LETTERS AND DIARIES OF ABIEL T. LaFORGE 1863
LETTER January 11, 1963 - HeadQuarters, Convalescent Camp. Near Ft. Barnard. Va.
Yours of December 30th is at hand. I was reading it over to nigt in the greatest state of per[plexity you can imagine. it seems to me I have answered it and yet I do not know, and as that is the case to make "everything sure" as the dutch Capt. said, I will write again.
In the first place then this is no longer Post Hospital. but Convalescent Camp Near Fort Barnard, Va. this for some time will be your address for you dear kind letters to me. You made a funny mistake in the direction of yours mailed New Years day. it was directed to McKims Hospital. however the Postmaster there is a friend of mine and knowing where I am, he redirected it and sent it to me so thats all right. In your letter of Dec 20th which I send back to you to see if it is the one you sent the money in for there was none in it when I received it, you make the following inquireies.
1st How far are you from Baltimore?
2nd How far from Washington?
3rd Where is Alexandria Va?
4th What way and how much would it cost to come from Andover to this place?
To which I answer this camp is about fourty five miles from Balti-more, 3½ or 4 from Washington To come here you would change cars at Elmira and at Baltimore you would have to change again, and be carried in a `bus' from one dept to the other, about two miles. it would cost about ($12) twelve dolars, and much as I should like to see you I should not advise you to come at this season of the year.
You say you can't find any Alexandria in Virginia. now get my "atlas" which is in my trunk or some other place and I will show you where it is. there now you have the map of Va. you see Wash-ington on the Maryland side of the Potomack. now look on the oppo-site side of the river and a little way below Washington and you have Alexandria, Va. now do you see it?
I gave up going back to the Army this winter. The surgeon said I would not be able to stand a winter campaign, and as I did not like to remain Idle, I accepted the offer made me to become one of the orderlys at Head Quarters in this I staid from Dec 4th untill Jan 7th/63.
At this time a new Col. came to take command of the camp, and when he got up his private quarters, he called me to him, and said he, I want you to be my private orderly, as you apear to understand your buisness and thats what I want, now as there was seven other orderlies, I felt quite flattered to be chosen. I woul not write this to any person but my dear sister, and I have a right to, to you, for you will make allowances for my vanity.
Tell father I thank him very much for those Postag Stamps. they came just in time for I was out of money and out of stamps. This is a much more pleasant winter than the last. it is getting rather muddy now but it is almost the first mud we have had. Tell Billings I am much obliged to him for his kind offer to come down and relieve me for a while, but as I dont see you coming I shall have to take it as a mere ofer.
Give my love to mother and Jane. Tell Joseph I wish I had a bushel of oats of his raiseing to eat, anything from Andover.
There are eight of us boarding togather we live well just now. two of the boys have boxes from home one contains (105) lbs. and the other (85) chicken rosted turkey apples pickels in jars &c.
But I must close
Your loveing brother, A. T. LaForge Orderly
To Mrs. Joseph Potter Andover, N.Y.
(written in the margins) I give up that riddle accept it is as Little Mattie says, but Jonah didn't dwell long, for the whale got sick of him.
The letter Dce 20th Is not the one you sent the money in for you mention in that haveing sent it the friday before. Let the letter go a dolar wont breake me any way, if I dont get. Good by A T LaF.
LETTER Head Quarters, Camp convalescent, Monday, Jan. 26th /63
Your kind letter of Jan 18 I received the 22nd You may guess it gave me some pleasure - a box from home why the very thought is joy. just the box without any thing in it is enough to make me home sick and the contents will have to be used to cure me I sup-pose. You want to know what I want in it? well thats a poser I can hardly tell. sweet meats are not in much demand something more solid is better, such as a rost chicken or roll of butter and above all things a loaf of your bread. I am not in want of socks or shirts, thanks to the kind Matron of McKims she supplied me well with boath before I came from there. mittens I could not use here for I often have to write in the open air. I shall buy a pair of gloves as soon as we are paid off. I wish you would send me a red silk pocket handkerchief if you can get one that wont fade and let me know the price. I should be afraid of being cheated if I bought one. and send me one or two old Genesee Valeys if you have them, and if you will be so kind send me my old account book (after coppying my account with brother Joseys in some other book). if you have used it to write anything els in never mind sending it. I onely wanted it to make a kind of report of myself. Well I think I have said enough about the box I am ashamed of myself but I must ad that it should be strong and well packed (if there are any breakables it) with straw or something for they are handled rather ruff sometimes.
The direction will be
New Convalescent Camp
Near Fort Barnard, Va
Via Alexandria, Va.
I received a letter from Uncle Siars to day, they were all well. and had just received a letter from you. they want me to come that way when I go home but that is such an uncertain date that I can hardly promice.
Janey sends me a peace of her dress to see how I like it dose she. well she onely does it to make me show my ignorance on such subjects, well I wont get mad with her for she is to far away for me to punish her with a good kiss, so I mearly give my candid opi-nion of it, so here it is. I think it is very prety and onely wish I was there to christen it for her. well I'll delagate Billings for that. `ha' ha, wont he get his ears slapt.
You found where Alexandria, Va. was didnt you. You say you want me to visit the Smithsonian Institute I did that three times last winter did I not write to you of it. a person might spend a month there and not see all there is to be seen. it is the best free insititution in the country.
The name of the commander of the camp is Samuel McKelvy. he is a Lieut. Col. and is attached to Major Genl. Hentzelmans staff. Last week we had some wet weather, mud a foot deep not near so bad as it was last winter though. it is getting better now. This afternoon we have news that Burnside has resigned and Hooker is in command. has crossed the Rappahannock and is as near Richmond as the mud will allow him to get. Hooker is a fighting man and I hope will do something McKlellan is the onely man who has proved himself worthy of handling a larg army as yet. he will be in command again if Hooker fails and Sumner after him.
