U. S. Steamer "Albatross".
In Quarantine, Pensacola.
October 21st 1862

My dear Liz,

I believe I can sit down now and
write with a good grace. Yesterday the mail came
in bringing me your letter of Oct.10th and all the
newspapers that should have come before, besides
three other letters and papers from Merriam, Whitney etc.

These supply steamers are mighty uncertain things,
but your directing to Mobile made no difference, ex
cept in the way of a little delay. They find there
way to the ship somehow. I began a letter on the
4th -- the day we arrived -- meaning to keep it along till
the regular mail left, but some how or other I
let it go till a day or two ago, when we heard
an outside vessel was to sail. We had but ten
minutes notice -- so I just sealed it and let it
go as it was rather than send nothing -- to let you
know I was alive at any rate. I enclosed an attempt
at the Albatross in India Ink -- a very fine thing.
Please let me know if it reaches you -- I ask for
I hadn't time to put a stamp on -- or a stamp
either for the matter of that.

The Fever is on its last leggs and
we hope to get out of Quarantine by next Monday

We are not as badly off as we might be, but
the first week was bad enough. They kept us
then way out to sea and we rolled about like
a porpoise -- but now we are up in a place called
Navy Cove and can go on shore hunting and fish-
ing as much as we please and the ship is as steady
as a house. The Captain, Doctor Burge -- a volunteer
Surgeon from Taunton and a good fellow -- and I go
on little excursions every day. Yesterday we contrived
to pull the boat over the beach and launch
her into a little lake inland -- just the neatest
little place you ever saw. We saw the tracks of
turkeys, deer and wild cats and laid low for
a shot but didnt succeed in scaring up either,
until we were just about coming off to the ship
when one of the last named critters came down
on the opposite shore and took a long look at
us a long way out of range though. A turkey
would be a great treat for our larder is getting
in a very bad way. I have eaten nothing for the
last six weeks but corn meal cakes, baked
beans and pickles, with coffee and tea -- so called.
When the steamer came she sent us fresh beef for
one day and potatos and onions for two or three, but
except that it is just as I tell you. The water we
drink is bright yellow and sometimes red from iron
rust -- pretty to look at and a good thing for canaries
when moulting -- but nasty as a beverage for man.

We have had no clothes washed since we left Key
West last Aug. and altogether are a pretty seedy
lot. Lying at anchor so, our fires are out so our
mess room is as comfortable as such a dirty hole can
be and our butter begins to look like something besides
oil again -- say wheel grease.

Captain F. is in rather low spirits just
now. He has been "overslaughed" as they call it
by the "Advisory Board" at Washington and so loses
his promotion and is perhaps retired. Its an affair
unfair "Board" at best and is kicking up Ned
among the older officers -- It has disgusted poor
French to such an extent that he has lost all
ambition and only longs to get home to investigate it.
Added to this the Admiral must go and write
him a savage letter for leaving his station off
the Rio Grande without orders, he, bless him, not
deeming the lives of the ships company of any
consequence compared to leaving a station without
his permission. If we had been doing any good
there, there might be some reason for his kicking
up about it, but as it is, I think the old fellow
has been a little hasty. I hope when we can
once more meet our fellow men the Captain
will be able to smooth matters over. All this
comes back on me in a small way, you know.
I was in hopes of going with him into some
regular fighting man of war, but my luck seems

to jam me still -- If he goes home-- as he is trying
to -- I shall go too I suppose unless I can get with
Thornton, or in some large vessel. I could have gone
with him when I was here before but of course
I couldn't leave French.

Old Boston, is a perfect
old trump, and the longer I live the more
I glory in being born there. I have been blow-
ing and bragging about her and her women
ever since I read your account of that Sunday
work at Tremont Temple till I am nearly black
in the face. It was the most splendid thing
I've heard since the war and I glory in it.

