20 February 1863


Newport News, Va.
February 20, 1863

My dear Parents,

Your letter acknowledging the receipt of the money has been received and glad was I to hear from you and home although I should have liked to hear better news from the “little fat fellow” who I hope is now better. Since I wrote my last we have had quite a rainstorm which last from Tuesday morning until yesterday but unlike the rainstorms in Falmouth, it left no mud for this is a sandy soil.

The [Ninth] Corps is now treated in a most excellent manner. The old shelter tents are done away with for the present and we have been furnished with new “A tents” which are higher and wider and altogether better than the little mean “shelters.” Soft bread )a loaf per day to a man) is now furnished us; also dried apple, beans, onions, potatoes, rice, corned beef, pork, syrup, sugar, vinegar, and candles. And a sufficiency of each so you see that although we have fared hard, we are now going to live well.

We have an excellent camp. Each street is 27 feet wide and a space of 10 feet is allowed between the backs of companies. Cook houses are being erected and everything shows that we are going to make a long stay here.

By order of General Poe who commands our division, this division is to wear a distinguishing mark which is an inch square of light blue cloth. The privates to wear it in the front of the cap, the non-commissioned officers on the left button of the cap, and the line officers on the right button, and the field and staff on the top. It is said that this mark was given us as a compliment for our good behavior, discipline, and cleanliness. By an order from Gen. Wilcox, we are to drill as follows: Company drill from 8½ to 9½, Battalion drill from 10½ to 11½, dinner at 12M, Company skirmish drill 1 to 2 p.m., Battalion frill 3 to 4 p.m., dress parade at 5. Wednesday and Saturday afternoon a brigade drill from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday morning a regimental inspection. Now drilling is something we have not done for some time and I think they are laying it on pretty thick to begin with, but as long as they feed us ell. I will not growl. But I hope that much drilling will soon play out.

We expect to get paid off again the first of next month—two months pay, I suppose—and I shall receive $26.00 and shall manage to send home at least $18.00/ I did not receive as much as I at first expected on the last pay roll and as I owed considerable, I did not send as much as I wanted to but will send more this time.

Get the State Aid as long as you can and when they stop paying it to you, they will get something that will start them up again. You have a perfect right to it and I have a friend in Clinton that will see that you have it.

The boys are receiving boxes every other day now and as most of them come through in eight or ten days and in good condition, I have come to the conclusion that if I had one, it would be very acceptable. It will cost one dollar to send a box the size of a soap box out here and what I want will not cost a great deal. If you will send me one, I will tell you what to send.

Three or four doughnuts, a sheet of homemade gingerbread, some pound cake or some other—that is, if you happen to have any on hand. A pound of good butter, a little cheese, some dried cod fish, some apple sauce, and if you have any jelly to spare, send me a little for you don’t know how nice such things taste out here. Some meat and apple pies, or turnovers, some cookies, or sadcakes, &c. And last but not least, some apples. Now I will tell you how to pack. Wrap each apple in a paper and put them in a corner which you must partition off for if the apples rot and touch to other stuff, it will spoil the box. Put the pies on top so that they will not squash. When you make them, spice them well so as to keep. The apple sauce you can put in one of those quart cans of yours. The jelly in a large mouthed bottle. Pack them where they will stand still.

It would be well to wrap paper around the gingerbread and pound cake. One of my tent mates had a soap box come out by Harndens Express and it was packed well and came through in good order. It was like this. [sketch]

Write me when you send it so that I may be on the lookout for it. Direct to Chas. H. Howe, Co. I, 36th Reg. Mass. Vols., 9th Army Corps, Washington D. C.

But the mail is most ready to go out and I must close wishing you all good health and spirits. I remain yours truly, — Charley

P. S. I have received Mother’s letter. Charley

Next Letter: 2 March 1863