It is half past nine P.M. and I must close with my best wishes to you all Your loveing brother
A. T. LaForge
P.S. Please put in the box a few hard boiled eggs, and an ear or to of popcorn if you have it None of the boys from there are in our mess. A T L.F.
LETTER Head Quarters, Camp Convalescent, Va. Feb. 15th / 63
You dont know how good I feel, why what do you think has hap-ened? this morning I went down to the Express office and strange to say, found there a box marked Abel. J. LaForge. and what do you think I did? you cant guess so I will tell you, I clamed it the express man asked me if I had an order or bill of freight and I told him no. You cant have it says he. That's tough thinks I.
I must not give it up so. But I was saved the trouble of deviseing some plan to get it by a gentleman's comeing in and and finding what I wanted, he asked me if I was not with Col McKelvy? I told him I was, and he gave me the the box without further ado. Bully for me. I took the treasure home and opened it before the wonder-ing eyes of our boys. Well my friends you would be abundantly paid if you could have heard their pleased remarks as the contents were revealed. That Jelly cake received enough praise to last Janey a year when we tasted it. Maple sugar was pronounced superior to any thing of the kind ever tasted of, and the honey, who shall under-take to discribe the delights of home made biscuit with butter and honey. a certain man by name Joseph Potter was voted the best honey raiser in these United States, (or rather Disunited States) But the wonder is still to be spoken of. Those chickens, they made us all show the whites of our eyes in a remarkably edifying manner. I must tell you of them, they were chickens whose heads had been cut off, their fethers had been picked off, they had been boiled untill they were the most tender dainty I ever ate. they had been packed in a tight box. Yet so firmly were they convinced that it was their duty under any circumstances to carry out the principles of their existance that they had Laid one dozen hard boiled eggs in their transit from Andover to camp Convalescent. What a model of unflinching determination to perform duty under any circumstances if this? and set us by a chicken to. Well is it said "Our best examples are from the lowly."
The handkerchief just suits, and indeed I dont think it were possible to get up a box the contents of which would give more uni-versal satisfaction than the one you sent me and I must say, My Dear friends I cincearly thank you.
Haveing disposed of the box I will now proceed to to the news We (meaning Head Quarters) have moved into a fine new building where there is plenty of light and Room. This building is divided into four rooms. One is used as buisness office, one as Discharge office, the third as Col's private office ocupied by him (Col.) and me, and the fourth is a sleeping apartment used for that purpose by a Lieutenant acting as Adjutant and your humble servant. My duty is to answer unofficial matter sent to the Col Commanding, and to keep myself "posted" so that when any information is needed I can give it and act as sort confident. to issue orders &c.
There is a rail road running within a half mile of here from which we are building a branch road to come right up to the barracks, which are now compleated and contain nearly five thousand men. six thousand two hundred men are in this camp now. We discharge from two hundred to two fifty daily, from the service and send a good many back to their regts, yet fresh ones keep comeing so the number does not decrease.
We have been haveing some very muddy weather lately but for the last two days there has been an evident inclination to dry up which I am sure I hope it will. Frank Davis started for Camp
Distribution (two lines around edge of page not copied) Your Loveing brother
Abiel T. LaForge, Chief Orderly
LETTER Head Quarters, Convalescent Camp, VA March 2nd /63
I received your kind letter of Feb 22nd the day before yester-day. I had been expecting it for many days and began to think you had not received my last. It is said that "hope defered makes the heart grow sick" if this is so I know of an instantanious cure at least in my case, which is this the final consumation of our hopes. For when I have waited for a letter from you untill I began to dis-pair its arival would effect a cure in less than "no time".
Well if this is not the funniest I ever saw, two or three changes every day, it is impossible to say what weather we shall have the next hour. unless you say it will be bad which is quite safe. however warm weather is at hand and then it will be all right (top line not copied) of this camp farther than than to make them illnatured for they are all in good warm Clean barracks.
We are surrounded on all sides by a fine grove of evergreens, nicely trimed up to about seven feet from the ground. what a splen-ded place this will be in summer for the men to wander through. it is perfectly free from underbrush the ground covered with the dried pine tassles makeing a nice soft carpet for recline-ing upon.
You wanted to know the camp Frank Davis was sent to from here it is Camp of Destribution. Near Alexandria Va. he was sent there about the middle of February. Wheather he has been sent from there to the regiment I do not know. Col Belknap came here when he re-turned from his furlough expecting to have command doubtless, and as he could not get it concluded to return to his own command, for which he started last week. before going he came into the office and very kindly bid us all good bye. He is well like by all who (line not copied)
I am glad you have heard from father I wish he would write to me what a good thing it is he has such a strong constitution. I am always expecting to hear that he is sick or badly hurt some way he is changeing about from place to place so much how I should like to be with him and you for a short time but that may not be.
I suppose you have commenced makeing maple sugar by this time have you not. tomorrow I must go to work at Nelson Crandalls he has just commenced makeing sugar.
Tell Janey her Morning Dew came through safe and I still carry it in my pocket it is a most delicate oder.
Did you intend that little wreath you drew at the end of your letter for me to kiss that is the way I enterpreted and acted ac-cordingly.
Give my love to Janey and Mother and Kiss Joseph for me for I know you can do that with a relish.
Your Loveing Brother
Abiel T LaForge
LETTER HeadQuarters, Camp Convalescent, March 20th 63
Yours of the 12th Inst arrived in what we think must be the Equinotial storm and a disagreable one it is and as it is a very disagreable one and I dont like to speak of disagreable subjects I will not say any more about it. so such about the equinox.
