford Historical Society
Charles Bartlett, November 1862

Suffolk Sunday Nov 2nd 1862
3:30 PM

Dear Mother

Your welcome letter of the 29th came to hand in due time but have little news to tell you in return. We keep on in the even tenor of our ways the same as when we first arrived here. There is some little prospect that we may winter here but it is very doubtful. In the Army you never know when you get up in the morning where you will be at night. I do not think it probable that we shall advance unless we have more troops. If they begin to come in then I shall think it is a go. As soon as it is decided that we are to stay here this winter I shall build me a log house so as to keep comfortable nights. We are liable to an attack here at any time. The rebels are in force at Petersburgh and this side and will probably be down to see us. If they came they will meet with a warm reception. We send out scouting expenditions once a week who go out 30 ro 40 miles to see what is to be seen. They almost always come upon the Rebels before they return. Our regiment has been out twice and will probably have to go again on Friday next. The order of our going is as follows - 1000 Cavalry 5000 Infantry and 1 Battery of Artillery (6 cannon) - quite a little force of itself. I wish you could see us when we start out on one of these trips. One hard looking set. I received a letter from Father tonight. He says he has written to Dr. Burnham. I am much better than he thinks for. Was weighed today and weighed 160 lbs. When our regiment goes out to Black Water again I shall be with them. Tell John my boy found his letter in his coat pocket on Friday last. He took it to put in the post office and put it in his pocket instead. Will write him in a day or two. I wrote to my wife last night about some new shirts that I wish made. Get some prety plaid if you can find any such - light colored. Make them as long or a little longer than my white shirts and without collars - only binding. Please send them when the coat that I wrote Father about is sent. I should like some pickles if you have any to spare. You say George is not well. What is the trouble with him? Geo. A. Parkhurst is still ailing - his trouble is principaly homesickness I think. George A. Byam is out. I wish you would try and induce John to come out here. The cool weather has a wonderful effect on me. I think I shall go to the Fort (Monroe) this week to see my friend Bellnap who is in command of the [New] Ironsides in the mouth of James River. No thoughts of coming home at present. Remember me to Grandfather and all at home. I received another letter from Mr Hart last week. Will write to father soon

Your son
Charles.


Suffolk Nov 5th 1862

My Dear Father

I have so many correspondents that I cannot possibly find time to answer all my letters. My health is much better than you think for. I was weighed the other day and found I could bring up 160 lbs. Dr Burnham has not mentioned the receipt of your letter to me and as I am so much better probably will not. No news here. You have probably seen Gen Dix oppinion of our position. He thinks we shall have to take up soon. Our men are employed most of the time in throwing up fortifications so we do not have much time for drill. The troops are all (3 year men as well as 9 month) disgusted with the war. And when men get so they are not good for much.
What is that large Army of Gen McClellans doing. Are they going to keep quiet all winter. I do not know what to make of John – what does his Father say about him? We are all anxious to hear from Massachusetts Election. I am going to commence building me a log house today. We have terrible cold nights here - we can hardly keep warm. I had a letter from my friend Bellnap of the Navy a few days since. He is in command of the Ironsides which is lying at the mouth of James River. I shall go up and see him in a few days. Did you receive my note with regard to new coat? Remember me to all of my frinds in Chelmsford. How is that drill club. I wish I could have them out here about one month. I would show them some drill. The boys are most of them in good health. John Parkhurst is getting along finely. Geo A Parkhurst I think will never be any better till he goes home (homesick). Where is Milo Proctor? Goodby

Your Son
Charles.


Nov 6th 1862

Dear Father

I have just written to John asking him to come out here and see me. I wish you would come out too or if he does not come I wish you would come out without him. It is not a very expensive trip. If you come, take the boat at Baltimore for Fortress Monroe then the boat for Norfolk and the cars to Suffolk. All is quiet here as yet and I hope will remain so. Our men are employed as usual in diging and so we have very little drill. I hope they will get through building forts soon or the men will all give out. One of the storms perculiar to this climate commenced this morning. I wish you could hear the wind blow and the way it rains is a caution. Dr. Burnham has not said one word about your letter to him and as I am so much better probably will not. Perhaps George would take a trip out here this winter. If he will I should be happy to see him. How is Milo Proctor do you hear anything from him. Remember me to all enquiring friends at C[helmsford]. Why will not Hattie stay at Chelmsford over Thanksgiving? I see by the paper tonight that Gov [John] Andrew is reelected also [Sen Charles] Sumner. I am sorry about Sumner. New York has done the right thing. The war will never be closed by fighting and the sooner the trouble is settled by Congress the better for the country. The Soldiers are all disgusted with the whole thing. The Rebels are treated better than we are. Do all you can to have John come. Good night. Will write again Sunday. Please send me some apples when you send the coat &c.

Your Son
Charles.

