This letter was written by Stephen G. Berry (1842-1863), the son of Stephen Allen Berry (1806-1884) and Mary Leavitt Pratt (1807-1863) of Garland, Penobscot County, Maine. Stephen enlisted in 1861 in Co. F, 12th Maine Infantry at the age of 22. He died of diphtheria in the regimental hospital at Baton Rouge in January 1863.
Stephen’s older brother, Arthur A. Berry (1836-1862) also served in the Civil War, enlisting in Co. D, 20th Maine Infantry. Sadly he also died in a hospital just two months before his brother.
Stephen wrote the letter to his sister, Mary C. Berry who later married O. W. Twitchell of Cambridgeport, Massachusetts.
This letter was written from New Orleans where the 12th Maine guarded the U.S. Mint. Stephen speaks of an impending move which occurred the following day when the 12th embarked on an expedition to Pass Manchac.
Addressed to Miss Mary C. Berry, Dover South Mills, Maine
New Orleans [Louisiana]
June 15th 1862
Miss M. Co__
I received [your letter] dated May 18 and 25 last Thursday night just as we came in from dress parade.
It is a fine pleasant day here. The church bells are just ringing but still it does not look like Sunday. The shops and stores are all open and there seems to be as much business carried on as any other day.
We have not been in a battle as yet but we thought something of the kind was about to take place the night of the 12th. At half past ten the drums beat ‘to arms’ awaking every man from his slumber. We all speedily equipped ourselves and formed in line and marched around the mint once and were disappointed. It was only done to see how quick we could turn out. Every regiment in the city were out in ten minutes ready for action.
It seems by your letter that all the widowers are getting married and some that are not widowers. By King, Robert says I’ll have another woman when I get home again. Has not James got Alfred’s money yet?
In regard to your marrying that young sprout minister, you must do as your one judgement directs. You know very well that I do not like to be dictated in any matter. Therefore, I shall leave others to choose their own course [in] such matters as that which seems to so nearly concern yourself.
The prospect is favorable for a speedy return. At any rate, I shall come as soon as the war is over if I live as long.
Speaking of a raising roasted corn, I have a faint recollection of something of the kind and of hearing the sound of distant footsteps as if running — also hard breathing — but all this has passed away.
Tell Miss Abby Pratt that while we were stopping on Ship Island, a young man was showing me some pictures he had with him and among the rest was one that resembled her very much, but I suppose it was all my fancy — of course it was. But enough of this. I suppose it will all come out right in the end.
Lieutenant E[dward] H. B. Wilson, Company F, 12th Maine Regiment, N. E. Div. is about returning home to Orono.
I saw two boys that belong in the 15th Maine. They said that Sam and Bill were smart.
I am writing in the cookhouse and the cooks have just received orders to cook two days rations and have it ready tonight. That seems to indicate a move but it may turn out as the trip to Texas did that I spoke of in my letter to father — a hoax.
Sure, I believe I wrote enough. So I close with good wishes to all. I remain your brother. — Stephen G. Berry
P.S. Write soon. Write often. Write long letters and tell everybody you see to write. Yours just as the bell rings, — Stephen G. Berry