You have got through your spring tour of visits have you? I have no doubt you had a pleasant time I should like to have been there to supprized you when you came home. Suppose you had come in and found me in the "cubbord" at the pies and pickles? My what a time there would have been. I guess my ears would have been pulled some dont you think so. You state that father wrote that he had not received a letter from me since he had been there. I did not get one from him untill last week and consequently did not know where to direct. his letters must have miscarried. for last last week was the first I got from him and that I answered imeadiatily.
Last month I had the misfortune to loose my memmorandum book commened the time I inlisted Oct 3rd. I felt verry sorry as I was just going to send it to you to be preserved for me. however I have commenced another and "better luck next time" is my motto so here goes.
A melancholy event hepened last sunday, (15) a man belonging to the New York troops and who had been pronounced a case of "harm-less insanity" and application had been made at the Adujtant Genls. for his admission into the Insane Asylum for the U.S. Soldiers at Washington was found to have commited suicide by hanging himself in one of the barrack not ocupied at the time by any of the soldiers. This created considerable excitement at first but Col McKelvy soon quelled it and sent the men to their quarters ordering a proper disposition to be made of the body, and soon every thing was going along as before, and in a fiew minutes you would not have suspected that one of our number had commited the sin of suicide in our midst. how wise things are ordered.
Give my love to all my friends up there if there is enough to go round if not those in the Old Homestead I want to have it all.
And remember me ever
As your loveing brother
Abiel T LaForge
To Mrs Joseph Potter Chief Orderly
Andover Allegany Co N.Y.
P.S. Sister I have been so careless as to loos that letter you sent me giveing Josephs account with me will you please send me another giveing the same if you please. The enclosed (20) dolars are for Perry (Potter). will you get his note payable on demand with seven per cent interest from date.
Abiel T La Forge
LETTER Head Quarters, Camp Convalescent Va , April 30" 1863
I have the honor to report the proceeding of a meeting con-vened at this camp of which Orderly A T La Forge was chosen presi-dent, after the meeting had been called to order, and a warm debate between the honorable president and the Chief Orderly of the Camp, the following preamble and resolutions were read by the chareman.
Whereas, it being a well known fact among the honorable members of this meeting, that the lady known as Mrs. Susean Potter is the most selfish of woman, in that she is reported as hoarding, trea-sureing up, and no doubt dispitefully useing (as she is often seen to visit them in secret) the letters of our respected president not allowing others to have a due share in them, therefore
Resolved, that our president be authorised to at once open a cor-ispondence with the lady known as Miss Jane Potter with a view to defeating the evil plans and machinations of said Susean Potter, as this honorable boddy feels convinced that the before named Janey Potter is not one to betray confidence thus reposed in her.
Dear Janey, .....I assure you...........ations were carried by an overwhelming majority, in fact I may say there was not a single dissentent voice therefore this letter is written with the hope that it will commence a corispondence which will carry out the spirit of the resolutions, as the evil whis is spoken of is one of an old standing.
I assure you I had no idea of the extent to which my simple recomendation of Joseph for a kiss would become or I should have paused before calling forth such a mighty demonstration, but now that it has been comenced I leave the quelling of it to you for I feel myself totaly incompitant to aught aganst it, with the excep-tion of praying for you. Now Janey dear I beg you will write to me in every letter Susean sends, and excuse the haste of this one.
From your brother,
Abiel T La Forge
Miss Jane Potter, Chief Orderly
Evidently he went home on furlough during May, 1863.
LETTER Head Quarters, Convalescent Camp, May 27" 63
Dear sister & friends,
Knowing you would feel somewhat anxious about my welfare until you heard from me I detrmined to write you at once. I did not arive here until yester noon I must tell you the reasons of my delay. In fact I might as well give you a history of my journey after leave-ing you.
I bade Mr Wells good by and embarked on the 5.40 P.M. train at Andover, run on that to Hornellsville and there took the express to Elmira where I arived about eleven P.M. and learned to my mortifi-cation that no train left for Baltimore until 4. oclock Monday morning. well there was no help for it so I "put up" with the de-termination of makeing the best of it. Sunday I wandered about the city disconsolate and refuseing to be comforted, for the good rea-son that no comforters offered themselves only in the shape of a Larger now and then. you dont know how much I regretted not stay-ing there and going to Alfred Saturday, and starting from there monday. but regrets of course were useless so I tried to make the best of it. I think I could then appreciate Mademoiselle Amelia's sentence of "being surrounded by evil spirits". Monday at 4 A.M. the landlord woke me to take the cars for Baltimore I was nothing loath I assure you, when about thirty miles above Harisburgh a train of cars which was running along a head of us sudenly run off the track it was a heavy freight and mad a terable smash up. still nobody was seriously hurt, our engineer held up just in time to prevent running into the wreck, the enjine had thrown its self in such a position that its stern lay partly across our track thus,
it was imposable to move it so they got a gard to work with crow-bars, and bowed the track
and makeing it assume this form
so we could run by the obstruction and they did not put in any extra rails either I got off to see them do it, or I would hardly have believed they could do it. that is the nearest I came to a railroad smash up (you know I was wishing for one be-fore I started.) We got to Harisburgh at two P.M. the conductor told me I would get to Washington just as quick if I waited in H---until the two A.M. train of tuesday. as I had never seen the city only at a distance I concluded to stop while there I visited the public buildings and went all around the city, so I was prety well acquainted. Took the cars and arived in Washington without further adventure about ten A.M. and finaly arived at camp just in time for dinner.
I think there was about fifteen days difference in climate between Allegany and Va. perhaps not so much. I know there is more than this in onions.
Those provisions you sent were just right. You must excuse the haste of this letter its only object being to let you know I am safe give my love to all and my straw hat to Frank you will find it (the hat I mean) in the lid of my trunk, Tell mother to keep on growing youger untill I come back again and I shant know her. you must read to her once in a while she is so lonesome.