The deserters and prisoners from the Con-
federate Army tell awful stories of the cruelties
of slave holders since Lincoln's proclamation. They
say a niggers life isn't worth a straw now and
if they as much as look queer they are shot
down in their tracks. There are lots of Guerillas
just back of Pensacola, who make little cat
like darts and dabs out of the woods on any
stragglers from our camp that they can find --
They bagged five or six the other night, who
are probably all comfortably dead by this
time as these gentlemen know not the meaning
of mercy. Mobile, I suppose will be the next

point to attack down here, and why it hasn't
been done before seems to puzzle some of the
newspaper people at home. I suppose you
saw an account of the Rebel Steamer "Oreto", or
what ever her name is, running by the "Oneida"
into Mobile. Capt. Preble has been dismissed
but Thornton, who commanded the "Winona"
gets off clean. Its a mighty bad business. There,
I'll pull up for today.

Wednesday, Oct. 22nd. A large steamer came in
this morning and is at anchor with the fleet.
We are left in the dark as to where she may
be from but are living in hopes it may be the
supply str. During our usual trip yesterday
afternoon the Army surgeon came on board &
said if our sick list didn't increase, he
thought he would let us go on Sunday. It
will take us two or three days to fill up
with water, coal etc. and then we shall be
ready for sea again.

You say I write nothing about
the officers. The reason is there is nothing to
write about. They are all volunteer officers
excepting the chief Engineer and Capt. and
I cant say I over and above much like the
breed as a general thing -- A Mr. DuBois is

our Executive Officer, and as good natured, jolly
old soul as ever lived. He was a merchant ship master
A Mr. Washburn comes next -- ditto. ditto. Then comes
a Mr. Willson-- son of a dentist in Tremont St. The
Doctor and a fellow named Martin from New York
-- the purser -- young but green -- make up the party in
the cabin. Except Bampton, the chief Engineer, I forgot
him. In that house on deck, which you will
see in the picture, are four berths and a cracked
wash hand basin -- This is my house. The other
berths are occupied by two masters mates -- one agreeable
and the other a beast. Our mess room is, as I
have told you, next and almost over the boiler
and besides the two masters mates -- four or five
beasts mess there too. And sleep down there
somewhere -- away from me thank Heaven. We are
a pretty peaceable lot all round and never quarrel.

I suppose you are safely housed in Wal-
nut St. There are not many things I should like
better than dropping in upon you some fine day.
It strikes me, that if our much beloved country
should continue to go to the devil at the rate
it has been travelling for the last year, it
will reach its destination quite soon enough.
When it gets there, I move we quietly pack
up our traps and move to some country that
isn't quite so free. Canada seems to offer
inducements -- With what it costs to live in Boston

one might, I imagine, hire the best house in
Montreal and live like fighting cocks and
Mother might slam round town behind her
own horses too. Lay this view of the case before
her -- it deserves consideration. To tell the truth
I am looking forward to the time when I can
live at home. While the war lasts I shall keep
afloat of course -- but I am growing old and need
repose. Did it ever strike through your skull
and get into your brain, to wonder what two
or three hundred thousand of these soldiers are
going to do with themselves after the war? Free
niggers, too, will be more than plenty, and, I
doubt not, unpleasantly so. I will now close.
. The steamer that came in yesterday
Thursday is the "Connecticut" and we are all on pins &
needles of expectation, -- the captain & I particularly
for a boat from the "Preble" came within hail
last night and said a Capt. Hart was to
come relieve French in his command of this Albatross
and that F. was either to take some other
ship or go to North. He is crazy to go home and
doesn't want a command at any price -- All
he thinks of is that advisory board and a trifle
of revenge. I think he will take the "Oneida"
in place of Preble, dismissed. She is a splendid
vessel -- a steam sloop of war -- but I want to
go home too. I am writing this in the cabin and a boy has just reported the mail boat.
French is half crazy with impatience and all
hands are gabbing as fast as they can. Friday 23

I could write no more yesterday, I was too mad.
Ever since we came back Farragut has done everything
to slight and annoy us -- or seems to. He sent us
the mails but I got nothing. He kept back the
Capt's orders, so we are still in the dark as to our
fate -- No grub came either, so here we are with
no comfort and empty bellies. No news of course.
Gun boats keep coming and going and thats about
all. I rather think you wont growl at short letters
again. The fever is almost gone -- only two or three
old cases left -- convalescent devils -- We are breaking
out the hold today to white wash it -- the smell is enough
to breed not only yellow fever but fevers of every color. Saturday
The "Connecticut" has gone and our grub in her
I suppose. We have heard nothing yet and I am in
a high state of the fidgets. If I go home I land
with no money and no immediate prospect of another
ship -- if I go on board the "Oneida" it will clap another
18 months on top of what I have already had in the
Gulf -- but upon the whole I think I should prefer it.

