6 April 1863: “I do not think it would be agreeable to military etiquette to call on a Col’s. wife and therefore, though I much desire her acquaintance, I think I must defer the pleasure until freed from my uniform.”

Item Description: Letter, 6 April 1863, from a Union solder named Carl, written in camp, New Bern, N.C., discussing the Confederate blockade of the river and the Union occupation of the town. The letter also mentions the free time the soldier had for leisure and socializing with the townspeople.

Item Citation: From folder 44 of the Federal Soldiers’ Letters #3185Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:

No. 37

In Camp
New Bern April 6th 1863

My Dear Parents,

A mail closes this evening and I will write you a few lines, though there is no news to forward. Since my last we have heard nothing reliable from the regiment. The rebels still blockade the river and are so entrenched and in such a place that our gunboats cannot easily shell them out, it requiring mortars. Word has been sent to Fortress Monroe for reinforcements which are expected daily. If we once get more troops it is an easy thing to cross the [Nuse?] and marching overland attach their rear and bag them. This last will doubtless be done. The latest advices from the town say that there has been no fighting in the place and that our boys are all safe. We hear the commanding of the Rebel batteries and the gunboats every day, but bear in mind they are fifteen miles below Washington on the Pamlico River. The Rebels have three batteries of Whiteworth guns, the best in the service. Some Cavalry and artillery crossed the river last evening to go on a scout towards their rear. // The wind blows very severely now and has for two or three days. I expect every minute to find myself crawling out from under a pile of canvass. I have tigthened it as much as I can and guess it will hold. Three tents have blown down. The river is very rough and higher than I ever have seen it. There is a “dug-out” which I use when the water is calm and paddle about in it. Fishing is quite fashionable; and the boys go out on a long ruined pier from which they catch eels, perch, &c. The “Augusta [Dinsmon?]” is due tomorrow and on Thursday I expect to feast on the contents of our box. I fear Charlie will not get his share of the perishables but I shall save the canned and preserved articles safe for his return. If the blockade should be broken I would send him his half in a box. I shall not expect to see him before the first of  next month. I kill time now by sleeping, reading, writing &c. We are very aristocratic in our meal hours, breakfasting at 9 or ten A.M. and dining at five P.M. I like the two meals a day very well. I seldom get up before nine and retire early to read. So time passes swiftly. For exercise I chop wood, row, ride and walk- I have a great many down town acquaintances clerks &c who also give me calls. I have been introduced to two paymasters by their clerks with whom I have formed valuable acquaintances. I know you are thinking, “well, if he has so much spare time he might call on Mrs. Holbrook” True I might, but while in the army I mean to keep my place as a private. I do not think it would be agreeable to military etiquette to call on a Col’s. wife and therefore, though I much desire her acquaintance, I think I must defer the pleasure until freed from my uniform. After I return to B. I hope to have an introduction to Mrs. H. I know her by sight and see her on the street frequently. Now don’t scold me for this please don’t, “I feel too tired to be whipped” for it! The time is short when I can meet her as a civilian! It will be very hard for the old regiments to see us go home next June, and think that they have still over a year to serve. I shouldn’t wonder if Dan should get a furlough and come home with me. Wouldn’t it be pleasant? I have written him to-day. Are you at work collecting buttons for me? I gain slowly. The other day I met a “Shade” with a button on his coat which I wanted so stopped him and cut it off, telling him, he was not allowed to wear that kind; he went on his way elated at not being taken to the guard house for the supposed offence, taking me for a Provost Guard! Capt Griswold came down from picket to-day and announced all quiet with them. John [Beck?] is well. They have now been in more than a month and the work is quite hard. Guard duty every other day. Harry Littlefield is in camp and we are very intimate. He sleeps in Dr. Ware’s tent. I have been cleaning up my old Secesh gun to-day. You will see that on my shoulder when we go up State St. With kind regards to all friends I close with much love

your aff. son

(Charlie Woodberry is well he came away from Washington just in time to escape the blockade) 

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