Love to Jane, Your Brother
A T La Forge
LETTER Head Quarters, Convalescent Camp, June 26th 1863
Yours of the 8th came to hand in due time. what could have induced you to write such a long letter I cannot see. I hope I did not make you mad while I was home did I? I have been trying to think ever since the reception of your letter what it was so I could ask your forgiveness but have interly failed so far, perhaps you will enlighten me in your next.
Your old friend William has been down here as you are probably aware. His stay with me was short, too short, but we managed to have a prety good talk in the time. "Golly" Bill is a fine chap a'int he I wish he could stay here all summer, but it would be to much of an inconvenience to a fellow just from the blessings of home. I cant help laughing every time I think of how funny he looked when I was makeing my bed for him to sleep on. he said he was glad he was not a soldier, and I had no dificulty in believeing him.
The rebs are coming up to pay you a visit, please give them my compliments if they reach your place and tell them to consider me very much at their service. O gracious! some of the boys up there will have to turn out to repel invaders, or they're taken sure. I recommend Joseph to have a good charge of shot in that old musket, so some night when he hears a noise among his chickens he can use it on a two-legged Sckunk. (excuse the expression as it is open to sensure.) on which it might perhaps have an alarming effect.
Have you any new potatoes yet? they are in market here. cherries are all gone. apples will soon be ripe. it is just the season for Black caps. I was down to the Potomac last sunday to take a swim and got all I could eat of such beautiful ripe ones. they grew in great abundence on the banks of the river. how I wished ..............along with me gathering them. Oh! by the way do you ever look at the moon these fine nights, and perhaps take a wish by its light, and think I might be doing the same thing? as you'd promised to when I was at home? If you have not I have and wondered if you was thinking of Bijou or not. Last tuesday night I went to Washington after eleven oclock P.M. to see the Col. on some important business. it was a bright monlight, and as I went galloping over the hill my imagination was up home. I thought of you all snugly in bed, and you perhaps dreaming of me (you know you have a weakness that way) while I was rideing along the bank of the historical Potomac. How calm and peaceful it looked in the quiet light. I could believe this lovely landscape was the theater of the most jigantic struggle for "Freedom" vs "Slavery" the world ever saw, only when the disagreable truth was forced home to my mind by the steam command of Halt. given by some vetran ant on the road, to do "videt" duty. I had to cross the river and also gave the countersign in six places. they are very perticular just now who crosses the Potomac after twilight, I tell you a fellow has to dismount and advance on on foot to give the pass word, he is then allowed to remount and proceed on his journey. my ride was about thirteen miles. I went to the Department HeadQuarters. I had A letter from father, himself and "frow" were well and full of love. he is already proposeing to move. Is friend William home yet. Please tell Perry not to answer my letter if he dont want me to write to him again. My Best respects to all, especialy my dear mother and Janey.
From your Loveing brother,
And humble Servt.
A. T. LaForge
Mrs Joseph Potter
P.S.! Some of the "Army of the Potomac" is crossing the river at the Chain Bridge, to be ready for the rebs in Penna. look out for stiring times. Your
A T LaF.
(Battle at Gettysburg began July 1, 1863. Vicksburg and Port Hudson fell the same week.)
LETTER Head Quarters - Convalescent Camp August 3rd 63
I must tell you before anything else that this letter will be poorly written for I was sick all yesterday and last night and feel weak and nervis but in good spirits. perhaps my being unwell will save me from getting a scholding for not sooner answering your let-ter which I should have done long ago if I had been a good boy as you have often advised me to be. I am glad you appear to be enjoy-ing yourself so well I realy believe you have the secret of true enjoyment which is a contented mind, taking the world as it comes and being pleased with what ever providence sees fit to grant you, any person who is possessed of such a mind will do well and be tru-ly rich in any situation, but I dont want to go into a lecture on this.............been a great change in our situation since my last to you. then the Rebs were making successful headway into Pennsyl-vania. Jhonston showed every simptom of being able to raise the seige of obstinate Vicksburg. Port Hudson showed herself a "hard nut to crack", now how different Lee has been beaten and his army driven South again with heavy loss, Vicksburg with thirty thousand and Port Hudson with seven thousand men have surrendered to our brave troops, and at last the "Mississippi" is open. Morgan the great thief and raider with his four thousand calvalry has been captured. Bragg with the boasted army of Tennessee has been ob-liged to abandon the stronghold of the west Chattanooga and has started like all the rest for the South, to ruralize I suppose - all this taken into consideration I think that no time since the war commenced has the cause of freedom looked so hopeful, all honor to the brave soldiers in the field. at this rate the war will be over before my time is out,................
......as usual. it is so confounded hot that one does not feel like doing any thing. I was over to Washington every day but one last week Tuesday I went over in command of one company of the Invalid Corps "87" men. Wednesday in command of two Co's Inv. Cor. "157" men Thursday Col Baker Chief Detective of the U.S.Army sent for me to ask what my opinion was in regard to sertain matters and things in regard to the manner in which this camp was organized and conducted they evidently wanted to get some evidence aganst Col McKelvy but they chose the wrong person for that but I gave them some information which I rather think they did not want.
You say Perry's family is nearly all unwell, how strange they were so well when I was up there that I thought they were not going to be sick any more, but it appears the hope was delusive, is Perry so unwell that he cannot write to me? he has not informed whether he received the $45.00 I sent him yaet I wish you will let me know in your next if he has.