Novermber 7th
7:30 AM

Our rain storm has turned to snow. We have about 2 inches of snow on the ground this morning and terrible cold weather.

Charles


Suffolk Nov 10th 1862
7:30 PM

My Dear Brother.

I received yours of Nov 2nd some time ago and should have answered it before but have been so busy could not possibly find time. We have nothing new more than when I last wrote. Gen Dix is expected here soon to look the forces over. After that we may expect some work. What is the prospect for John? Coming out here? Is it all talk? Our men are kept diging all the time so we have but very little time for drill. We had quite a snow storm last Friday and plenty of mud since. I think the prospect is that we shall stay here this winter. If we are to I wish you to come out and see me - wont Father come too? I am glad to hear that Grandfather is so much better and hope he will continue to improve till he is as well as ever. The boys are most of them in good health & spirits. Geo A Byam is with the Company again. Geo Parkhurst comes out tomorrow from the hospital. John Parkhurst has been sick with fever & Ague but will be out soon as he is geting better. I am sorry to hear of the election of Charles Summer. The only way to settle up this trouble between the U States government & Rebels is by Compromise. I should think it had been shown that it cannot be done by fighting. The soldiers of the old Regiments here with us are as dissatisfied with the way the war has been conducted as they can be. Father Abraham [Lincoln] must look out or the soldiers will take matters into their own hands. You have no idea what a feeling there is amongst them against the present policy of the Administration. The men wont fight when they are brought into battle and the rebels know it too. The rebels & N**** are better cared for out this way than the soldiers. Why dont the Drill club volunteer for Banks Expedition. I think he will need them before he gets through with his job. If Louis Napoleon takes hold of Uncle Sam, you will see that the Rebellion will be closed up soon. Send on your chestnuts - will be thankfull for them. Our drum corps are beating Tattoo [signal for all soldiers to repair to their quarters for the night] so Good night. Let me hear from you again soon.

Your Brother
Charles.

Love to all.


Suffolk Nov 15th 1862
7:30 AM

Dear Mother

Yours of the 9th should have been answered before but I have been so busy I could not possibly find time. My box has arrived at Norfolk and will probably be here today. I shall pack it up and send it back. I have some things that I do not want and that I cannot carry if we move so will send them home. Milo’s box has been sent to him. Our cavalry pickets have been attacked twice within 4 days by Scouts of the Rebel cavalry. We expect they will be down upon us one of these morning[s] in good time. When they come there will be tight work. If they get the best of us the town of Suffolk will be in ashes in a short time and the families of those who are in the Rebel Army will be homeless. Grandfather has probably received my letter before this time. What is the prospect of seeing John out here? I have not commenced my log house yet as the future of the 6th is very uncertain. The soldiers are rather pleased than otherwise with the removal of McClellan and hail the appointment of Gen Burnside as the best thing that could be done. He is very popular with the soldiers. I have writen to George this morning. I am glad to hear that my wife is improving in health. Father can take the coat and welcome if it will fit him. My health is good again. I weigh 163 lbs. George A Parkhurst is still in the hospital and he will always be there unless he has a little more energy and gets over the habit of looking on the dark side of everything. I wish father would come out here this winter and summer if we stay here although it is very uncertain where we shall be. What do people think about the Texas Expedition, which I think is not going to Texas any more than I am going to France. You will hear from it before a great while. It is time for our mail to go so must now close. Love to all. Goodby

Your Son
Charles.


Suffolk November 23d 1862
7 PM

My Dear Mother

Your last was received in due time - please excuse me for not answering it before. It was not that I have not thought of you & home, but because I have been so busy that it has not been answered before. Since I wrote you last I have had some experience in marching. On Monday Nov 17th at 11:00 AM we received orders to take 3 days rations and be prepared to march at 1:00 P.M. At 1:30 we started and marched all night arriving at Black Water at 6:30 AM the morning. The place where we came upon the river was Joiners Bridge -Ludlow Lawrence’s plantation. It is a beautifull place with a long lane in front. We marched up the lane at about sunrise. We had just marched up the lane when the rebel pickets who were posted behind the fences commenced to fire upon us. Our regiment (who was in the advance) were immediately ordered into line of battle and then ordered forward. We commenced to march forward with the bullets whizzing over our heads. Our boys walked right up to the mark in good shape. Our Battery (Capt Folletts of the regular army) was ordered up and opened on the scamps with grape shells. The pressure was to much for them and they took to their heels and left. We did not get a shot at them. This is the first skirmish I ever was in and I hope it will be the last. After we had got through at the Bridge we marched down to Franklin about 3 miles down the river where our battery opened on the town and blew it all to bits. We then marched toward home about 6 miles where we camped for the night in a corn field. The next morning (Wednesday) we started for home (I mean camp). When we arrived at 3 PM having marched 68 miles we were prety well used up when we reached camp. Our men are employed all the time in diging. We do not drill any - have not had even company drill for three weeks and when they have a scout we are sure to be sent. We are not used right by any means. The boys are all well. John & George Parkhurst have come out of the Hospital. I found my box when I arrived in camp from Black Water but it was in a bad condition enough. The bottoms of Byam’s can containing preserve came off and the stuff was all over the box. My coat and new shirts escaped. I am anxiously looking for my thanksgiving box but where we shall be on that day is more than I can tell. There is now no doubt but there is to be an advance from this place soon - whether we shall be in it is more than I can tell. All I can say is I hope not. I am glad to hear Hattie is looking better. Give my love to Father Adams & all at Grandfathers. I still hope to see John. Will answer Father’s letter soon also Adams’. Shall probably start my box home on Thursday. Will write when I do. Remember me to all. Goodby

