1861 December 27 Camp Federal Hill Baltimore

My Dear Father your letter of the 23d is received as you think
my last letter was rather long I thought I would make this A short
letter for that purpose I have taken A small sheet of paper the first
question you ask is are we in comfortable quarters yes, we are, we
moved into Barracks Tuesday we are all in with the exception
of the Officers & four companies,& they will be in less than A week
who is the writer that makes so much fuss about the Soldiers on
Federal [Hill] suffering so much from the cold, as I wrote you in my last
we have as much wood as we want to burn there are some that would
grumble if they had roast turkey every day, those that grumble are
the ones that always play sick when there is any duty to do, I cannot
stand the cold better than anyone else, I have not suffered any yet
now it is true had A few cold nights & there has been but two of us in
A tent while the other tent had from three to five in them you
would not think the men suffered any if you could see them get
up in the morning & go to the Hydrant & strip to the waist, that is
done every morning the whole story is the Colonel of our Regiment is A
hard working man & whatever he can do for the comfort of the men
he will do he has worked himself sick several times while we were
at work on the Fort he was not absent halfe an hour in the day
he was all over the work first with A shovel next with A pick
then again with A Baltimore Hack, that is the name we give it
some folks call it A wheelbarrow if the men behave themselves they
have no better man in the Regiment if the men do not behave themselves
they can find no harder one to deal with, The men that do not
behave themselves & get punished are those that make complaint
to give you some Idea what kind of A man we have for A Colonel
I will relate A little incident that happened one evening on dress
Parade, every evening on dress parade it is the rule to read off the
Order such as trial of court martial Regimental order & the evening
I speak of it was rather cold & the men having no gloves their hands
were verry cold when the Adjutant took the book for the purpose of
reading the order the col stoped, this may seem A small matter but to us
it was A big thing. the one that told the story about Genl Lockwood left out
the best part of it he said he could find out the man so he went along the
line & picked out A man that was sick & had not been out of camp since the
Regt had been at Easville the man happened to have some feathers on his blanket
it was then that the men began to gobble, Gen Lockwood was verry much disliked
by the whole Brigade as for taking turkeys & chickens when we were hungry we
did what was right we were in an enemys country & every man countanenced
the Rebellion we were hungry & provisions here gave out we wanted something
we wanted something to eat we got it that was all, we took no property nor
destroyed any no one was injured, as for Gen Lockwood perhaps he is not
the most Loyal Gen in the Army, now about Suttlers it is true they charge
tremendous prices for their goods but many of the suttlers may be situated like the
suttler of our Regt untill this month he had no commission from the government
has been doing business here the men knew that he was not an aurthorized
suttler & of course he could not oblige the men to pay him of course he must
charge enough to make up for those that did not pay him & I have no doubt
that A great many others have lost large sums of money, but now the suttler
of the Regt is appointed by the Government & is oblidged to charge no more
than A fair profit if he charges more than he ought the men are protected
by law in regard to suttlers, it is no use Suttlers cannot be dispensed with
‘they do not make any more than the Quartermasters if you was A soldier
used tobacco writing papers, pens, & blacking you must have them & if
you are verry far from any City or Village & want these articles the suttler
is indispensible in regard to setting price the suttler of this Regiment does not
keep any the men do not buy of the suttler if they can help it there are A
number of poor Women that bring pies, cake, apples &c to the Camp & the
soldiers buy of them I can keep away from the suttler unless I want their
things & must have them this is all I have to say about them. I saw A leter
in the transcript from A member of the 8th Maine dated at Port Royal, the
writer of the letter I think shows A lack of good sense when he writes as he
does about the 10th Maine suppose they did not have A battle suppose they
did nothing but to guard their Corps as the writer says what of that did
they not do what they were ordered to do the 10th of Maine is as good A
Regiment as any in the service & if they are ordered into Battle will be as
ready & willing as any other I am sorry that one from the same state should
write in such A manner I am personably[sic] acquainted with the Col, Major
& A large number of the Officers & I know they will not be behind any of
Regiments in Battle I notice what you say about Cols Dow & shepley with
the exception of their want of A Military education they I think will
prove to be two as good Cols as Maine has sent to the war I am not surprised
at all that the folks in Portland should say what they did of things for
there are some if they are not fortunate enough to obtain them get
commissions themselves turn & abuse them that are fortunate enough
to obtain them as for myselfe I am satisfied I am on good terms with
every man in the company & can get as many favours from them as
an other one in the company there has been A large number of
commissions given to men in this company men are being promoted
every day there are four vacancies to be filled in company F caused by
two of the men obtaining commissions in other regiments & two Men
were promoted I have written Just what I think & just what I believe
& hope the letter will prove interesting I recd A letter from Joseph
yesterday he says he as signed the allotment bill by which you can
draw fifteen dollars every pay day from you Son Geo W Leavitt

Letters from George Leavitt of the 5th New York and his brother Joseph of the 5th Maine were copied into a ledger by their father John Leavitt in October 1865 “because they are of value to me and I was fearful that they might get mislaid.” Both boys were mortally wounded in the war, George at Second Bull Run, August 30, 1862, and Joseph at Spotsylvania, May 18, 1864.

MSS 66

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