........ of any you must have to make send her likeness to me before long for I begin to want to see her again. she dont know what to make of prety niece eh! well you must tell her it dont mean nees but a relationship. I wish you had some of our ripe peaches, apples, watermellons, mush mellons, plums which are now becoming abundant. oh you can't imagine how thier black berries have been here, a thousand men were out gathering them some day's but they seemed unexhaustable. they were ripe July 15th but there is still a abundence of them yet. there was also an abundence of huckle-berries but they are all gone now. we have been feasting since fruit has got ripe I assure you. I have often wished I could ex-change some of it to you for some of your pickles and milck. but that of course cannot be did. I am up now at 5 A.M. nearly every day about as early as you get up is it not? at five P.M. walk half a mile and take a bath doing prety well ain't it? I expect to go down to Annapolis, Md. this week some time with some men I am not sure yet however. I received a letter from John Clemence informing me of the death of his mother of whose kindness to your brother I have told you so much. God rest her spirit for she was a good christian. James Liverman, Perry Wells, and Jerome Remington were here now. you see I have some old acquaintances even in convales-cent camp. The enclosed letter was written by Eliza Bubier to her brother who refused to obey an order of Col McKelvy on the ground that it conflicted with his oath of Parole. he said he would write to his sister and abise of decision. she returned this patriotic reply which I send for your p..... her name should be remembered long. an editor saw it and printed
Give my love to all, and do not neglect waiting so long as I
Your loving brother
A. T. LaForge
ENCLOSED NEWSPAPER CLIPPING
CONVALESCENT CAMP NEAR THE CITY. We read almost daily of Camp Convalescent. The limited knowledge which the community generally have acquired of this necessary government appendage consequent upon the war, bears not the slightest analogy, as respects its ex-tent and operations, to the reality of this very eligibly located and indispensable institution.
It is located across the Potomac, In Virginia, only a short dis-tance from Fort Albany, and about three miles from Arlington, the estate of the Confederate general, Lee.
Being required to make a business call there a day or two since, we availed ourselves of a letter of introduction to Col. McKelvy, the very efficient and polite commander, to acquaint ourselves somewhat, superficially, with the extent, operations, and system inaugurated by those charged with the various supervisory func-tions.
Some idea of its extent may be inferred from the fact that there are now, comfortably and without any crowding, over eight thousand soldiers accommodated there, recuperating from wounds and diseases contracted in the arduous service of their country. Many more could find equally comfortable accommodations. Many towns and cities, possessing every form and attibute of a finished place, do not possess as large a population as is now temporarily located at Camp Convalescent. A post office is established, under the control of Captain Thomas H. Marston, where all the mail matter received and sent off receives due and proper attention.
About one hundred hospitals, each capable of accommodating about one hundred and twenty patients, are admirably and judiciously ar-ranged; walks and shady groves surround the encampment, serving as a resort during the heat of the day for the very large number of convalescents seeking reinvigorating air.
The cooking appendages certainly present a perfect model of judi-cious arrangement and economy of operation. Though it may appear incredible, yet it is so, that the entire cooking for all the in-mates can be done at one time with comparatively a small outlay of labor and fuel. The arrangements for roasting meats, baking bread, and all other requisities for the men, are as admirable as it is capable for the ingenuity of man to invent. The bread, of which we partook, will vie with any made in the city.
Two mammoth dining saloons, each capable of accommodating seven-teen hundred, are an attractive feature of the whole arrangement.
The admirable order, system, and scrupulous cleanliness, every-where marked, speak well for Col. McKelvy and those acting under him.
The knowledge on the part of the thousands of brave ones encoun-tering the vicissitudes of the war campaign, that their Government is so provident for them in the event of wounds or sickness, must serve as a strong incentive to persevere in the path of duty.
ENCLOSED NEWSPAPER CLIPPING
A TRUE FEMALE PATRIOT.- A convalescent paroled soldier, at Camp Convalescent, took exception to the orders emanating from the pro-per authority, requiring him to assist in some necessary work, on the ground that it would conflict with his oath of parole. He wrote to his sister, residing North, relating his grievances, and received from her the following response, which does credit both to her head and heart:
JUNE 2, 1863
MY DEAR BROTHER WILL: Your letter of the 26th of May was re-ceived by me to-night. I am most truly sorry that you are so un-pleasantly situated, but while I grieve that you are in trouble, I must say that I think your refusal to obey orders puts you in a false position. If ordered to do that which you conscientiously think you ought not to do, it seems to me the proper way would be to obey the order under protest. But I certainly think you are mistaken in the construction you put upon your oath of parole. The officers of Government surely know the extent and linmitations of that oath better than one unversed in the law of nations can do, and you ought to be very clear on the point before you take such a stand, subversive as it must be of all discipline and efficiency in the army. You well know that your sister Eliza would be the last person to advise you to violate your conscience, but in this case I think that you are making a point where none is involved. All this I say with the kindest feelings of sympathy for your trouble, on the supposition that it is only the supposed violation of your oath which causes you to resist the orders. There are certain re-cognised principles of law which regulate this whole matter, and those in authority are supposed to be thoroughly conversant with those principles. If they violate them the blame rests on their shoulders, not on yours. It would be exceedingly impolitic for the Government to inaugurate such a course if it were really forbidden by the law of parole, and I cannot believe they would do so. I trust the next letter will tell me that all trouble is over, and that you are cheerfully embracing every opportunity to show your devotion to your country and her cause. Building fortifications is not pleasant work, I can well believe; yet it is necessary work, and if I could serve my country best by digging, I would dig with all my heart. Your affectionate sister,
LETTER Head Quarters Convalescent Camp August 25" 63
I hope this letter will find you better than Sallyann's of the 18" which I just received left you. it seems so strange to hear of your being sick who have always been so well that I can hardly be-lieve it, poor girl you have over worked your self in your bene-volent desire to aid others in distress. it is part of your kind nature and I cannot sckold for well I know how pleasant it is to have your thoughtfull presence in a sick room. how very light have you made moments when I have been sick that would otherwise have seemed as ages, and can I then deny to others the same blessing which I myself have enjoyed? fails.. I fear not, and I must say I very much doubt my ability to do so even supposeing I had the will, for I well remember to your other qualifications you add that of obstinacy and that I may say very strongly developed judging from the manner in which you have often resisted me in certain things which I will not mention, for fear you will make a mistake I will state "it was not in eating pickles" when I was up there.
