Washington D. C. Sunday April 28th 1861

Dear Lydia,

I have been writing to Gertie & Kate
this morning and now I propose as I have passed
through one epoch of my soliders life, (for enough
has been compressed within a single week to mark
it as an epocha in my quiet stay at home life) to
take a retrospective view of the campaign so far,
and show you some of its lights and shadows. We
cannot as yet boast of many "hairbreadth' scapes
or moveing accidents by field or flood, yet the
whole movement has been to me wonderfully inter-
esting and exciting. As I sit reviewing it, it seems
like a dream, certainly more like romance than
reality. And first the preparation, so sudden, so
unexpected, so imperfect. Starting on a military
expedition of uncertain length, without definite orders
concerning our destination, in fact not anxious
to Know what service might be required of us, our
only desire being to help prevent our Government
being corrupted or overthrown by a bunch of un-
principled, ambitious, reckless, selfish man Stealing
politicians. And then the leaving home- the gathering
of necessary articles of outfit- the hasty settlement
and arrangment of business matters- the sorrowful
thoughts that would at times unbidden, force them-
selves upon us as we reflected that it might be our
fortune not to return- The parting words, the hearty
shaking of hands- the last Kiss- We reached
Boston at 3 o clock and now proceeded to Fanuel
Hall- The room we occupied was also quarters
for four other companies, composed mostly of young
men.The joviality and excitement of the occasion
together with free potations of bad whiskey made
them rude and noisy beyond measure, so that
no one was able to sleep- Then the events of

