This letter was written during the US Civil War by Hiram A. Chambers of the 15th Regiment Massachusetts, Company C, out of Worcester. He wrote it home to his family. The letter was dated December 11, 1861. I was given permission to document these letters by my dear friend Jane Richardson. Hiram was Jane’s great-uncle.
Here is the full transcript of this letter. I’ll note I added punctuation and paragraphs to make it easier to read.
Civil War Letter of Hiram A Chambers
15th Regiment Massachusetts Company C
December 11, 1861
Picket Guard on the banks of the Potomac
Wednesday December 11th 1861
Dear Parents –
I now seat myself at the foot of my bunk in my little mud hut to write to you to let you know that I am well. Never was better in my life. Fat as ever, for ought I can see, and enjoying myself considerably.
We stand guard every other night and right in sight of our battleground we have a fine view of it from our picket, now that the leafs are off the trees and it is awful looking place. The bluff is some two hundred feet high all covered with large rocks. Every day we can see the rebel pickets on the bluff watching us. We were building a raft to go across the canal the other day and they come out there in great numbers and after awhile some mounted officers came out and watched us awhile. I guess they thought we were agoing to cross.
They have got 47 men out of the regiment chopping logs to build a block house. They have been chopping 4 days so I guess they are a going to have a big one. It is intended to resist a 9 pound ball. The shape of it is to be like this (a cross shape).
We have got new tents at camp. They are the bill tent and will hold 20. This is something we needed badly for our old ones were pretty well used up.
I guess we can manage to keep warm somehow or other.
Do you think there is any prospects of getting home before three years? O what a long time that is. Only think of it – not see our folks for three years and perhaps never. This is cruel and no mistake.
I had a letter last night from Z. He says his folks are all well. I wanted to be at home on my birthday but this war prevented it.
Some one or other is always at me about liquor – either you or M. or some one else – just as though I could not be trusted at all. I promised you when I came away that I would not and I am a going to keep that promise. Do you believe me or not?
I am sorry M was disappointed about her letter but I guess she has got one before this. I sent one to her and you on the 3rd of December. I shall be very glad of the shirts, and mittens I don’t care much about. I am well supplied but you can send them if you want to.
Yes that was a good thing taking Mason and Slidell, the scoundrels. Jeff and Beaurigard are too sly for us as yet, but when the trap springs, they, says I, down goes their house.
Tell Father I wish he would write to me.
Of course you would like a description of my log, or rather mud, hut. It contains two of us. It is built like this: in front we put two post with crotches in the top, 5 feet high, and laid a pole across them. We, about 7 foot from them, two more about 2 feet high, and put a pole across them. We laid rails on top as thick as we could, then corn stalks, then straw, then cut sod and put on top, and then threw dirt on top of that, and the sides we put up rails, and then a mud wall 1 1/2 feet thick.
We have a fire place on one side. We have got a board for a door. Our bed is rails laid down, then boarded on top, and then 8 inches of corn stalks and husks, and you better believe it is warm.
I do not think of any thing more, so good bye for the present.
From your loving son,
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