"O golly" you must not be sick because I am not up there to take care of you. I wish I was. I believe it would do you good to see me dont you think so? I would like to have it in my power to see if it would not. I would not be slow in trying the experiment. I guess you must kiss "Josey" a fiew times see if that wont do you good.
Then another reason why you should not be sick is because one sick person in a family is quite enough and I have been sick nearly a month, my face is so thin that the boys make fun of me, but "good gracious" if you could see me eat now you would not think it could stay thin long, and I am determined it shant be so long for I have good backing in my apatite which is good enough to eat dead things. I did not go to bed at ..........................was my disease.
I went down to Fortress Monroe last week. there was a small squad of men to go down and as the doctor thought it would do me good, down I went with them and it did do me good. I came back by the way of Baltimore and staid part of a day at old McKims five or six of the old detailed men were there that girl I used to flirt with is married which is a great load off my mind, for you see it leaves me free to make proposals for my dear, good, kind-harted, Janey. she is the best girl I have met in my travels anywhere. I could just kiss you now if I had a chance with a good will, and mother two if she were present and was going to tell.
I received a letter from father the other day he is doing well, has taken up a quarter section of land with 120 acres of prairie 40 acres of wood land. he has not money to enter it, al-though he is getting large wages but cannot get his pay until his employer gets back from down the river where he has been running lumber, it will cost him $12.00 to enter his land and I inclose an order for Perry to send him that amount in "Green backs" I woul send him a hundred if I could only get him past so he could not move away by so doing.
We have just had a most refreshing shower it has been dreadful dusty before and the change is so agreable that I think if you could enjoy it it would do you more good than all the doctor medicine in the world.
Cincearly hopeing this will find you better than Sally's left you.
I remain your loving but anxious brother
A. T. La Forge
P.S. Janey if Susan is still sick please write immediately for I am most anxious to hear. if better write also immediately for I want to feel easy kiss all for me. Yours A.T. LaF-- C.O.
LETTER Headquarter Convalescent Camp, Sept 24" 1863
I believe we are laboring under the same misunderstanding you think it is my turn to write and I rather think it is yours, for you must have got my letter after I did yours, but of course dont know that, such being the case I think I will end the matter by taking the initiatory, for I want to hear from you as you was quite unwell the last you wrote. Your letter came just in time to pre-vent my taking a very gloomy journey I was just starting for For-tress Monroe and feeling badly enough as I had received Sally anns but a short time before informing me of your serious illness. (I dont think I ever appreciated all your kindness before, at least I never knew you was so good, or had so many virtues, I assure you sister Sallys letter made you almost a saint in my eyes;) and na-turaly felt very much depressed, When your letter came and I dont know, - but I felt a good deal better. at any rate I got ready to start off with a quiet (quite) better will than I had before, in fact I rather think the men would have found me a poor commander if I had not heard from you before I started.
It was the third time I had been to "Old Point" with men. I had (260) convalescents and a sergeant with ten guards. I started from Alexandria on the steamer "Black Dimond", I being in command of the boat of course felt quite important but believe I did no-thing to be ashamed of, which is saying a good deal for a person as vaine as myself. dont you think so?
I had to stop at Point Lookout which is about half way and when we arrived at 3 O.C. A.M. to take (38) of my men belonging to the 2" and 12" New Hamshire Regts. ahore. I had to go about 1/3 of a mile to their camp, wake up the adjutant and get a receipt for them (always when we deliver men any where we have to get a receipt for them like the one inclosed) and return to the boat. day was breaking when I went back and you dont know how well I felt. the little birds were just beginning to sing, a stiff breeze was blow-ing in from the sea causing the "waves to murmer gentle music on the sandy beach" I never saw so beautiful an awakening of nature or one that brought to my mind so forceably the boundless love of God.
Point Lookout is situated at the mouth of the Potomac is in the district of Saint Marys in Maryland, and before the war, was quite a noted "watering place", the conveniences being excelent for sea bathing. I believe none but southrens came here. it is now used for a camp of rebel prisoners of war.
I got to the Fortress about 2½ P.M. I had the alternative of getting rid of (222) men before 5 O.C. or staying there all night. the last I very much disliked to do, so I got rid of the men, got my transportation back had my guards on board and evrything ready to return just in time, when I remembered having left my overcoat and haversack at the provost marshalls, my overcoat cost ($12) I could not leave that so I off I jumped expecting to be left. run up to the Provost got my things run back hard as I could teare got on the boat and it was fifteen long minutes before we started. I declair I was almost mad.
We came back by the way of Baltimore had a beautiful sail up the Chesapeake. I went to bed but could not sleep it was so warm, my guard slept in the "forward cabin" while I slept in the "aft-cabin". I had my meals on the boat (supper and breakfast) 50 cts pr meal, arrived in Baltimore about 7 A.M. went arround through the city untill 3:50 OC. P.M. then came on to Washington where we ar-rived In time for me to go to Fords theatre and see the play of the "Naiad Queen". the scenery is most magnificent but the plot of the play is not much The hero a robber, spends all his money and to get rid of his trouble jumps into the Rhine to drown himself instead of drowning he finds himself in beautiful castles under the water surrounded by beautiful "nymphs". he falls in love with their mistress the "Naiad" she gives him lots of money to return to earth and ornament his palaces for their nuptials. he fulfills the first part of the agreement, but instead of going back to the Queen, he marries a being more of earth, earthy. then the Queen is mad, she gets her female soldiers they come out in beautiful uni-form and train on the stage. when they get ready to make war on the faithless lover, she repents and ..... his earthly true love to him, and "blessing them assends to heaven" the gorgeousness of scenery makes up for the want of a good plot and is a beautiful play. I got back to camp safe next day and received the congratu-lations of Col McKelvy for doing my duty so well. which made me feel better than a .......
