Letter written by 2nd Lieutenant Calvin Shedd of Company A, 7th NH Infantry, to his wife and children, from St. Augustine, FL. Shedd writes about a rumor that the Confederates took over a steamer ship containing mail from the Union troops, though he hopes it isn’t true as he recently sent money home to them. Shedd feels isolated in the current camp, and remarks on the number of casualties his regiment recently suffered. He writes that the locals must “toe the mark under martial law,” and are not allowed to leave the town. He also recounts how he found three sentinels sound asleep while on picket one morning, and lectured them rather than sentencing them to a court martial. Shedd describes soldiering as “the meanest business in the world,” and wishes the war were over.
St. Augustine Flo Nov. 15th 62
Dear Wife & Children
I have just heard that a Schooner lying here is to sail for N.Y. with a mail in the morning I shall try to get this in
I have been somewhat unwell for a few days with a cold but nothing serious. I am better today, I am on guard tomorrow & in for another ride. It is rumored here that the rebels have taken the Steamer Neptune, that took the last mail; I hope it is not so; for in that mail I sent you a Check for $55 & $5 in a letter if it is true. it is the detention of the money or rather Check that I care the most about for I would have given $5 to have got the Check to you a month ago, for I fear you have needed the money. If the Check is lost I can get another but will take time, I trust it is a false rumor I hope the Check will reach you in due season & if it does, write me soon. as you get it
We get scarcely any News are almost shut out from the world. it is worse than Ft. Jeff. Ther was some discharged Rebel-Soldiers came in here the other day from Bragg’s Army & brought the tidings of the death of a number that went from here. Ther has been great wailing at the loss of Husbands & Sons in a number of Families I understand, they say that the War is about done; that they cant Whip the Yankees & is of no use to continue the strugle. I dont think it will do to take much stock in their reports for probably they have had enough of it & want to talk in a conciliatory manner to us seeing we have got to support them while we stay. I would not have you think we let in Rebels indiscrimately, we make them take the Oath & make them toe the mark under Martial Law they cannot leave the Town. but I presume they have some way of communicating with Rebeldom. I can go out side the lines any night when
there is no moon & come in undiscovered for I know just where all the guards are & how Vigilant they are not. When I was on guard three weeks ago I visited a Picket post in the morning & found all three of the Sentinels sound asleep. They were Boys & new Recruits & I had not the heart to put the Ball & Chain on them, but I gave them a good Lecture & told them to go & Sin no more if I had put them in the Guard House as most Officers would have been glad of the chance to have done, they would have been Court Martialed punished severely lost their self respect & proved their ruin My conscience tells me I have done right but it would not do for Col Put to know if for then I should catch it & be Broke so dont speak of it. Oh Dear; this Soldiering a War is the meanest business in the world & I wish it was through with I fear this will not be very interesting but hte fact is I have nothing to write about I was on Picket the other day & had my
Dinner sent, there was some Biscuit cut in halves & Buttered, I opened one & there was a bunch of hair just as it was taken from the comb, I pulled it off & ate the Biscuit & wondered how it got there. That is a specimen of my Boarding Place rather a marked one however. It seems to me that I have eaten a bushel of Bugs Ants & Flies this summer, I have thought since I sent the Check that I should have written on the back Who is was from & who to & where for & where it was going to, & this shall be your Power of Attorney to put it on if you find it necessary if you ever get it. Thanksgiving is coming soon I should like to be at home with you & go to Henrys & have as good Dinner as last year I dont know as I ever ate a Dinner that I enjoyed better in my life I thought then the war would haven been over before this time & that I should be dead or at home now, but I dont see any prospect of getting home at present but we must make the best of it & hope for the best & in the meantime believe me yours as Ever C Shedd
2d Lt, Co A, 7th Regt, N.H. Vols
Calvin Shedd, from Enfield, NH, enlisted at the age of 35 as a sergeant in Company C of the 7th NH Volunteer Infantry on September 23, 1861. He was promoted to 1st Sergeant July 4, 1862 then commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in Company A on July 23, 1862. Following the regiment’s service in FL and SC (including operations against Fort Wagner) he was discharged for disability on December 31, 1863. He died on June 11, 1891 in Tewksbury, MA.