1861: Orville Robinson to Brother

This letter was written by Orville Robinson (1820-1897), Co F., 9th Maine Infantry, who enlisted at age 42 on 21 September 1861 but was discharged on 26 December 1861 for disability. Orville was the son of Asa Robinson (1792-1865) and Lois Barrows (1795-1878) of Oxford County, Maine.

Orville was married in April 1845 to Sabra Wheeler Bisbee (1826-1916) and they had two children: Fanny B. Robinson (1845-1869) and Henry Raymond Robinson (1853-1943). Orville wrote this letter to his brother — most likely Benjamin Franklin Robinson (1830-1880).




October 16 [1861]

Dear Brother,

I cannot say that I am well although I have been the most part of the time since I left Maine. I have had a terrible diarrhea. I am no worse off than hundreds of others. It is owning to the change of climate. We shall all be rugged after we get acclimated. My hip troubled me some about drilling. Capt. [Horatio] Bisbee went with me to the surgeon and explained it to him. They concluded to make a nurse of me. I told the surgeon I was willing to serve as a nurse but I told that he would find me rather green. He said he found them all so at first. I get twenty dollars and a half a month. That is twenty-five cents a day — Sundays included — more than a private gets.

Our fare is good. We get beef steak once a day, plenty of corned beef, potatoes, hard bread, rice, [  ] pudding, good tea and coffee, plenty sugar and molasses to go with the whole.

We was encamped one mile from the Capitol about ten days. We are now at Annapolis City which is located on the Chesapeake Bay. It is forty miles from Washington. We was three days getting there by railway. We was sitting still more than half the time waiting for trains to pass back and forth. One time we waited all night. The cause of this is because there is so many troops and so much baggage and supplies pass down the empty trains have to pass up on the same track. ‘Tis said that there is twenty thousand troops here now. Some think we are to remain here. As near as I can learn, we are to go farther south soon — a portion of us.

There is not anything out here that looks so pleasing as things do in Newington. I was very much disappointed as regards Washington. I expected to see the finest city that was in the country [but] it’s not so. It is nice round about the Capitol [building]; the rest part of the city looks rather sluggish. We have no soil in Maine that is so fertile as it is out here. Still, take the country together, it does not look so flourishing as I expected.

I saw President Lincoln riding out. I thought he was quite a good-looking man. You probably get more news in your papers about the movements of the armies [than] I do. I have not seen a Tribune since I left Augusta. I should be glad to have you send me one.

I heard you have sold your house. If you will get my colt and winter him, I will pay you well. I will send you some money in a month or two. I want him buted [?] up strong till he will give up to the bute [?]. The first thing to learn him is to walk in the harness. The next is to stand still till you get into the carriage. The next is to back. Be careful… not turn him out when is or get a nose halter to hitch him with.

Tell mother not to worry about me. I am doing well and like as well as I expected. Give my love to all of the folks. Tell them the general opinion is that the war will be closed up in six months. I should be glad to have all of you write a good long letter.

— O. Robinson

Direct your letter [to] Washington D. C., 9th Maine Regiment, Company F, and I shall get it if I am to [   ] or anywhere else.



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