Another case of fever has broken out -- cant tell yet
whether its yellow or not -- probably is -- at any rate it will
probably give us a fortnight more in Quarantine --
Damn! Sunday. I scratch out the unpleasant word I
was guilty of using yesterday. I have always thought
Boston the place for sudden changes in weather, but
I back down now in favor of Pensacola. Yesterday

the thermometer stood at 80° or there abouts -- today
it is down to 39° and blowing like blazes. I dont
think I ever really suffered as much in my life
as I did last night -- The wind came through
the cracks of our house strong enough to blow
a candle out and the top of my head nearly
froze. We have service aboard every Sunday
and poor old French as he read the Bible
under the hatch chattered and jabbered
over it to such an extent that I thought
his pet false tooth would drop out every min-
ute. He stood it out like a good fellow though
and his dentist proved true. A steamer has
just come along side with the Army Surgeon
who says we may go out of quarantine tomorrow,
the fever that broke out yesterday being only intermittent
so all we wait for now is the order from the Admiral
and if he only does the handsome thing I shall
be able to tell you my destination before tomorrow
night. My hands are almost frozen.

I read a book last night that some
how or other reminded me of Mary Berry -- Do
any of you ever write to her now? If you do, please
make my what -- do -- you -- call -- 'ems in due form,
will you. Tell Frank that the Naval Register
for this year shows that we have, or shall
have before the first of January 51 oneiron
clad gun boats and monitors. There is one

building at N. Y. to be called the "Dunderburg" to
carry 10 guns and measure5,090 tons. Another of
3,033 tons with only 2 guns, called the "Dictator" is
Abe's pet I believe, together with the "Puritan" of
3,265 tons and 4 guns. These are iron clad
steamers and will prove smarter I trust. I
dont know that you can get any idea of their
size by their tonnage -- but the Dunderburg will
be 500 tons larger than the "Niagara" the largest
man of war we have and was, I believe, the
largest afloat when she was launched, if she
is not now. The pretty Albatross is 378 tons. The
guns that these vessels are to carry will be enor-
mous and will weigh I should think some 20,000
pounds. Adieu. Wednesday , Oct 29th -- We came
out of quarantine on Monday and I felt so
sure of going home in the "Rhode Island" that
I didn't think of writing -- but there seems a
little doubt again so I once more address you.
She sails tomorrow and we may yet go -- but there
is no knowing, -- The new man, Captain Hart, paid
us his first visit this morning and didn't
appear over and above charmed with
his quarters. He wants me to stay with him
but I dont quite see it -- I dont find it quite
so easy work to write as I might and as there
is no news I will again say farewell. Thornton goes
up in the "R.I." [?] --He was on board to see
[Start of crosshatched writing on page 10] me yesterday. -- Thursday . French sails for Boston today -- I remain
and go on board the steam frigate "Susquehanna" Capt Hitchcock
so direct your letters to her in future please. Western Gulf etc.
same as before -- She carries a full band and I
anticipate some comfort while in her -- She is one
of the old fashioned side wheel steamers -- very
large and with a crew of four or five hundred men
I know Capt Hitchcock slightly -- he sent for me
last night -- He is almost a Commodore -- Give
my love to Mother and all at home -- Carrie, Sarah
-- Direct to U.S. Ship Susquehanna -- We are to lie here
I understand for the present -- Good bye -- The steamer
that takes this -- (the Rhode Island) goes to Boston
and will leave there again in a week or two --

Yours affec
Eliot
[Written up the left side of page 1]

[Postscript]

P.S. Give my brotherly love to Frank and thank him for the papers. if there happens to be a parcel of old novels of any kind that are of no value would Never mind about that last -- Ta. Ta.

24.5 cm x 19.4 cm

From the John Eliot Parkman papers