This letter was written by Daniel F. Smith (1839-1875), the son of Timothy Smith (1801-1866) and Jane W. French (1805-1886) of Turner, Androscoggin County, Maine.
Daniel enlisted as a sergeant in Co. C, 13th Maine Infantry on 4 December 1861 and was promoted to Captain on 5 May 1863 when he took command of Company F, 96th US Colored Troops.
Daniel wrote the letter to his sister Olive H. Smith (1845-1919). After the war, she married Mellen Addison Bearce (1845-1919).
The letter was written from Camp Beaufort in Augusta, Maine. For a great story of the departure of the 13th Maine from Camp Beaufort on 18 February 1862, see Hard Aground on Frying Pan Shoal by Osborne Ellis.
[Note: for another letter written by a member of the 13th Maine, see — 1862-63: George H. Staples to Anna M. Staples]
Addressed to Miss Olive H. Smith, Turner, Maine
January 18, 1862
I have time enough today to write to you and to as many more as I please. We never do anything Sunday but go to meeting about an hour and do not go at all today on account of the storm. I like to have Sunday come on many accounts. In the first place, we always have brown bread & beans Sunday morn and enough so we can eat all day if we please and it sometimes happens that I do please. Today Sergt. Brown & I bought some milk and had a grand time. Are going to have some more for supper.
I am very glad to inform you that we are going to be paid before long and it is expected that we shall leave for the seat of war as soon as we get our money. The paymaster is in town and is to begin his work in the cavalry tomorrow.
All hands are impatient to be off to Dixie’s Land where we can hear the news if nothing more. We are all making great improvements in drilling. Our battalion drills is quite interesting to those who have never seen it. I wish you could come over here before we go away and see how it is done. I should think you and Liz might arrange things so as to come over here some time this week with that old gray mare of Bray’s. Just send me word when you are coming.
Lots of women come into the camp here everyday. Some of the mothers come in and bring great boxes of doughnuts & pies for their brave sons.
Our sick boys are getting better fast. There are not half so many in the hospital as there were 10 days ago and many of them who are there now will be out in a few days. It is possible that I shall go away in a few days in advance of the regiment. The Quartermaster has to go and make arrangements for a camping ground and he expressed a wish to me yesterday for me to go with him. If he wants me, I shall go. If I should do so, we shall probably start as soon as one week from tomorrow. The intention with the authorities is for us to go to Washington and stay there. I wish we could go further south. I want to go the whole hog or never.
I hear that Norcross & Clara left their school at Paris on account of some trouble. Please tell me what it was. Please give my love to dear Elizabeth and tell her that some time I will write to her if she will be a good girl. How much longer does Ronney stop at school? How often does he go down lulagaging to Bangs? I wish I had the little whelp here in camp awhile. I’ll bet he would think of his mother. Is Ellen Cole at home? If she is, I must write to her. Do you see Tom often? When you see him again, please tell him that he owes me a letter and if he don’t answer before long, I will shoot him when I get home. Tell John to put those boots along as fast as possible and send them down by you and Liz or come himself and bring them. But by all means, try to impress your folks with the idea that some of them can as well come over to Augusta and see the soldiers as not. I don’t want them to come to see me all together but that they may see the regiments encamped and post themselves up on the manner of a soldier’s life.
Ask father & mother if they can’t come as well as not.
But I must close. Give my respects to all. Answer this week and tell all the news and oblige your brother, — Dan