Saturday, men comeing in to enlist, friends calling to
bring the few little things of comfort or necessities that,
in the hurry had been forgotten, the excited multitude
that hung around the hall ventilating the intensity
of their feelings in shouts, and cheers and hurras,
the inspiring music of the band - the varied work
of Saturday night - loads of military equipments of
all kinds landing on the hall; the unpacking
and distribution of them to the thousand soldiers now
all ready to march. The march through the streets of
Boston at early dawn to the depot the whole city wrapped in
silence and sleep except an occasional sleeper
had been aroused by the musick of the band and
might be seen in their undress peaking from their
windows to witness the novel sight. And finally the filling
of the cars, and at length the slow movement
of the train from the depot and we leave the Old
Bay State to do which we can to sustain her
character for heroic deeds untarnished, and
give utterance to the deep settld convictions
of her sons that human slavery shall not
curse another inch of the territory of this
great country. You may imagine that by this time
I might begin to feel the need of sleep not having had
any for 42 hours - I fancied I might indulge
in a little in the cars, it not being absolutely nec-
essary for me to lie upon a soft bed to enjoy
a refreshing nap. It was an illusion - The day
was delightful -- The sun bright, the air soft and
balmy. To look out upon the earth now just
manifesting its resurrection power, and witness
the shifting panorama as we whirled along was
quite exhilarating. But it was nothing in com-
parision with the intense enthusiasm which found
expression from ten thousand living, beating,
sympathetic hearts that crowded to greet
and cheer us at every stopping place on the rout. From the nearest depot to the farthest men, women
and children thronged about us to bid us Godspeed
on our mission. They rang the bells, fired cannons,
brought food and drink and in every possible
way labored to contribute to our comfort. Ladies
would press through the crowd seize the hard hands
of our brave lads and shake them as if they were
bethrothed lovers. At all the large stations, Springfield,
Hartford, Newhaven, the crowds were immense, and
filled with wild enthusiasm. Our arrival at N.Y.
was welcomed with if possible with still more
intensity. The city had been out all day. Two
Regiments had left from there in the A.M. As
we marched up to the St. Nicholas for supper, the
distance being about two miles, the streets were
packed and the multitudes were vociferous
in their demonstrations of patriotic delight. We
took supper in the elegant dining saloon of the
St. Nick. And then for half an hour the soldiers
mingled with the crowd in the house in pleasant
social intercourse. At 12 we proceeded to
our boat. Here we were delayed a long time
on account of the difficulty of getting onboard
the horses and guns of the Boston Flying Artillery,
and did not leave the wharf until nearly four
o clock, and so another night was passed
and still a stranger to sleep. The boat was
laden with stores for the camp and about
700 men beside the 80 horses of the Artillery.
We soon began to look about for places
to rest ourselves, and bales of hay haveing
been provided it was scattered about the
hold, and soon hundreds were unconscious
of all surroundings. A dear fellow by the
name of Bates and myself stretched ourselves
in a corner and easily were rocked away
to silence and rest. About 2 o clock I roused myself and prepared to go on deck--I felt a
sort of dissiness and an unpleasant action
of my stomach. Getting upon deck I saw doz-
ens of men holding on upon the sides of the
boat and another party appearing to take pe-
culiar delight at their expense. I soon found
myself united to the former party and the way
bitter yellow bile flowed from my mouth was
unprecedented in my experience. After a while
I thought I would go below, but was quickly
obliged to return. I remained on deck until
past 5 when I went down again. But the
air of the hold had become very close and offen-
sive, dozens lying on their backs being unable
to stand upon their feet, and vomiting after the
most approved style. Bates was among the number
and was in great distress. I soon found it impos-
sible to remain and went again on deck, and
there remained until morning. Another night
making four in succession without sleep. Tuesday
was a bright warm day and by 10 o clock I began
to feel all right again. In the meantime I had
eaten two or three lemons, and my appetite began
to come. I soon began to eat and all feelings
of seasickness vanished. Tuesday night by accident
I learned that I could secure a good berth in the
state room occupied by the steward for the night
for one dollar. I quickly accepted it and at
8 o clock I was resting on a good bed, with two
nice blankets over me, and slept soundly until
called at 7 in the morning by the steward, who in-
formed me that he could furnish me with
breakfast in my room if I desired, with two or
three others if I could find any. I soon returned
with Garty and Geo. Buttrick, and we had
a breakfast of the best of hot beef steak, good
bread and butter, and hot-coffee, for which we paid one dollar a piece. Although the price was enormous
I did not regret it for I think I never enjoyed
a breakfast so well before. I owe the good fortune
of getting it to my dear friend Mr. Phelps. During
the day Wednesday I enjoyed a great deal.
We were anchored in the lovely Chesepeak
bay - and on every side were objects of great
beauty. Close to as almost within hail, was
Fort Munroe. A regiment of troops had just
reached there and every thing appeared to be
lively and active. The grounds on which the fort
is situated were a mile in length running
back to some distance. Several fine buildings
adorn it. Everthing about it was a model of
neatness, large trees were unfolding their foliage,
and the grass was of the deepest green. Our
men were sorry it was not our good fortune
to be stationed on this charming spot. In the
afternoon a boat of smaller size than ours came
along side to take our heavy stores, I went on
board her and was invited by her Capt. in to his cabin
