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    U. S. S. Steamer Housatonic
    Off Charleston 15th Feb 1863

    My Dear Little Molly

    I put
    a letter into the mail bag
    this afternoon for Mother, but
    I did not have time to write
    this one to you before the
    men carried the mail bag
    off, to send it home. So I sup-
    pose that this will have to
    waite & go in the next one.
    Let me see, what shall
    I write to you about?
    I suppose that you will want
    to know if we see any birds, or
    butterflies now. Well we have'nt
    seen any butterflies since last
    fall, but the other day, when
    it was very warm & pleasant
    a pretty little bird came
    to see us, & staid with us some
    time. It was not quite so large

    as a robin & had a bright
    yellow spot on its back & all
    the rest of its feathers were brown.
    It seemed to feel very much
    at home, & hopped about on
    the deck & picked up crumbs
    for some time. After it
    had eaten all it wanted,
    it flew up into the rigging
    & then flew off to the shore
    & we have not seen in since.
    Perhaps when it is warm
    in E. Boston next summer,
    it will come & see you &
    Nellie & Mother. But then
    if there are two or three that
    look just like that one
    you wont know which one
    it is, will you? Well some
    time next summer I
    guess that I shall come
    to see you, and I suppose
    that you will be almost as glad to see me as
    to see the bird, wouldnt
    you? By that time, if you
    go to school all the time, you
    will know how to read to me,
    & you will get to be large enough
    to help Mother do a good many
    things about-house. I wonder
    if I shall know either of
    my little girls then, for I suppose
    that your old bonnets that you
    wore last year are about worn
    out & you will have on some
    other ones & some dresses too,
    that I never have seen.
    Well I guess that Mother
    will tell me who you are, if
    I can't find you myself.
    I want you to send me another
    letter when Mother has time
    to write it for you & you & Nellie
    can print some & send it to me.
    You can send me some of your drawings too & tell
    me all about your plays.
    But it is time for me to
    stop & fold this up & put
    my pen & ink away, for
    it is almost my bed time.
    Give my love to Mother
    & Nellie & a good kiss & hug
    too.

    From your affectionate Father
    F.A. James

    My Dear Nellie

    Tuesday morn 17th. We are
    now underway for the "Ironsides"
    & expect to get some vegetables from
    a schooner that came in yesterday.
    Very likely we shall leave a
    mail & perhaps get one. If one
    goes I shall send this just to
    let you know that I am
    in my usual good health & that
    we are all right side up &
    above water. I have no
    news in particular to give
    & therefore will not spin a
    "long yarn" as it is a busy time
    of day with me. Remember
    me with love to all friends
    not leaving yourself & the little ones
    out.

    Ever yours in L.P.& F. [Love, Purity & Fidelity]
    Fred