Tell William when he gets another pair of new boots to come down again as there is plenty of new things to see and it wants new boots to see them eh? How is Miss "Melia is she the same kind hearted, handsome, lively, peice as ever? dont let her know I have written to ask you. It is getting so cold here now that a fire is comfortable.
LETTER (WRITTEN ON PAPER WITH PICTURE OF FLAG WITH 34 STARS)
Head Quarters, Convalescent Camp Oct 20" 63
I write to let you know I am coming off with flying colors as you can see above. some stile about that flag ain't there? true "Union". I was over to Washington to day having a most splendid dinner at the "Lutz Hotel" on the european stile, three bottles of wine to "finish up" with. you must not think by that that any of us were tight for that kind of table wine does not enebriate. we returned before sundown all sober if not honest--
.....one or two Virginia rains just to show us winter was at hand. I cannot help remarking how very fast this ground dries after the most protracted rain. as soon as it clears up and the sun shows his smileing face the earth is charmed into such good nature that it is unable to remain muddy and disagreeable if it would, so a virtue is made of a necessity and all marks of a storm is smothed away as soon as possible.
We are talking some of building barracks for four thousand more men. I hope we shall for they do not cost as much as tents and for a permanent camp like this are much better. a barrack can be built to accomodate 108 men, for less than three hundred dolars. & "Sibley tents" for the same number would cost more than four hundred dolars. besides the buildings will last twice as long.
Oh! sister; I was highly complimented by one of General Hentzelman's staff officers the other day. Major Willard former proprietor of `Willards Hotel' was to take 374 men from this camp to Ft. Monroe Va. we were to send the men he would meet them there with a boat - at precisely 8 O.C. A.M. he is one of those fussy old fllows and was very much afraid they would not be there on time. Capt Crawford (then in charge) pledged him his word they would and then told me he would leave the fullfilment of his word to me, and said he wanted the old major pleased once. so I got the men nearly ready the night before, and was up at four the next morning and finished, and getting a horse started with them early. I marched down to the dock (four miles) and had them drawn up in line and all arrainged to march on board ten minutes before the boat came. as soon as she did come and rounded to at the wharf I put the men in motion and went right aboard I could see at once the major was satisfied. when all were aboard he took me into the cabin and asked me what my name was I told him Serg. LaForge (I am an acting sergeant now) he put it down in his book and said he must write a letter about that. then just as they were starting off he came to the side of the boat before I got on my horse, and bade me tell Capt Crawford that nothing could be more prompt than I was with the men. I galloped back to camp feeling as big as,- as,- (not ass) a hundred and thirty pounds of humanity could well feel.
I get no more pay for acting as sergeant I mearly wear the pants stripe, so that the sergeant who may be in a squad which I have charge of will not be able to rank me and object to obeying my orders.
I sent $15 dolars by express have you got it yet. Perry will give you a note for it Susan, and when he does I wish you would send me copies of them all. I mean a copy of each seperate, not signed, but all the rest same as the originals.
How is Charley give him my love, tell mother if I was up there I would kiss her and then we would set down in the corner and have a good old time smokeing. My best wishes to Joseph and Perry. I would like to help them dig potatoes this fall.
I am glad Janey can give so good a report of her enjoyment on her visit. Mrs. P-- must leave you a place to write on every time and if it is not filled up you will get awfully talked to when I get home. My kind regards to Mrs. S.A.Potter. kiss Matie for me and cut up all the other tricks you are a mind to, only remember to love your soldier brother
A. T. LaForge
P.S. The letter you inclosed to me was from W. M. Hibbard Co. Y. 82 N.Y. a discharged soldier now. he is an old friend of mine.
LETTER Hd. Qrs. Conv" Camp Va. Oct. 30" 1863
I have succeeded in getting a furlough for Perry Wells and take advantage of it to send you some things to preserve for me I wish when he returns I wish you would send me two good pair of woolen stocking, and a long letter, also my "French Dictionary" and if you could I should like to have you send me a heap of love also. it is so much better to have some one say it to you than to have it written. We are sending about a thousand men home to vote however Perry would not have been one of them if it had not been for me and I assure you nothing could give me more pleasure than it does to send an old friend like him, home to see his friends - I have lots of work to night so I can write but a short letter, but it contains much love from Your brother
A. T. LaForge
LETTER Head Quarters Convalescent Camp Dec. 10" 1863
I this moment received yours of Dec. 7" and as you may see by this only waited to read its threatning contents before I hasten to answer it. none of your surmises prove to be correct. I have not been sick nor have I forgetten my obligations to my friends way up in Andover, but I have a story to write, since my last to you I have been quite an extensive traveler since my last to you. Novem-ber 23" I was ordered to take charge of a squad of 60 (sixty) men and proceed with them to the respective destinations which were given in my written instructions, so early in the morning I went over to Washington to get my transportation the men were brought over to me in the after noon by one of the orderlies I started at 6" O.C. P.M. on the cars for Baltimore I had to stay all night in Baltimore and left three men there to go to Ft McHenry. also 5 men to go to Carlisle Barracks Pa. the rest I took on the cars with me to Philadelphia at Phil- we had to change cars and all of us reached from one end of the city to the other in the street cars we arrived at New York city about eleven O.C. I took my men to the State Soldiers home on Howard St. and staid all night (by the way before you read any farther you had better get my "Atlas" and fol-low me) next morning they gave me the big ambulance that belongs to the Home (it will hold 20 men) to take my men that were to be left at New York down to the Quartermasters on State St. here I took the boat and went over to Brooklin then taking the St cars went down to Fr. Hamilton 7 mils distant I staid down at the Fort about an hour, it is a very prety place there I assure you. then