Your Son
Charles.


Suffolk Nov 26th 1862
5 PM

My Dear Father

Do not suppose that because I have not answered your letter before that I have forgot you. The truth is I have been so busy that I could not find time. We were sent out scouting last week as you saw by my letter to mother and we shall probably go tomorrow again. Oh I dread these terrible marches. They take hold of me awfully. I have been about sick for 3 days and if we are sent scouting tomorrow it will use me up. We shall probably go to Franklin if we start, where the Rebels are in force. Tomorrow is thanksgiving a day that I have always been taught to respect & observe but tomorrow God alone knows where I shall be. Perhaps on the battle field. I received the box from my wife last night. We have had a terrible rainy day but it has cleared off at last. So I suppose we shall start off tomorrow. This life in the Army is of the most disagreeable kind - injurious both to health & morals especially the latter. I also have some doubts if I ever get over those habits of idleness that we acquire in camp. They are so much easier to acquire than to shake off. I received a letter from Adams tonight. He wishes me a pleasant Thanksgiving - as pleasant as he will have. The prospect is that I shall have to start for the Black Water tomorrow at sunrise so you can judge how pleasant a day I shall pass. I would willingly give $300 if I could only be at home Thanksgiving. I don’t think of anything new of any consequence here. There will probably be an advance from this way before long but I hope we shall not be a part of it. I see by Adams letter that Chelmsford has to furnish 21 more men. What I wish to ascertain is this. If I cannot come in as a resident of Chelmsford and receive a bounty whatever thay pay. I was not taxed in Boston in 1862 nor anywhere else. Will you please ascertain if it can be done and let me know. If I am not on their (Boston’s) check list or tax list I should think it might be done. Please keep me posted as to what they propose to do in Chelmsford. How is it about John and the rest of them that talk of comming out here? Are they coming. How is Grandfather? I am sick when I think of 6 months more to stay in the Army. Give my love to Mother, Adams & all at Grandfathers. I am glad to hear that my wife is improving in health. The boys are all well and in good spirits. The men & officers have all lost what interest they ever had in the regiment and no one seems to care for anything but to get the time off. The men are employed all the time in diging on the fortifications. We have not had even Company drills for a month to say nothing of battalion & brigade drills of which we have had only two since we came here. I hope & pray that God will grant success to the Army of Gen Burnside and close this terrible rebellion soon that we may return to our homes. Goodby. Write soon

From Your Son
Charles.

Adams writes me that perhaps he may come out as a soldier. Do not allow him to come upon any consideration

November 27th 1862

I am homesick enough this morning when I think of home and the pleasant gathering. God bless you all. We have had no orders to move yet but expect them every moment. Goodby

Your Son
Charles.


Suffolk Nov 27th 1862
7:30 PM

My Dear Brother Adams

Yours of the 23d was received last night. You have of course had an account of our trip to the Black Water from my last to Mother. We shall probably be sent out again tomorrow but I hope not I am sure. I think the scamps are prepaired for us this time. I received a letter from Milo tonight which I will answer tomorrow if we do not have to march. What is Chelmsford going to do about that 21 men - are they going to draft? I hope they will conclude to count me in if I can get any bounty. What do you think is the chance. We are expecting Corcorans Legion to pass through here soon to take possession of Franklin. We should have to go out there and clear out the rebels I suppose before they arrive. How is it about John - is he coming out here. I can tell you one thing and it is from one who knows too, that if you have a good home that you can stay in do so by all means and let the Army go to pot. Don’t you enlist - at any rate let me tell you that. How did you pass Thanksgiving? I thought of you a great many times today and wished myself with you. This has been a homesick day for me enough. If they draft at home please let me know who is the unlucky chap. Write to me as soon as convenient and give my love to all at home and all who enquier. Goodby

From Your Brother
Charles.

November 28th
7:30 AM

The day has opened beautifully - it makes me think of home in October. I do not know whether we shall go to Black Water today or not. I hope not though. Give my love to all at home and at Grandfathers. Goodby

Your Brother
Charles.

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