17 April 1864: “Tomorrow I shall have the opportunity of seeing a torpedo work.”

Item Description: Letter written 17 April 1864 by James “Jim” E. Gifford to his parents in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Gifford discusses blockade running, lack of any news on the ship, and the use of a torpedo to clear out a ship wreck.

[Item transcription available below image]

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Item Citation: Folder 2, James E. Gifford Papers #04493-z, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:

U.S. Ship Release

Off Beaufort, N.C.

April 17, 1864

Dear Parents,

                                        I write you a few lines to let you know I am well. I received a letter from you last monday and was glad to hear you were all well. Nothing to write about of any consequence. We remain here as usual and can see no prospect of any change in our location. The weather has been quite warm this week. Blockade running seems to be getting out of date for I have not heard of the capture of any one for some time now. There is a vessel here causes some suspicion of her being a blockade runner. The hails from Phil once bound to Lt Thomas she is loaded with rum and flour since she came in here she has painted a lead color. Tomorrow I shall have the opportunity of seeing a torpedo work. Yesterday two of the smallest torpedos was taken out of use for the purpose of blowing up a sunken schooner. There is a strong tide running all the time and this wreck so situated that it causes the sand to fill up the channel between here and Beaufort. The old doctor is lazy as usual. We have quite a  farm yard aboard having pigs hens dogs-cats and kittens I attended church to day in Beaufort I see some kind provisions are getting high at home. We serve out nice white sugar for fifteen cents per pound and butter at thirty cents per pound. I think the wages in the navy must increase by the way things are increasing. Our executive officer who took home a prize has got back again. In my last letter I sent you my picture and told you I had sent one to Mag and I expect so to do but I could not find any news to write in my letter and I did not send it. I have got it about half written and I guess during this week I shall find news enough to finish it. You cant imagine how  hard it is to find anything to write about. Now we are on ship and everything goes through the same routine everyday. Letters are great god sends out here now. The only letters I get now are the ones from you and once in a while from Lue and one in about every two months from Mag. I wish you would keep me informed how ? get along Singing. I can here them out here singing every day. I can’t think of any more to write to night and I will close



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