went back to N.Y. sent 5 of my men down to Ft Columbus Governors Island N.Y. Harbor got transportation for the rest of us and took the boat for New London Connecticut. Left 14 men there at Ft. Trumbull and then took the cars on the Norwitch and Worcester line for Boston we went to the Sanitary Rooms on Beech St. and a fine place it is I assure you. they give each soldier a ticket to go into a first class saloon and call for whatever he wants to eat with out cost to himself it was Thanksgiving day and they would not do any work at the government offices so I had to stay all day. how I wished I was up with you to dinner. I went up to the top of Bunker Hill Monument I haven't room for discription or I would try to give you some idea of the grandeur of the view from this ele-vated spot, it certainly was as prety as any person has ever dis-cribed it. the most distant object that can be seen is the White Mountains distant 90 miles. I also went to the Boston Common which is a fine park in this heart of the city almost in the afternoon I went down to Ft Independence on Castle Island I went by the Gov-ernment boat. it is a mile from the city. next day I took the boat about sundown for Portland Maine, and when I woke up next morning I found my self in the city. I had to take 3 men over to Ft Preble about a mile from the city and acrost the Kenebeck when I went back I found the boat did not go back to Boston until Monday night I felt disapointed but of course must make the best of it as I had no men to bother me until I got back to New York again I could run about as I pleased, so I went all through the town in about 6 hours. to the "jail" where a girl came to the window and called me a "prety soldier" to the Lookout Tower from where you can see the whole city, harbor, and country arround for miles, to the "Navy Yard" and finaly to the Boston and Maine Depot and finding a train would soon leave for the former place and the fare would be $2.60 I determined to buy a ticket, as my board would cost me as much if I staid. so sunday morning found me in Boston again, where I staid all day and went up to the reservoir and "Dorchester Heights" where Washington planted the guns that drove the British fleet from the harbor. part of it is now a park. Monday I took the cars for New London again and that evening New L. and N.Y. Boat for the latter place. we were were coming through the narrowest part of the "Narrows near "Hurlgate" when we run into a schooner, the channel was so narrow she could not get out of the way without running on the rocks and with us it was the same. her boom ran in-to the steamers side makeing an ugly hole but well
(the rest of this letter is written at right angles to and on top of the previous text)
water mark. we finaly got loose(?) with very.............I staid all day in New York I intended to go up and see Barney but finding it was farther up than I should have time to go I did the next best thing went to Barnums to see the big Show. and a big show it is every thing from an elephant to a flea. and every stage complete. I still .... to go out to Detroit Michigan with some official pa-pers and one man I found I should not be able to stop at Andover so I made up my mind I would go 200 miles out of my way rather than see home and not be able to stop so I took the Hudson River cars to Albany then the NY. Central to Buffalow where I stoped a few hours enough to see the city then down to Dunkirk and by the Ohio Shore to Cleavland Ohio then to Toledo I made another stop here of three hours then took the cars to Detroit. I took my man and government papers out to Ft. Niagare(?) about 2 miles from the depot. I took breakfast at the fort then came away it was now I commenced to enjoy myself I had no more responsisbility here and papers were all delivered and in the language of Shakespeare "Richard was himself again" I run about through the city all day and then did not see half of it. In one place was a park with three little tame deer in it they came to me and licked my hands and ate some cake out of them I went to the Pork packing establishment where every thing is done by steam Killing, cleaning, cutting and packing all but salt-ing. finaly I came by the way of Toledo to Cleveland Ohio where I stoped 6 hours went up to the Navy yard. also to the park where the celebrated statue of Commodore Perry is. then down to the new Break water they are building in the lake. about 2 I started for Pittsburg by the Pittsburg and Cleaveland R.R. I did not stop at P- but came on by the way of Pa. R.R. to Harisburg. then by the Northern Central to Baltimore. then By the B & O.R.R. to Washing-ton and finaly over here I was last making just thirteen days since I started. I was rather tired notwithstanding the old course of things. Not quite into the old course either for Col McK was my command when I went away and General Abercrombie when I came back. Col McK was meanly relieved and the general has been commanding about .... days we began to thing there was no help for it when ....... night Col McKelvy comes over from Wash with an order from the Secretary of War putting him in command again. when he got here it was after dark and nobody arround but how the news got through camp that he had came back to take the old place and the camp was wild with excitement the officers flocked arround him to welcome him back. he did not want any body to know he was in charge again but it was known somehow and the men could not ...... it was hurrah for "Mac" Glory halleluje man and the like. Now we are all contented again. I hope you accept my excuse for not writing as good do you not sister? I could not well write when traveling. I should have written befor I started but I then thought I might get a chance to see you but such was aganst me I could not Dear sister dont you thing I ought to feel flattered when I have the chance of taking men for a trip that any officer of the command would have given $100. dolars for this privalidge of going on such a trip. I was allowed to go because I have the name of being so sober and honest. I would not tell any but the reason. but God bless you. you are my sister and I can tell you anything my vanity may suggest. But I must close I dont believe you can read this. I think I must do what I should like to which is to beg you to excuse poor writing my nerves are not very steady a ride of 1500 miles in the cars will make any body shake for a while. Give my (about ten words are inked out at this point) and beleive me ever
Your loving brother
A.T. La Forge
P.S. I enclose a copy of my warrent promoting me to a Lance Ser-geant. my pay is not increased by it it is mearly a reward of merit. Like a brevet commission. Yours, .....
I have not time to read this over to correct mistakes. will you kindly overlook it LaF.