and partook with him of hot coffee cake &c. It took
so long to remove the stores that we were compelled to
remain here until morning. I was on deck after
most of the men had retired and a more glorious
panorama including the heavens, the earth and
the sea I never witnessed. I shall never forget the
evening spent in the lovely Chesepeak bay. We were
called early wednesday morning to prepare to sail,
and soon our boat was in motion. At 7 o clock
we reached the harbor of Annapolis and eagerly
went ashore on the grounds occupied by the
United States Naval School. It is attended by about
300 young men in preparation for military and
naval service. It is a large area of land surround
with a brick wall of perhaps a mile in extent. They
are all large & substantial, and many of them splendid structures. The school has been broken up, and the
buildings are to be occupied as barracks for
the soldiers - the place being selected as a rende-
voux for the reception of troops for the war,
I occupied the day in visiting objects of beauty
and interest, and never spent a day more hap-
pily. In the afternoon the young men about 170
in number were removed in the U.S. Sloop Con-
stitution to Newport R.I. It was a sad sight.
It was a great disappointment for them to leave,
and almost all were in tears. They marched in a
bevy to the wharf the splendid band of the Consti-
tution offering musick. The thousands of troops
lined their way, the feelings of the whole subdued
in sympathy for the noble looking lads so suddenly
separated from scenes and friends they loved. As the
vessel gracefully left the wharf the band played
"Old lang Sien", the students all stood upon deck their
heads uncovered, and with waving handkerchiefs
and fond longings bid adieu to their beautiful
home. It was rumored that our regiment would
be stationed there for a few days, and I felt glad
to hear it. About 5 o clock we were called into line.
And after supper of herring & crackers, the adjutant
pointed out our quarters and being rather tired
I longed for the order to move to them. [illegible]
of my disappointment when an order suddenly came
that we must take rations for two days in our
haversacks and be prepared to march in half an
hour. The expressions of surprise and indignation
were quite plainly expressed, yet every one went
quickly obeyed. At 8 o clock we began to march
to the depot at Annapolis enrout for Washington.
The feeling of the people in the city is strong se-
cession, and undoubtedly many would be glad to
follow the example of Baltimore. But no dem-
onstration was made of an offensive nature. On the contrary the silence that pervaded the place was
opppressive. The doors and windows were mostly
closed, no lights were seen, and we felt that we
were in an enemies Country, if want of sympathy
was an indication of it. It was in shocking contrast
with our reception in N. York. Our column em-
braced 10 Companies and it was found it had been
impossible to procure cars enough to carry but 4
and we were told that the rest must march. It
was a stunning announcement, but it must be
attempted. We stood upon our feet in the streets
till 1/2 past eleven when the cars were ready to
run and we to march. It was a beautiful night
and if we must march it was much better to go in
the cool of the night. I have written to so many of
you concerning this march I will not spin out any
more about it- We proceeded in our march, at
1/2 past 7 o clock A.M. the first man reached An-
napolis Junction our destination, and at 1/2 past 12
the last one came silently and painfully to quarters.
Probably a more worn out dejected looking set of
felows never met there before. I threw aside my
equipment, lain down upon the ground under
the shade of a large oak tree, made my pillow
of a protruding root and slept soundly three hours.
On waking I found a few of the men had
risen, some conjectureing what would come next,
others examining themselves to ascertain whether
they were really alive and able to walk - I soon
found a little brook where I washed me as well
as I could and felt refreshed. A little party of
went to a house at a short distance, and were
able to get a cup of hot tea and a genuine
corncake, made by the hand of a real slave,
and fried on a spider as you fry Slaps jacks.
We sat down to a table and ate with syrop
and relished it richly. At 6 o clock the men were all on their feet again, beginning to prepare
for supper, [as we had?] nothing with us but herring
and crackers it was suggested that some had
better go out forageing. A Contribution of 9 or
ten dollars was quickly collected and the men
started off. In about two hours they returned
laden with a bushel of potatoes, 8 dozen eggs, sugar
tea, Coffee, salt pork and several hoe Cakes. They
also secured Kettles & pans to cook with - Watts
is our Caterer & Cook, and at 11 o clock he Called
us to supper. It was not arranged with all
the care and cleanliness Augusta would observe
in our dear old Kitchen, yet I think no supper
was ever eaten with more satisfaction. All ate
and were filled and there were some baskets full
left notwithstanding we had a large number of in-
vited guests so that the number of men who
did eat exceeded an hundred. After supper
we mad a large fire and Collected as much
wood as we thought we should need for the night,
laid ourselves down on the damp ground to
sleep. At 3 o clock we were suddenly called
up and it was announced that a train was
ready to convey us to Washington. We hurriedly
prepared to go, Our Company 64 men, were packed
into a Common freight Car such as one used
to carry cattle in. We fill the car closely all of us
standing. Soon the air became stifled, and I began
to feel sick. The breath of so many men, more or less
pouring out the fumes, of onions, tobacco and bad
whiskey was terrible. Fortunately I stood neer the
door and endured it. After a ride of three
hours we finally reached our long sought
destination the beautiful Federal Capital of
the nation. I shall inform you of all I see here
that I think will interest you. As yet I have been able
to see but little. Read to uncle George.

Love to all affectionately
Charles.

31.6 cm x 19.9 cm

From the Charles Bowers letters