This unsigned letter was written by a member of Co. H, 7th Vermont Infantry from Ship Island off the coast of Mississippi. He gives no clue to his identity except for mentioning a fellow soldier named “Henry Monroe.” A search of the company roster reveals that there was no soldier by that name. My hunch is that he is referring to Henry M. Simonds (1845-1866) of Sharon, Vermont, who enlisted in Co. H but was discharged on 20 June 1862 — probably a result of the severe illness described in this letter. Henry later recovered and served in Co. A, 9th Vermont Infantry. There were 10 other soldiers from Sharon, Vermont, serving in Company H (see Company H).
The 7th Vermont Infantry was mustered into the service at Rutland on 12 February 1862, for a three years’ term. Greatly to the disappointment of its members, it was ordered to join Gen. Butler’s southern expedition. The Regiment proceeded from Rutland on March 10, 1862, to New York City, boarding the sailing ships “Premier” and “Tammerlane,” and sailed to Ship Island, Mississippi, the Premier (conveying the right wing) arriving April 5 and the Tammerlane (conveying the left wing) on the 10th.
When the army occupied New Orleans, the 7th was stationed at Fort Pike and Carrollton, and subsequently at Baton Rouge. Eight companies joined in the expedition from Baton Rouge to Vicksburg in June, 1862, in which the men suffered much from diseases incident to the climate. After a short period passed in the vicinity of New Orleans, the regiment was sent to Pensacola, where it remained until Aug. 10, 1864. The southern summers proved very difficult for troops from the climate of Vermont to endure, and the ranks were greatly depleted by yellow fever, malaria, etc.
May 2nd 1862
Co. H, 7th Vermont Regiment
in care of Capt. M. M. Young ¹
I seat myself to write a few lines to you to let you know that I am well. I meant to write to you before but I could not get time. We left Rutland a little sooner than we expected and I did not have any time to write until we got here and we began to to think that they was never a going to land. We were on the water 28 days. We enjoy ourselves first rate here but not quite so well as we should if it was not so warm and we did not have to drill so hard. But I am in hopes that we are a coming home again before long but I can’t tell for we don’t get any war news here to speak of. I have not heard a word from Vermont since I left Rutland and I am in hopes to hear soon but I don’t know as I shall while I am here. It is nothing but clear sand here.
We are in Dixie’s land on the sandy bottom but I have not sowed any seeds yet. I have not been homesick since I left home. I would not go home if I could unless the whole Regiment went. I had a letter from there and they wrote that they had heard that I was homesick but it is not so. We thought that when [we] got down here that we was a going to get tobacco and such stuff cheap but we are mistaken about it for the tobacco is $1.25 cents a pound and sugar 20 cents a pound.
We had a hard storm while we was on the ship that drove us back three days. The right wing of the Regiment got here five days before we did.
Henry Monroe has been unwell now for a week and has not done anything. I never see anyone grow poor so fast as he does. I should not wonder if he got his discharge but I don’t know. He looks bad now. I can’t think of much more to write this time.
Write as soon as you get this and direct your letter to Ship Island, Co. H, 7th Vermont Regiment in care of Capt. M[ahlon] M. Young
¹ Mahlon M. Young, credited to, Hartford, VT, age 21, enlisted 5/9/61, mustered in 5/9/61, Private, Co. B, 1st Vermont Volunteer infantry, mustered out 8/15/61; commissioned Captain, Co. H, 7th Vermont Volunteer infantry, 2/3/62 (2/4/62), killed in action, 9/27/64.